Being Benjamin

January was an exciting month: some of the excitement was good and some wasn’t. The second week of January, Grammie and Pappy arrived to watch Benjamin for a week while I went back to work. It was great to see them again! It was Pappy’s first look at Benjamin, and they got along just fine. Since it was just a couple of weeks after Christmas, we waited to celebrate together. Pappy is usually looking forward to eating at a couple of his favorite Lafayette restaurants, and he did manage it, though he was the first casualty of the Colorado stomach bug we passed around to all our guests.

Grammie and Benjamin.
Grammie and Benjamin.
Now that's a comfortable baby!
Now that’s a comfortable baby!
The best part about Olivia is the book hidden inside her jumper!
The best part about Olivia is the book hidden inside her jumper!
Watching Phoebe inspect Mommy's new butter dish.
Watching Phoebe inspect Mommy’s new butter dish.
Getting excited about the photo coasters.
Getting excited about the photo coasters.
Hey, I know Olivia!
Hey, I know Olivia!
Checking out Daddy's new coins.
Checking out Daddy’s new coins.
Is Benjamin watching TV while Pappy poses?
Is Benjamin watching TV while Pappy poses?
Pappy with his little thumb-sucker.
Pappy with his little thumb-sucker.
Our sweet little monkey.
Our sweet little monkey.
Reading an NSS News to Phoebe--again!
Reading an NSS News to Phoebe–again!
Snuggled up with a new bunny blankie.
Snuggled up with a new bunny blankie.
Are you taking my picture?
Are you taking my picture?
Guys! I got a camera of my own!
Guys! I got a camera of my own!
Baseball cap and fuzzy booties make for a comfortable baby.
Baseball cap and fuzzy booties make for a comfortable baby.
Benjamin wiggled his thumb out of his little mitten.
Benjamin wiggled his thumb out of his little mitten.

Benjamin’s baptism was scheduled for Sunday, January 13th. My mom and dad and Dave’s dad arrived on Friday the 11th, and Aunt Martha came on Saturday morning. We enjoyed hanging around the house on Saturday, spending time with the family we see so infrequently. Sunday morning we all had to be at church early; Mom was preaching, Dave was playing his sax, and Benjamin needed to get into his baptismal gown and the little Luther cap/baker’s toque Mom made him to go with it. (Phoebe’s bonnet was a little too girly, though when you’re accessorizing a long gown, that point is debatable.)

Benjamin started out the day by peeing on the tablecloth in the social area at church. (I guess Mommy should’ve taken him into the bathroom to change his diaper!) However, a new tablecloth was quickly rustled up and we made it into church in time for the service. Mom’s sermon on the Lutheran rite of baptism was well liked, and Benjamin was a model baby during the baptism itself. Unfortunately, Grandpa Gribble got the stomach bug that morning. He made it through the baptism like a real trooper.

Quick, change the tablecloth!
Quick, change the tablecloth!
Are you going to be okay in that hat, sir?
Are you going to be okay in that hat, sir?
We did it! He's fully attired for baptism.
We did it! He’s fully attired for baptism.
So tell me again why I'm wearing this?
So tell me again why I’m wearing this?
Benjamin and Grandpa Gribble share a moment.
Benjamin and Grandpa Gribble share a moment.
Baptism cake at church.
Baptism cake at church.
Grandpa has his turn with the little chef.
Grandpa has his turn with the little chef.
The actual baptizing.
The actual baptizing.
Dave playing "I'm Going on a Journey" with Jan Osburn singing.
Dave playing “I’m Going on a Journey” with Jan Osburn singing.
The Gribbles in various states of disarray with Bill Renfer in the background.
The Gribbles in various states of disarray with Bill Renfer in the background.
The Gribbles with Grandpa and Grandma Hazelton.
The Gribbles with Grandpa and Grandma Hazelton.
The Gribbles with Aunt Martha.
The Gribbles with Aunt Martha.
The whole family: Grammie, Pappy, Grandma, Benjamin, Grandpa Gribble, Jess, Phoebe, Martha, Dave, and Grandpa.
The whole family: Grammie, Pappy, Grandma, Benjamin, Grandpa Gribble, Jess, Phoebe, Martha, Dave, and Grandpa.

Mom and Dave had to stay for the second service, so the rest of us came home to get ready for the party. We had a wonderful group of friends and family here to celebrate with us! Thanks to everyone who made the day so special for us. Grammie and Martha worked some magic on the fruit and vegetable trays, leaving me to relax. At least I learned something from trying to make five different quiches at once for Phoebe’s baptism party!

Three generations of Gribble men.
Three generations of Gribble men.
Phoebe was teaching school to this motley collection of students.
Phoebe was teaching school to this motley collection of students.
Phoebe and Pappy work on Uncle Matt's monkey puzzle.
Phoebe and Pappy work on Uncle Matt’s monkey puzzle.

The next morning we said goodbye to Grammie and Pappy. An hour later my parents arrived at the house with their luggage, ready to stay and help out for a week. (They’d been staying in a hotel…even crummy hotels have better accommodations than the Gribble guest room/office!) It was a luxury for me to go to work those two weeks, knowing that Phoebe was happily at school and Benjamin was in expert grandparental hands. My dad managed to pick up a case of the crud while they were here. Phoebe got to celebrate her third Christmas; lucky duck! My mom had hoped to read some Peter Rabbit stories to Phoebe; their last night here, Phoebe was finally comfortable enough to allow it. Grandma and Grandpa Hazelton left Saturday morning, so we spent the weekend trying to remember how to take care of the kids without help!

Grandma with the two munchkins.
Grandma with the two munchkins.
Grandpa and Phoebe in her owl pajamas.
Grandpa and Phoebe in her owl pajamas.
Grandma and Benjamin.
Grandma and Benjamin.
Benjamin relaxing on a sunny day.
Benjamin relaxing on a sunny day.
Comfy with his new farm blanket from Uncle Matt and Aunt Erin.
Comfy with his new farm blanket from Uncle Matt and Aunt Erin.
Everyone compliments the sweet baseball hat Grandma Hoot made!
Everyone compliments the sweet baseball hat Grandma Hoot made!

The next two weeks of January were going to be Dave’s paternity leave. In mid-January, Benjamin’s pediatrician got worried about his development, which seemed a bit delayed. In particular, he wasn’t responsively smiling, looking for the source of sounds, or paying much attention to faces. She scheduled him for a brain ultrasound (which we did on Christmas Eve), a visit to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, and a visit to an eye doctor. All were instructive. They didn’t see anything to worry about in his brain. The eye doctor discovered that he’s significantly farsighted. The ENT doctor saw fluid in his ears and wanted to put in ear tubes. Since we also needed to do a bone conduction hearing test, that could be done while he was under anesthesia for the tubes. (We knew that his hearing was compromised, but we didn’t know how much.) His urologist (who keeps an eye on his kidneys, since one of them is non-functioning) wanted to do a minor surgery on his penis to straighten it out. We were going to wait until he was 6 months old for that surgery, but fortunately, we were able to schedule all of it at the same time.

The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday the 22nd. We had asked our friend Big John to sleep over and take Phoebe to school that morning, since we had to be at the hospital in Denver at 6:00 a.m. John agreed, but that Monday Phoebe came home from school with a fever and cough. John, our personal saint, agreed to stay at our house with her until we came back from the hospital. The scariest part of the surgery was that Dave and I weren’t allowed in there! (I wouldn’t have gone, but I would’ve liked Dave to be there.) We had to wait outside, so I brought some cards to write to try to keep my mind off things. As you might guess, it didn’t work. Fortunately, it didn’t take very long. The ENT doctor came out first and told us that she hadn’t had to put in tubes, because the fluid was gone from his ears. (Hooray!) She said that the audiologist found that Benjamin had normal hearing in his right ear, but essentially none in his left ear. Then the urologist came out with a pre-drawn picture of a penis to say that the surgery had gone well. We just had to wait for our little guy to wake up.

Finally, we got to go back to the recovery room, where a nurse looked delighted to be holding Benjamin. He looked so little and vulnerable! I sat down with him in my arms and he made sweet cooing noises. After a few minutes I fed him, and he ate hungrily. He did so well that we only had to be there about an hour after the surgery. We took him home, where he snoozed most of the day.

Recovering after surgery.
Recovering after surgery.

The next day, Wednesday, I went to work. Dave watched Benjamin all day and then picked up Phoebe and met me in town. We got some dinner. By the time we got home, it was clear that something was seriously wrong with Benjamin. He was wheezing and breathing really fast. I called his pediatrician’s office; the doctor on call told me to hang up and count his breaths. If he was breathing more than 50 times a minute, we should take him to the emergency room. I counted 72 and called back to find out which hospital they recommended.

Fortunately, there’s a branch of Children’s Hospital about 5 miles from our house. The triage nurses counted 66 breaths per minute and admitted us. First a nurse sucked a bunch of junk out of his sinuses with a fabulous wall-mounted vacuum device that attached to tubes that she threaded way up his nose. Then a respiratory therapist came to check on him and ended up trying Albuterol, which worked pretty well to calm his wheezing. They x-rayed his lungs to see if he might have pneumonia. Then they said we’d be spending the night. I was already exhausted, and we were fortunate to get the last room available. I called Dave to let him know we wouldn’t be home. It was such a relief to lie down, even in my clothes, and get a few hours of sleep. Thank goodness for the nurses coming in to check on Benjamin! I was able to call them when he needed to get more mucus sucked out of his nose or another dose of Tylenol because of the surgery.

On Thursday, Dave took Phoebe to school by bike and then rode his bike over to check on us and bring me my computer and a change of clothes. It was clear that we weren’t going to need the car, so Dave rode back to get it later. We ended up staying in the hospital all day Thursday, all night, and most of Friday. Poor little guy! We had a few scary moments that weekend, when we couldn’t decide if he needed to go back to the hospital. On Monday, Dave took him to the pediatrician, who wanted him on oxygen. They stopped by work with Benjamin hooked to a portable oxygen canister. After several days with a mix of portable oxygen and a concentrator, he was able to start using it only while he slept. But then the doctor decided he should be taking Albuterol for the wheeze!

Caterpillar fits perfectly.
Caterpillar fits perfectly.
Wearing a sweater that used to be Daddy's.
Wearing a sweater that used to be Daddy’s.
Phoebe said "take a picture of me too!" We're...where else?...at the coffee shop.
Phoebe said “take a picture of me too!” We’re…where else?…at the coffee shop.

Benjamin was supposed to start school on Monday, February 4, so I took him in after the doctor’s appointment. They were comfortable doing the oxygen and Albuterol nebulizer, but the main teacher was leaving halfway through the day, so I ended up taking him into work for the afternoon. Tuesday I showed his teachers how to work all the equipment for his true first day of school. Wednesday he had a “routine” renal ultrasound. Wednesday night he had to wear a pulse oximeter for a test of his sleeping oxygen level. Thursday the doctor finally took him off oxygen entirely and allowed us to take out the middle Albuterol treatment. On Friday, Benjamin and I drove down to Englewood (45 minutes from home in south Denver) to see the otologist recommended by the ear, nose, and throat doctor. We learned that Benjamin has severe conductive hearing loss in his left ear, though his auditory nerve works close to perfectly. He’ll be fitted for a hearing aid next week, and he should hear almost normally with it!

This was supposed to be the super-cute first-day-of-school photo, but Benjamin didn't end up staying at school that day.
This was supposed to be the super-cute first-day-of-school photo, but Benjamin didn’t end up staying at school that day.
Close-up of the stickers that held on the oxygen tubes.
Close-up of the stickers that held on the oxygen tubes.
I'm so cute!
I’m so cute!
The true first day of school. Phoebe insisted that she and Benjamin (who was screaming) sit on opposite sides of the couch.
The true first day of school. Phoebe insisted that she and Benjamin (who was losing it) sit on opposite sides of the couch.
Phoebe asked me to take a picture of her with Benjamin. Note that he's ready to go and she's still wearing pajamas.
Phoebe asked me to take a picture of her with Benjamin. Note that he’s ready to go and she’s still wearing pajamas.
I'm going to learn to smile one of these days!
I’m going to learn to smile one of these days!
I'm almost there!
Okay…I’m almost there!
Phoebe is communing with Benjamin in her Thomas underpants.
Phoebe is communing with Benjamin in her Thomas underpants.
Tummy time turns out to be a great time to suck your thumb and relax.
Tummy time turns out to be a great time to suck your thumb and relax.
Napping on Daddy at the coffee shop.
Napping on Daddy at the coffee shop.

As I said, kind of a hard month. But Benjamin is eating well, growing, and sucking his thumb like a champ. He has a sweet personality, very laid-back, and he makes us very happy when we’re not worrying about him! Phoebe is doing superbly, as always. She recently skipped ahead of all her classmates to enter preschool (still at the same daycare). She’s always been verbal, so she was ready for it. She loves puzzles, books, and playing pretend with her stuffed animals. She and Benjamin both sleep well (thank goodness!), though Phoebe gets up three or four times every night before she falls asleep (for water, different music, a trip to the potty, or just general interest in what Dave and I are doing). She says “What you guys talking about?” all the time, which is totally adorable. And she’s learned to like Benjamin pretty well, telling him good night and occasionally bringing him an animal to snuggle.

Oh, Dave and I are fine too. You were wondering, weren’t you?

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