We went to the beach for a long weekend as a family of three, we came home as a family of four!  Here are the details of our adventure.  Read it if you want or just look at the pictures!

On Thursday afternoon Rebecca went for her weekly checkup at the doctor.  Our baby was due in 3.5 weeks but they said she was doing great and had nothing to worry about.  We should go enjoy ourselves at the shore.  We were both really looking forward to the long weekend.  We had just found a new house, sold our house (although both closings are in September), and we have a baby on the way.  Plus our son Ben was really hitting his stride as a two year old, mastering the art of “No”.  So some time off was really in order.  We had a nice relaxing day on Friday, the weather was perfect and Ben was having a blast playing in the sand.


Ben at the beach playground with cousins Hannah and Sam.  And Ben playing with Hannah (and Uncle Andy)

Part 1 – Controlled Panic:  Later that evening we were headed for a walk on the boardwalk with family.  Ben and I were a few minutes ahead of Rebecca.  When Rebecca didn’t follow us, we had to head back to see what was up.  We met up with Rebecca and she said “I think my water just broke”.  FYI, that didn’t happen when Ben was born so she wasn’t positive what was happening.  There was a lot of family at the house and lots of opinions and ideas.  “You should call the doctor”, “You should pack up and leave”, “Relax and go for a walk”, etc.  We called the doctor back home.  Keep in mind, we’re on the Jersey shore near Atlantic City, about 1.5 hrs from home.  The doctors advice was to head right to the hospital.  After water breaks anything could happen, and happen fast.  I thought, the last thing we want to have happen is to deliver a baby on the side of the AC Expressway.  Next, we had a nice family discussion/argument about which hospital to go to.  There were three to choose from.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law took charge of that and called to figure out which is best.  That was a big help.  By this time it was about 8:30pm.  The next problem to deal with was how to get Ben to sleep.  Since it is the beginning of the summer, the house is a bit strange to him and he wanted me to sleep in the room with him.  I laid down for a while and every minute felt like an hour.  He finally fell asleep, we packed up and we were off to Atlanticare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus. 

IMG_0796 On our walk before things got interesting.  Ben’s with cousin Sylvia (Sylvie) but Ben calls her “So-be”.  I think he is love with her.

One nice part of this whole crazy situation is that we had plenty of people to help with Ben.  If we were at home we would have had to find someone to come over and watch him for the night, plus we’d need people to help out all weekend long too.  Instead, we just drove off.  Well, first we spewed out a bunch of instructions about how to keep him happy while everyone nodded their heads saying “Sure, we’ve got it”.  Most of it didn’t matter, we knew he’d be in great hands if they followed our advice or not.

Part 2 – Hurry Up and Wait:  We got to the hospital and finally were in our room by around 11pm or so.  The staff now told Rebecca that since her water broke, she had to stay in bed.  Rebecca was seriously unhappy with that information.  When Ben was born she was told the best way to work through labor and keep things moving was to be up and around.  And she wasn’t that far along, so we’d likely not have a baby until the next day!  We both slept in the hospital but I’m sure that everyone knows you can’t really get much sleep in a hospital. 

Part 3 – Time to Rock and Roll:  Around 5:30 am they gave Rebecca a shot of Pitocin to move things along.  At 6:30 they injected some pain killers into her epidural and at 7:30 am on July 3rd Sarah Maya Schwam was born!  She weighed 5 lbs, 12 oz and was 19.25 inches long.  As a side note, I thought she looked shorter than that.  This week the pediatrician measured her at 18.5 inches.  I’m not sure what is up with that.  Being 3.5 weeks early, the staff was a little concerned and put the NIC unit on alert.  But after a check up, they decided that she was ok to stay with us and they’d keep an extra close eye on her.  That was a BIG relief to us.  10 fingers, 10 toes, and TONS of dark brown hair and cute as a button (whatever that means). 

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Part 4 – Now What?:  OK, so we’ve got a healthy baby but we are pretty far from home with no “baby stuff”.  Well it turns out you don’t need too much stuff and in our neck of the woods (even down at the shore) there are always stores around.  My sister-in-law Dawn hit the drug store for some diapers and stuff, and a little boutique at the beach for a few outfits.  But you can’t leave the hospital without a car seat!  We planned to send the family out to Baby’s R Us to buy a new one when a few friends came to the rescue.  Neighbors Megan and Glen were on their way to the shore for July 4th when they saw my email baby announcement.  They offered to stop at our house and pick up the baby seat and other supplies and drop them at the hospital!  How cool is that?  We were all set!

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Our family including Aunt Dawn, Megan (who came to our rescue) and Sarah, and the four of us leaving the hospital via the required wheel chair.

Part 5 – Home At Last:  After 2 nights in the hospital (3 if you count the night before Sarah was born) everyone was released and we went back to the beach house.  It was Monday of a holiday weekend and we didn’t want to get stuck in any traffic coming home so we spent the night at the beach.  Of course, we didn’t have a bassinette there so we had to improvise with a drawer!   By noon on Tuesday we were finally back in our house!  It was great coming home and Benny was really happy.  I think the trip was toughest on him.

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Sarah with Rebecca’s dad, with my Mom, in her drawer (it looks safe and comfy, right?). 

What a crazy “vacation” this turned out to be!  It would have been a lot harder without our family that helped out so much with Benny.  He had a great time playing at the beach with his cousins.  I have no idea how we could have got through this without the family helping out.  Now Benny is totally in love with Sarah, like nothing I have ever seen before.  He just wants to kiss her and hug her and tickle her and just be around her ALL of the time.  “I want Sarah” is the new phrase heard around the house… over and over and over again.  We’re glad he likes her but it is making us a little crazy.  I’ve been told that this will wear off pretty soon and he’ll get used to having her around.  Having a sister certainly did not cure the “terrible two’s”.  This little guy really tries to run the show around here.  Lucky for us he’s still a sweet kid most of the time.

It’s been a busy few months since my last post.  Ben’s building his vocabulary and knows a bunch of words.  He’s also working on his “animal sounds”.  He knows that a cow says “moo” and a bunch of others.  If you ask him what a pig says, he makes a sort of coughing sound.  I figured out he is saying the end of the word “oinK”.  Ben was a little late to the game for walking. But he really got the hang of it and was very proud to be walking around.  But then he had a bit of an accident and broke his leg!  It sounds pretty crazy but the doctor says it is really quite common.  The specific break is actually called a “toddler’s fracture”  To be clear, we aren’t talking about one of those nasty “dangling limb” breaks.  Just a crack.  It still sucks for a 15 month old kid.  So poor Benny has a cast on his leg and that put an end to walking for a while. 

It’s actually quite interesting to see Ben respond to this situation.  When the accident happened he was really unhappy and scared.  I don’t think he was in a terrible amount of pain if he kept still.  But he was really scared, he knew something was not right in a serious way.  It took a while in the hospital and he did not like it when they splinted and wrapped his leg (the cast would get put on the next day at the Orthopedist’s office).  However, as soon as his leg was immobilized he was out of pain and started turning back to normal, even playing a bit.  I expected him to play with the splint or try and take it off.  But he just ignored it.  I think somehow he actually understood that it was helping him.  Even when the cast got put on, he never pulled at it or anything.  He just accepted the situation – “now I have a cast on my leg, what’s next?” He was back to crawling full time but didn’t seem to care about the broken leg at all.  He eventually started to stand on it (leaning  on furniture) and now even takes as many as 8-10 steps on it!  He’s not really supposed to but it isn’t so easy to keep him off it.  The worst part of the whole thing is 6 weeks with no baths (not real ones, anyway), sand, swimming, dirt etc.  Anyway, in 2 weeks the cast is coming off.  My expectation is he’ll quickly adjust back, start walking and that will be the end of that story.

We’ve also joined the Philadelphia Zoo.  This is a great idea for any family and we are really liking it, with 2 trips in so far this summer.  Benny loves it and points and yells at the animals.  We’ve also seen a lot of family lately including a visit to the park with Grandma and Longstreet Farm with his cousins. 

The last new thing is that we’ve been taking Ben for bike rides (he hangs out in a trailer), it’s fun for the whole family.  Wow, so much to talk about, I really need to post these things more often!  Here’s a bunch of photos:

  • Craft Time for Ben, Mommy and cousin Fiona!

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  • With Grandma on Passover.  A classic “how big is Benny?” photo!


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  • Here’s a shot of Ben with his cast.


  • Benny’s catching a free ride with Uncle Dennis, and posing with cousins Kaycie, Allie, Sami and Jake at Longstreet Farm.  Also Benny is his bike trailer – and looking cool too!

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It’s hard to keep up with posting these photos of Ben.  Time flies.  Lots more news since my last blog post.  First of all, Ben had his 1st birthday!  His grandma made him an awesome cake (and cupcakes) and they were a big hit. 

Ben is really trying to gain some weight (he’s a on the small side).  The Dr. put him on a “butter” diet, telling us to put butter on everything he eats.  Somehow he got the message.  All of a sudden he started eating everything in sight.  He gained 1 lb in 6 weeks.  Then he stopped eating again and got really finicky and cranky.  After a few days Rebecca took him to the Dr. to find out that he had an ear infection!  After a day or 2 of antibiotics, he was back to eating again.  He’s a pretty funny eater.  One day he’ll be eating Brussels sprout (yes, spelled with an “s” at the end, I looked it up), broccoli, meatloaf, spaghetti and meat sauce, salmon, and more.  It’s like he loves all different flavor foods.  And the next day, he’s bored of it all and won’t eat anything!

Right around the time of the ear infection Benny developed another ailment, much to our dismay.  He’s become a bit of a “momma’s boy”!  All he wants is for his mommy to hold him.  It’s pretty funny too because if it’s just me and him hanging out, it’s all good. He laughs and plays and is perfectly content.  But when Rebecca comes in the room, he starts to get cranky and he just wants her.  I’m sure this is pretty typical behavior for a kid his age.  For me, it’s a little insulting – “what, I’m not good enough for you?”.  But for Rebecca it is just plain annoying because she can’t get anything done when he is around.  This too shall pass.

We’ve had a few other big achievements lately.  Ben started taking some steps on his own.  Still just 2 or 3 at a time, but people say once it starts, he’ll be walking soon enough.  He also has increased his vast vocabulary to 3 words.  In addition to “momma” and “dadda”, he now says “dog”.  Well, more like “daw daw” but we are impressed.  It’s funny too because we don’t have a dog.  But he gets excited when he sees them on TV or out walking around, or at friends’ houses.

OK, as usual, here are some recent photos…

No, that first one isn’t Ben, but a classic just the same.  Big Steve eating Chicken Holiday!  Below are pictures of ben playing, at the park with Grandma, and showing off his new “Vail” shirt (he wants to go skiing there next year!).  Also, three classic “messy face” pictures.  The first is Ben eating his 1st Birthday Cake (his first sugar fix ever).  I think he liked it because you can see him eating his friend Ricky’s cake too (with the red icing).  Think he enjoyed it?  And there’s another with him covered in Oreo cookie!  Don’t worry, he eats a lot of veggies and fruit too!

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If you read my last post about Ben, you’ll know that the winter wasn’t going so well.  It seemed like Ben was always sick and in a “bad mood”.  Well not anymore!  The little guy that we love is back and crazier than ever.  One day he just changed completely back to his old self.  These days he is sleeping great, eating great, playful as can be and all about having fun!

Ben is loving “real” food.  He really wants to feed himself so we let him do that most of the time.  He eats pasta, scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pears, turkey meatloaf, veggie burgers, pizza (crust), peas, broccoli, carrots, mac and cheese and a bunch of other stuff.  He watches what Mommy and Daddy eat and always wants food off of our plates.  Plus, he is taking his bottles more too.  So all that is going well.

Play time is completely different these days.  Benny really seems to “get” the game.  I don’t know what goes on in his mind but he is really starting to learn things.  The little gears are really turning in his head.  He loves to play with his Fisher Price “House”.  He plays peek-a-boo by lifting the window up and down.  He also loves his “Little People“.  And he has car that he can ride on and walk behind.  We are noticing more hand coordination too as he can put balls into a slot or put his blocks together (sometimes).  He’s very proud of himself too, especially when he is walking (with our help), standing – yes on his own for a few seconds at a time, and other fun stuff.  Yesterday I said “How big is Benny” and up went his hands.  I had been trying that for a while with him with no result.  But it just clicked and how he does it all the time. 

Ben is really looking forward to turning 1 year old.  He had a lot of fun with his cousin Grace at her Birthday party.  She’s older by 10 days!  Check out the picture of them together, it is pretty funny because Grace is big for her age, while Ben is pretty small.

OK, here are some of my favorite pictures from the last few weeks.  Oh, by the way, Benny got his first haircut too.

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It’s been a while since my last entry of The Ben Chronicles.  As I look through my collection of photos I see why.  I have taken very few photos of Ben since Thanksgiving.  There’s a few reasons for that.  One is that my camera is on the fritz.  But hopefully some new rechargeable batteries will solve the problem.  The bigger issue is that Ben was sick a lot.  In December I think he was sick more days than he was healthy.  First a stomach bug (no details but that was fun), then  a cold, than another cold, than another, etc.  Most of these weren’t anything major but one time he gave us a scare when his hole throat puffed out.  Turns out it was just really bad swollen glands due to all of the colds he has had.  Anyway, he was sick during Rebecca’s entire winter break which was really a bummer.  Each time he goes back to daycare and then a few days later he is home sick again.  But he seems to be pretty healthy these days (or should I say, today).  People warned me that the first year at school or daycare is when kids get sick the most. 

When he is feeling good, Ben is a bundle of fun.  He’s really curious and he is really stubborn.  He loves to crawl around and play with stuff.  He loves being tickled and laughs a lot!  He’s not so interested in baby food any more and wants to eat “real” food.  He really likes to feed himself.  I think all of those sick days made him a little more needy because he wants to be held more than ever.  Or maybe it is just a phase he is going through.  He isn’t gaining a lot of weight these days, and all those sick days didn’t help, but he still seems to be looking a lot bigger.  As he gets close to 1 year old, he really is changing into less of a baby and more of a little boy.  But we still have a long way to go.


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