Tuesday 30 October 2007

It's Me Again

Heather here, again. I owe John a blog because he took me and the kid out to Claim Jumper tonight which was really nice. Owain slept through the entire meal. We are cherishing moments like this because soon he'll be throwing food and being a holy terror in general I'm sure. I got a little taste of his bad moods yesterday when nothing I did seemed to placate him so he fussed and cried most of the day until we went to pick John up from the airport, by then he was so tuckered out he slept like an angel through the night and was sweet all day. Of course John is convinced that Owain was simply missing him and that's what had him so upset. I hope that's not the case as John is off on another interviewing trip tomorrow and not back til Thursday!

Last week we went to The Red Devil to show Owain off. Kristi came all the way from Alabama, yes the pizza's that good! And Jamie and Gwyn showed up as well. Some of the regular crew were there, my Dad, Mary Ellen, Tumbleweed, and Frank and Marie. Its nice to know he's cute enough to start a mini war between Jamie and Mary Ellen of who gets to hold him. I think Jamie won the battle that night.

but only after a little baby wrangling

One last picture for your viewing pleasure is of Owain on the quilt my aunt made. This one better shows her mad sewing skillz.

Friday 26 October 2007

A Post From Mrs. McF

I thought I would give John a short break and post in his place. Owain had his first pediatrician appointment yesterday and it went very well. He is already back up to his birth weight and has put on an extra 4oz! Needless to say any feeding issues we had have been resolved. The doctor said he is fit and healthy so we don't need to go back until next month.

Tomorrow we are off to the American Legion ball. It's basically a Halloween costume party at the Tempe legion post #2. We will make our appearance to show off the babe, who has a Halloween themed outfit purchased especially for the occasion.

Day to day life has become somewhat easier even though the four hours a day that Owain is awake he stretches out all through the night. Luckily I'm a lady of leisure and I can nap with him during the day. Dad manages to do the same.

I can hear him doing the squirmy wormy and grunting so I'll sign off for now and put you back in the much more capable blogging hands of my dear John.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Permanent Residence Inerview

I was approved for a green card today!

We all had to get to the Department of Homeland Security in central Phoenix for 7.15am so I assumed we'd be there all day being grilled over every last detail of our relationship. Instead, the whole thing can't have taken more than an hour. Heather was sure that the sleeping baby in a travel seat melted the heart of the gangling civil servant as we sat in an office small enough to be one of his shoe boxes. I think the two inch-thick wad of paperwork played its part.

Owain is feeding quite well now and spends most of his time sleeping. His biggest problem is that he gets all his outfits wet despite having a nappy on. I won't provide an explanation here. It shocks me too much. I say 'his biggest problem' but really it's ours. His biggest problem is keeping his dummy in his mouth.

Tomorrow is ram-packed full of job interviews and doctor's appointments. Heather's best friend Kristi is in town for the rest of the week so the hard stuff is nearly behind us now. Fingers crossed.

Have you had your fix of baby photos yet? Yes? Well tough luck. Here's Owain sleeping in his crib on the blanket that Auntie Dee Dee made for him. Aahhh!

And who's this hansome, young man asleep in his swing-chair-type thing? Could it be Owain Rockford? Why yes!

Green is clearly the new black (except in his diaper where it's the other way around).

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Settling In

We did indeed return home on Saturday morning and started settling in straight away. Mac and Mary Ellen fed us all weekend and Heather filled up on steak and home-made burgers to help replenish the iron she lost.

We've been playing with all the new toys essential infant accessories we received at the baby shower. I had assumed that most of it was to make mother feel special - rather than for practical purpose - but as I marvel at the invention of the heated wipe dispenser, it dawns on me that I've got the baby bug pretty bad.

Adjusting to our new life is predictably challenging. I'm sure we're experiencing much the same ups and downs that all first-time parents go through.

Feeding Owain is the biggest challenge that Heather has faced and can be very frustrating for both parties. Heather assumed that her only discomfort now would be the many - but slowly fading - pains from the birth itself. Instead, breastfeeding hurts her every time Owain latches on. Today was when milk started coming through and that has made a big difference.

Another problem is postnatal depression. I was fully expecting this as Heather has been on an emotional roller coaster ride since the first trimester. It still catches us out because there are a number of things to be very happy about as well as a lot of scary new problems to face. When the mood swings hit in, everything seems impossible and doomed to failure. She feels guilty about every mistake she makes and the sound of the baby crying breaks her heart. A strict diet of painkillers is the best help as lifting the physical pain really makes the sun come out.

Mostly, it's one big treadmill: the baby is fed, burped, changed and put down to sleep and at that point, he's ready to feed again. Getting this rhythm right is our main aim. As he adjusts to life on the outside and we get proficient at performing these tasks, the sleeping bit should constitute a larger part of the cycle. That way, we can sleep more too. It's heading that way gradually.

The good news? Owain is the most precious little creature ever. Maybe it's because he was so late but he is very alert and full of beans. He seems imbued with much personality - even though my good sense tells me that he's little more than a machine for converting milk into sticky green poo. And no, there is no such thing as too much information; sitting at the dinner table on Sunday, I realized I was freely talking about all sorts of unpleasant bodily functions with no consideration for anyone's appetite.

Just touching or holding him is a reward in itself. He's desperately delicate. On his first day, his skin was so soft that I literally didn't have sense in my fingers fine enough to feel it. He's also surprisingly strong. Holding his arms and legs down to change or dress him requires not-inconsiderable effort. This makes it a traumatic ordeal as he feels as if he'll tear like paper if I'm too rough yet escapes my grip like a cage fighter.

Saturday 20 October 2007

Good Morning!

Last night was very tiring. Rocky fed for a whole hour but then he wouldn't stop crying for quite a while. In the end, a combination of lots of burping and Radio 3 put him to sleep.

We did hope to go home yesterday but as he needed to stay here for at least 24 hours, that would have meant Friday night traffic. Instead, we head home this morning just as soon as we've got our things together.

We've got two hats that he's worn which I'm going to give to the dogs to sniff. This is supposed to help introduce him to them. The last thing we want is for Cinnamon to think we're offering her an extra-large burrito or for Joe to run off with him and bury him. No, those things would be inappropriate.

Friday 19 October 2007

Baby Photos

Heather and Owain are fed and fast asleep after a busy day of diaper changes and nursing mishaps so I've taken the opportunity to publish all of the photos from yesterday.

So far, I haven't got around to describing the birth - been a bit busy, you see. Well, compared to the rest of the week's trials and tribulations, the actual birth went fairly smoothly. At around four or five, the decision was made to start the big push. There was a break when the nurse found that the head was caught on a bit of the cervix. After sitting upright for half and hour, this righted itself and Heather made steady progress until some time after six.

The epidural was starting to wear off by the time the head was visible on its own. (The head, by the way, was the colour of reddish-brown meat with lots of white patches and reminded me of corned beef!) Heather had long since given up all hope of seeing a baby and just wanted an end to her misery. So in a sense, it was the fact that she didn't want to try any more that kept her pushing relentlessly. By the time the doctor was paged, she was ready to finish the job and was incredibly frustrated that she had to stop and wait.

Then the room was a buzz with people dressed in green; the stirrups came up and half the bed fell away to reveal a huge trough for catching all manner of fluids and other matter. (Still reading?) At this point Heather was screaming louder than she had all week.

The head turned out to be about twice as long as it was wide, so it just seemed to keep coming. As it got free the doctor quickly removed the umbilical chord from around the neck whilst twisting the head around 90 degrees which was when I could make out the features. In no time, the whole body was there in his hands which was when it finally sank in that Heather wasn't kidding; she really had been pregnant all year.

The chord was cut and the baby was whisked away to the other side of the room to be poked and prodded this way and that. That's when he let out his first cry and we just fell to pieces. I don't remember many details as things were still happening so quickly and nothing felt real. I remember he was given a minute or two of oxygen as a precaution because of his deathly pale complexion.

He was handed back to Heather to hold briefly and but not for long enough to feed before he was taken away again for more tests and treatment including an injection of vitamin K which made him cry so loud that Heather was inconsolable until she had him back in her arms.

The room slowly started to empty of staff and activity and we realised that we both had the sensation that we were in a completely different place. Around about that time I started taking lots of pictures.

Owain Rockford McFarlane

Yes, the baby has a name!

We couldn't put it off any longer and decided to go with our long-term favourite suggestions. I think he looks like an Owain, don't you?

Owain is a Welsh name which means 'young warrior' or 'well born'. It is pronounced the same as Owen (which is the Anglicised version).

Owain and JimOwain, Mac and Mary Ellen
(Left: Jim. Right: Mac and Mary Ellen.)

Rockford is an American name meaning 'early adopter of the answer phone'. I was against Rockford for a long time - mostly on the basis that it's not a name (unless you're a town or a TV show). Then I discovered that Rockford is actually a given name. That and my Dad's incessant pleading cause me to cave in and give him Rockford as the middle name.

Actually, I argued with Heather so much over it that she took the rather underhanded approach of making me choose the first name all on my own. This is probably the reason why he's not called Rockford Owain McFarlane.

Owain, Heather and John

Thursday 18 October 2007


Our baby boy!
Heather and baby are doing just fine. He's 8lbs 6oz and was born today at 7:21pm PST (GMT+8) and he's crying like a baby.And next time I post, we'll have a name picked out and everything. I thought I'd get this out just as fast as I could.

On This Day?

Heather's water broke this morning and she is at 8cm (as of 1:50pm) so there's little doubt that today's the day!

Thanks to everyone who has emailed and called in to wish us luck. Hopefully, the next post will include the photo of a grumpy, pruney bundle of joy.

I thought I'd check Wikipedia's entry for this day in history for a bit of inspiration with names and out of general curiosity. I didn't spot any really momentous events. Here are a few slightly eventful moments:
  • 1991 - Azerbaijan declares independence from USSR
  • 1954 - Texas Instruments announces the first Transistor radio.
  • 1944 - Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia
  • 1929 - Women are considered "Persons" under law in Canada.
  • 1922 - The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) is founded by a consortium, to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.
  • 1867 - United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.
  • 1016 - The Danes defeat the Saxons in the Battle of Ashingdon.
  • 1210 - Pope Innocent III excommunicates German leader Otto IV
  • 68867BC - Ice Age begins

And here's a sample of the famous fellow 18th Octobrians he'll be competing with. They're quite a motley bunch so I'm not worried for him.

  • 1926 - Chuck Berry, American musician
  • 1949 - Joe Egan, British musician (Stealers Wheel)
  • 1949 - Gary Richrath, American musician (REO Speedwagon)
Regular Actors:
  • 1951 - Pam Dawber, American actress
  • 1961 - Erin Moran American actress
Kick-boxing Actors:
  • 1960 - Jean-Claude Van Damme, Belgian actor

Tennis Players:
  • 1956 - Martina Navrátilová, Czech-born tennis player

Purported Assassin's of US Presidents:
  • 1939 - Lee Harvey Oswald, purported American assassin of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)

UK Children's TV Loners:
  • 1955 - Timmy Mallett, British TV presenter
  • 1947 - Paul Chuckle, British comedian

Is it Thursday Already?

Another exciting evening of not having a baby is behind us. Heather made it for (I think about) seven hours of induced labour without any pain killers before giving in and requesting a mild epidural. It's a strange thing to see how someone can go from one emotional extreme to the other in such a short stretch of time.

And now for the technical specs: Heather's baby pressure is 112/62. She's at 89 bloods per minute and he's at 144. Her eyes are now dilated to 5cm which is very good (see figure). And even though we're in a bigger room now, the contraptions are closer together.

Piece of cake this medicining.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Take Two

Late last night, the epidural became too much to bear and Heather decided to stop all the drugs. Her legs were going dead depending on which side she was lying on and despite the numbness, the pain of contraction was coming through so she had the worst of both worlds. Plus she remained at 3cm the whole time. She's a little sore but feeling a lot better today. She was in such a bad way last night that the staff are making her a top priority. They moved us to a room with a window, changed our doctor and included a number of extra services such as massage. Nice!

In a few minutes, she's going back on the induction drip and trying to make it through labour again. She's feeling a lot more confident today after writing off most of yesterday as one of her worst days ever. She's dolled herself up and even curled her hair. I don't think first impressions are that important but she's not listening.

Tuesday 16 October 2007


At our ultrasound appointment yesterday, it transpired that the baby's amniotic fluid is low enough to be a cause for concern. We were checked straight into the hospital at around five and at about 8:30pm, Heather was administered Cervidil, a mild labour-inducing treatment that is applied directly to the cervix and aims to ripen it.

At 8.30 this morning, it was removed after causing only mild contractions and Heather was moved on to Oxytocin, a drip-based drug that promotes contractions. All afternoon, Heather had increasingly intense contractions and dilated to roughly 4cm.

At around five, the pain got too much and she opted for an epidural which was immediately followed by a great feeling of relief as well as uncontrollable shakes which the nurses and anesthetist assured us was a sign of intensifying labour. She was then given a sedative to calm her down which just plain tripped her out.

Sorry for the overly medical account of our adventures in childbirth which probably involves plenty of factual errors. I've probably had four hours sleep since Monday morning and Heather's had less than that. It's been a very emotional time with a lot worry and stress and more than a little disillusionment on Heather's part. She's been through a huge amount of confusion and pain but is currently comfortable and calm ... and mostly numb from the waist down!

We're getting a crash course in hospital politics which is very interesting. A big problem is that we've out-lasted roughly six waves of nurses and doctors, each with a varying opinion on how to deliver babies. This means that we find ourselves changing course regularly. (It's a bit like party politics in that respect.)

Currently we're just waiting to see if the labour progresses of its own accord before deciding what to do next. Heather can't feel her legs and needs her feet rubbed constantly to stop her freaking out. She's not been able to explain exactly why this is but is very adamant about it.

It's quite hard to keep sight of the end goal at the moment as our time is filled with monitors, medicines, pillows and uncomfortable lying positions. We've had visits from Jamie and Gwyn as well as Mac and Mary Ellen who kindly lent me the laptop I'm using right now to get on the web. Jim and Daniel are currently keeping us company. Daniel is alternating between smoking and snoring and Jim is on foot rubbing duty while I write these words.

More news as it happens...

Sunday 14 October 2007

Sunday, the day of Video Games

The weather was cool enough today to do a bit of going outside for pleasure's sake. I, however, stayed inside and played Sonic and the Secret Rings for Wii. It's true to the Sonic formula: dshing along at breakneck speed and collecting as many gold rings as possible, but the controls are there for the sake of the Wii, rather than because they work best and much of the presentation is half-baked. The game's a lot of fun but totally put-downable and I'm glad I only rented it.

I have ordered the latest Zelda game on the DS which is due to arrive at the house some time this week. Wandering in to a shop on Friday, I found it playing on a display stand and got sucked in which was a HUGE mistake. I'm terrible at waiting for fun stuff to arrive in the post so now I'm getting frantic to get stuck in to it - like Joe and Cinnamon at dinner time.

There's really not much else to report unless you're interested in my efforts to learn SVG. (Hint: you're not.)

Saturday Night at the Movies

We went to see We Own the Night tonight. Heather only had to pay for one adult as the baby's still living in her belly. Good thing too because it's an R-rated (Restricted) movie which means that people under the age of zero are not allowed in.

We Own the Night centres around 1980's nightclub manager Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) who harbours the secret that he is both brother and son to two of New York's finest (Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duval respectively).

When the crime-fighting duo attempt to enlist Bobby's help to uncover a smuggling operation which involves one of his regulars, a predictable conflict of interest arises. Fortunately, this doesn't define the movie. Likewise the relationship between the two brothers does not smack of the yin and yang symmetry of The Departed. These were my worries going into the theatre. I should instead have worried about what would replace them as the story's hook.

It almost seems as if writer/director James Gray spends his time trying to avoid glaring clichés. Generally he succeeds and there are some nice touches such as the ringing ears accompanying gunshots and a thrilling - yet eerily quiet - car chase through rainy city streets.

Phoenix has a knack for playing characters on the brink of insanity in a suitably unsettling way. In this film, armed with a wobbly-cam(tm) and a bottle of spray-on sweat, he keeps the audience on-side as an unlikely hero who knows he's completely out of his depth. The rest of the star-studded cast compliments this with understated performances including Eva Mendes as Bobby's remarkably sympathetic girlfriend.

Ultimately, the film rolls from it's beginning to it's end without ever really leaving a lasting imprint. If you need the see every example of the current wave of cops 'n' gangsters films doing the rounds, this one's well worth your while. If you don't, it isn't.

Friday 12 October 2007

8 Pounds and Healthy

...according to the ultrasound scan today!

Even though the baby's a full week late now, the doc decided that he and Heather are not far enough along to be induced. Heather was over two weeks late herself and we don't feel too worried. Nor do the people at the perinatal centre where the scans get done.

He's so big now, you can't really make much out from the pictures. I was given the task of shocking him with a special buzzer because he wouldn't roll over to get his photo taken. He freaked out and kicked like a mule! It wasn't at all funny. Not funny at all. We go for another scan on Monday and another doctor's appointment on Tuesday.

Another ordeal that takes forever is baseball. It's like cricket only worse. The Diamondbacks took my advice and started playing against the Colorado Rockies (which isn't even an animal). They're eleven innings into a nine innings game. It gets Heather very nervous and excited which has to be a good thing given the circumstances.

Oh, there you go. The Rockies just won three points to two. Five points in nearly five hours? It's not cricket alright.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Still no sign

But we have a doctor's appointment tomorrow where we'll discuss the possibility of inducing labour. Stay tuned...

Monsters of the Deep

My still-heavily-pregnant wife and I went to see Sea Monsters 3D at the IMAX theatre this evening. The film follows the fate of a prehistoric, aquatic reptile called a Dolichorhynchops as she battles for life in a sea full of big, scary computer-generated beasties. Accompanying the main storyline are scenes of the palaeontologists whose discoveries made it possible to tell the tale in the first place. There are, however, no scenes of the team that produced the computer graphics for the feature; they are hiding their faces in shame!

I didn't go into the auditorium expecting an experience on the scale of Jurassic Park. I did at least hope for something on a par with Walking with Dinosaurs. This was was a step backwards. The sea looked about as deep as cellophane and much of the animation seemed half-hearted. I expect that most of my fellow movie-goers were not even born when Jurassic Park II was released but they deserve better than this and are probably quite used to it too.

In contrast to the CGI, the re-enactments of the fossil hunters was well filmed and reminded me why IMAX is so immersive when it's used right. The acting was no less wooden but then again, the humans weren't really supposed to be the main attraction. Definitely 'one for the kiddies' (if you can prize the critters out).

(Incidentally, Dolichorhynchops are a small type of Plesiosaur - the same sub-order of animals as the Loch Ness Monster. Fact.)

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Social Security

The baby did not arrive today... but my social security number did!
Promise not to thieve my identity? It's 123 (same as my PIN number).

Monday 8 October 2007


But we knew that months ago. Still isn't out yet... and no more contractions. In fact, Heather was right as rain today. It was probably my attempt at home-made hamburgers that made her feel funny the other night. Did you know that even though they're made from the same animals as steak, you can't eat them when they're red in the middle. I know that now, even if I don't know why.

Most of my clothes have now been washed in special baby detergent. 'Special' because it costs twice as much as normal detergent and doesn't get muddy paw prints out of bedlinen.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Almost there...

Baby's still not here but he is thinking about it.

Until this evening, Heather reckons she was getting occasional, pre-labour contractions but nothing very persistent. Right now she's consuming her last trolley-load of unhealth-food. Nothing to do with cravings mind; it's just her last chance to enjoy food with zero guilt. (You probably want to stop reading now.)

We went to the Dubliner this afternoon to watch the Scotland / Argentina game and they tried to charge us $20! Presumably, the Setanta Premium channel costs an arm and a leg. However I mostly wanted to see the repeats of Saturday's matches which you can get on regular $15/month Setanta.

From the comments I've seen around the Interweb, North American coverage of Rugby - and other extra-continental sports such as soccer - is a major cause of frustration amongst fans. Advert-funded TV stations over here show 18 minute of commercials every hour so a game that lasts for 40 minutes without interruption simply isn't viable. And without 'free' coverage, who's going to become hooked enough to shell out for a subscription channel?

Er, anyway like I said: still no sprog. Try again tomorrow. Cheerio!

Typical McFarlane

The due-date has come and gone and still no baby. It's not the 6th of October back home and it's not even the 6th here in Pacific Time. It's still Saturday in the Marquesas Islands but even there he's swiftly running out of time.

Far more importantly, today we've missed what sounds like two of the most gripping games of the world cup. That waste of satellite space, Setanta, decided not to show any live matches today, instead waiting until tomorrow. The reason for this is to make their premium channel seem more worthwhile. It's a pity we can't get that channel. It's an even bigger pity we didn't find out that the Dubliner has the premium service sooner than we did. When I phoned them to ask if they were showing the repeats, I could hear the end of the France/New Zealand game, live in the background. (And no, they're not showing the repeats.)

Not a good day for babies or Rugby. A better day for the Diamondbacks, the local Baseballerers who just beat the Chicago Cubs for the third time this week. (Not being too close to the action, I don't like to say anything but perhaps it's time they found someone else to play.)

And finally, a notice: Due to the weight of phone calls from concerned friends and family who worry that 24 hours of radio silence means we're in the delivery room, I hereby promise to blog every day that we're still at home. Feel free to phone anyway if you like. I doubt I'll have much to say but I'll say it anyway.

Until tomorrow ... probably.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

I still prefer Charlesworth

Thank you to everyone who voted in the baby name poll. I can't honestly say if it
helped us decide. I think the option to nominate alternatives would have been interesting. Still it's probably put the name, Zefram out of the running. (Sorry, solitary treckie who voted for that one.)

This evening was spent rearranging the bedroom to cram in an extra piece of baby furniture, a pack 'n playtm. I thought Elvis James was going to be sleeping in the nursery we went to such lengths to kit out. Looks like I was wrong. Perhaps I'll hide in the nursery in when the bawling starts.

On Sunday, Heather and I watched America's last world cup rugby match in the Dubliner in Phoenix. The US never looked seriously like upsetting hopefuls - and former champions - South Africa, but they played a fine game all the same. The try they scored a little before half time was possibly the most exhilarating point of the match and took the ball pretty-much the length of the pitch.

Apart from the Dubliner, I don't think there's a single bar in the Valley that shows any of the matches - even the repeats in the afternoon. Moreover, the landlord (whom I suspect of being Irish) seemed willing to show any match so long as someone was there to watch it. The rest of the bar was engrossed in American football but the rugby stayed on far as long as we stayed. What's more, the Guiness was poured properly and even tasted like Guiness! The knockout stages begin next weekend and right now, the Dubliner is the only reason to hope that Maddog Montgomery McFarlane holds on past his due date.