Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho Ho Etc

Daddy and Mommy in Waiting would like to wish all our readers, near and far, a very Merry Christmas. For our friends trying to travel in the air, we hope you get your flights soon and arrive safely (and with your bags).

Having a child has given me a little more "Christmas Spirit" than usual. Not sure if I would call it "jolly" but for some reason I can stomach it all a bit more than recent years. The more kids I see around and the more of our friends' kids I spend time with, the more "Real" it all gets, which I see as a good thing. Makes me wish next Christmas was already here and we can watch our little guy drooling or trying to rip open his gifts under the tree.

The other night we went to see some friends who had a baby girl about a week ago. Holding her at that size and feeling the weight helped me get a feel for our guy (though at his current size in the belly, he will probably not be as small as this little girl was, haha). But watching her move around and make little faces, then wake up crying because of likely hunger, was the closest I've felt to "this is how it will be." That includes the red eyes the father had from lack of sleep, so I'm not delusional!

Last weekend we had an 7.5-hour Birthing Seminar. We could have taken the class split up into more sections but it would have been during the week, making it tougher to attend easily. As much as I've thirsted for knowledge, the class was sort of a let down. From all our reading we knew most of the information (not to brag). The breast-feeding class the week before was more informative, though I was definitely apprehensive going to it (I thought I would be the only guy there; I was not). I guess it's good we went to them, but I think we felt there would be more eye-opening news about what's to come. Maybe we will take some post-birth classes, like baby massage, feeding, bathing, etc.

So, again, thank you for reading my blog so far. I've received great and encouraging comments and can't wait to read more. Have a happy and healthy holiday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not So Bright

Another "human" who lofted his ignorance onto his poor child, naming his son Adolf Hitler Campbell. In this story he acts incredulous, not sure why people would react negatively to his amazing decision making skills.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hNXg5FqcqZg1KUgf6PNrmnRRk-4wD95490680

Monday, December 8, 2008

Long Time No Blog

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post. For the first time in a while, I've been busy at work because my office and computer lab was being consolidated and moved, so my usual ability to blog from work was being used up (imagine that). I/we hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are feeling healthy and happy during this holiday season.

Our baby boy is doing well, as is momma. She thinks she's the largest pregnant woman ever though I think she looks great and is wearing the pregnancy well. She's definitely not any bigger than a normal pregnant woman should be at this stage, but it's just something she's obviously not used to seeing. It's getting a little hard for her to get around comfortably, and her back bothers her often. Also heartburn has been a bother, as has hip pain from sleeping on her side(s) all the time. But all in all, she's happy and healthy, albeit a bit worried about being able to deliver a baby she perceives as being huge!

I've been continuing my reading and preparing for the big day. I read a baby "Owner's Manual" that a friend gave me at my Boy's BBQ last month. Though the book was written sort of tongue-in-cheek and like a computer manual, it contained a ton of useful information on caring for a new baby, and should come in handy for reference material. I finished reading the book on colic but still pray our baby doesn't get affected by it. Even with all the tips and tricks I learned on relieving colic, it doesn't sound like a fun ride. On a recommendation, I'm now reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. This book explains how children sleep and gives instructions on recognizing sleep signs and how lack of sleep negatively effects children. I now feel some of the fussiness and crankiness I see in many children may be just due to lack of sleep. Parents like to believe that sleep from a skipped nap or from being kept up later can be made up at night. According to the book that might work once in a while because of a special occasion, but continuing the habits of skipping sleep will only produce an unhappy, overtired child.

I mentioned to my wife one tip from the book that Dr. Weissbluth gave to a client regarding putting the baby to sleep at least an hour before the usual sleep time (around 6:00PM). The child ended up sleeping several hours and was very alert and happy during the day, as well as taking normal naps. While we both agree on the importance of sleep and having a happy, healthy child, we also would be disappointed if we could not spend much quality time with our little guy after work. By the time we both got home from work it would be time to start the sleep routine of feed, bath, massage, then crib, at best. So we will have to see how things work out with him and his sleep habits.

This past weekend began the slate of baby classes we're signed up to attend. I attended the Dad's Birth Support class a couple weeks ago, and on Saturday we both went to a two-hour infant CPR class. The last time I took CPR was at least 20 years ago while in the Boy Scouts. Only a couple details of the process had changed, and I even got "certified." We both agreed that it would be tough to have to perform CPR on our own child. At least now we know the steps to take if a child is choking or has gone unconscious, as difficult as it might be.

Our next classes are regarding breast feeding (which I have to attend, for some reason; I hope I'm not the only guy there) and the big class on the whole birthing process. In a book I was reading last night before bed it was mentioned that many of these classes aren't being completely open about how much pain is involved during birth. I don't know if that's due to our society's reliance on pain drugs, or they just don't want to scare women, which often makes it more difficult to deliver. I know the wife is worried about her pain threshold, but is very open-minded when it comes to the pain drugs. She told her doctor the other day that she would surely listen to recommendations, even if it meant delivering via C-Section (especially in the interest of the baby, of course).

So I guess we're in the home stretch, the 31st week. The nursery is pretty much done and even decorated. We have clothes, diapers, a very large box of wipes, bottles, bibs, onesies and a Manchester United knit hat. We are even 99% sure on a first name (no, we aren't going to tell you, hehe). Mentally I'm prepared, I'm well read, I'm excited. Should I worry? ; )

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shower Time

Due to the impending holiday season (Xmas shopping starts before Halloween now, according to stores, it seems), travel and the timing of our due date, my wife thought it best to have her shower the other weekend. Instead of having a suggested "co-ed" shower with the men around, we decided an even more fun (funner?) idea might be to have a Boy's BBQ at a separate location. So while the women gathered to do the girlie thing, the guys came around (after dutifully dropping of the S.O.'s first, natch) for some beer, BBQ and camaraderie.

Both events had a great turnout -- over 20 attendees at each plus some kids. The men had a bounty of appetizers to choose from, as well as three different kinds of burgers to nosh on (beef, turkey and elk!). The women enjoyed a really nice cake that was decorated perfectly for the event with all sorts of baby related pieces on top of the frosting. For both meals there was a lot of homemade food and a ton of effort put in by all sorts of people, all of which we cannot thank enough. The hosts of the parties took great pains to make it all memorable and we are really appreciative.

The guys' gathering had a pool going on a big calendar where they could pay $5 to choose a date of when the baby will arrive. My father-in-law came up with the idea; I suggested it to my wife when she was creating the calendar, but she shot it down. When I got to the host house the decision was changed to make it "more interesting," and how could I say no? Half of the winnings would go to the person who chose correctly and the other half to the baby's college fund. A lot of the guys got involved, making it a great conversation piece. There was also a guessing game to figure out how many peanut M&M's were in a baby bottle, as well as little cards where the guys could write messages to the baby-to-be. I believe the women had similar games going, but didn't take the plunge to "enrich" the due-date pool.

After eating it was trivia time, with a list of questions the wife and her sister came up with, all involving the baby and its inception. We haven't told anyone the name yet (and it's still not 100% agreed upon anyway) but we have given out the middle name, so that was one question. Most of the men got it wrong, not to mention a lot of the women (including family, haha). Other questions included how I was told of the pregnancy (the "positive" pee stick being tossed in my lap) and how many cousins our kid will have (four). My father-in-law, with the help of insider information, I'm sure, was the winner of a Starbucks gift card for getting nine answers correct, out of about 14.

When my wife got home, she arrived with two other cars full of gifts. Apparently it took about two hours, with an intermission to catch her breath, to open all the gifts. There were a few duplicates (and a triplicate) of gifts but it was all sorts of stuff we needed. The nice comfy nursery we had created was literally filled with bags and boxes in minutes. If there was a baby in the room it surely would have been lost or tossed out with the recycling (or returned if there was a gift receipt, har har). The generosity of our friends and family was pretty overwhelming and beyond our wildest expectations. You'd think people were REALLY waiting for this to happen!

Again, we both had such a great time at our respective "showers" that we simply cannot thank everyone enough. I highly recommend doing the double party, as it gives everyone a chance to be involved in the pregnancy/birth that little bit more. Thank you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Labels Please


I'm reading a parenting book called ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT. The subtitle is "The Revolutionary Approach to Raising You Kids by Keeping Your Cool." It's a book with a startling premise (among other ideas): Your life does NOT revolve around your children. It helps us keep a space (figuratively) between us and our kids to help them become more independent and self-sufficient while learning to deal with challenges before parents swoop in and "save the day." Also, the book purports to help parents "learn to calm your emotional reactions and focus on your own behavior more than your kids' behavior...for their benefit." I know, crazy stuff, right?

There are methods in the book to help turn around certain situations that arise and put the responsibility back to the child to get them to try and deal with it, making it more of a learning experience. For instance, when a child says the cliche' "Are we there yet?" we may start to get angry or retort anxiously with a "We just left!!" or "There are still two hours to go" which invariably leads to the response, "Two more hours?!?! Oh noooo!" This response would lead to more anxiety and more back and forth that gets you nowhere. A ScreamFree response, according to Runkel, might be the following: "Wow, you're already asking that question? You must really not want to be in the car today." (Empathy) "Come to think of it, I don't want to be in the car either. And I really don't want to be in the car for a whole two hours more either. I think I want to be out of the car more than you do! What do you think?" By joining with your child, you can commiserate together (and actually have a fun time doing it).

Interactions like this lead to mutual respect between you and the child. If you can create an environment of mutual respect, your child is more likely to want to approach you with problems or other issues. If your child feels you will only react negatively or anxiously when they come to you with an issue, they are surely less like to do so and instead hide things from you or let the situation fester (and possibly get worse). Lording over our children (or hovering), trying to get them to make us feel good about ourselves by "behaving" will only create a great actor, not a dutiful child. We want our children to behave because THEY want to, not just because they know we will leave them alone if they do. That's just a robot.

The part of the book that I've gone over most recently deals with labeling the children. Most labels seem harmless or even sound beneficial (gifted, funny, skinny, the star, athletic), while others produce a negative connotation (a little slow, big-boned, the black sheep). Putting a child into one or more of these "categories" can lead to disappointment if the child doesn't "live up" to the high expectations. Conversely, a child with a "negative" label may leave an impression of the child that could stick for years, even if the label proves correct in some way. So when granny says "I knew he would grow up to be a troublemaker" or Aunt Mable says "he has a temper like his father," they must be prophets. Like Runkel says in the book, the scientific community has yet to determine whether there are genetic determinants on whether our children carry behaviors in their DNA (so the behaviors are learned from people, not born into them). So how can our family know this?

What if our child doesn't want to be funny because everyone says "she's so funny"? Or your son fails a test though "he's the smart one"? Then what? Because of this box the child is put in there will be this pressure to perform, or even under-perform. We are forgetting that children change all the time and have moods just like adults. A troublemaker today does not necessarily make one in 10 years, just like the athletic kid now will not change his mind about sports and get into music, for instance.

Also, when we say our child is "always" something or "never" does this or that, we put unnecessary pressure on him/her. They may be being dramatic discussing how unfair chores are, but telling them "you're always so dramatic" is harsh and most likely untrue. Runkel suggests changing our vocabulary to "can be" which is a lot more forgiving. Try saying "You can be really dramatic at times, but I remember how it was when I was twelve, so I know how you must feel." This empathy shows your child that you acknowledge their feelings, but you are not upset about it. You and everyone will be able to look at your child in a much more positive way, and your child is not pegged into yet another category. Try it!

My wife likes to think our son will be a "momma's boy" which now frightens me (I'm half joking). While I hope he loves her to no end, the connotation of the label de-masculinizes him (is that a word?) or makes him less of an individual. Again, we see these labels as harmless because they've been bandied about for so long. What adult do you know that's still called a "momma's boy" and you see it as a good thing?

Wasn't Norman Bates, from the Psycho films, a momma's boy? I'm just sayin'...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Three Ell Bees


Yesterday my wife went to a check-up at her doctor's office to make sure all was well with her and the incubating boy inside. All is going according to plan, but while I don't think there's a concrete way to measure, the doctor said our boy is about THREE POUNDS. The wife is almost at 27 weeks now, but the doctor still said our boy was "above average" haha. I told him (through the tummy) that he can still put on a few more pounds, but that I hoped his head wouldn't get too overly big since he has to squeeze out of mommy somewhat comfortably. He is going to be pissed off enough getting squeezed out of his comfy warm environment, so if he gets TOO big he'll have to be (literally) sucked out of there. Then he gets the cone-head and will look silly in all the initial photos, and who wants that?

Kidding about the last part... ;)

Charitable Kids


Here's a great story about teaching children, even from an early age, the benefits of charity and giving. During the election campaign season I saw a couple stories involving children raising money for one of the presidential candidates (prompted or not by the parents, who knows). The usual idea is a lemonade stand but I think I saw one of a little girl who sold cookies, too.

http://razoo.com/articles/Raising_A_Charitable_Child

I don't remember how charitable my parents were when I was growing up. If they gave, it was to our church during the "offering" or the thousands of hours both my parents gave in service to the Boy Scouts for me and my brothers. As far as other philanthropy, I'm not sure.

Out of guilt or the unnerving ability to say "No" I have given to a few charities over the years, as well as a few presidential campaigns. My wife and I also support the arts by being members of an art gallery or two. Our names aren't on any buildings or walls, but it's nice to help these organizations get support to survive (and reap a benefit or two ourselves). But I have yet to figuratively "put my money where my mouth is" and give more of my time to causes I see as just. For instance, I find the injustice of poverty compelling and quickly joined John Edwards' Half in Ten campaign (pre-infidelity news, haha). http://halfinten.org/

Thing is, I've never been to a soup kitchen or any group that is helping stamp out poverty, or any cause, for that matter. I've never gone to talk to the elderly or volunteered at a food bank. So, while I feel for certain causes I have yet to really CONTRIBUTE to a worthy cause. Reading the kid's charity story got me thinking, however, that it is never too late to get into the game, as well as teaching our youth how important it is to realize there are people all over the country and the world who have it much harder than us. I hope to use the birth of our son to get involved together and help those in need and foster a culture of giving.

With this week's major event in our country (a new and progressive President), not to mention the conditions our faltering economy are creating, now is a great and much-needed time to give.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween


This "holiday" is for kids, in my opinion, like Christmas and Flag Day (kidding). Many of the adults who celebrate this day scare the dickens out of me, whatever "dickens" entails. I think it gives those adults a reason to act/dress as they wish they could everyday.

Kids, however, are very cute with their costumes and all. The excitement they build up about the impending CANDY is hilarious, at least until you make them go to a door and ask for it. It's something I surely look forward to with the boy. I'm sure I'll go too far in trying to think of ironic or less-kid-appropriate costumes, but that's just part of the fun. "Dad, who's Ross Perot, and why do I have to dress like him and not a Power Ranger?"

Anyway, to you and yours, Happy Halloween!

P.S. Picture is from the real deal. He has his mom's smile, haha...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sick-O


Starting last week, after returning from my trip, I've been feeling pretty lousy. What started off as a sore throat now has turned into a cold with a stuffy nose and a lot of lethargy. It has soured my mood and made me a pain to be around at times. I guess it gave me writer's block, too, since this is my first post in about a week.

I've been starting to wonder: How does one who is ill and not feeling "up to it" take care of a baby/child who needs me to be at the ready 24/7? Everything I've been reading has ignored this situation, and given the penchant for kids getting sick from other kids and/or day care, etc., it seems to be an important issue.

I don't know what I did to get my current cold except the plane ride. From what I remember, there wasn't a lot of coughing/sneezing but obviously there are germs everywhere on a plane. My doctor told me a new strain of flu was going around (as I was getting my flu shot), which is also bothersome, but I haven't seen anyone at work who was ailing. I guess it doesn't matter; I have it and now I need to recuperate.

My wife says I'm a big baby when I'm sick, which is probably true. I told her last night I just get so disappointed that I'm illin' and it really makes me upset. So I act out and get really moody, which I know isn't fun. But today was the realization (finally) that a little person will be coming soon who will depend on me/us and I will have to get over myself and take care of him. I've been so self-centered for so long that it will a slap in the face when the reality hits. I look forward to it, actually, because I believe I will finally be able to feel some compassion and show some emotion towards something other than my own interests.

So please let me know how YOU coped with feeling down, out, sick, hurt, pissed, pooped, etc., and putting that aside to care for your needy child. Did you sweep it under the rug? Were you truthful to your older kids about how you feel or did you say you were okay, that nothing was wrong? How did you find time to care for yourself?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Daddy Baby-moon

On Sunday afternoon I got back from a trip to see my best friend in the pacific northwest. His wife was away with our godson so he had the house to himself. He suggested I come up to help celebrate my birthday and the timing worked out well. I considered this my own little "babymoon" and it was fun to get away.

The odd part of the trip for was how the topics of our conversation have changed since his son was born and now that I will be a father, too. It became almost a teacher/student thing since I had quite a few questions about what he has gone through or what I might expect. We used to spend a ton of time talking about "Seinfeld," music or films, but this weekend it was strollers, sleeping sacks and his son's recent trip to the ER. On Friday we invited two other guys out with us, one having a baby only a month or two before. Sitting at a bar with music blaring talking about babies is quite hilarious, looking back on it now.

My new nagging question is regarding when to take my wife to the hospital for the big moment. My friend's situation was a bit different due to certain complications, but it seems the story is the same: it comes down to contractions. My favorite comment was "It's not how it is in the movies," which was actually sort of eye-opening. Not that I thought we'd be in a taxi cab driven by John Travolta but I did imagine the water breaking and me grabbing the pre-packed suitcase and speeding to the hospital. Then a cop would pull us over and realize what was happening and give us a police escort straight to the door. Apparently it's not that simple...

It was good to get away, but good to be home. It was tough not thinking a lot of the little guy, even though he's not yet born. Also I worried about my wife since her personality doesn't allow her to take it easy (though I think the fact she needs to is fast approaching). While shopping around my friend's town I found myself looking for stuff for the kid, even getting him a little sweatsuit from American Apparel! I wanted to buy myself a wallet but opted to get him something instead, wow. I don't have a problem shifting my budget to caring for him, of course, but making the shift this early sort of surprised me (but felt good anyway).

I doubt another trip like this is in the cards for me. Any other trip would have to involve the wife but with the holidays fast approaching who knows if it is a reality. We're working on something for the week after Christmas but we do have to consider her state when it comes to options. Flying is out, and the doctor told us even the high altitudes where we snowboard is probably not a good idea, either. But it doesn't matter; I just want her and my little man close by from now on...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kickin' It

My wife has been going on and on the past few weeks about having the ability to feel the baby moving around inside her tummy. For at least two weeks she has been trying to get me to feel the punches or kicks with her, though I've been skeptical since it's still early and we've been told the placenta is stuck in the front. To appease her I half-heartedly hold the belly in the area she feels it, but alas, I don't get the same pleasure.

I look forward to the day when I can see her tummy move from the baby's kicks, punches and shifting. I feel that then I will finally be able to more closely connect with him and be more confident he can hear me, etc. (Yes, I know he can hear me now...)

So last night when the wife told me to feel her tummy again for movement inside I went along with it. After a few seconds, the moment finally came: I FELT HIM MOVE, finally! It was a fairly solid thrust which surprised me, and a lighter one followed. I waited anxiously for another but I guess he tired himself out with the previous flurry. I admit it was a cool sensation...

Now I'm not sure this means I will rush to put my hand on her tummy every time she feels him squirm, but I do look forward to copping a feel during bed time, kind of a "good night" tap from the boy ; )

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Please Be Kidding

Yet another reason people should also need a license to have a baby:

Carter County man surprises wife, names baby Sarah McCain Palin

I love being cynical (those who know me can attest to that) but I can't comfortably put into words how this stuff makes me feel. Maybe as a gag, however, I can find a fake Birth Certificate and come up with some ridiculous name to shock the wife (and get my name in the paper), like "Sarah McCain Palin." It's the craziest name I could think of!

Source story here: http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9008551

Follow-up story is just as funny/sad: http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9008563

Hospital Tour


Tomorrow night the wife and I will be taking a tour of the birthing area in the hospital where she will deliver the baby. Tomorrow is also my birthday, so naturally this is the best way to spend it, haha. My wife asked me yesterday where I might like to go out to dinner for my birthday and I reminded her the tour would take up two hours of prime time so we will have to rush home then grab a quick bite to eat. It might not be fast food, but it will have to be fast...

I'm not complaining. I'd much rather learn about where we will be going for the birth than eating too much food in an over-priced restaurant, celebrating a "non-important" year like a 40th or whatever (which is too-fast approaching anyway). I hope the tour will be really informative, especially since it will be almost two hours long. How big can the place be?

This will be, for me, another one of those steps that should help prepare me for the big day. I'll be able to picture where to go and what it might look like during the delivery. Like with all my reading, I'd really not like to be surprised by anything to avoid freaking out (and/or freaking out my wife in the process). If/when I have to rush her to the hospital I want to know where I can park, what desk to go to first, where family can wait, where I might be standing helping the wife push and breathe, where our little boy will be cleaned up and then cared for afterward. I'll have to remember to ask if I can shower there, make phone calls, sleep, etc. It would be great if my wife had her own room so I wouldn't have to worry about using the loo or shower, so we'll see.

I guess there are worse ways to spend a birthday. I'll celebrate properly over the weekend with friends and family anyway, so I'm not missing out. I got a nice gift already from the wife, too. I'll really be looking forward to next year's holidays though, since we'll be able to spend them with our new little guy, and create some new traditions of our own.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No More BPA


For people like my wife, this news will be most welcome:

"States ask baby product companies to avoid BPA"

Though the states in question here are three back east, it's likely others states will soon follow suit if there's widespread agreement by the baby companies. Some companies have already begun producing non-BPA products, and store like Babies R Us are carrying them. It makes too much sense for these companies to see the research and not connect the dots. If they can produce BPA-free products that are proven safe, these companies and stores, not to mention nervous parents, will all win in the long run.

Source story here: http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_10710020

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nebraska, please!

From the "Where Did Things All Go Wrong" file, here's a story from Nebraska that shows you can't send your kids back where they came from but you can just get rid of them. Parents are using a law intended to avoid the horrific practice of "dumpster-dumping" babies (and hand them off to a hospital instead) and are dropping off their unmanageable teenagers.

Blog post:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?&entry_id=31295&type=moms

Source article:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/03/MNDC13ALAM.DTL&hw=drop+off+baby+law&sn=002&sc=672

I'd love to editorialize here but I think the story and the people involved in this situation speak for themselves.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oh No, a Political Post

As much as I'd like I try to avoid obvious political takes while writing this blog. The election is very close upon us and the differences between the two major party candidates is fairly great (for better or worse). With the economy taking over most Americans' thoughts recently, my wife and I are a little worried about our financial future given corporate cut-backs and layoffs, as well as a new baby coming in a few months. If one of us lost our jobs, the biggest hit would come from our potential loss in health care benefits.

The two plans posed by the presidential candidates is very different, and both have potential problems associated with the implementation of such plans. Barack Obama's plan calls for only subtle changes in the current health care system, especially for those who enjoy their current benefit program. It will work with employers and insurance companies to lower premiums, saving Americans up to $2,500 a year. For those who would like a different option or have no current benefits, an Obama administration will "establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage." (See the plan here: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/)

This plan will cost money, of course, a major sticking point made by Obama's opponent John McCain. But imagine the money that could be brought into government coffers if the administration stopped one of our wars and collected the proper taxes from corporations while closing tax loopholes. All of which is part of Obama's plan, as well as only raising taxes on those earning over $250K a year. Some may call this socialist, like it's a terrible thing, but where "health care for all" is implemented around the world, it seems to work. A healthy electorate is one that has money to earn and spend to help keep our economy growing.

The McCain plain is much different. He announced this week plans this week for reductions in Medicare and Medicaid, two important social programs that provide health care to the elderly, poor and handicapped (my father falling into at least one of those categories). Independent analysts estimate this idea could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs. (Read about it here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122315505846605217.html)

But the hallmark of McCain's health care plan is to give individuals $2,500 and families $5,000 in tax credit toward insurance premiums. The fine print, which Obama enjoys reading for us to dig at McCain's plan, is that McCain will tax your health benefits through your employer. Just like paying for social security and other taxes, you will see a new line on your pay stub taking money out for health care. So you will, in essence, be taxed for the tax credit you'd receive for health care. The worry with this plan is if you lose your job and health care benefits. Apparently the average health care costs for a family per year is over $12,000. That means you have to make up the difference after spending your $5K.

Both plans have obvious faults and consequences, and I've hardly explained them in detail. It's just something we all need to consider when thinking about the next four-plus years. This is only one piece of the puzzle we need to put together when choosing the right candidate to lead our country. I only hope we all dig a little deeper and find out how these issues will really effect our lives and those of our fellow citizens. Some of us have it pretty good right now, but a lot has happened in the last few weeks that should give us all pause and we need to pay attention.

Please excuse this rant; it's not something I will get into much here but having a child has made me think about an issue like this a little more. My name is Daddy In Waiting and I approve this message.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Be Prepared -- The Motto of a True Scout

Since the news was literally put in my lap that we were having a baby (by way of the positive home pregnancy test being tossed at me), I've been reading as much material about what's to come as I can get my hands on. Actually, I started reading Neal Pollack's Alternadad in May, a couple weeks before the news hit, as if I knew what was coming. But once the news did come I started reading this sort of material in earnest, needing to know my place and responsibilities in this "journey" of parenthood.

The first book I completed, after Alternadad was Dad's Pregnant, Too, which was a list of tips for expectant fathers on what's to come, how to react, and how to treat the pregnant mother throughout the pregnancy. The bottom line of the book seemed to be: Keep her happy! The more comfortable you can keep the mother of your child, the easier the nine months will go by. While I feel I'm doing an okay job at this, there are parts of pregnancy that still bug me (like the gas, e.g.). But because of the book, I knew it was coming, so I'm thankful (for the book, not the gas).

I enjoyed this book because I knew when my wife felt pains or had other symptoms conducive to pregnancy, I knew not to overreact. I could assure her that she and the baby was more than likely doing fine, and the little things cropping up were all normal. The book also showed and explained what changes the baby was going through, and its amazing development inside her belly. Knowing what to expect, along with going to her doctor appointments, has really put me at ease since all signs point to a healthy baby.

I also signed up for two newsletters from the Parents.com website that also runs through the steps of development, as well as helpful tips for coping with the changing pregnant body (mostly geared towards women, but informative). I often read interesting tidbits that I forward to my wife, or I read things that we have already gotten to or done. This is great because it shows we're staying on top of things and preparing well. At the same time I signed up for the newsletter I started reading dad blogs, trying to get at what my place was in all this, and if the sudden apprehension I was feeling was normal. Realizing there was a large community out there with guys like me was comforting, and prompted me to start this site and share my feelings in the hopes of showing even newer dads that we're all in the same boat. I've learned a ton from these guys and have gotten really good feedback from them about my experiences so far.

At the moment I am kind of in a reading frenzy, reading one book on colic while commuting on the train for work, another book about baby's first year at home, as well as a plethora of baby magazines that are showing up at our house. My wife laughs at me because I try and "steal" the magazines from her before she's even finished with them. Like the newsletters, they are geared towards women, which is a shame given the dad's bigger role in child raising, but often informative. With the help of these magazines, I feel I know better what's out there for babies, like the different choices of baby bottles.

The colic book is really interesting, called The Happiest Baby on the Block, which was recommended by the writer of Dad's Pregnant Too. It's a huge concern to me about getting through those first few months after the birth, trying to get the baby used to being out in the world. Most get through it okay but there's a percentage that have a hard time of it. Reading this book is showing how important it is to make the baby as comfortable and nurtured as possible to avoid colic and create the close bond needed to show we will always be there for him.

I like the baby's first year book (part of the What to Expect When You're Pregnant series) because it goes through the steps to caring for the child properly, like holding, moving, feeding and cleaning. These are skills I never aquired in my life since my family had no babies in it. Only recently, because of my wife's family and our collective friends, have I been exposed to infants and toddlers. I still haven't ever changed a diaper but I feel a lot more comfortable holding and being around children. Handling my own child will be a lot different, I'm sure, but at least I've gotten some exposure and know to just be myself with them.

All this reading has opened my eyes to the world I've entered just by getting my wife pregnant. There's a lot to know but even more to really experience. I won't claim to be an expert of child rearing by the time our son arrives but at least I can say I'm aware of what could happen. I haven't taken most things in my life too seriously, but this I'd like to get right. Of course I know you can get everything from books (or the classes we'll be attending), but being prepared has become very important to me.

I would love to hear some feedback about resources you used before or after birth. At the rate I'm going, I have at least 3-4 more books I can get through!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sore Thumbs

Saturday I spent a few hours putting together our new changing table (with drawers) and the baby's convertible crib. I thought it would have taken longer, considering the size of the boxes and number of screws, but overall it wasn't that bad of an ordeal. The stuff looks and feels as advertised: sort of modern and fairly strong, like we may have actually gotten what we paid for (in a good way).

My gripe, and this has been ongoing for some years now, is the tools needed (or not needed) to put together furniture nowadays. I recall "back in the day" seeing furniture put together with a hammer, screwdriver, nails, actual tools. Now, as in the case of the baby furniture, all you need is the provided Allen wrench and maybe a Philips-head screwdriver, at best. It makes thing simplified, I suppose, but it's terrible on the hands, especially fingers. Also, I worry I didn't get some screws put in as tight as I can with Allen wrench like I can with a screwdriver (or the use of a drill with a screwdriver bit). At certain angles it got really tough to turn the wrench and was really a pain since I rarely was able to turn the screws more than a semi-circle at a time. Now the pads of my fingers are killing me...

But it was great to get this accomplished and the "nursery" is really starting to come together with the pieces in place. I know it's early but I just want the room done so I can seal it off for a few months and not have to think about it anymore. I still feel there's more space to be had in our place, even with multiple trips to Goodwill, etc. I think we may need a dresser in the room, as well as a toybox. This would alleviate the need for closet space, I hope, since the status of those in our place: FULL. We haven't even given a ton of thought to the space we'll need in the bathroom for the baby tub and all the stuff that goes with baby bathing. Sigh...

And no, the photo is NOT of our actual nursery. If so, we'd be a little bit more Amy Coe obsessed that we already are! But that is the crib and changing table I put together.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kickin' It

The past few days my wife has told me that the boy has been moving around a lot inside her belly. I take this as a good sign, obviously, meaning he's there and checking out his reflexes. I'm really happy he's developing and getting bigger.

I'm still getting the full-court pressure to talk to him (or talk to my wife's belly) but I have hang-ups about the practice. I feel I want to talk to him in there but for some reason still think it's too early for it to make a difference. I guess because I'm not carrying him around I have a bit less of a connection to him so far. Before I leave my wife for the day and before we go to sleep, I rub her belly and say a word or two, but I have not yet been able to read to him or carry on a chat. When considering the steps of pregnancy we would go through together I did picture myself talking to her belly, but in my head she's at like 8 months or so. I know the urge will come on stronger and I will find things to talk about with him. Books tell us to read the paper to him, just so he gets used to the voice, though with our countries current issues, I wouldn't want to scare him!

On a related noted, I asked my wife the other night to not let the heavy book she was reading (yes, a baby book) sit on her belly because I thought it would be pressing onto the little guy inside. Granted, she had the book quite low but while the book was on there the baby moved, and I felt it was trying to make some room for itself since it's womb was being pressed. This caused her to laugh and she tried to assure me it wasn't being crushed. While I tend to agree and I might have been being a bit facetious, I"m still curious if anyone knows more about this. Can pushing on the belly impact (not literally) the baby? Obviously if a woman takes a terrible fall the baby might be affected, but I'm more curious about simple pressing. Anyone have a thought?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Babies 'R Us is Large

Saturday was Babies 'R Us day. We went because we had issues with our crib and changing table ordering, which is another post in itself, practically. Suffice to say, don't trust the "in stock" notation online; order from the store and pick it up there to save shipping costs and headaches.

Anyway, the store is large but thankfully laid out pretty well. I'm not sure how the prices stack up against other box stores offering baby wares, but a lot of the products seemed pretty fair. The depth and breadth of product offerings can be staggering, however. How many brands of "binkies" should we be able to choose from? As a first-time parent, this all felt a bit overwhelming, the plethora of choices we have to make, from bottles and car seats to swaddling blankets and baby monitors. OH, and the mattresses! I couldn't get over how large the mattresses were, and how important coil count is...

We accounted for pretty much everything we need (for now) except for the bottles. We are going to have to do more research on what works well for infants/toddlers, and how glass bottles compare to BPA-free plastic bottles. Also, there's a ton of bottle nipple choices to wade through!

I mentioned the Amy Coe collection at Babies 'R' Us before but here's the crib we chose:
http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3046097

We like the more modern design of the crib, as well as the extra storage underneath. The "pecan" color is simple to match with other furniture from different vendors, too.

And this crib set is so cute!
https://www.toysrus.com/product/prodpop.jsp?LargeImageURL=/graphics/product_images/pTRU1-4884679dt.jpg&displayTab=enh&productId=3155401&totCount=0

So now the nursery is coming along rather nicely. We created the space by getting rid of quite a bit of "stuff." The wife has taken over some of the space for her sewing machine, but she's been starting to churn out some great stuff for the baby, like bibs and booties.

Speaking of cute, this product at the store made us laugh out loud, and can only be created for boys: https://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2574751&fromRegistryNumber=43981457&product_skn=805316

The boy looks like he's going to be trying out for catcher on a little league team! We've seen the "Pee Pee Tee Pee" but this is just as funny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sleep, Sleeeeepppp

Every since announcing the pregnancy, people have been giving us the "your life will change" meme, in all sorts of incarnations. "Your life is over," "kids are life-suckers," "kiss your money good-bye," etc. Now, I made up two of those but the point is similar: kids throw a large monkey wrench into the thing you considered a life...forever.

I understand the sincerity of the point, but recently I've been wanting more from the platitudes. Now I want details. How will it change? What new thing will happen to us that hasn't happened millions of times over to others? We are reading the books, getting ready, trying to prepare. "You're never 'ready' to have a baby" is another line we hear all the time. Well, I'd like to disagree. I've done plenty of great things in my life and feel now is a perfect time to start raising a child. But I don't want to just read books about what to expect, I want stories, anecdotes, experiences, nightmares, the whole lot, from real people (you).

Being prepared for what's to come can maybe never be complete, but having a better feel for this big impending change will help a ton to avoid surprises. Things change at any moment, but knowing what most of those "things" might be should come in handy when a decision is needed. This can be regarding the water breaking, the delivery room, cutting the cord, baby car seats, being a man whose wife is breastfeeding, sexual relations after giving birth (sorry in-laws!), and most importantly -- SLEEP. Please let me know how the waking up at any hour of the night REALLY is, not just "value your sleep now while you have it." It's important to me to know the WHY.

I look forward to being inundated with stories. Maybe I'll post some of the better ones!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Part of the Wait is Over

So we're at the OB-GYN on Friday, where the wife is getting the ultra-sound which will help determine the gender of our baby. The technician asks if that is the plan, do we want to know the sex. We say yes. First, however, he has to go through a litany of measurements and photos, though I suspected he did all that just to keep us in suspense.

We did find out the baby is doing great, and the measurements are all normal for this point in time. We got to hear the heartbeat (which I used as a clue to the kid's gender) and I saw it fluttering away like it should. He showed us the kid's lips, making my wife think (to herself) that the technician was giving us the gender in a rather crude fashion! But alas, it was the mouth's lips...

Finally, after the battery of tests and measurements were completed, the technician blithely says, "Oh, right, you wanted to find out the sex." Again, I think he was secretly pulling our chain. After a few movements of the scope over my wife's belly, I could see the legs pretty clearly and realized we were starting to look up the kid's bum area. Then, even more clearly, I suddenly saw the writing on the wall, and shouted "That's a boy!" even before confirmation from the guy. He saw the same thing I did and agreed, then the wife saw it, too. The baby was on it's back (I guess) with his legs bent but spread wide open, and there was his little twig and berries, with the twig part practically standing at attention for us to take notice.

After we all saw what it was, we asked the tech to go back and see if he could get a picture for us, I guess for bragging rights. When he tried to get into the same position, we saw that the boy had clammed up and lost his bravado. We did end up with a photo, but not nearly as good as the first glimpse.

I think we were both pretty surprised at the outcome. A poll of our family and friends was about equal, but we both thought it might be a girl. When I heard the count for the baby's heartbeat (132) I had a good feeling it was a boy. Traditionally, or so we have read, boys have heartbeats up to 139, whereas girls are 140 or over. It was a lame clue, but hearing the number popped the idea into my head that we could be seeing a boy on the screen.

So far everyone is pleased, of course. Both of our fathers thought it was going to be a boy and they turned out to be right. I told my dad our family name would be carried forth proudly, which may be slightly important since I am pretty much the last/only hope of that happening naturally (besides a brother adopting, I mean). We were excited enough to make a quick trip to the Baby Gap and Gymboree sale racks! We found some cute things, and it just made the whole day's news end on a sweet, thrifty, and happy note.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Boy or Girl?

We are heading out to another baby appointment today, and the wife will get an ultrasound that MAY determine the gender of our baby (cross your fingers). Apparently the baby has to cooperate and be in a good position to find out, especially at this juncture of the pregnancy (18 2/3 weeks). If the baby's legs are crossed, we might have a difficult time making a proper determination. At the least, we'll get another picture of the growing baby and make sure he/she is coming along well.

The wife and I both agree that we don't have a preference if it's a boy or girl (or, girl or boy for the feminist crowd, haha). When I picture me with a child I have had images of a boy alongside me, as well as daydreams of a little girl holding my hand (please, no pervert comments). So I think I would be comfortable either way. We also have agreed that little boys are sort of terrors when young and grow to be calmer (you hope), while little girls are so sweet when young then grow into teens and the "women issues" start coming into play.

From stories I have heard over the years, including some from both our families, it seems girls and their moms go through some sort of "I hate you" phase and just can't seem eye to eye for a while. This is basically because they are more alike than they care to admit, in my opinion. Eventually they come around, though it might not be for a few years, in some cases, and finally the women start respecting each other. I don't know if boys go through this with their mothers or fathers. Obviously there are differences over the years but I don't recall hearing of any major differences that took such a long time to mend.

My wife LOVES all the clothes available for little girls, while she sees all the boys stuff as similar, like a lot of jeans and shirts. I know she's not seeing having a girl as an accessory, but I worry having a little girl would be rough on the proverbial pocketbook after hearing a lot of "This is SO CUTE" when we are out looking at baby stuff. This doesn't make me want a boy more, but dressing him might be easier.

So I'm really hoping we can learn today what we'll be given in February, boy or girl. It will be nice to decorate for one or the other, and whittling down our baby names list will be a load off my mind. While I enjoy daydreaming about my potential little boy or girl now, being able to focus on one will allow me to map out the kid's first 18 years all in one sitting ;)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To See or Not to See

Last night I prompted a short discussion about some things I read regarding watching the baby make its initial entry (exit?) into the world from my wife's pootenanny. I was worried that if I left her side to go see the big show, she would feel left out or maybe unsupported, while I was the first between us to see our new kid. I know some places have a mirror set up so the woman can watch, too, and maybe our hospital will have that. It would be a great event to witness together, in my opinion.

From what I read, the experience is something that will stick with you for a lifetime. I'm sure that can be taken a few ways... One, I could see it as the (over)dramatic "miracle of life" and be floored (not literally) by the experience. Two, I could be horrified by seeing how the woman's body changes to allow a child to be birth and forever turned off by the sight of it (even after it returns to its natural, flowery look). Or third, I could be literally floored by seeing the action and pass out.

I'd like to think, as my wife does, that I will want to watch the baby exit. At least for now, I can't see myself getting too grossed out by what is happening to her body to make room for the kid, nor be worried how I'll feel about that area afterward.

I do, however, need to know what I can/should be doing when looking over the doctor's shoulder. Should I be filming or photographing it? I doubt the wife will want photos of that area being put up on the internets for family and friends to gawk at, so that's out. I guess it's just something to behold and relive through storytelling, just like it should be anyway.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Watch Me Get Injured!

Sunday was the first match of my men's adult soccer league season. This is the fourth season (not in a row) I've taken part in this league, which has been around since the late 1970s. It's comprised of men up to a decade (or more) younger and older than me but we all give it a go every Sunday.

One of the guys on the opposing team had his wife there watching along with their young daughter. Over the few years I've been playing I've noticed spouses and kids, parents, and pets watching their loved ones play. Once in a while my wife comes to watch me play (or bring my boots when I forgot them once!), but she has had a running event or her Nike Run Club on Sundays, so the timing often didn't work out.

Upon seeing this little girl, the thought of my wife and new child coming to watch me run around in a futile attempt at glory never found in my earlier life. Obviously he/she will not know what I'm doing (for a while), just the recognition of my kid will be great and inspiring. Maybe it will lead me to my first-ever goal in the league! But I guess that's getting a bit ahead of myself.

Like I said before, I don't want to use my child to re-live the things I couldn't experience when I was younger. But I would like to use my athletic endeavors to perhaps get the child involved in sports. I feel comfortable enough playing all sorts of sports to be able to teach him/her how to throw a baseball, football, shoot a basketball or kick a soccer ball (maybe heading the ball, too, though I'm not a fan of it). These skills won't get the kid elected to public office, but it might lend a hand in some coordination and FUN.

Yesterday I sort of attempted to teach my 1.5 year-old nephew how to throw a ball, like pitching. His idea of throwing is holding the ball up over his head and dropping it off of his head and the ball rolling down his back. I got behind him when he was holding the ball and moved his arm for him in a pitching motion, whipping the ball out of his hand in front of him. He seemed to be pleased with this result so we did it a few more times, but it didn't take. I imagine it will take a few more sessions to see if he's into it. I was pleased with my effort, however, since I never tried to teach a child anything, at least not that young (getting our nieces to use a napkin notwithstanding).

Maybe there's use for me in all this yet...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Baby-robics

Last night I watched the wife (and many other, older women) take part in some aqua-aerobics at our gym. The gym is supposed to have an aqua class for pregnant women but, of course, right after we joined (one reason being this class), the class sort of disappeared from the schedule. It was suggested the regular aqua-aerobics class would do similarly for my wife, so last night was the inaugural voyage into the heated pool to bounce and hopefully not get the incubating baby too seasick inside.

In between my daddy exercises, I went to check out the class (mostly without her knowing, until the end) and saw a lot of bouncing, rotating and the use of the "noodles" for floating. My wife mentioned afterward that she talked to the instructor beforehand to explain her situation, and the instructor was very helpful and would inform her if/when something might be too strenuous for a pregnant women to perform. Wifey was pleased with the class, which pleased me. Side note: she tried roping me into trying this class, but I had caught a glimpse of it when we were signing up for the gym, and I knew I could not hold my head up anywhere in the world had I gotten into that pool to do aqua-aerobics with a class full of older women and a pregnant wife...

Now, I'm not worried that my wife will gain too much weight and I will not be attracted to her pregnant body, thus prompting her to workout to keep the weight gain to a minimum (I got a short glimpse of her after class getting out of the pool and thought she looked really cute with the baby-belly in a bikini!). I am confident she knows that (90% confident). I try not to comment on how much she eats because I understand WHY she needs to eat more, and even more often. Reading books have schooled me on that, which surely helps me keep my foot out of my mouth, for the most part. I do, however, try to limit some of the less healthy choices she might make when satisfying a craving or hunger pangs. I'm sorry, but I don't think pregnancy should be an excuse for women to eat whatever they want and not think this won't impact them or the baby. Yes, I get the need, but if certain things are bad for the baby (wine, raw fish), how good can super-size french fries and milkshakes be? ;)

For me, personally, getting myself back into shape serves several purposes. My parents weren't much older than I am now when I was born but athletics surely weren't part of their lifestyle. I never played catch or ran around with them, and that will be a major part of child rearing for me, so being able to "keep up" with the kid as it gets older is important to me. The past year or more I have sort of "let myself go" and let injuries make me more slothful. Joining the gym, and it being near our place, has been great and I feel more motivated than ever about losing a few pounds (and hopefully the Joe disappearing -- my gut).

I also love the idea, after the baby is born, of baby yoga and other forms of exercise involving the kid. It seems to be a perfect bonding experience for parent/child, and another way for new parents to meet others in the same situation and network. We've already talked about keeping our child involved in athletics for not only the exercise but also the camaraderie with other kids and parents. I'll have to touch upon the 21st Century idea of "everybody wins" in kid's sports for another day, since I think competition is important. But I like the idea of the Little Gym (http://www.thelittlegym.com/) to aid the child develop balance and motor skills. Don't worry, I'm not going to be one of those parents who will try to live my shattered athletic dreams through my kid, hollering at the referees or starting brawls. Though a bad call is a bad call, come on...!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Getting Somewhere(?)

First off let me say that our first "babymoon" was pretty nice. It's always good getting away and being able to make a mess and not have to clean it up later. The weather was great and our dinner was even better. I said "first" babymoon because we might need at least one more: This one was short and the holiday traffic and crowds made it less desirable had we gone almost any other weekend. That's the one thing we would have changed, the timing of our getaway, but we're not complaining.


We've been busy whittling away and paring down our accumulated mass of stuff to make room for the baby. While no big items have been removed from the office-cum-babyroom, we have gotten a lot of items taking out/off of said furniture. Besides making the furniture lighter to carry, hopefully it means it, too, will be taken out for recycling/donation/sale.

For me, it's still not enough, of course. If we could afford it we would go with one computer, a laptop, that we can anywhere in the place, and be rid of a desk. But then what do we do with all the desk items, the in/out paper holder, the pens, stapler, paperclips? All the things needed for an office, it just accumulated and now still needs a "home" somewhere. It's difficult for me to feel we "need" all this, but somehow maybe we do. Finding the right spot/drawer for it all has been the biggest headache for me.

I can see it all coming together but perhaps later rather than sooner. I know there's still time, but how long will I have my wife to help out before getting too tired or sore. I don't want her to be bending over a lot in a couple more months, nor do I want this to be one more thing on her mind. Again, if it were up to me I'd take out the screen from the window and begin tossing!

To change the subject once more, this is pretty infuriating:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/02/BUFK12KEN1.DTL&hw=shrinking+food&sn=002&sc=839

One of my recent pet peeves is companies moving their costs to the consumer to buffer their bottom line. My anger is mostly pointed at oil companies but we are ALL feeling the effects of a weakened economy, and I feel it's totally unfair of large corporations not to help out. I'm sure I'll get lambasted by you MBAs out there, but there's no reason, morally, to not take a few bucks off the bottom line and help out Americans in need. Oh sorry, you only made $32 billion, not $33 billion, silly me!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Babymoon

I'm not big on the name, but the idea of taking a "babymoon" is one we subscribe to. This is when the expecting couple takes a nice getaway trip before the baby is born. A last "hurrah" before baby makes three and you don't get away from your own town for ages. Most of these trips are closer to home, driveable, so the pregnant mom doesn't have to endure a long flight and has ample opportunities to eat, sleep and pee along the way. So up to two hours away seems to be the norm.

We're taking such a trip this weekend, down the coast a bit. It's only a night, and hopefully not the last trip before February. It will be a good jaunt out of town, to someplace we know, and hopefully an escape from the current heat. Everyone have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend ; )

I would love to hear what you did before your baby was born, too... Leave a comment!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mean Girls

I just read a very interesting article/interview regarding girls and being mean. There's an interview with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes, which was the basis for the 2004 film "Mean Girls."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?&entry_id=28925&type=moms

The advice seems fairly sound, much better than the "be nice" suggestion many parents might give. While we are taught to "kill them with kindness" (which is a rather harsh way of putting it, actually), I can't see the logic in being overly nice to someone who won't reciprocate. Why not just move on?

I don't readily believe, like some of the comments left at the end of the story, that we learn about being mean from our parents. It's hard for me to imagine a four-year-old learning to exclude people or consider someone bad from a parent. I know kids re-enact things they see their parents doing, or repeats words/phrases, but I don't picture myself (literally) pushing a person in the supermarket because they are a poopyhead.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Making the First Cut

Wifey asked me the other night if I would be "cutting the cord," which refers to the umbilical cord and not the power cord to my beloved TV. As with so many other aspects of this whole endeavor, this was not something I had yet to think about. I'm still getting used to the wife's hormonal changes and keeping my foot out of my mouth. And now this decision...

I am still trying to picture the whole delivery room scenario in my head. Me getting my hand crunched by the wife as she pushes and breathes a lot is the clearest image so far. The husband of a great couple we like recently told us how he watched his son exit from his wife, and that image sort of tripped me up (not the image of his wife but ME watching MINE!). I'm not really faint of heart, at least that I know of, but mostly movie blood/guts, not the real deal.

So not only now can I possibly watch my child making the grand appearance, but I might be able to cut the umbilical cord afterwards (subject to hospital rules). What does the doctor and staff do with all the $$ charged for this?? Anyway, I will have to pontificate more about these new possibilities. This isn't something my dad endured, I'm sure of it. I guess I can picture myself cutting the cord, though I'll feel like a drunk Mohel at a Bris (look it up, or see Seinfeld): more than a tad nervous about hurting the brand new baby.

Watching the baby being born seems trickier, especially if I am to be the moral support for the wife as she's pushing. Can someone help me with the logistics? I would give it a glance, sure, since I'm not yet positive we can bring in cameras to the festivities, haha.

Monday, August 25, 2008

To Have and To Get Rid Of...

Getting our place "ready" for the baby might prove more demanding than we originally thought. It shouldn't be so amazing how much stuff you can amass in a fairly short time, but unfortunately it is. We are under the impression a lot of our stuff is actually worth saving, for one reason or another, but after yesterday I feel some tougher decisions are needed so we can create space for our new "roomie."

We've gotten better at weeding out clothing we don't wear anymore and donating it a few times a year, but as far as STUFF goes we seem to be a lot less ready to just "let go" of these possessions. Big things, like furniture (desk, bookcase) are harder to say "We don't need it" but I wish we were in a better way economically to have pieces that matched and/or were better suited for our uses. Smaller things, like many of the books on those bookshelves, can/should/will be dealt with. While there might be certain books that are important to me, like my Kerouac or Kafka collections, many of the unopened "classics" we own probably will stay unopened. Sure, it's nice to have those books, but now with the kid coming I'd much rather use those open spaces for the children's books we're suddenly amassing.

I have a box of cables and wires that baffles my wife but I can't seem to let go of them; the old "just-in-case" factor coming into play. I have to realize that most components now come with their own cables or a new component would be replacing something else and therefore just use the current cable. It's that sort of logic we sometimes lack, but I feel is so needed now that there will be three of us in an apartment.

The big concern I voiced before bed last night wasn't so much the space that would be afforded to us if we got rid of stuff, but that our place is so baby un-friendly. Like our government, maybe if I use the power of FEAR to SCARE us into getting rid of our HARMFUL stuff we will finally part with most of it, haha...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our Little Coloring Book

I referred to a quote from the book "Kite Runner" in one of my first posts: "Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them in with your favorite colors." I am finally getting back to it now.

Why can't I? Why can't we instill what we believe what will inspire the child or shape it's views? When 18-year-olds register to vote, most choose the party affiliation of their parents. Many kids remember the music their parents listened to while growing up. So why can't I maybe nudge my child in a few directions I wish mine had shown me before finally finding out for myself?

Of course, finding your own path is part of growing up, but one of the shortcomings of my upbringing was a big lack of guidance. As I got into school and especially college, I had to go it all alone, which was good and bad (mostly bad). I still feel the repercussions now when it comes to motivation and following through. If I do anything, I hope we can instill hard work and the value of doing your best.

Almost as important to me, though, is shaping the cultural values of the child. Music, film, art, are very important in our lives, and their appreciation and understanding will be a major part of the child's upbringing (if I have my say, that is!). I keep hearing how all this kid's music is really enjoyed by them, but I cringe at the thought of the drivel created by Barney, Wiggles, Raffi, et al. Why does it have to be so safe and bland? I don't yet know much about children's film, but I worry about the dumbing-down factor and homogenization to make it palatable to all kids (and/or the parents).

Why can't I/we play fun music for the child that isn't necessarily for kids? There's so much great high-energy music that can get kids moving their little bums without causing us a headache. Any garage rock band will do, but why not classical or jazz, something that creates sounds not usually heard by kids anymore.

So, like calling "shotgun" to get the good seat in the car, I tried calling it to be in charge of the kid's cultural training. It didn't go over well, haha, but I still want to make it a big part of the rearing process. And since this post didn't touch on all the themes I had originally planned, I suppose I will revisit it yet again soon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whatever It Takes

Yesterday I read this moving story on Salon.com about a divorced mother of three, a woman with an MBA, who had to resort to a soup kitchen and food bank to help feed her family last year. An economy as lousy as ours is right now can effect everyone, and you never know when the bottom can drop out...

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/08/18/heather_ryan/

I'd like to think I could be as strong as she was then, having to swallow her pride, and make those crucial decisions on how to care for my family if times got desperate. I tend to take the things I have in my life for granted, but often worry that the direction our country is going can get worse before it gets better.

I am thankful and calmed by the family that we have around us, and feel we will be well taken care of in the event of an emergency. Again, it takes a ton of courage to take it on the chin and do whatever it takes to feed your family, and I would hope I could not be bothered by "how it looks" if I had to resort to a soup kitchen for a meal.

Do you think you could?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nothing to Fear

Until my insides, gritted teeth or other signs inform me (I already bite my nails and have plenty of gray hair), I don't seem to be worried about my impending fatherhood. I know this will change as the months start dropping by and February gets closer, but for now I feel good about the possibilities.

Right now I mainly have to deal with the wife fretting about her daily changing body and the fit of her clothes. I think she looks fine, but of course we all see ourselves differently and more critically. I have my own body issues, so hers on top of it is wearing me down more than the baby (but not in a bad way, I'm being as supportive as patience allows). I made the mistake of mentioning one change I noticed in her body, and trust me, I will NOT be making that error in judgment again...

So I'm staying positive about the whole situation. We will still have to make big decisions, like a name, but that will be part of the fun of it. I'm sure there will be differences of opinion, and that causes me some concern. I don't necessarily want to be the "pushover" some friends (and wife) think I will be because that won't help anyone, especially the kid, but maybe that will make the wife the bad cop, haha.

On a different note, thanks for all the comments you've left recently. Please leave more, and feel free to share my blog with others that are going/have gone through this baby thing. The more educated we are, the more tolerant and comfortable we become with the unknown.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Items We Love So Far

Here's a short list of baby items we've seen and/or bought that we love!

The wife's new baby diaper bag:
www.petuniapicklebottom.com/collections/original/shoulderbags/indiaink/

The bag is "glazed" for easy cleaning, and comes with several pockets and a zip-out baby changing pad. The shoulder strap is shaped so it fits a woman's shoulder and doesn't dig into the arm pits. It is gender neutral so it can be used with a baby boy or girl. Personally, I like it, but wouldn't feel comfortable walking around town with it. Instead, I'll be using this, the Diaper Dude: http://www.diaperdude.com/store/product.php?productid=16207&cat=251&page=1

Great feeding spoon, makes for a perfect gift:
http://www.booninc.com/squirt.html

We love this spoon because it seems to be a bit simpler for feeding and hopefully aids in keeping our place clean (if not the baby). You basically just load it with the baby food and squeeze out the amount you want from the grip into the attached spoon. Simple! We got a couple of them so we can even store some leftover food in it instead of transferring the food back and forth between it and the jar.

Amy Coe items at Babies "R" Us:
http://www.toysrus.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=3195292

Amy Coe blends modern and classic in affordable and useful products. She has created a bevvy of nursery items from furniture to wall hangings. We love it because a lot of it is gender neutral but would easily blend in with the traditional colors of a boy or girl. She's also extended her collection to apparel and gifts.

We love sleek and modern baby items, but also love classic toys and books. We picked this up at the modern art museum in San Francisco:
http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2743403&cp=2639804

I can't wait to read this one to the baby:
http://www.amazon.com/Little-Dino-Finger-Puppet-Book/dp/0811863530

This is from a book series that has little finger puppets attached to the book so as the story rolls along you can "act" as the animal and help keep the child's interest. My wife thinks this is perfect for me since I enjoy (maybe more than the kids) making sound effects and comical voices with stuffed animals, so this should be right up my alley.

And any of these Rockabye Baby albums seem really fun:
http://www.rockabyebabymusic.com/web/page.asp?pgs=products

All your favorite bands are represented in this collection of lullaby music, which takes popular bands' songs and makes them into tunes for babies. From Metallica to Bob Marley, this is a fun way for kids and parents to enjoy lullabies that aren't the same old "classics."

By the way, these are NOT gift ideas for us, ha ha. These are just things we like, as well as my first opportunity to make my blog more informative and highlight products or news that is relevant. Please let me know YOUR favorite baby things, too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Daddy Blogs

I was compelled to write this "daddy blog" for a few reasons, namely to have a place to vent and share with you what I/we are going through as we weave our way through pregnancy and into parenthood. Another reason, however, was a story I read about "mommy blogs" and how some women are starting to derive an income from them. Now, I'm not in this to make a buck (though feel free to donate, ha ha), but the article never mentioned daddy blogs.

After reading that story I checked out Neal "Alternadad" Pollack's web site and found he had a listing of other guys blogging their experiences as new or expectant fathers. The more I went into these blogs, the more links I found for other daddy blogs. Most are tongue-in-cheek and humorous, but all are quite informative for various reasons. But knowing there is this community of men taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood in such an open manner comforted me. It's great knowing I can go to these sites to find I might not be all that crazy and definitely not alone.

I quite enjoy writing and felt maybe I could have a say in the process of pregnancy and/or fatherhood, as well. If I had the motivation, writing a memoir about the subject like Pollack's could be fun. So that's why I got into this: joy of writing, the knowledge that I'm surely not alone in this baby endeavor, and the fact that maybe I might help someone down the line someday. Hopefully as time goes on (and allows) my blog will become more informative instead of a diary.

Please take a look at my "partners (dads) in crime" column to discover other daddy blogs and see how other guys are dealing with all this. You might even see my blog listed on some of the sites. Tell them I said hi!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wait, We Need What Now?

This weekend we spent some time in San Francisco: saw some art, had some lunch, did a bit of shopping. The weather was nice and we wore ourselves out walking around. I also found out some truths about our baby needs/wants, and the brutal reality of the costs involved.

Let me preface this by saying, Yes, we sort of knew what we were doing when we went into a few baby boutiques up there. I remember reading in Neal "Alternadad" Pollack's book about some baby boutique clothing but unfortunately not until afterwards. So entering these places for me now is like shopping at Neiman-Marcus. But I had an open mind and loved seeing all the cute/fun stuff our baby would either not need or we would use once or twice before the baby outgrew it.

These items include incredibly funny and cute "onesies" with clever phrases on them. Our favorite was "iPood," an obvious play on Apple's iPod. I would have loved to get a dozen of these until we looked at the price tag. Again, this is something that would not be treated well, with spit-up, food and stretching, not to mention the speed with which infants tend to grow and outgrow clothing. But this little article (like the dozens and dozens like it) cost an eye-gouging $32!! That's like a couple bucks per each week the kid will fit into it before getting too big...

Then I was hit with the fact that the "cradle" we received from sis-in-law is different from the "crib" we will need in the baby room. And sadly enough the cradle will only last a couple months before the kid is too big for this too, while the crib can be converted into different beds as the child grows. The boutiques we went into have cribs, sure, but you almost need a loan to purchase them! So not only is the crib a large piece of furniture but the price tag can be larger. Even when factoring in the years this furniture might give you, the initial investment seems rough. And of course the crib DOES NOT come with the friggin' mattress, hahahahahaha!

Thankfully there are places to shop that will put a less-major dent in your pocketbook, and that's where we will be hanging out. I would love to get some feedback/suggestions for baby furniture (keeping in mind the safety and durability, of course).

Oh, right, I forgot to mention the changing table, the crib bedding sets, the models, the books the toys the the the the........

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Neuchal Translucency Test

On Monday we went in for a test of Neuchal Translucency, which is defined as "A pocket of fluid at the back of an embryo's neck visible via ultrasound that, when thickened, may indicate the infant will be born with a congenital heart defect." The pregnant mother gets some blood work, then comes in to get an ultrasound to measure the neck. This test also helps determine if the baby has a chance of Down's Syndrome, as well. It is usually given to women older than my wife, but her doctor didn't think it would hurt to have the peace of mind and get it (except maybe the pocketbook, since it is not covered by insurance -- at least not ours).

We took grandmom to the appointment since she had never witnessed an ultrasound, even though she has three grandkids already! She was pretty excited, as we all were, to get a glimpse of the little kid inside my wife's belly (though my wife and I knew the severity of the test). The technician performing the ultrasound wasn't entirely personable, or easy to understand with his accent, but he knew how to manipulate the baby to get the correct pictures he needed. However, we had the opportunity to record the ultrasound on a DVD, so we brought our own (or pay $20 to use theirs). The nurse warned us the DVD recorder has had trouble recording on DVDs other than theirs, but just told us to make sure it was recording by asking the technician. He assured us it was recording and gave us the DVD when it was over. Not surprisingly, the DVD was friggin' BLANK! We are going to go all Marge Simpson on their proverbial asses and write a letter, goshdarnit!

Anyway, the even less personable but thorough doctor came in and gave us the good news that the blood work and ultrasound show a barely slim chance of our baby having any defects (the test is almost 100% accurate, but still almost). We were pretty pleased about that, of course. I'm not sure what we would decide if we knew there would be a (serious) problem with the baby. The test is performed within the first trimester so if there is any complications, the parents can decide to terminate the pregnancy or not, I guess. I have been a strong pro-choice advocate for as far as I can remember, but after seeing the previous ultrasound and witnessing the baby moving around, I feel a bit different. Not hardened pro-life different, but surely changed. I would never tell a woman she should do this or that, but now I wonder if the "myth" that a baby feels pain during an abortion is true or not.

In any case, it would have been have really difficult to terminate this one since we have told so many people and everyone is so excited for us. Thankfully we do not have to make that painful decision, and so far the pregnancy is going very well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Announcments

The past few weeks can be considered "The Great Unveiling," as we try and give everyone the news of the pregnancy. I'm thinking now that we should have just invited EVERYONE over to our place for that group photo and gotten it out the way then. Instead, we're on a whirlwind tour of friends, trying to think of new less obvious ways to give them the news.

This weekend we told two (more) sets of friends, with like 2-3 couples still left. There hasn't been an order to them, like best to worst friends, it's just worked out this way because my wife wants to tell as many people in person as possible.

The first couple have been friends of my wife's since high school or something. They themselves had a baby boy earlier this year, so it was easy to ask to see them without raising suspicion (they don't live nearby). It was the woman's birthday (and close to my wife's) so we had ample reason to see them. For the big "tell" my wife addressed the birthday card to "Auntie ____" and signed the card from her, me and "baby." Auntie didn't know what to make of it until reading the inside of the card when she reacted with an "ARE YOU??" The couple were extremely happy for us but seeing them eat not even half their meal to tend to their son made me wary, ha ha. But the kid is really good and they are taking to this parenting thing pretty well, making me feel like maybe even we can do this, too.

Next up, later that evening, was another family with a birthday. We met them and their extended family out at a restaurant, but we weren't sure how to break the news, and surely weren't comfortable bringing it up in front of this many people and a 13-year old's birthday party (thus ruining yet another b-day celebration!). So we waited until the party was breaking up and everyone was heading for the door. We told the youngest daughter of the family to "ask your mom if you will be allowed to babysit for us" next year. I'm not sure she immediately got it but went outside to tell her mom. The mother and her sister-in-law figured it out pretty quickly and came rushing in for confirmation. They, too, were pretty excited, as was the extended family (who all know us pretty well). From there it was hugs and congratulations and stuff.

Now we still have to come up with two or three more ways to break the news. Obviously, "By the way, we're expecting" just won't do...!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Announcement Tactic

The way I chose to tell my co-workers about the pregnancy was sort of cheap and hands-off. Sure, if someone were to flat out ask me if we were expecting (now), I would tell them Yes. But I chose to be more ironical and post an enlargement of the most recent ultra-sound on my office door, making people sort it out for themselves.

The effect, like our family photo gag, wasn't immediate, of course. The first problem was, when the door is completely opened, the front of it is not easily seen unless you're looking at it. Along with this problem, most of the people entering the room my office is in aren't coming into it looking for me, ha ha. I work with nurses and doctors who have much more important things on their minds (usually), or at worst, come in to grab a handful of M&Ms that have been kept in the room for ages.

It didn't take TOO long for someone to notice, and the first was a young mom who recently had her second child. I'm sure she can recognize an ultra-sound from several doors away. She only needed confirmation from me in person before being able to "spread the news." From there the news has trickled around this week and the well wishes have ensued. It's nice getting the news out instead of fibbing, and now the weekly "How's your wife doing" queries will begin. But that's okay because we are doing pretty well with it all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joining the Club

For the past year or so, before the pregnancy, I/we have been feeling sort of "left out" by some of our friends with children. Now, while some of these feelings are probably partly paranoia, I do believe we were looked at differently because we (still) didn't have kids like them. Some, if not most, of our married friends had kids even though they got married a year or two after we did. We were like a dying breed, the kid-less.

There are obvious reasons why we may have been left out of some situations. People with kids enjoy having other people with kids around because all the kids can play together. Since we don't have any kids, why would we be invited to a kid's play date? I get it!

This week we have started telling our closest friends about the pregnancy, and more than half of them have children. I now feel I am gaining the password to this exclusive club! Soon we will be walking into the Masonic temple in robes and reciting Latin chants, getting indoctrinated into the secret society. Along with this inclusion will be all sorts of sage advice, support and gifts that only having a child could warrant. Now that I think of it, maybe this new club is more like that movie "The Firm" where it's a club that the only way out is to be killed off, haha.

A few of the friends we have not yet told have been our "go-to" single friends without children. There's a gay couple who we always enjoyed because (among many other things) they did not have children and were not burdened by all the scheduling conflicts that will soon arise (except they have dogs, which isn't much different than children, depending on the owners). Then, we had a couple who just last week called us on their "kid-free" weekend because they figured all their other childrened friends would not be available! Little did they know what we already knew, that the hazing period had begun and we would be getting the keys to the secret door...