Tag Archives: baby

Three’s a Crowd (Part 2)

9 Apr

Author’s Note: It has taken me a lot, and I mean a lot, to write this post. It literally has been the bottleneck for all posts to the blog; knowing that I have to finish this story has backlogged all future stories. I hope it is worth the wait. If you would like to read Part One, click here

Monday October 3, 2016 started out quite normal. We had a long awaited meeting scheduled with our newest little addition to the family – Elise Ann Dill. Had we relied on past history, she shouldn’t have made it to be an October baby. She was expected to make her appearance near the same time as her brothers did, 8 weeks early by gestation and 4 weeks prior to this day. Yet there we were, up at 5:00 AM and ready to head over to the hospital and begin the scheduled C-Section process. We were nervous, excited, and – if I am honest – ready for this to be over.

As I detailed before in the first installment, Ms Elise should never have had a scheduled C-Section appointment to be born. She truthfully shouldn’t even have been created. And while the first part of this story detailed the emotions we felt after finding out we indeed were starting a little family circus, let me take a moment to explain how our attitude had shifted over 7 months. What started as fear and (truthfully) anger had melted into hope and excitement. A girl! First of all, how neat is that? After experiencing two rambunctious boys we would now get to know the joys of having a little girl in the house. But beyond that the fear had morphed to acknowledgement. As we journeyed through a third uncomfortable and challenging pregnancy both Jos and I couldn’t help but sit back and acknowledge how incredible this story is. Just when you think that you have your life planned out, God gently chimes in, “Not quite yet…”. Sure, kids are created every day against all odds, but this just went deeper. God knew how difficult our pregnancies had been, he KNEW how much frustration, worry, and angst the deliveries had caused so why would he put us through this again? We had to admit that God’s plan is always better than our own. And while we were no where near ready to tackle the responsibilities of a third kid, we slowly began to enjoy and anticipate what this little girl was destine to do with her life. The fact that we were selected literally against the odds to grow and support her through her journey was incredibly heavy and undeniably exciting.

So we sat in the car on the 20-minute drive and talked about how the day might go. E had made it to a critical 36-week mark which allowed us the ability to deliver at our “home” hospital, and also introduced possibilities we hadn’t experienced before. We had a great chance of holding this baby in the operating room – alright! We might even get to spend the first night together, the 3 of us, in a regular hospital room instead of apart in different hospitals area codes apart. What was that even like?? She shouldn’t even require a NICU stay which would be ground breaking for us. We had tossed scenarios around in our minds and settled on worst case: They might have to take Elise into the NICU just to check and make sure she is ok, but we would get to see her back with Josie as soon as that evening, potentially even while the Mrs was still in recovery. This was going to be a cake walk.

The first few hours of the morning went great, and aside from the slight contractions that she had been experiencing for a full month there was no signs of actual labor. Everything was setting up just as the doctor had designed. Vital signs were stable, both for mom and baby. Even anesthesiology was in the room early! That literally never happens we were told. (Turns out, that guy might have been an angel.) We were ready for our 9:15 AM delivery. And then things suddenly changed.

“OOOHhhhfff”, Josie grunted. “What was that!?“, she asked. I immediately assumed a contraction had picked up so I walked over to the monitor. Nothing. I looked back at my wife and the look of pain in her eyes was severe. Any husband knows the different levels of pain their wife can endure, especially after child birth, and I knew that whatever she was experiencing was a pretty intense pain. I asked her to describe it, she said “IT HURTS”. I decided to not ask anymore questions. I looked back at the machine monitoring muscle contractions… still nothing. Well this is all helpful I thought to myself. After just a simple minute that felt like an eon Jos decided to call the nurse. It was 9:04 AM, just 11 minutes pre-operation. The nurse came in and she literally started wheeling Josie out of the room immediately while saying, “Well, they’re either ready for you in OR or they’re going to be ready for you”. Josie’s doctor came in at that same moment as well and asked a couple benign questions before saying. “Well – I will scrub in and see you in OR!”. It got a lot intense in a little amount of time.

Let me side-step briefly. The most frightening ~7 minutes of my life have been spent in a white hallway at our local hospital, 15 ft away from an automatic door controlling entry to the operating room. Twice I have sat in a blue chair as doctors and nurses rush past me into a room that I know holds my wife and baby and I have had nothing to do except plead and pray to God. And wait. I have buckets of empathy toward every dad who has had to do that same routine. It causes visions of the worst possible outcomes a man can imagine to flash behind his eyes. I cried each time, once with Trevor and then again that day with Elise. And then the nurse came out: “Joel? Come on, Josie wants you”.

“I’ve got blood in the belly!”, I hear the doctor say just moments after I sit down on a stool near my wife. My heart hit my gut.

Here’s what happened. That intense pain that she felt just 15 excruciating long minutes ago? That was an organ inside of her body breaking. More specifically, do you remember the T-cut incision I mentioned in Part One? Elise had busted through that delicate scar and was causing a world of commotion. First, Josie was now internally bleeding. Second, Elise was having sensations of birth…except that she was still very much stuck inside her mother. She took her first breath – a lungful of her mother’s blood instead of beautiful oxygen as her instincts would’ve liked. Not a great start to life in the real world. It was approximately 9:21 AM.

Elise Ann Dill was officially born on October 3, 2016 @ 9:29 AM. Well, more accurately that is the time we all decided it was after the medical team and myself had gotten back to the NICU and one of the nurses noticed an official time hadn’t been called. You better believe that OR was hectic from 9:21 AM on. See, Elise wasn’t exactly “alive” when they


Elise, meeting Mom and ready for transport. How can you not believe in love at first sight?!

pulled her from her mother’s abdomen so it’s hard to argue an exact time of birth. Her 1-minute APGAR was a 1, which is borderline dead. Her 10-minute APGAR was still just a 5, which leans toward or can indicate brain damage. Normally babies rebound more quickly from a low initial APGAR score, up to a full 10 by the 10-minute mark. Not Elise. The blood in her umbilical cord at birth was so acidic they feared she had been without sweet oxygen for too long. Josie had some internal bleeding but thankfully they were able to suck it all out within minutes and control the bleeding. The doctor said at the end of the day she bled about the same amount she would’ve in a normal C-Section delivery. The cold truth is that had we not already been at a hospital, mere minutes away from a scheduled operation, with anesthesiology already in the OR prepping for Josie (remember I said the guy must’ve been an angel!)… neither my wife nor our baby girl would be here today. If Josie would’ve been at home with the boys on a normal day there is almost no way she could’ve rounded up someone to watch them, gotten to the hospital, and still survived. Elise for sure wouldn’t have survived.


God had a plan. We learned that over 7 long months of working through a pregnancy we had done everything to prevent from happening. And then we learned it again in 25 minutes at a hospital where everything worked out so perfectly that not only did our new baby girl survive near death – but she was set up to thrive. The quick action taken by our doctor to deliver Elise and then again by the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to send E down to Denver and to Children’s Hospital for further screening was crucial. I have played out nightmares in my mind where the doctor disregards Josie’s pain and says, “Ah you can wait until the 9:15 scheduled operation, can’t you?”. I’ve wondered what might have happened had the NICU team not gotten Elise stabilized, prepped, and transferred into a world class facility within 6 hours of being born. But thank God I don’t have to actually live those scenarios out. Because tonight I have a beautiful wife, fully recovered, (she was released from the hospital the next day at noon – 27 hours post-operation!) and a beautiful 6-month old baby girl who has stolen all of our hearts.

Thank God for his plan.




2 Jan

I am by no means a movie buff, but I have a best friend that is and all throughout college he would constantly drop one-liners on me then question my cinematic knowledge. More times than not, I would let him down… but every once in a while I would come up with the correct movie. Due to these pop quizzes I actually became pretty proficient at movie trivia.

One of my favorite movies is Anchorman, and one of my favorite parts is when Ron Burgundy stops a party because he has an “urgent and horrifying news story”… and then:

The Pickle Jar has unofficially absolutely totally adopted the term Cannonball as our family mantra, especially over the past 2 years. Basically everything we do is done without hesitation or second thought — just like an overweight, overly-hairy man in a speedo off of a diving board, am I right?

Speaking of urgent news stories we do have a rather large announcement to make. We’re having a baby! No seriously, we are. And by “we” I mean the Mrs.
She’s doing all of the hard work without a doubt and is doing a knock-out job so far. We are sitting at about 17 weeks along and everything is progressing along quite nicely — especially considering the fact that this pregnancy has been deemed high risk due to Nolan’s premature arrival. In reality the hardest parts of this pregnancy have been the blood draws, which are never easy with the Mrs’ vampire-esque veins. Oh, and that new weekly shot of a hormone that will help lower the risk of a second premature baby. Some headaches. A little nausea. Various other pains and aches. Fatigue. Shoot who am I kidding, this pregnancy has been a lot like the first: not very fun. I have already offered to schedule a vasectomy for ~March 18th (some people will understand that timing; others will not) but after today’s ultrasound Mrs Dill has pumped the breaks. Not only would it make about zero sense to take me out of commission for a couple of days while she is 6+ months pregnant, but we have another announcement:


Yep — that’s exactly what you think it is. That is a BOY! Two of them! In one house! It’s going to be legend-wait for it-dary! Legendary! Nolan is also incredibly excited. We have a picture of the first ultrasound on the fridge and he constantly is pointing to it and calling it “baby”. He also enjoys the ultrasounds and points at the screen saying baby about 15,000 times during the appointment. He has no clue that his baby is actually in Mama’s tummy.

I think Josie is still in a fair amount of shock, having to come to the realization that all the difficulties of raising Nolan Wayne now have a great chance of being repeated.
And that brings me to the second part of the brake check: she kind of wanted a girl. She wasn’t admitting it, but throw in the reality of another rambunctious boy destroying her house and she did express her desire for a little girl. So that all but insures we will be at least discussing another try — at some point — for a girl. Even if the odds may be more stacked against that happening then they were for Katniss Everdeen.

I was/am/will always be stoked. TWO BOYS! I feel like I won the lottery (sorry honey!). I already can’t wait to go do a bunch of man-stuff with my boys; I was already excited for trips with Nolan and I, and now we get to add another to the wolf pack. The three best friends that anyone can have and all that stuff. We’ll go fishing, and hunting, and work in the garage. It’s gonna be a blast.
Get this: Josie is even ok with the name Garth. Nolan Wayne and TBD Garth. Party on Wayne! Party on Garth! Party Time! Excellent! Guys.. this could be epic!


On another note, WordPress sent me an email the other day and told me I had written only nine posts in 2014. That is incredibly pathetic! So one of my many goals of 2015 is to write much more about the adventures of our growing family. Believe me, the stories are always there. It is more about finding the time to put it together. I’m going to give it the old college try — I promise. If all else fails, I will at least do really well for the first few weeks just like all of my other resolutions. So you have that to look forward to!

Happy New Year to all! Here’s to a Cannonball 2015.

Unraveling a Farce: “Sleeping Like a Baby”

3 Sep

Sleeping like a baby. Everyone does it these days, or at least claims they do.
Person A: “Hey good morning! How did you sleep last night?”
Person B: “Oh man, I slept like a baby! I didn’t even move!”

False. Or more importantly, farce. A travesty. Completely burlesque. (Dear Wife, I threw this last one in especially for you after I excitedly figured out that one of its definitions is “involving ludicrous or mocking treatment of a solemn subject”. Sleep really is the most solemn of subjects, isn’t it?)

Anyone who claims to actually sleep like a baby should have a 6:30 AM conversation more like the following:
Person A: “(YAWWWWWNNNN) Oh, hey. How did you sleep last night?”
Person B: “I slept like a freaking baby. Get out of my face unless you are offering me coffee, and even then stand ten feet back. Ok fine, bring me the coffee and then back away — slowly.”

The simple truth is, babies… they don’t sleep very well. They actually sleep kinda horribly. They, in fact, sleep so horribly that a pediatrician (Judith Owens) is quoted on BabyCenter.com as saying that “through the night”
is defined as being from the hours of midnight to 5 AM.
MIDNIGHT TO 5!?! That hasn’t been “through the night” since I was a sophomore in college! I am not sure in what world 5 hours of sleep constitute “through the night”, but I am finding out more and more that these benchmarks are invented by the medical world because 5 hours of baby sleep is actually really, really good. And well-earned. And glorious.

I really have no room to be complaining as Baby Nolan has slept more like an old man for the past 2+ months. Yes, like an old man. What is “sleeping like an old man”? Well by definition Old Man Sleep is roughly a two-hour nap at 10 AM and 2 PM, asleep shortly after the nightly news airs, and awake at 6 AM because you cannot just shut off a hard-working pituitary gland. Everyone knows what I am talking about. However lately the Nolanator has been sleeping more like a baby. After spoiling his caring, loving parents for two months he is reverting to typical baby form and punishing us.
Let’s take last night for instance. Coming home from a long vacation weekend he slept for 3 hours in the car which is usually chalked up in the normal column but this weekend was a pure victory. A victory? Definitely. Because during what was a 16-hour round-trip car ride the only 3 straight hours he slept were those last 3 coming home. I then, in my infinite parenting wisdom (read: complete naivety), figured that as soon as we got home I could transfer the sleeping monster from car seat to crib and ride off into the sunset. HA! Yeah right! The lack of road noise in his crib didn’t sit too well with the little dude, and so he cried about it. Then two hours later he woke himself up jamming an arm and leg through the crib rails, so he cried about it. Four hours later? His stomach was empty so… he cried about it. What gives? What is causing this transition from old man sleep to baby sleep?

I have a couple of theories. On one hand, my beautiful wife and I have come to realize that he may not be eating enough right now and is possibly going through a growth spurt. Yet when we provide fuller bottles he usually leaves some behind. That’s wasteful and we don’t like wasteful. So we dial back the amount of formula in the bottle, but then he is screaming hungry two hours later! It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. A full-circle of sorts. He wants a bottle, but he doesn’t want too much of a bottle, then bottle races through stomach like race horse, he wants a bottle… Hey, I can’t blame him too much on this front because I would be screaming mad if my stomach was empty after two hours too. The second theory of mine may have more resonance: He has become too dang observant! He has grown to the age and understanding where he can hold his head up and look around, and actually focus on items. He will look straight at you, almost through your soul, with penetrating greenish-blue-brown-gray eyes and then look away at the TV because it has more colors on it. In the car I more often than not see him straining to look to the side and out the window rather than at his dapper reflection in the mirror (though he does love to see himself in the mirror). So it would make sense that when he stirs and wakes up at 2 AM, he would be a little bit angry that nothing or no one is there to entertain him. Unfortunately there may not be a solution to that one except to ride it out… and as always we find that baby rules all.

The moral of the story is this: The next time someone claims to have slept like baby, slap them. Because we in the Jar have learned that sleeping like a baby doesn’t really make anyone happy.


Writing a Blog is Hard Work

11 Jun

Writing a blog is hard. I mean it is really, really difficult. I mean every night I have great intentions of writing something Pulitzer-worthy about how awesome my son is or how much fun it is to be a parent, but let’s be real — writing a blog is hard. And yes, you can get a Pulitzer for writing blogs. Why else would so many people want to write them!? Don’t just say for the pleasure of writing. No way, it’s all about the money and the fame.

(Deep sigh………..)

Writing a blog is sooo hard. Don’t believe me? Let’s take you through a typical day in the Pickle Jar.

3:30 am: Nolan Wayne Dill is awake. He is slightly confused as to why he is in jail, and why jail doesn’t have a ceiling. Or maybe it does have a ceiling but the ceiling appears to be very, very high. Possibly it’s just his eyes coming into focus from a long deep sleep…. no, that ceiling is very high. “Where is my mom??”, he thinks aloud which really just means he starts to scream bloody murder. Nolan wants a bottle.

3:35 am: After changing a very poopy diaper, Mrs Pickle is now ready to feed our son. He is happy with this result.

4:10 am: Mrs Pickle is back in bed next to a groggy but completely unhelpful Me. I need my beauty sleep to prepare for a hard day at work.

5:55 am: My alarm goes off, and usually it is set to start playing my favorite classic rock and roll station. This morning it is on NPR. I am not sure who played this trick on me but I am pretty confident Moegley has something to do with it. He is a wily old dog.

6:20 am: Nolan is snuggling with his mother as part of their morning ritual, and I head off to the office.

7:30 am: Nolan Wayne Dill is awake. He is slightly confused as to who let him out of jail and to how he now is in a queen size bed. He likes it, a lot. He starts to scream bloody murder. Oh! There is Mom. Good. Now go get me a bottle.

8:10 am: Mrs Pickle is going through bottle number two. Nolan likes to eat. This is proven by the fact that he is a whopping 10 lbs 14 oz (as of June 11, 2013) and that is huge when you realize that this premature little baby was only 3 lbs 13oz not even three months ago. The whole world marvels at his glory.

9:30 am: Nolan Wayne Dill is asleep. Huh? Mrs Pickle is just as surprised so she takes the opportunity to shower and get ready for the day. Nolan realizes this attempt and immediately starts to scream bloody murder. YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!

11:00 am: Nolan Wayne Dill… yeah, he’s hungry again. Bottle time!

2:30 pm: This is the time during the day when I usually receive a much appreciated video from Josie and Nolan. It most times is just Nolan, staring at me and making funny noises. It is a much-needed reprieve from my day, and gives me a chance to appreciate how much I love my family.

2:31 pm: I am back to the grind of work, while Mrs Pickle and the Nolanator turn on some Law & Order: SVU. It is their favorite show and I must admit it is extremely catchy. Early odds indicate Nolan will become either a detective or a lawyer.

4:00 pm: Nolan Wayne Dill … Ok fine, you get it. He wants a bottle. Sidebar, your honor: This is something that is completely crazy as a new parent — feeding. Babies really usually want to eat every 3 hours, though Nolan usually goes longer (sometimes he can go 6+ hours at night). Everyone and their dog feel that we are under-feeding our baby. We politely listen to what they say and then do what we want. If judging the whole feeding process/timing is one of the craziest parts of being a parent, not giving a crap might be the best. He eats almost 6 ounces per feeding, and I don’t know many 2 month olds that almost sleep through the night. So I doubt we are starving our kid because, as was mentioned before, he has gained 7 pounds in less than 3 months. I’m a man, I’m 25, and Nolan does whatever he wants.

5:30 pm: Dad (THAT’S ME!) is home and the fun begins. Nolan is usually ecstatic to see me (read: screams bloody murder), and I him (read: screams bloody murder). I get to hear all about his day, and ask the normal dad questions such as how many times did you poop on mom, did you roll over, what do you want to be when you grow up, etc.

6:00 pm: It is time for the parents to eat. Nolan Wayne Dill don’t care. He decides this is a great time to let us know that setting him down will not be an option. Jos and I have become really great at the rotating dinner. She eats while I hold, then we switch so that I can eat… For as much as he likes to eat he can really be a pain when I want to eat. I love him so much.

7:00 pm: Nolan is working through another bottle, call it his dinner. He just pooped through another diaper and onto an outfit, which is now soaking in the sink. I used to be completely against spilling things on myself — in the past I would much rather change and dirty two shirts instead of doubly dirtying the one I was wearing. I like to look fresh. Macklemore called me up the other day and was like “No seriously can I have your hand-me-downs”? I said, “Dude just go to Target”. But especially after becoming a father I really could care less about how dirty my shirt is. It most often has spit up on it but that is just life. I really kinda like my life.

7:01 to 10:00 pm: This is do whatever we want time. Tonight we took Nolan and got some ice cream, and then I mowed the lawn while Josie and Noles sat on the patio. Then Nolan got a bath. Last night we met Josie’s grandma for a birthday dinner. Nolan goes where we go, and he seems to like that. We like that. There is no reason to try to plan around a baby because you will literally be exiled to your home and do nothing. And there is no complaining about packing a baby around, we love it. He is us.. In fact the other night a waitress kept saying, “You two have a good night”… IT’S THREE! WE ARE THREE! From 7:00 pm to 10:00 we three do hoodrat things with our friends.

10:00 pm: It’s time for one more bottle. 9 nights out of 10 this bottle will last the little guy until somewhere around 3:00 am… at which point the cycle starts again.

See? Writing a blog is hard! I happened to have some time tonight to scratch one out, but most nights I would rather be holding my son or taking him to whatever place we want to go, or just watching him try to roll from his stomach to his back. He is by far one of the greatest parts of my life — he completes our family. It is a truly inexplicable feeling, being a parent, and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.


A Dog and His Boy

22 May

Nolan Wayne is growing wayyyyy too fast. I just finished feeding the little monster 5 ounces of breast milk — which I consider a ton for a 2-month old baby, let alone a preemie. One thing he has always excelled at has been eating, proven by his 9 lbs 6 ounce weigh-in during today’s bath time. The kid is a total chunk. But we see other improvements too like the fact he no longer dies (literally) every time we feed him, and that he didn’t die (again, literally) today when we left the oxygen off for 10 hours. Whoops, parenting fail. At any rate the baby boy is growing and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Relax, I’m not going to whine write about all of the ways we may fall short at parenting or cry over discuss how sobering it is to watch him grow even over a short time. No, none of that. As I was feeding Nolan tonight our family dog Moegley (or Moe, or Moegley-butt, or Moegers, or Moegley Jones WHO? Moegley Jones — sorry to anyone over 35 and under 15 that probably didn’t get that reference….) came in and laid down at the doorway. He even brought his Bank of the West stuffed bear — the only toy that Moe will ever play with is that bear, ever — and just plopped down at the threshold of Nolan’s room. How neat is that?

I inherited Moegley as my dog when Josie agreed to a bona-fide Facebook-official relationship on December 12, 2010 (Not that anyone is keeping track…) but things were not always smooth sailing with him and I. At first he vehemently hated my guts. In fact for the first 10 months I was around, Moe would hide under the bed, in the closet, or anywhere else he could be sure I wouldn’t bother him. I think it perplexed the Mrs that her dog hated me so deeply, because when I was around he wouldn’t even so much as look at her. In hindsight I am pretty damn lucky she agreed to marry me. In any case, Moegley suddenly warmed up to me after about a year and we have been pseudo-buddies ever since.

Moegley warmed up to Nolan much faster. In fact, from the time Mrs Pickle went on bed-rest at 24 weeks pregnant Moe was usually found not more than 15 feet away from the pair. He also became a very vicious guard dog which was just weird. Moegley is the most laid back dog I have ever been around, to the point where I didn’t hear him bark for over a year. Seriously. Over a year and no barking. That is not the case anymore. Since the moment that Moe became aware of Nolan in the womb, he has paid special attention that anyone who gets too close knows they will have to deal with a Miniature Yorkshire Terrier with abnormally long legs. Completely, totally, fierce.
After Nolan was born and we got our baby home from the NICU is when you could really see the bond. Moe had never even seen Nolan, and had only smelled the birth goo on a delivery blanket a couple of times yet they were attached almost instantly.  It has been absolutely crazy at times how much he watches out for Nolan. If we lay the Nolanator on the floor, Moe finds the closest door and lays down between that door and his baby. If Nolan is in the crib, Moegley is usually at the doorway making sure nothing crazy could happen. If not there then he lays right next to the crib. Even when Noles starts throwing fits, screaming at the top of his little lungs, Moe doesn’t run. Yes, the dog that is scared of his own food dish, the dog who can’t climb up two hardwood steps without totally biffing it, the dog that is afraid of his own shadow just sits there and keeps watch over his baby. It is truly amazing.

I don’t think, no I know that our baby boy has no clue the friend he has already made in his short time on earth. We do. I can only imagine the fun they will have together like two peas in a pod. They are pretty much soul mates with so much in common. They both just like to eat, sleep, and poop. I am sure Nolan will enjoy running circles in the yard as fast as his legs will carry him one day, which is the only thing Moegley does that Nolan can’t yet. It is a match made in heaven a dog and his boy.

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