Friday, January 25, 2008

All Smiles

Mark is feeling better. He got out of bed for the first time in over a week. We have been celebrating over the last few days by napping frequently and sitting quietly. And smiling from time to time.

Jonathan has a circus. It was gift sent all the way from Australia, from his friends Aunty Emma and Uncle Linden and Abby. He is pretty happy about that. It is bright and lies next to him on his mat while he kicks his legs. This means he can bash it with his hands and make it move. So, although he was one day shy of four weeks when we took this picture, he's smiling.

A much better week. Maybe we'll actually have something to say next week.

For now, thank you to those extraordinary people who have done our washing, made us meals, answered medical questions and completely spring cleaned our kitchen. This stopped us descending into complete chaos. And thank you to those people who have sent presents and cards and messages; now life is saner we might be able to respond. Thank you particularly to those who have prayed for us. Few weeks have helped us realise just how much we depend on God for everything all the time and we are grateful for his ongoing kindness to us in Christ.

And for those people who frequently would rail against us for not asking for help - well, never fear. We've asked for so much help in the last month it makes up for the years of never asking for it at all. I think we're square. JMB

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mad Cow Disease

So it hasn't been the best week. In fact, we're kind of hoping not to have another week like this for a long time. Mark has been in bed sick all week, experiencing a level of pain that has been fairly extreme in its intensity and duration and I've been looking after him and Jonathan. To make matters worse, Jonathan has been particularly unsettled this week, some days requiring some kind of human company for the full 24 hours for him to settle. And so, we've been in survival mode again; it's been a hard week for both of us, and we've greatly appreciated home cooked meals and other practical help from those at church and Wycliffe College.

Jonathan has weathered it all very well though and has gone through something of a growth spurt. I think he'll have outgrown his newborn jumpsuits soon.

As with all times of crisis and distress, it is useful to reflect on the miseries others face which are far worse than your own. In the spirit of this, I offer some reflections on this:

Consider, gentle reader, the poor benighted creature who woke up one morning and thought to himself, "I think I will make a ceramic cow covered in cups and saucers, plates and teapots with paint tubes for its udder". And this thought doesn't go away after a decent cup of coffee and the harsh light of day. Instead, this person sits down and makes just such a cow.

Consider also that once made, this person takes the cow to a shop and the shopkeeper thinks to herself, "Ah! A ceramic cow covered in cups and saucers, plates and teapots! Just the thing. I want to sell this in my shop."

And this shopkeeper does not keep the cow hidden behind the counter for when an apologetic looking customer walks in and stammers, "Um, I heard that you, um, sell ceramic cows covered in cups and saucers, plates and teapots. Is that true? It's not for me, you understand, but for a friend. He has a whole collection of ceramic domesticated animals wearing kitchen utensils, but I, I mean he, doesn't have a cow. It would go so well with my, I mean his, donkey covered in toasters and his pig entirely covered in knives and forks."
Whereupon the shopkeeper would pull out said cow, sell it to this customer for his friend, who would depart the store, carrying a brown paper bag with a slightly guilty but triumphant look on his face.

No, my friend, that is not how this shopkeeper approached the sale of the cow. It is in the window of the shop for all to see, and in my case, photograph, because I have never seen anything quite like this. And because once I'd seen it I had to go back and have another look.

We don't know for sure whether there was a customer for this creation, but if we assume there was, then this too is worth our pity. Someone, somewhere could well have this cow on their mantelpiece. Not being involved in this cycle of insanity which involved the making, selling and purchasing of this cow makes one realise how fortunate one is.

And hopefully next week will be better. JMB

Sunday, January 13, 2008

At last - photos!

Well, here is our gorgeous son, Jonathan. (I realise that being able to call Jonathan 'gorgeous', 'adorable', etc is only a possibility for a certain number of years before his sense of manliness kicks in and he insists on tougher kinds of adjectives...)

You can see the point about the eyelashes. As one of the Special Care nurses commented, they are really lovely eyelashes, but completely wasted on a boy. He'll never appreciate them!

When I downloaded the photos I remembered that we'd taken a photo of his nametags in hospital. These were interesting because they kept multiplying. Anytime a health professional was left alone with him they felt the need to label him again. He ended up with five. We did toy with adding another nametag with completely different details just to mess with them, but thought that it may be possible that they wouldn't quite see the humour in the situation.

There were also some photos of Jonathan's canula. It was horrible watching them put this in him (babies have tiny, tiny veins) and he bore up under the whole thing remarkably well. But once it was in, he didn't seem overly bothered by it. He loves sucking his hands, and one of his favourite things is to try and fit both hands completely in his mouth while sucking madly on them. I'm not sure what would happen if he ever managed to succeed. But the canula became a bigger version of his hand and he chewed and sucked on it with great enthusiasm.

The other thing he liked to do with his canula was bash things. In particular, the side of his cot was a favourite target. He'd lie there placidly making little snuffling noises and suddenly there would this series of thuds. The first time it happened (at about 4am) was quite alarming.

Thank you to the many people who have emailed or 'facebooked' us in the last week or so. We've appreciated hearing from you! Hopefully we'll be able to respond in the near future. Thank you to those who are continuing to pray for Jonathan. He has been putting on weight well up until at least Friday morning (when he was weighed last). He's been a bit unsettled since then with whatever tends to be described a 'colic' and this has really thrown our routines out the last three days (Friday night Mark held him from 11pm to 3am with almost constant crying and wailing) but might be settling a bit now (it's a bit hard to tell). All part of what my dear husband is fond of calling the 'rich tapestry of life'. JMB

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

We're Home!


We came home on Sunday evening and great was the rejoicing. It is good that we have hospitals (and such good ones), and they have come so far in the last 100 years. But it is hard to be in hospital for any length of time. There is a bewildering sense of vulnerability and unfamiliarity which colours every hour.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us. God has been immensely kind to us and we are grateful for the way he has preserved Jonathan from his conception through to now, his 12th day in the world. It has been a great encouragement to us that so many people have cared about us and Jonathan and prayed for us all. Thank you.

And it is good to be home. We have spent the last 24 hours settling in and trying to find the bones of routine which might work for us. Jonathan is a lot more settled than some babies I have known, and certainly very settled for a child who shares our DNA. He has put on quite a lot of weight in the last week (thankfully) and we are slowly working out his feeding. I am, I must say, heartily sick of theories of breastfeeding. They all seem different and at least partly contradictory, and those who hold them do so with some degree of fanaticism which is tiring, to say the least. However, we muddle on and will eventually get things sorted I am sure.

The other great thing about being home is being able to sleep more. We are currently sleep deprived, obviously, but in the way we'd expected: we've both been students and know what losing sleep feels like. And it feels so much better than subsisting on 2 hours/day in 20 minutes blocks! It's also good to have another person around to decipher Jonathan's more incomprehensible moments. Having a new baby is really an exercise in interpreting loud mime.

One of the curious things people keep saying to me is "Enjoy your baby" or something similar. I do find this odd as Jonathan is one of the great things about the last 12 days. It would be hard not to 'enjoy' him. He is a tremendously brave, charming little baby, even when he is unsettled. In fact his reaction to the world - a place where he gets hungry and feels pain and so forth - has reinforced the sense that this world is really a hard place to be in many ways. Throwing your head back and wailing fits with the kinds of suffering (minor and otherwise) that we endure here. To introduce a little person to this, and to comfort him and tell him about a God who loves him even in a world like this, as he gets used to this difficult, puzzling world is one of the most useful things I've ever done.

As for Jonathan's eyelashes, well yes. But then his Dad has really gorgeous eyelashes so it isn't too surprising! When I have time to recharge the camera (which is very high up on my to-do list), and export the photos I will do so and all the world will behold these eyelashes, and other general cuteness. In the meantime, you'll just have to take my word for it that Jonathan is really rather adorable! I couldn't possibly be biased or anything... JMB

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Thank you for praying, God has been very generous in how he has been answering our prayers over the last 48 hours. I thought I'd let people know how things have been going before I turn in.

Jonathan is responding very, very well to the extra milk he's been receiving. He's no longer listless, nor crying constantly. He has good colour and is generally very contented (even to the point of lying happily in his cot for half-an-hour today when he woke up before his feed time). He doesn't enjoy the twice-daily regimen of antibiotics that he gets through a cathater semi-permanently located in his arm. He enjoys even less the taking of his blood that has happened one to two times per day to run various tests. But that's ok, his parents aren't the world's greatest fans of that either. This is not least because of the ambience of the place where it happens - special care, where all the drastically premature babies (and similar cases) are looked after. It's a place where they have pictures up of the babies that lived...

The blood cultures have shown no infection after twenty-four hours, which is what we want, but isn't conclusive until 48 hours have passed. His ammonia levels (I think) came back under the high end of safe within about 24 hours. All up he's doing very well, and is getting even more compliments for his cuteness (and yes, about half the comments focus in on the eyelashes). At the moment they want to finish the five day course of antibiotics and, if nothing else goes wrong, will probably release Jennie and him when they're done- either Saturday night or Sunday morning, Oxford time.

Jennie is doing much better, getting between four and half and five hours sleep over the last two days - usually broken up into chunks of no more than one hour. Nonetheless, the drastic change in Jonathan has done her a world of good. She laughed for the first time two days ago, and we began having the space and energy to just enjoy Jonathan for the first time today.

We're very grateful for God's goodness towards us in this. Thank you who have prayed. I'm off to bed. A new day starts soonish. MDB