Noe Valley Voice February 2000

More Mouths to Feed:
Desmond Dmitri Alioshin

By Maire Farrington

Kat Alioshin experienced "the ultimate team labor" for her son Desmond's birth. Assembled in the birthing room on the 15th floor at UCSF Medical Center were dad Paul Alioshin, midwife Sue McDonald, nurse Laura Bieker, aunt Annette Alioshin, aunt Shivaun van Straatum (acting as doula, Mom's special helper), and uncle Mike Gramps, the baby's official timer.

All that support came in handy during Kat's 39 hours of labor. "Every time I had a contraction, I would reach out, and one of them would be there," she says. Parents and team were thrilled when Desmond Dmitri Alioshin arrived at 3:12 p.m. on April 28, 1999, registering a healthy 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

"I was trying to stay there pretty much the whole time, and finally Sue McDonald told me to get out," says Paul. "She said, 'Go eat something.' I got all the way down to the cafeteria and was making a sandwich when I heard my name paged. I dropped everything and ran back. And I'm trying to be normal in the elevator and maintain elevator etiquette and I'm looking at the numbers and saying, 'Have a nice day,' but I'm thinking, Arrghhhh! I have to get up there!"

"It was the push period, and that was a three-hour push," says Kat. "Technically, he [the baby] was in the right position but he was posterior, turned the wrong way. That's why it took so long." Dad stayed put for the final countdown and even trimmed his son's umbilical cord. Grandparents Greg and Bev Alioshin, close by in the waiting room, greeted their grandson on his way to the nursery.

"He's the heir to the Alioshin name," notes Paul. "There's just me and my sister. My dad was the only one who had kids. Dmitri is my grandfather on my father's side. He came from Russia."

But the fact that mom, dad, and baby all share the same surname was what impressed the hospital staff. "We were filling out the birth certificate, and they were saying, 'You guys all have the same last name!?'"

Their son's first name is a conversation piece too. "Desmond is an Irish name that isn't based on anyone in particular," notes Kat. "But my mom's Irish, and I'm first-generation [Irish-American]."

"It's kind of like a jazz name," says Paul. "It's curious, in our [Natural Resources] birth group, there was a Thelonious, an Ella, a Tucker, and a Matilda."

"It seems like they'd all make a great jazz band," Kat quips.

Baby also answers to Des, Desi, and Roo. And, says Paul, "a lot of people claim that we named him Desmond so we could call him Desmo, which is short for Desmodromic, a Ducati [Italian motorcycle] term. I race motorcycles. I made him a little red Ducati hat."

With fatherhood now a priority, Paul declined to race this year, but he managed to find a toddler-sized Vespa scooter with pedals, which he is fixing up for his son. And for variety, Desmond can ride the little Oscar Meyer Wiener mobile that Dad just couldn't pass up.

Kat, 35, a filmmaker, and Paul, 34, an engineer, met in 1986 while they were students working at the campus radio station at University of California, San Diego. The couple moved to the Bay Area in 1989. "We'll always remember that date, because of the earthquake," Kat says. After living on Valley Street and then Fair Oaks Street, Kat and Paul bought their house on Jersey Street in 1994. They were married in 1995.

Desmond has medium-brown hair with a little red in it, and gray-blue eyes. His bright smile reveals two lower teeth, "which give him character," Kat says. "I think he looks like Paul, but occasionally when he smiles and gets that little dimple, he looks a bit like me. He's one of the happiest babies I've ever met."

After an initial bout of colic, "he's come full circle, and everyone's commenting on the sweet way he looks at you," Kat continues. "He's got a wise soul."

Paul took a week off after Desmond's birth, and when Kat returned to work (when Desmond was 7 weeks old), he experienced a two-week solo stint as a stay-at-home dad. "It was something else," he relates. "At the end of the day, you're so covered in goo, you need to take a shower. It's like, wow, I don't know how our moms did it."

Nowadays, Desmond hangs out with nanny Emily Randall, and Emily has taken him to Ocean Beach, where he got to stick his toes in the water. Twice a week he visits the crew in Kat's office. "He's very social," Mom reports. "He knows everybody there and he's really happy to let them know by that look -- a big smile."

Desmond keeps in touch with his birth-group buddies. At 6 months, he hosted them for a Halloween party, where he donned a gnome costume fashioned by his aunt Annette.

Desmond has recently learned to pull himself up to a standing position, wave goodbye, and clap, and he just loves to blow raspberries.

"He's definitely good with his fingers. I imagine it comes from Paul being an engineer," Kat says. "He'll examine an object closely for a long time, trying to figure out how it works. And his feet are Paul's for sure. He's got really long toes!"

Desmond's 12 cousins "all say he's super lucky because there are so many toys around here," Paul says. These include his parents' impressive collection of Pez dispensers, along with artifacts from movies that Kat has worked on, including The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.

Still, Desmond is content to amuse himself with paper and plastic bags (he likes the crunching sound). "He has all these brightly colored toys, but I think his favorite bath thing is a hair-dye squeeze bottle -- a blank plastic bottle," Paul says.

His son is also fond of the remote control device. "We'll be watching TV or something, and suddenly the sound will go off," laughs Dad.

"He loves strolling down 24th Street and checking out all the dogs -- he's incredibly infatuated with them," Kat says.

Meanwhile, his fellow humans are cooing over him. "People don't pay attention to us anymore. They're all, 'Oh! Who's that baby?'" says Mom.

"It's definitely an entrée into a whole other group of people," Paul remarks. "Like going down to Martha's [coffee shop] really early with him, there are all these other dads. And when he was really little and sometimes unhappy and just had to go for a walk outside, I'd be taking laps around Noe Valley at 5:30 in the morning, and other dads would be doing the same thing. It's like this underground, and we now have the secret handshake."

Desmond has clearly stolen his parents' hearts. "I just love it that he's so happy to see me every day," says Kat. "And I love seeing his reaction to new things."

Dad is equally thrilled. "I totally was not expecting it, but he is so much more exciting than motorcycle racing."