27 July 2008

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Unlikely Juxtaposition

There are two words in the English language that I would probably vote as the least unattractive words to string together. They are 'wound' and 'vacuum'. Even having them in the same sentence seems to give goosebumps of implied pain or gruesome circumstance.

And, yet, this is what the doctors have come up with, and they call it a Wound Vacuum. And I would be happier to find out that this Vacuum is an attempt to recreate Galileo's gravity experiment with wounds, showing that they fall from buildings at the same rate; however, this was not the case. Instead, the doctor explained, Kristi's C-section incision wasn't healing quite properly, and they wanted to place a vacuum on it to suck it shut.

Warning: Some blood and gore coming up...

See, most wounds heal from the inside out and close off naturally; however, in Kristi's case, some of the wound was healing faster on top, causing potential air pockets at the skin on top and the skin beneath met up. The air that was trapped inside would cause a very painful infection, yada yada yada, and so the problem needed to be addressed.

Enter the vacuum.

In order to actually place the vacuum on the body, the incision needed to be reopened. It was only about 3 inches wide, but it was nearly a half an inch deep, and it went down in tunnels on either side for about another half inch. And, actually, since it was Friday, they wouldn't have the vacuum until Monday.

Enter the husband.

So, the doctor explained that, since the wound was now open, I, the husband, would need to put fresh gauze into the, roughly 4 inches by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cavern under my wife's abdomen with nothing more than sterile water and a q-tip.

This went on until Monday, when they showed us how to use the wound vacuum, and they placed it on her. (One day, I will go into the detail there, but it takes a long time to explain).
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Felicity, Serend, and the Duality of Life

So, Felicity and Serend were born way back on June 17, 2008, and we've hardly had a moment to ourselves, what with two boys running around the house, Kristi's "wound" complications (described in the next post...), church callings, and work to boot!

However, Kristi, Cathy (Kristi's mom), and a few other family members went up to Idaho and took the kids with them, so I actually have a weekend to catch you up on all the goings on.

Felicity Mae and Serend Rachelle Cummings were born June 17, 2008 at 7:29 and 7:30 PM respectively by cesarean. Kristi never actually entered full labor. Instead, Serend, who was the baby that would have come out first, pushed her foot through Kristi's cervix and broke her water. It was kind of funny, if not a little disappointing that they didn't stay in there for a couple of more weeks so that they could cook.

They were 5 lbs. 6 oz, 17.5 inches and 5 lbs. 8 oz., 18.5 inches, respectively, both with red hair. While they were a good size, they had problems with their lungs, and so they were put into the Special Care Unit (which is a nice way of saying NICU, level 2, which is less emergent than the regular NICU, but they don't want parents to make a scene, so they just call it something benign). Over the course of four days, they were on oxygen, phototherapy, mineral supplements, warming lights feeding tubes, and the whole bit. I was astonished with the amount of assistance that they needed, even if only for a few days. After that, they were taken off the oxygen, the phototherapy, and the warming lights, and, after another 6 days, they took the rest of the stuff off them, too.

However, before they actually got home, there was this strict regiment of feeding that the children had to adhere to in order for the doctors to sign off on them. They had to be breast feed about 4 times a day for the last couple of days there, and my trust for the doctor's analysis did not make the 20 minute drives to and from the hospital any easier. It was perhaps the most annoying thing that we have ever had to go through. Except taxes.

On the 11th day in the SCU, they were released. We took them home on June 29th at about 10 AM, and they have been healthy ever since.

I can't tell you how paranoid I am, though. Don't be alarmed--I don't require people to wear gloves when holding the babies. They are so tiny, though, and I'm always worried that I'm going to snap them in half or give them a disease that will send them back to the hospital or who knows what. Thus far, though, they have shown no broken bones and no head trauma, so I am gaining confidence every day. At the end of the day, I tell Serend, "See, your day wasn't all bad; at least you can be happy that no one dropped you." She didn't laugh at it, either.

Felicity's name has a very special meaning that relates to the duality of life. There is a scripture that says that it is better that we pass through sorrow that we may know the good from the evil. Felicity means 'happiness', and Mae means 'bitter'. We chose that name because want Felicity to know that through both we are made a whole person, more so than we could be with only one of them.

Serend's name also has a very special meaning that relates to the duality of life. Seren is Welsh means 'Star' and Rachelle in French means 'little rock'. Again, it is a message about duality, finding happiness in both the big and the small because they all testify of Christ.

Additionally, Serend is short for Serendipity, which roughly means 'unexpected happiness', which we liked because Serend was, indeed the unexpected part of the whole package. Since she literally had her foot sticking out of Kristi's body when they started the C-section, we also made sure to spell her name in such a way that, when you rearrange the letters, they make the following anagram:

c, she's m' l'il m'rengue dancer
(See, she's my little merengue dancer)

All my children have a scripture that we put on a picture frame for them, and the girls will get one together and one for each of them. The one for them both is Ecclesiates 3:4-5:

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.

We haven't decided on the scriptures for each of them, but I believe that Seren will get Matthew 13:45-46 or Job 38:7 or D&C 101:3. They all talk about valuable stones or stars. For Lici, I like Alma 36:21, but it would be hard to take it out of context. Not sure, yet.

20 July 2008

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Four-kids on the Fourth


Well, we had our babies (I will post pictures soon). I do have one picture to post right now, but I am out of time for writing tonight, so I will comment later. Clock-wise from the upper-right: Remington, Felicity, Serend, Issac.
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Inverse Laws

So, the other day, I discovered some inverse laws regarding our family that I hope will be helpful to future generations:

- The Law of Cleanliness Being Next to In-Law-ness: The mutual awareness of the uncleanliness of the house increases as the distance between the house and an in-law decreases. For about the last six weeks, Kristi's mom has been very kind to come and help take care of the kids while I was at work and Kristi was either on bed rest or taking care of two new ones. What I observed was a positive correlation between the rate at which we tried to straighten up the house and Cathy's (Kristi's mom) temporal distance from the house (ETA):



















ETA (min.)Cleaning Rate (hs/sq.ft/s)*
450.1
351
2510
15100
51000

* Cleaning Rate: hs = hand swipes


With a little bit of work, we can establish the mathematical relationship as follows, where x is Cathy's ETA:

y = 10^(3-(x-5)/10)

As you can see, the relationship is exponential and leaves us cleaning at a rate of over 3000 hs per sq. ft. each second as her car is pulling up into the driveway.

Before really delving into any analysis on this relation, I should explain how I got my units of measure for "Cleaning Rate". hs, meaning "hand swipes" seemed to encapsulate both the cleaning that we as parents did, the simultaneous messing-up that the kids did, and the general mayhem that was just everyone running around the house swiping their hands over everything in the final seconds of the ordeal. Thus, a higher Cleaning Rate should not be equated with a clean house or even a house that is becoming cleaner, but, instead a house where the attempts of the parents to clean the house, the childrens' attempts to make it messy again, and general attempts at swiping over general square footage in an attempt to grasp at progress become more fervent.

Note: This is a good point to note another Cleaning Law: The rate at which the kids mess up the house is always directly proportional to the rate at which the parents clean it.

This graph explains well the several interesting phenomena observable at our home seconds before in-laws arrive. For example, with four people (Kristi, Remi, Zac, and I) engaged in "cleaning", let us divide the Cleaning Rate evenly among them. Taking into account that our house is 2060 square feet, we will designate 515 square feet per person to make this distinction. if we are to consider a hand swipe to be about 3 in, a pretty conservative estimate, one's hands break the speed of sound at about 8.6 hsfs (hand swipes per square feet per second), or, roughly, the 26 minute mark. With about 15 seconds to go, the average hand speed in the house is 348 times the speed of sound, which, as much as we would like to hide it, leads to quite the cacophony of aftershocks once an in-law arrives. More interestingly, Remi and Zac have usually been bound to chairs with duct tape somewhere around the 2-minutes-remaining mark, which means, in order to sustain the Cleaning Rate that the data suggest, Kristi is cleaning at roughly 1392 times the speed of sound; fast enough to get her to the moon (which she often arrives at when you add in a dinner that we are preparing for the in-laws as well) in about 13.5 minutes.

Needless to say, our house is often still messy by the time the doorbell rings. Fortunately, the in-laws don't really care...do they?