Nicole and I would like to introduce you all to Mateo Xavier Spagnuolo. Our bouncing baby boy arrived on 10/28/11 and weighed in at a whopping 3 lbs 14 oz. Yep, he was a bit ahead of schedule. 7 weeks in fact. We are still a little dumbstruck by all of this but Nicole is healing well and Mateo is a spunky little dude.
Many of you are probably already aware that Nicole’s pregnancy has been anything but typical. She started getting sick the day after she found out she was pregnant and the nausea continued well into the third trimester. This wasn’t the kind of “sick” you see in movies where the woman runs to the bathroom, pukes, and then goes back to work like nothing happened. This is the kind of sick that lands you in the hospital getting fluids through an IV. She began taking Zofran after we tried just about every natural remedy we could think of. The Zofran did help her keep food and liquids down, but it didn’t do much for the constant food aversions and general misery of a constantly nauseous state. Without revealing my beautiful bride’s vital stats, I can safely tell you that she lost 15 lbs before the end of the second trimester. It was only this past week that she finally reached her pre-pregnancy weight. The poor girl has endured what is easily the most trying 7 months of her life. Despite the grim picture I’ve painted, her spirits were high, all pre-natal visits went great, and she knew it would all be worth it in the end. We were blissfully unaware of what nature had in store for us.
Around 3am Friday morning, she started getting cramps at fairly regular intervals. Our first thought was Braxton Hicks (false labor) contractions. After all, she hadn’t experienced any noticeable contractions up to this point and she didn’t know exactly what they felt like. But because the contractions were regular, frequent, intense, and getting worse, we began to suspect something was up. After noticing some spotting, we called our Doula and she recommended we go to the hospital immediately. To make a long story short, Nicole’s placenta was detaching from her uterus thanks to a condition known as placental abruption. Her contractions were by no means normal and the pain was nothing short of excruciating. It was only well after the fact that we found out just how much danger both she and the baby were in. Fortunately, her body gave her enough advanced warning that we were able to get to the hospital before things to escalated to a level I don’t even want to think about. There is no doubt in my mind that we narrowly dodged a bullet. We arrived at the ER at about 5:15 am and at 7:31 am our baby boy was breathing his first breath of air, delivered by an emergency C-section. I guess we won’t be taking the “Pickles and Ice Cream Tour” we had scheduled this weekend.
Nicole and I were originally aiming for a natural childbirth. We’re not super “crunchy” or anything but we did want to let nature take its course as much as possible with intervention only when necessary. While doing our research on the birthing process, we watched several documentaries and read a few books that had a way of villainizing the American medical system. I don’t plan on getting into any commentary on that, but all I can say is thank goodness we had this system at our disposal when we need it. Our baby now has a sporting chance at a “normal” life, despite opening his eyes to a world he wasn’t supposed to see for a another seven weeks.
So now, in true Spagnuolo style, Nicole and I are sitting in our room at the hospital accompanied by our laptops, iPads, and iPhones. That’s just how we roll. With a baby in the NICU, you have a lot of time on your hands and its nice to have some distractions. But rest assured, we are allowing plenty of time for our little one. At this stage, it is mostly hands off. In the mean time, we ponder the future and share laughter, tears, elation, fear, apprehension, optimism, and joy.
Our baby isn’t out of the woods yet, but the prognosis is good. His breathing is just about normal now and he is incredibly feisty. He has a touch of mild jaundice and is undergoing a little phototherapy. He was apprehensive at first but once we explained to him that this was just like using a tanning bed, he seemed to become much more comfortable with the idea. Fist pump!!!
We truly appreciate all the well-wishes and kind words from our online and offline friends. Most of you have been a part of our lives in some way since 2006, so it feels very natural to share some intimate details on the next leg of our family’s journey. We are lucky to have so many friends. Please direct all thoughts, vibes, prayers, positive mojo, or whatever else you’re into directly toward our little Mateo. And in 18 years, lock up your daughters (or sons, just because we’re open-minded that way)!
Below are a few additional pictures of Nicole’s first moments meeting our son. Also our first family shot and the Wushi Finger Hold. Skadoosh!
A few folks have inquired about the name choice. Here’s the skinny. I picked Mateo because I thought it sounded cool with our last name. I originally thought we would spell it with two t’s (Matteo), but Nicole preferred the single t. It took all of five minutes to pick the name. Nicole and I don’t really put a whole lot of stock in baby name origins and meanings and instead we go with what feels right. After all, Mateo means “Gift of God”. Sort of ironic coming from two non-religious people. But there is no doubt that the boy is our “gift”. As for Xavier, that comes from Nicole’s grandfather. But I told her I would always insist it was inspired by Professor Xavier of X-men fame.