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."

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 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...

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:

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:

Great feeding spoon, makes for a perfect gift:

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:

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:

I can't wait to read this one to the baby:

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:

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...!