February 06, 2008

Tom Dowdy

Tom Grilling 

We'll miss you. Rest in peace.


Posted by Mike at 09:39 PM

February 27, 2008

Adam Jordan -- in the beginning

We have a new baby -- Adam Jordan Dodd, born February 16, 2008. His story is quite the adventure, and he's only eleven days old. I need to write more of the story, but here's at least the first part of it.

Our adventure so far...

January 2007

Meredith and I start talking to Open Adoption and Family Services about adopting kid #2, learning about their process and talking with each other about timing.

Summer 2007

We start the homestudy process in earnest.

November 2007

We are done with the entire process, and we're 'in the pool'.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

As we sit in San Jose airport, waiting to come back from Tom's memorial service, one of OAFS's social workers calls Meredith to say that we've been picked by a birthmother and to ask if we're interested. Her due date is the following Wednesday. We talk it over on the flight and later at home.

Monday, February 11

We call back to say yes. The social worker says she'll send all the medical files up so we can look them over.

Tuesday, February 12

We get all the files. Meredith reads over them and calls me at work to talk them over. Nothing too disturbing, although there is something about a small hole they noticed in the heart. No one expects this to be a big deal. (Cue ominous music...)

We call back and say yeah, we're still fine. Due date is tomorrow.

Thursday, February 14

For Valentines Day, Nathan comes down with a fever. Meredith and I spend a romantic night together force-feeding our three-year-old Tylenol.

Saturday, February 16

2:00 AM Meredith's phone rings. J, the birthmother, has gone into labor. We were already sort of awake because Nathan had just woken up from his fever. We force-feed Nathan more Tylenol and load up the car

3:15 AM We're on the road. Meredith and I are running on about 3 1/2 hours of sleep -- perfect for a 7-8 hour drive. Traffic on I-405 is lighter than I've ever seen.

6:00 AM We pull over into a McDonalds to get some breakfast and force yet more Tylenol into our screaming toddler. This trip might be the meanest thing we've ever done to Nathan. If you ever have the opportunity to drive for eight hours on 3 1/2 hours of sleep with a 3-year-old who was a 102 degree fever, my advice is: pass if at all possible.

9:00 AM Susan, the social worker calls. Last she heard from J, she was still in labor and was being transferred from the hospital in Grants Pass to Medford. The doctors wanted the baby to be born in Medford since the heart issue makes it a high-risk pregnancy.

10:30 AM We get near Medford and call Susan to see where we should meet. Oh, and stop at a drug store to try Ibuprofen on Nathan's fever. Susan calls back after discovering that J actually never left got to Medford, and the baby had just been born (at 10:37). He's 19 1/2 inches long and 8 pounds, 7 ounces. We drive back north towards Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass. Meredith's GPS evidently has a 25 character limit, so announces that we've arrived at Three Rivers Community Ho. This is pretty hysterical on three hours of sleep.

Adam awake12:00 PM We meet Susan in the hospital cafeteria, where we are eating lunch and trying to feed Nathan, then we all go up to meet the new baby and J. This is the first time we've even talked to J. We all agree on the name Adam Jordan. Adam is very cute :)

Mid-afternoon The three of us go over to the Gretchen's parents' house where we're staying here in Grants Pass where we'll be staying, leaving Adam to have some quality time with J and family. Gretchen is one of Meredith's classmates from Seattle U, and her parents have recently moved away from Grants Pass but haven't sold their house yet. So we get to stay in a mostly empty, except for two twin beds, house. Nathan thinks that running laps around the house is fun. The ibuprofen is clearly working better than the acetaminophen was.

Later, we go back to the hospital. J wants some time to rest, and the hospital, as is evidently the new trend, doesn't have a nursery in the maternity ward, instead saying that babies stay with their mothers. Fortunately, they aren't full, so set us up in a separate room where we can sleep with Adam. The nurses figure out how to get Meredith a meal ticket to order some food. Nathan eats a few bites, then stops. He's basically not eating. We hang around for a while, then Nathan and I go back to Gretchen's house to sleep while Meredith spends the night with Adam.

Sunday, February 17

Adam Jordan DoddI got about nine hours of sleep, minus the part where Nathan woke me up at 1 AM when my subconscious decided that Nathan might be on fire. 'On fire' turns out to mean 102.8 degrees. This is good, in a perverse way, since it means that Nathan is too weak to seriously fight the medicine. Always finding the silver lining, that's me...

We get up and head over to the hospital. Meredith reports that Adam finally decided to be awake, for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. And he eats all the time. And if that didn't wake her, then the nurses coming in every two hours to check on Adam certainly did.

The pediatrician came by and we got to talk to him. He let us listen to Adam's heart murmur on the stethoscope. You sure can't miss it. He says it's probably caused by a VSD -- basically, a small hole between two chambers -- but we can't know for sure without an echocardiogram. And if it is a VSD, then it might or might not be a big deal, depending on how big it is. But, he points out, the fact that it's so loud is usually a good indicator that it's a very small hole, likening it to the sound water makes through a very constricted hose. It will turn out that he is entirely correct about the very constricted part.

Meredith holding Adam

Mike & Adam

We take Adam over to J's room so they can have some more time together. Nathan and I run out to the store to pick up a few things (like, say, diapers for Adam). Susan comes over shortly after lunch, takes consent from J, has Meredith and me sign a ton of papers, then we have a small entrustment ceremony in J's room.

Nathan and I go out and get dinner at Abby's Legendary Pizza. I explain to Nathan that Legendary means very, very yummy, but by the time we get back to the room, he is having none of it. The hunger strike continues. Perhaps he heard that whole "Feed a cold, starve a fever" thing and is taking it to heart. Or is it the other way around? At any rate, he's not eating. His temperature goes from 99 to 101.5 in about 20 minutes in our room. Ibuprofen for the win.

Meredith and Nathan go back to Gretchen's to sleep. I get the somewhat unique experience of being a man spending the night alone with the baby in the maternity ward.

Monday, February 18

Nathan holding AdamAdam wakes occasionally for feeding, then decides to keep me up from 3 - 5 AM because he wants to talk. Or something. He finally gets back to sleep at 5, then I do, then the nurse comes in to check on him at 5:30. Meredith and Nathan come in at about 7:30. I got three hours of sleep total. Sleep is so over-rated anyway.

Yet Adam's third pediatrician comes by, checks him out, and says he's good for discharge. We can't go home anyway yet because of waiting for the ICPC, the paperwork that has to be filed between states before you can leave the state after an adoption. We said we were probably going to head north to Salem, where my Uncle Steve & Aunt Sue live, to visit with them and since that would get us about half way to Seattle. The doctor suggests that as long as we're stuck in the area, we could go ahead down to Medford to get an echocardiogram of Adam's heart to check out the murmur. We could always do it at Children's in Seattle, but as long as we were here, "information isn't a bad thing". Fair enough.

The nurse comes back in to say that they've made a 10:45 appointment in Medford. It's about a half hour drive. It's 9:55. We haven't started to pack out the room yet.

We rush around like crazy, get everything packed, finish the discharge paperwork, and I demonstrate to the nurse that I know how to put Adam in his infant seat. We take off, and I try to find some snack food in the car to munch on. In the hectic morning, I managed to not eat and not drink. Not even coffee.

We arrive at Rouge Valley hospital in Medford. No one at the registration desk has heard of us. So much for our appointment. Despite the two hospitals being run by the exact same company, they evidently have no ability to share any registration details, so they've never heard of Adam either. Meredith registers Adam while I wait with the two boys. 50 minutes later, I go check to see if maybe Meredith had been, I don't know, teleported to another dimension or something. No, she's still registering. She seems to have a vein visibly throbbing in her head from irritation, but maybe that's just my imagination. No matter, but I need to go back out to our car to get a diaper for Adam.

I come back, and Meredith has finally finished registration. Yay! She explains that she had to do things like provide Adam's home phone number and address. Then hers. Then mine. Doesn't your two-day-old live on his own yet? I try to find a place to change Adam's diaper. Oregon reminds me, as it has so far on this trip and will largely continue to, that changing diapers is women's work. It must be, because if men were meant to change diapers, it would be possible for me to actually find a changing table in a men's room. The helpful person at the desk where we're waiting tells me that the women's room has a changing table, so I tell my woman to go change him. (grr...)

Since somehow no word of Adam's existence made it over, we don't actually have an appointment. What the 10:45 time referred to is beyond me. Maybe they just wanted us out. Nathan is acting absolutely horribly by this point, and I'm being brutally reminded that chasing Nathan down when he runs off is an order of magnitude more difficult with a newborn. Thanks, Nathan, lesson learned. Now sit the hell down. At one point I found myself holding Adam in my arms while pinning Nathan between my legs. This is not a good beginning.

Eventually someone comes out. We go back to ultrasound young Adam. Happily for us, he sleeps through the entire process, where by 'entire' I mean, 'over an hour long'. Some ultrasound techs in my experience are somewhat chatty and will say something about what they are seeing. Not this one. And all I see on ultrasounds are a bunch of gray blurs.

We finally get out at about 1 PM, eat lunch, consider and discard the idea of chaining Nathan (who isn't eating anyway) to his seat, and get back on the road. Off to Gretchen's to pack up there. It's so late now we're trying to decide if we still want to get up to Salem, since we probably won't make it by dinner, but we decide we can at least start going up. After packing at Gretchen's, we go pick up some pictures we printed at Walgreens, then go over to J's house to give her the prints. Meredith runs in with the pictures and Adam, and Nathan and I wait in the car.


And then the story gets interesting. And that will have to wait for the next update.

Posted by Mike at 11:02 PM | Comments (2)

February 28, 2008

Adam's Most Non-Excellent Adventure, Day 3

Monday, February 18

Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. -- Ghostbusters

5:03 PM The pediatrician calls me, sounding relieved that he found me. It vaguely occurs to me that this might not be a good sign. He says that the hole in Adam's heart is indeed microscopic, and nothing to worry about at all. That sounds good... Oh, and Adam has something called Pulmonary Stenosis. I have no clue what this means. "Basically, the valve between the heart and lungs is too small." That sounds less good. The doctor goes on to say that he talked to the cardiologist at the children's hospital in Portland who wanted to see Adam right away, so could we please go to Portland right now? "I'm still in Grants Pass. Portland is almost four hours away." "Oh, I thought you were already north. Umm ... four hours might be too long. Let me try to figure something else out and I'll call you back. Keep this line open."

Four hours is too long? Now I know this can't be good. I later decide that this likely ranks as the scariest phone call I've ever received.

I send Meredith a text so as to not tie up my phone and tell her that we need to go now. She comes out to see what's going on, then runs back in to grab Adam. We drive to the interstate and park just off the on ramp waiting to hear what direction we need to be going in.

5:20 PM He calls back. Please go back to Medford into the NICU. They'll stabilize him and arrange ambulance transport. Got it. I start driving, somewhat more rapidly than before.

We get back to Medford, run in and find the NICU. The head doctor comes out, snatches Adam up and points us towards the wash basins. We frantically wash up and go in. Adam is already hooked up to interesting machines. The doctor says something about how Portland is flying down to pick Adam up. Flying? I ask, "When you say fly, do you mean 'fly', literally?"


Now we're terrified. I'm pretty sure that we aren't inaccessible to an ambulance with, say, wheels, which leaves the 'your kid may die soon' checkbox as the only remaining possibility for why you'd need air transport.

We have long enough to ask if one of us can go on the air ambulance with Adam before one of the other doctors shoos Nathan and me out after noticing that Nathan has a runny nose. Oh right. OK, so taking him into a NICU in his state was retarded. I wasn't thinking very clearly at that exact moment.

Meredith and I decide that since I'm a better driver at night than she is, she'll fly up with Adam and Nathan and I will drive up the four hours to Portland. Nathan, who at this point has eaten pretty much nothing all day, has finally decided that he is starving, and is Not Happy At All about the notion of being separated from Meredith. Not to mention that he's managed to pick up on the Sheer Terror radiating off of us.

I call Meredith's best friend, Christina, explain what's going on and beg for her help taking care of Nathan, since otherwise Meredith and I can't be with Adam at the same time. She says she'll meet us at the hospital. Yay for best friends.

Nathan and I head to the car. He's decided that he wants a quesadilla, and Meredith points out that we can get him a cheese quesadilla at Taco Bell. Great idea! We go through the drive through, I get something for me, I get a cheese quesadilla for Nathan, he takes a big bite of it, and -- *wailing cry* "IT SPICY!" *sob*. Great. So then we run into a Starbucks where I try to get a cookie, anything, JUST SOME CALORIES, DAMNIT, but he won't try another bite.

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it. -- The Blues Brothers

So we start driving, Nathan and I. The 3 hours of sleep over the last 36 hours seem bad, but I am running on pure adrenaline. I make a few phone calls on the way, trying to choke back tears as I explain to various people what's happening. Nathan wails for a bit more then finally conks out. By now it's slightly after 7 PM. Meredith calls a couple of times to let me know what's going on.

Nathan and I stop once, about half an hour out from Portland, after he wakes up and says he wants milk. This sounds like a source of calories for me, so we pull over, run into the store to grab him some milk, and run out. Nathan says, "This taste ... different." "Does it taste better than what you tried before?" "No ... it taste sour." Sure that he's just being recalcitrant, I grab it and take a swig. And almost choke. Sour is right. I'll spend the next few days reassuring him each time we get milk in that same contained that THIS milk isn't sour like the milk we got that night.

Despite the hustle and bustle of needing air transport, said air ambulance (which turns out to be a plane, not a helicopter as I'd imagined) doesn't get down to Medford for a while, so Meredith & Adam don't even take off from there until about 9. In the end, they arrive at Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital at about 11 PM -- roughly ten minutes before I do. Somewhere in the back of my head I start to wonder why on earth we needed an air ambulance.

For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. -- The Outer Limits

The emergency entrance is the only one open, and the person at the desk has never heard of my child, but eventually tells us to go on up anyway and opens the door for me. This is my favorite kind of security -- the rigid, 'you must show ID to prove you need to be here, unless of course you can just sound like you're going to keep pestering me forever, in which case go right on through' kind of security. The person at the front desk in the NICU knows exactly who Adam is and gives me my ID bracelet and, understandably, has exactly zero interest in allowing runny-nosed Nathan more than another six inches down the hall. She promises to tell Meredith we're here, and Nathan and I go downstairs in search of the 24/7 cafe where we get me some coffee and Nathan some milk ('no, THIS milk isn't sour').

Nathan's fever starts to come back. Of course it does.

Christina shows up, and she, Meredith, and Nathan go off to a hotel. I go upstairs to see Adam, sound asleep and plugged into enough machines to monitor a small space launch, and go to sleep myself at about 1:30 in a room off the NICU.

It is the end of Adam's third day.

Posted by Mike at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)