Wednesday, August 25, 2010

24 August 2010: Hannah Elise

That's Hannah Elise McRae-Spencer, 8lbs 7.4oz, 20.5 inches long, delivered by c-section on Tuesday afternoon. I write this on the 25th but her birthday is the 24th, so that's the date of this blog entry.

Long old day it was too. After fifteen hours of Braxton-Hicks (ie false) contractions on Sunday, the baby went through a crazy wriggling phase on Monday. Then at bedtime - around 10.15pm to be precise - on came the real thing. Four hours later we were on our way down to the hospital in Carmel, where measurements occurred and progress was made.

But progress stalled. Dilation moved from 5cm to 7cm but no further - the goal is 10cm. The pain increased rapidly, but the progress did not. Eventually the pain was so bad the epidural was needed, and was successfully administered. But then - dramatically, almost - progress. 10cm happened. Baby's head on the way out. Time to push.

Two and a half hours later, still pushing but again zero progress. Doctor suspects baby is head-down but facing upwards. Weird, because we knew she's been face-down (correct position) for at least five weeks prior to this. But... if she was face-up, then it would be harder to her to come out, and given the lack of progress in two and a half hours, quite possibly not going to happen. Chances of natural birth at this point? We asked the doctor. Very low, she said.

C-section it is then.

So I wrapped up in a spaceman uniform and went in to witness the event. They worked quick, very quick, and there at 4.32pm local time was Hannah Elise (although it took a few minutes to make a final call on the name). No shortage of brown hair - she actually could do with a trim! - and as they whisked her over to the measuring units, I followed with video camera and ordinary camera. And this began the set of photos on Gloria's facebook and also here...

Postscript: The doctor says that she was indeed face up. The best explanation we have is the crazy wriggling phase on Monday must have allowed her to roll over. But she's here, she's safe, Gloria's safe too and that's all we're concerned about.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

21 August 2010: Broken

The air conditioning downstairs broke.

This is bad news: it's the one that always works, and has been very handy what with the temps in the high thirties (Celcius) and 'heat index' a good five degrees above that. Yesterday it was 33 (only!) and the downstairs AC just gave up and started pumping out warm air instead of cold. Now, it's central air, not a box in the windows, and it lives somewhere up on the roof. Being renters, we call the landlord which is good from a cost point of view but not from a saturday morning point of view - haven't heard back and may not until Monday.

So all the windows are open and fans going, but even with the rain, it's still about 30 today and naturally there's the noisy (not to mention food-smelly) Taste Of Kokomo festival outside our now-open windows today. The upstairs AC, which is usually the more temperamental of the two, seems to be able to handle 30 just about, so it's cool up there, which is a relief for the now nine-months-plus Gloria-and-baby combination.

Due date, incidentally, was Tuesday, and that came and went without a baby. All the signs are there, everything checked off the list, but I suppose she'll come when she's ready. Or possibly she's thinking the same thing: "mummy (or 'mommy', depending on her accent, which should be interesting to hear), just push me out, ok?". She's been head-down for five weeks now, she must be pretty bored.

So we continue, my dad in town for a week and a half already, waiting for the event, and the Texas exodus to begin this weekend, whether the baby comes or not. And the noise gets louder outside, and the temperature inside continues to rise, so we consider dining options for the evening that don't involve staying in. And I wonder how people lived in so many parts of the USA that get this hot - or hotter - in the summer for so many decades without air conditioning.

Cold baths, I expect.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

8 August 2010: Ebb

As a football fan, it's hard to justify supporting two teams. It really is. The only thing that makes it possible is if you support one big team and then a little local team. Nick Hornby justified this to some extent in 'Fever Pitch' when he covered his time at Cambridge University, when he and his friends would go and watch Cambridge United (then in the lower reaches of the Football League) on a regular basis. Never a supporter, he said, but he developed a fondness for the team.

For me it's Southampton and Plymouth Argyle. Southampton for reasons I know not why, but I started following them around age seven, and a look at the Division One tables (ten years before there was a Premier League, remember) from that period show Southampton clearly there-or-thereabouts at the top, vying for the top spot with Liverpool. The team of the time - Keegan, Shilton et al - was of excellent quality and so that's probably where the following came from, although I can't say for sure. Whatever it was, it ended up with me going to university there in 1994 and probably had something to do with me going back again in 2003 to do the PhD.

Plymouth Argyle, therefore, are the little local team. The 1984 cup run was enough to get my interest but it wasn't until a year or two later, when I started going regularly, that the 'fan' thing really took hold. The 1985/86 promotion team and the oh-so-nearly-made-it-to-the-top-division run a year later (lost the last three games - a win in any of those three would have seen Argyle in the first-ever year of playoffs) were good quality, exciting to watch and had a talismanic player (Tommy Tynan) who could score for fun and was the envy of most other teams outside the top division.

And naturally, aside from pre-season friendly matches, my two clubs never played each other. Once they met in the Zenith Data Systems cup (yeah, exactly) but that was it for competitive games for the longest time. Saints were in the top division, and Argyle were in the next tier, or (from 1992 to 2004) a tier or two lower. Never any clash of values, never any problem to decide who was the more important team to support.

Then Saints got relegated (thanks Harry) in May 2005. Argyle had been promoted the previous year to the second tier (by this point called 'The Championship'). Thus, for the first time since the mid-1970s, my two teams were in the same division and would play each other, home and away, during the league season. First game: September early-season clash at St Mary's. Gloria came, my mum even came up for it, and naturally I was there and wondered what it would be like.

I hated it. I had no idea what I should be doing or thinking. Dennis Wise (at that time of Saints) went flying in for a tackle - YERRRS, screamed the crowd, and I began to as well... but then saw Tony Capaldi, Argyle's Welsh international left-back, lying on the ground from the injury. Argh! What was I to do? How was I to react to this given that I was so partisan.. except I was partisan to both teams. I knew all the players in both squads, I'd seen them all so often. It was horrendous.

Then Saints went down again, which saved us the bother of having this issue last year. But then Argyle went down last year, meaning they're now both in the third tier...

And so yesterday they played. I watched the game via one of those internet streaming sites and still wasn't sure who to support. Once the game was over - slightly fortuitous 1-0 win by Argyle away at Saints - that at least made up my mind which shirt I was to wear the rest of the day. (New Saints shirt, by the way: isn't is bleddy AWFUL? Reminds me of 'We Are The Champions' tee-shirts from children's TV when I was young.) Saints will pick themselves up, Lambert will score another thirty-five goals this year (barring injuries) and Saints will probably go up, one way or another. Argyle are predicted to do ok, but we'll see. They're always surprisingly bad for years at a time. Don't expect anything much. But the match itself - again, I was largely on the fence... wanting Saints to get points for the promotion charge, but Argyle always seem to be in deep need of three points whenever they can get them... sigh, what's a boy to do?

The other thing, though, is that this is the low ebb for my teams. At least I hope it is. Both are in the third tier of the league structure, so let's say they score three points each for that. That gives my two teams a combined total of six points. This score has never been so high in my entire life.

Briefly Argyle were in the fourth, with Saints in the first - that's a total of five points. More recently, Argyle were in the second, Saints in the third - five again. But now - six. That's a bit depressing, really. I'd long for the day when the number is three again (2005 wasn't that long ago) or even the minimum: two. (Although then they'd be playing each other, so I'd be busy agonising again). But for now, it's the low ebb, and I'm going to have to live with the fact that when the baby arrives (due date just over a week away now!) she'll begin her life with Saints and Argyle so very very low in the league.

She probably won't care, to be fair, at least not for a while.