Today’s the day…I FINALLY got into the office to work. First order of business, going through the piles that have accumulated since, sadly, Christmas. (I won’t mention that I found some Christmas gifts we never mailed and a thank you note for a gift Noble received in um, November.) Anyway, as I was going through the bag of gift bags (can’t throw them away), I found Noble Bingo. That’s one of the games we played at Kayci’s Big Sister Shower, and with everything that happened after that, we’ve never shared the results. So, here they are: you guys suck at Baby Bingo.
Seriously, 8 people, 32 guesses, only one that was even close. So, here’s to Lynn for guessing that the hospital would measure Noble incorrectly to be 20.5 inches long!
Kayci loved my pregnant tummy…she was fascinated as it grew larger and larger. She’s been equally fascinated with it, stalking me to try to catch me with my shirt off so she can watch its progress. About a week after Noble was born, Kayci saw my tummy and said, “It’s shrinking!” (What postpartum mom wouldn’t love a kid like that?)
Anyway, today I was getting ready to get into the shower and Kayci said, “Your tummy is so CUTE!” I was like, aww…how sweet. And man, I must look gooooooooood….until she said, “I love the way it hangs over like that!”
—Kristi (Although it would have been funnier if this was James talking…)
Visions of waking up ready to face the day once again dance in our heads this morning. As we close in on the six-week mark (tomorrow, if you’re counting), the thought of sleeping through the night has been on both of our minds. Theoretically, Noble should start sleeping through the night sometime soon. Not to count our chickens (or full nights sleep) before they hatch, we’re very encouraged today as Noble only woke up once last night. Of course, we still couldn’t wake up when the alarm went off at 5 am, but our day is coming. Soon, if the books are right. —Kristi
James did a great job of documenting Noble’s birth and the events leading up to it, but I feel like I really should set the record straight on a few things. 1. Friday morning, my friend Paula came over and we talked about what it’s like when your water breaks (I’d never experienced it with Kayci, so had no clue). She told me there’s kind of an “animal” smell, but the books all say it’s a sweet, almost chemical smell. For the record, my amniotic fluid smells like mild skunk—just ask Kayci, who, at Starbucks, finally got up the courage to ask, “Mommy, what’s that SMELL?”
2. I didn’t feel right after dinner on Friday, but dinner wasn’t great that night so I chalked it up to funky food. In retrospect, I think it was my body preparing for labor. I did have a lot of what we thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions that night…kind of funny looking back, isn’t it?
3. At 3 am, I woke up to go potty for the umpteenth time. For some reason, I started thinking about the possibility of my water breaking. I resolved to put a garbage bag or something under the mattress pad to protect our new WHITE mattress when we got a little closer to the due date, just in case. Then I thought, if my water breaks in bed, I have to jump up so I don’t ruin the mattress. So at 4 am, I literally JUMPED out of the bed. I didn’t know I could move that fast at that point!
4. I did call the doctor at 4:10. My doctor wasn’t on call, so it was Dr. Samuels who called me back. She asked me all of the vital information, but didn’t seem too impressed and told me to wait an hour or so and see if my water really had broken, then call her back. I explained to her that I was 37 weeks pregnant and Dr. Thompson had been monitoring me closely AND that we lived in Brenham, but she stuck with the “let’s wait and see.” Well, when I got off the phone another wave hit, and when I smelled it this time, I knew I wasn’t, in fact, peeing all over everything (if you’re counting, I went through 3 sets of undies and PJs before I got to the shower). So, I woke James up. Not much time passed from the time I woke up to when I woke him up, but a LOT happened. I was thinking of all of the angles – did I really want to go all the way to Houston at 4 am on a Saturday and get everyone excited over me peeing my pants…what if we went down there and it was nothing, and we had to drive all the way back home? We had a lot to do that day. Including taking pictures of my pregnant belly with the big sister – we’d been putting it off, and today was finally the day. So, I wasn’t really jazzed about messing up our plans.
5. Now, here’s the reasoning behind my actions at this point (other than I’m borderline OCD). First of all, we’d planned to finish getting ready for Noble that Saturday. So, the things in the washer were actually Noble’s very pricey, irreplaceable Dick & Jane crib linens. I didn’t want that stuff to mildew and be ruined if we were going to be gone for several days. So, you can see that it makes total sense for James to have to do laundry then. And the dishes…well, they were already smelling funky. Again, didn’t want to come home to flies and disease with a new baby. Perfectly reasonable request, again. If you know me, you know that I do like things just so…I’m a little too particular for my own good. Honestly, in the back of my head I was also picturing coming home to a house with things out of place—would have stressed me out. It was nice to be able to “relax” that week at the hospital, knowing the house was in good shape. (Fun fact: when we got home, our awesome friend Paula had hung a diaper wreath on the front door and her kids made a welcome home banner for Kayci and hung it on her bedroom door…and she had dinner waiting in the fridge. Now THAT’s a homecoming!)
6. By the time James got Kayci ready, it was clear that this was, in fact, the real deal. I’d started having contractions, so when he said, let’s go—we’ll call the doctor on the way, I was more than ready. I grabbed a garbage bag to cover the seat with…did NOT want the CRV to smell like baby water for the rest of its days.
7. Yes, the police story happened just as James said. Only the officer said “flashers”, not “hazards.” You remember these things.
8. Not to brag, but James did break a personal record at Starbucks…he was in and out in 2 minutes, which I know because I was timing contractions. And putting on my mascara. Hey, my pants may have been wet, but a girl’s gotta have a little pride. All I could think of were the stinkin’ pictures—I was going to look tired and washed out because I didn’t have time to put on makeup.
9. And I do need to clear this up – this has been bugging me since the hospital. The only bag I asked James to get out at the hospital was Kayci’s big sister bag. That was the very important bag that had all of her stuff for the waiting room…games, art, cameras, etc. We’d only been talking about it for months and months…but in the moment, I think all James could think of was that he’d gotten me to the hospital in time, let’s get upstairs. Anyway, yes, we did have words there at the valet stand. But for the record, I’m not a dummy – I only wanted Kayci’s bag, not all of them. Please. I knew I’d go upstairs with the clothes on my back and end up with a little white bag after surgery.
That’s it. James really did a great job of telling the story (and of taking the time to get it all down…don’t look at me for that!). I just had to clear up a few things. And impressively, I think, did so holding a fussy 5 week old and typing most of the time with just one hand. They say babies can’t see very far, but I just put him down and he keeps craning his neck to look in my direction. Oh, my.
Sorry it’s taken so long to get this story out. The last few weeks have been really exciting for the Pharaon family. Noble Orion Pharaon was born on Saturday morning 3-8-08 at 7:42am at Woman’s Hospital in Houston. He was 6lbs, 12oz and 20.5 inches long. Thats’ the Cliff’s Notes version of the story. The REAL story, however, is HOW Noble got here 10 days earlier than expected and our trip to the hospital…
First, it’s important to know that Noble’s actual due date was March 26, but he was scheduled to be born via planned cesarean on March 18, the Tuesday before Easter.
Friday night was a fairly ordinary night. We had gone to dinner with some friends and were looking forward to a pretty low-key Saturday. We all went to bed a little later than normal, but there were no real indications that the next twelve hours would be so exciting. I played video games and Kristi lay on the couch reading a book. We fell asleep watching Big Fish, a great movie about the power of storytelling that seems appropriate to set the tone for our night and morning.
About four ‘o-clock in the morning, Kristi was having a dream that she was dressing a little boy in a Superman outfit. When she picked up the boy in her dream, his foot touched her stomach and (in her dream) she instantly urinated all over herself. She woke up immediately, the dream still very vivid in her mind, and ran to the bathroom. She wasn’t entirely sure whether her dream had actually happened (the peeing part, that is) or if her water had broken. She thought about it and decided to call the doctor, just to be certain. She called the doctor and told him that she thought that maybe her water had broken. He said to wait an hour and if anything out of the ordinary happened, to call him back and let him know. She thought about it and debated it to herself. If it was nothing but a false alarm and a weak pregnant bladder, she didn’t want to have to rush to the hospital for nothing. Still, she thought that she’d probably better wake me up.
“Hey, Boy. I think my water broke. I need you to get up” is how I woke up on Saturday morning. It was 4:12am. She told me what had happened and said that there were some things that she needed for him to do before they talked to the doctor again. Just in case, she wanted me to take the jeans out of the dryer that he had put in the night before and put the load of Noble’s clothes that was sitting in the washer in to dry. The dishwasher also needed to be unloaded and loaded again with dishes from Friday’s lunch. Being pretty foggy-headed (and a dutiful husband), I got up and got to work on Kristi’s requests while she took a shower. Halfway through unloading the dishwasher, I realized that even if it were a false alarm, it would probably be a good idea to get on the road an start heading SOMEwhere, just in case it was the real thing. After all, the hospital where Kristi was supposed to be giving birth was a good hour-and-a-half drive away in the Houston medical center. Even when they moved to Brenham two years ago, we decided that we had such a positive experience at Women’s Hospital when Kayci was born that we wanted to have our next baby there.
Meanwhile, Kristi was more and more certain that her water had, in fact, broken. The fluid just kept coming and coming. All the noise from the dishes and the showering and the walking around had woken up Kayci, who began calling for Mommy. I went in and gently told Kayci that it was time to get up because we might be getting a Noble today. That got her up in much more of a hurry that on a usual morning. Mommy, being Kristi, had already laid out the clothes days in advance that Kayci would wear when Noble was born. She wore jeans, a little thermal long-sleeve shirt and her Big Sister -shirt. I helped her get dressed and put her hair up in a ponytail and put on her shoes.
By this time it was about 5am and Kristi was out of the shower and getting dressed, while still making frequent trips to the potty. Then the contractions started. They were very mild at first and were about 7 minutes apart. Once the contractions started, I kicked it into high gear and started getting flustered. I threw on some clothes, got the cell phone chargers and Aero and quilt (Kayci’s sleeping buddies) and put Kayci in the car. Kristi followed us out and we got on the road at 5:10. Kristi’s next contraction started at 5:12, just as we were pulling onto the highway.
On 290, Kristi told me not to drive so fast. I was only doing about 70 at the time, but the very real non-Braxton Hicks contractions only inclined me to drive faster. Between Chappell Hill and Hempstead there is a long straight stretch of road just after the Brazos river. It was on this stretch of road that I got to live out every expectant father’s movie-like fantasy. I blew past a Sheriff’s Deputy doing about 80 miles an hour. The Sheriff kicked on his headlights and began to pursue, slowly at first, then closer and faster as I proceeded without pulling over. After what seemed like a few minutes (but in reality was probably only 30 seconds), I pulled over. The officer pulled up very close to the rear of the car. I started to open the door, but Kristi said “don’t get out! You’ll get shot!!!” So I rolled down the window instead and stuck my entire upper body out of the window. The officer was just getting out of his car. Behind his bright spotlight I could see a bald head. I yelled to the officer, “MY WIFE IS IN LABOR!” The officer yelled back “okay, go ahead! But turn on your hazards!” So I turned on my hazard lights and was soon cruising down the highway again at 90 miles per hour.
Kristi’s contractions were getting closer together and more intense. Kayci sat in the back seat, wide awake, listening to Mommy breathing heavily and watching Daddy drive. She did a great job. By the time we reached Cypress, Kristi’s contractions were about three minutes apart. All of the stress of the morning had not done good things to my stomach and I began getting some sharp cramps. It soon became clear that I was going to have to stop to find a restroom – and fast – or it was going to get really messy in the car. It was just after 5:30am and the only thing open was a Starbucks. I pulled up, jumped out and ran inside just as Kristi began another contraction. I ran into the restroom, sat down and began doing my business as quickly as possible. Just then, I heard someone coming down the hall and the door handle move. I called out “there’s someone in here” just as one of the female baristas walked in and froze like a deer in headlights. I apologized and hurried up back to the car, never making eye contact on my way out. It was a quick pit stop, but one which only seemed to fit in with how the day seemed to be going. So far, almost everything in our “worst case scenario” plans had been coming through.
Luckily, all this was happening on a Saturday morning so the roads were fairly clear. There were a few morons who don’t know to get out of the way of somebody coming up on your tail with their hazards on – even when you flash your brights at them. So I had to do a little creative driving. Luckily, I learned to drive in Houston and am well practiced in Houston freeway driving. Cruising down the freeway at 80 miles per hour with the hazards on, people were actually passing us up. So I turned off the hazards and just tried to stay out of THEIR way.
It took just over an hour to get to Women’s hospital from Brenham – surely not a record, but quite a feat nonetheless considering we had made two stops. By the time we got to the hospital Kristi’s contractions were less than two minutes apart and were getting quite a bit stronger. Kristi began sobbing during some of them, which caused Kayci to tell her grandmas later, ” Mommy was crying, but I tried my best not to listen.”
We grabbed the bare essentials – Kristi wanted me to carry in all the bags right then, which prompted a little spat in the valet driveway – and headed upstairs. The nurses conducted Kristi, me and Kayci into a birthing room. Kristi had called all the grandparents – her mom and dad, my dad and my mom as we left Brenham an hour before to let them know that they were on their way to the hospital. Somehow, we beat all three sets of parents to the hospital, which meant that Kayci had to sit in the room and watch Kristi in labor for a few minutes before I took her out in the hall to wait. She was so calm. She stayed out of the nurses’ way and just watched everything that was going on. What a big girl! Kristi’s mom and dad finally arrived and took Kayci to the waiting room.
Meanwhile, the nurses were asking Kristi questions and having her sign papers. It was a little frustrating to watch nurses doing paperwork with a woman in labor right in front of them. Kristi’s contractons were very strong by this point and about thirty seconds apart. After what seemed like forever (but what was probably only about ten minutes) they took Kristi to a room to get an epidural. They gave me a pair of scrubs and conducted me to a waiting room where I sat and waited and sent text messages to pass the time until they came to get me.
A few minutes later, they came and told me that it was time. I followed the nurse around the corner to an operating room where Kristi was laying on the table with doctors and nurses all around her. Kayci was born in the same way four years ago, but it all felt a little new again. I didn’t know where to stand. I didn’t know what to do. They offered me a chair, but I knew I didn’t want to sit. So I stood and watched the procedure. And a few minutes later, Noble was born. He began crying instantly – and loudly. And one of the first things he did was stretch out his arms all the way. Impressive wing span!
So that’s the story. Everyone is doing well, and Noble is growing very well. People ask us who he looks like, and the funny thing is is that he looks just like Kayci when she was born – right down to the shape of his head and his “stork bite” birthmark. So it looks like we’ve got another baby who is a really good mix of the two of us.
“Man vs. nature – How 150 miles can feel like 200” This was a different kind of year for the MS150. This was the fifth time I had done the ride and I felt like I was in pretty good shape for the ride. I had been logging some decent miles, training a couple of times a week and riding some pretty good hills. But there was one factor that made this year’s ride more challenging, even for some of the most experienced riders I spoke to – the wind!
But let me begin at the beginning. The team that I’ve ridden with the past few years folded, so I wasn’t on a team this year, at least not officially. The great group of riders that I’ve met in the past year from Brenham are all members of the Apache team, so I hung with them the entire time. They decided to start from Waller, which was a new official starting point this year. It’s a shorter ride than normal – it cuts about 25 miles off the route – and I didn’t really want to do it. Weeks ago when I found out about the Waller start I could hear the potential for ridicule: “Waller Weenies” or “Waller Babies.” You get the idea. But just like last year when my team began from The Woodlands, which ADDED miles to the route, I decided to be a team player and go with my group. It turned out to be a GREAT decision.
We left from Waller just after 8am on Saturday. My wife, Kristi, and my kids, Kayci and Noble, came out to see me off, which was a really fun way to start. It was a little chilly with temps in the upper 40s, but it warmed up quickly once we got going. The beginning of the ride was just incredible. There were wildflowers and honeysuckle on the side of the road that smelled awesome and there was no wind to speak of – at least not for the first few miles. Then we turned onto FM 159 toward Bellville and the wind kicked in. At first it was only coming at us from the side. At the first rest stop the wind picked up an MS150 tent right in front of me and blew it UP a hill, almost hitting two volunteers before it came to rest on a pole. The first leg of the ride was actually pretty nice. I got into a good cadence and averaged about 19 MPH for close to ten miles.
We got to the lunch stop in Bellville just after 10am. We stuck around for about 45 minutes and then got on the road again. And that’s when the real challenge began. From Bellville, the route takes a northwest turn which, on this particular day, happened to be directly INTO the wind. After Bellville, there’s a lot of open prairie, which meant LOTS of wind. A couple of rest stops later I got curious and busted out the iPhone to look up the National Weather Service page. It said that the wind was 17 MPH sustained with gusts of 20-25 MPH. But other than that, it was truly a gorgeous day and I still felt great. At the rest stop we all watched as a yellow helicopter flew over.
A few miles down the road, the entire route stopped due to an accident. That helicopter we saw turned out to be a Life Flight chopper on the way to the hospital. Never a good thing… I stopped briefly at a little barbecue place in the small town of Industry to say hi to a friend and coworker from Germania. She offered me a barbecue sandwich, but my ham sandwich from lunch was doing evil things in my tummy, so I passed, reluctantly. It smelled SO good… (I did have a little taste, though!)
I’m going to skip right over griping about the wind here. It was there. It was strong. Yada yada yada. Next stop – Fayetteville. As I rode into town, I saw a sign with my name on it that another friend/coworker had put out. I stopped and looked all over for him, but he later told me that he had gone in to take a nap. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time because a nap sure sounded good right about then. So I kept going. Fayetteville is always a fun town to ride through. The people there always come out and do a great job of cheering us on with bubbles and music and cow bells and pom pons and signs. Truth be told, I enjoy going through the cheering section in Fayetteville more than I enjoy the cheering section in La Grange at the end of the first day.
The stretch from Fayetteville to the final rest stop was where the ride began getting tough. There are some really good rolling hills that can be pretty fun to ride in good weather. In fact, some of the longest and best downhills are in that stretch where you can just coast for a couple of minutes and relax. But not that day. Rolling down the hills I should have been getting up to 22 or 24 MPH. I was surprised when I looked at my cyclometer and saw that I was only going 16 MPH. Downhill.
Finally! The last rest stop on the first day! By the time I dragged in to the last rest stop I was exhausted. Riding against the wind the way we were, you can’t really coast to take a rest. And it’s really tough to get into a high gear to make any time. You’ve just got to keep it in a mid to low gear and keep pedaling constantly. I took about a 30 minute break at that rest stop. There were still about 11 miles left to go and it was nearing 3pm. I was not making good time at all. The next 8 miles or so were very slow – for everyone. Everyone seemed to be taking it a lot slower than normal and no one was talking. It was just really, really quiet.
Then, finally, the route took a left turn toward the south at Highway 77. Suddenly, the wind was at my back and I got a sudden burst of energy! I kicked it into gear and averaged 21 MPH for the next four miles – all the way to the finish line at the fairground in La Grange. Those last four miles were exhilarating. I had no problems with the hills at all. Those four miles were my favorite part of this year’s ride, hands down.
I got to La Grange at EXACTLY 4pm. Not my best time, but by no means my worst, either. At La Grange, one of the first things I did was go and get a much-needed massage. Then I grabbed up the free baked chicken dinner that they have for the riders and went to find my Brenham rider friends at the Apache tent. We hung out there until they had all gotten their massages and had eaten dinner. Most riders in the MS150 camp in big circus-style tents or camp in their own tents. Living just down the road in Brenham, we had planned on driving home to sleep in our own beds. So we did, and I got to see my family and get a good night’s rest. After the long day, it was rejuvenating.
INTERMISSION (go get yourself some popcorn and a nice cool drink at the concession stand)
The next morning was just plain chilly. When we started riding toward Austin on Sunday it was 38 degrees. Luckily, I’ve got some cold weather gear for just such situations. However, since it was supposed to get up to the upper 70s, I didn’t want to dress too warmly and get overheated. So I wore my windbreaker and an insulated skull cap under my helmet. Once we really got moving I stayed pretty warm. It was those first three or four miles that were a little … numbing.
On the MS150 day two there are basically three routes – a short “express” route on Highway 71, an intermediate route and the “challenge route” that winds through the steep (but breathtakingly beautiful) hills between Beuscher and Bastrop state parks. My riding group planned on doing the shorter “express” route. I originally figured I’d split off and do the challenge route like I normally do and meet up with them at some point later in the day. But the forecast said that the winds would be equally as strong on Sunday as they were on Saturday. So I changed my plans. The wind had taken its toll on me more than I expected the day before, so I wasn’t real excited about battling wind AND hills on day two. I had never ridden anything other than the challenge route before, so I thought it might be a nice change of scenery to take the express route with my team.
The express route is nowhere near as scenic as the other routes, but it is quite a bit easier. The hills are long and rolling, unlike the short steep hills on the “regular” route. But on this day easier was good because the wind kicked up about 8am and it never let up. The only real challenging hill came just as we were entering Bastrop. There’s a really good, long uphill on Highway 71, but I was feeling well and climbed it without much trouble. Training in the hills around Brenham really paid off! We hit lunch in Bastrop at 10:15. One of my best friends from my teenage years was there serving sandwiches to all the riders with her law firm, and it was good to see her and say hi.
I don’t know whether it was the energy drink I had at lunch or just that I got in a groove, but after lunch I felt really good and managed to maintain a really good cadence, despite riding straight into the wind. In fact, all my riding partners kept a good cadence as well and we rode in what’s known as a pace line for most of the rest of the afternoon.
We got to Austin at just after 2pm, which is respectable – especially considering that we were once again fighting strong winds all day. My family was there to see me cross the finish. I can’t even express in words how it felt to finish a long ride and then to look over and see my wife, daughter and five week old son waving to me. Kayci drew a picture of me riding my bike on the front of her shirt and wrote “Daddy Pharaon.” On the back she drew a bunch of hearts and wrote “Daddy’s girl.” He wasn’t wearing it, but she also drew a picture of me on my bike on a little shirt for Noble. We threw my bike in the back of my truck and had a great lunch at Rudy’s, one of my favorite barbecue restaurants. Then we went home. It was a great ending to a great day.
All in all, this year’s ride was the hardest MS150 I’ve ever ridden. Two days later as I write this, my legs are still sore and I’m still a little exhausted. I feel like I rode more like 200 miles, and I discovered that riding against a stiff wind for two days feels a lot like riding in sand for two days. But it was definitely a very good challenge, and I really appreciate that. I’m going to take a week or so off from riding just to recuperate, but I’m excited about riding with the great group of riders here in Brenham so I won’t be off for long.
I want to thank everyone who supported my ride this year with contributions to the National MS Society. Thanks to all of your support I raised over $1400 in pledges this year to fight Multiple Sclerosis. If you would still like to donate, you can do so until May 1 at http://ms150.org/ms150/donate/donate.cfm?id=198767
I have a friend at work who has MS and knew that one of my previous employers has MS, but this year it got a little more personal. A few weeks ago, my cousin was diagnosed with MS. So thank you, really, for helping to raise money for research to end this disease.
I also want to thank God for giving us some beautiful weather to ride in. Sure it was windy, but it wasn’t hot and it wasn’t rainy. Thank God also for giving me the ability and the strength to ride and for letting me love more and more this thing that I do. I’m looking forward to next year already!
You’re not going to believe this. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Noble rolled over tonight. Twice.
We put him down for tummy time on Kayci’s bed while we read some bedtime stories. After a little while he started getting fussy and started kicking with his legs. The next the we knew, he had rolled himself onto his back.
We were stunned. Luckily, the whole family was there to see it, but we still thought it was a fluke. So we rolled him back onto his stomach and made sure that his hands were out in front of him.
He did it again. He pushed out his legs and arched up while he twisted his body. And rolled onto his back.
I went and got the video camera to capture it, but by this time he was getting ticked that we kept rolling him back over and he wouldn’t do it again (surprise, surprise).
One day short of five weeks. My son is a PRODIGY!!!!