Friday, January 30, 2009

Mad at Dad? Look in the Mirror

There's a rather long essay on where the author talks about her anger at her husband's lack of parenting skills. It's a long, but fascinating read, with statistics about the different angers women seem to have at their children's fathers. Read the story here:

I admit, my first thought was "It's your fault woman," and I know that will be a VERY unpopular stance. This woman seemed surprised at her husband's (and others') behavior, as if they hadn't been living together or married for any time prior to having the child. We get to pick who we have children with, at least you would think so, so it is logical to me that at some point one would ask themselves, "Will this person make a good parent."

The jury is still out on my parenting skills, obviously, since the baby still hasn't been born. I get a lot of "You're going to be a great father" encouragement, but who knows. I feel I have a certain grasp on what may be needed from the both of us, so I will be able to help as much as possible and do my part. According to this story, the way I read it, many women (including the author), might not have known what they were getting into. A selfish person may make for a selfish parent. Some people have very old-fashioned ideas on parenting roles, like the man makes the money while the women stay home to care for the kids, and dinner's done when he gets home. It's incredibly obvious to me that communicating about each parent's expectations PRIOR to the baby being born might be beneficial.

Not until the very last paragraph of the story does the author mention what might help women get over the anger: "The ones we also really need to talk to, however, are our husbands." This was only after suggesting mothers should talk to other moms, to see they are not alone with their anger issues. I'm sorry, but this sounds totally backwards to me. If you just bottle this anger up and not communicate your feelings, nothing good will come of it. I can appreciate the anger, but I can't be too understanding if I don't know you're harboring it.

I've tried to prove to my wife that I'm totally into being a decent parent, really giving it a go. I've had other delusions of grandeur, but I know the stakes are really high this time. I've read my books, paid attention and asked questions at classes, watched DVDs and recorded baby TV shows (Deliver Me is our new favorite), I've tried my best at helping around the house with chores or getting what the wife needs when she is unable (putting on her shoes is funny). If there's anything I'm missing I hope that she knows she only needs to ask, or remind me. Part of what the author writes about, where her husband can't remember certain details about their kids, I can understand. But I don't always know what my wife does or doesn't know, and vice versa, so I'm pretty confident we will communicate about those gaps.

I figured this was still an issue, given how many talk shows on TV still deal with dead-beat dads and the continuing onslaughtof TV "comedies" that have an overweight, oafish dad who is clueless about child rearing (yet somehow married to some hot woman). Whatever happened to the Ward Cleaver's of the world? Mike Brady hired help for Carol but they still have tiffs that resulted (tidily) in communication and resolution. Where are those characters today? If that's where people get role models (heaven help us), then a decent portrayal of good fathering would be nice. For every Cliff Huxtable or Race Bannon, we're stuck with a Ray Ramano or Peter Griffin instead.

Nobody wins when there's anger in a relationship, especially the kids. One thing I remember a lot of growing up was the hollering my parents did at each others. That was mainly due to their individual stubbornness but probably also due to lack of communication. Did I learn that's how to get a point across? Maybe, and I've taken certain steps to quell that impulse. I"m trying to communicate my feelings now, before there's a dust-up. When we're both sleep-deprived these next several months, that type of behavior will be very important. It seems so obvious to me, but maybe I got lucky in picking who I'm having a child with.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Still in the waiting phase for baby. Now the doctor thinks he may be on time, give or take a day. Or something, who knows...

Wife went to the doctor yesterday and upon exam was able to touch the boy's head (?), meaning her cervix may be dilated about 1 centimeter, I don't know. I feel like I'm quoting my wife but if she was dilated, wouldn't that mean labor would be upon us soon? Anyway, that's what I thought I heard, but in my defense my wife was on the Bluetooth and there's an incredible noise in my office due to reconstruction on the other side of my office wall (literally).

Wife told me last night maybe I should start driving into work starting ASAP, but we agreed on Monday (I take the train). So I bought some parking passes and I'm ready to bolt at a moment's notice. However, my cell phone doesn't get a signal where I work and I'm not always in my office. I've told my unit's clerk to perhaps expect a call from my wife if she has trouble getting in touch with me. I am Bluetooth equipped and have my phone on a nerdy belt clip so I can keep the phone on my person at all times (which I still forget to do sometimes). Now I'm expecting at least one false alarm, and I'm pretty surprised there hasn't been one yet.

I finally got MY hospital bag packed with essentials like jammies and reading materials (no, no more baby books, gag). Also last week I put a few things in my Diaper Dude, the father diaper bag I got from my brother- and sister-in-law. I have the requisite diapers, wipes, blanket and burp cloth. I'll need a change of clothes, too, and I'm sure there are other things I can put in there. The bag isn't as snazzy as the wife's "designer" bag, but does the job and allows me to avoid having to carry hers around.

We will be having music in the labor room, but we're still deciding whether to do video during the birthing. Not the full-on close-up of the crowning and all, but maybe just taking video from a more respectful angle. Our friends have gone over the virtues of filming it, but I still can't figure out if it's for us or not. I liked their idea of filming when we leave the hospital and take him into the house for the first time, so we'll see.

Everyday I get asked if I think my wife's belly is dropping. Seriously I can't tell either way. Her belly is quite large anyway, so there seems to be a natural gravitational pull downward already. Also, can someone assure me that the snoring will go away after baby is born? Please?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are You Ready

If the baby were to come today, we'd be ready in the figurative sense (after the shock and awe subsided). On Monday we got the car seats installed by the CHP, who were very helpful and gave a bunch of information. Unfortunately they did not have Erik Estrada's glowing white teeth, but still... We took both cars in and the process went smoothly, even though we had a new style of base they had not yet seen. The CHP figured it out and I feel relatively safe about their installation jobs.

Now we can say we're done with the preparations. The wife's hospital bag is packed, we have diapers and wipes, we did about a dozen loads of laundry to clean all the boy's new and/or hand-me-down clothes, and now can bring him home safely. A newsletter I subscribe to actually helped remind the wife that she needed to bring an outfit to come home in, since I guess the hospital gown wouldn't look smashing in the photos. Admittedly, I still have to pack a bag since our hospital has private rooms and I can stay overnight. In my head I keep saying "I'll do it tonight" so hopefully this is the night the mantra sticks. The other thing I want to do is organize a few of the plugged in items in the nursery, either with a power strip or on outlet expander, then use our new outlet protectors to cover the unused ones.

Speaking of home safety, we attended a lame "class" on the subject the other night. The "teacher" just read off of her PowerPoint slides as we read along to ourselves, adding very little anecdotal or additional tidbits of information. From our readings and other classes it became dull very quickly since we were already pretty versed on the topic. When the teacher gave us a break with 45 minutes to go we grabbed our coats and made like a tree and blew outta there. We know we will have to pick up a lot of stuff around the house in preparation for when the boy starts being mobile, like candle holders, photo frames, our hanging wine glasses on the wine rack, etc. Setting up those chic bumpers for edges doesn't seem fun or attractive but I guess it has to be done (does it?). He's a boy, wouldn't he love just wearing a helmet around the house?

Also, to prepare for time constraints and lack of patience, the wife has begun to make food and put it in the freezer, with more on the way (she started her leave on Monday). Yesterday was split pea soup and lasagna with spinach, mushrooms and ground turkey. We sampled it and I look forward to sleepily re-heating the home-cooked goodies. She also has become quite proficient with a slow cooker, which will allow us to toss a whole bunch of ingredients into the pot and come home to a ready-to-eat meal, with leftovers. Makes me long for more freezer space!

Before I forget or miss the chance to do it more timely, I/we want to give a VERY heartfelt thanks to all the friends and family who have given us incredible support the past several months. We've received entirely too many gifts from you, many we never saw coming, and we cannot thank you enough. The support and advice I've gotten since embarking on this journey has made me more excited and anxious (in a good way) than I would have ever thought possible. I can't say I'm "ready" for the onslaught of (eventually rewarding) work that will hit us the moment our son is born, but I am quite confident that our friends and family will be there to help carry us through it all with love, care and guidance (cookies help, too).

P.S. Feel free to contact me with any "birthing gift" ideas either via the comments section or here. I have some thoughts but would like to know if it's cheesey or not... Thanks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Going Poor to Become Richer

Here's an interesting/heartbreaking/happy-ending tale of a family who made themselves "poor" to help their disabled daughter get the proper care that the parents' combined incomes and insurance couldn't or wouldn't provide. Something seems to be wrong with the system...

The Final Countdown (cue keyboards)

We're in the "final throes, if you will," as not-soon-enough-to-be-former Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney once (in)famously said, and entering the last weeks of pregnancy. It's now 35.5 weeks and my wife's belly looks like it's read to burst. She looks great as she's all belly, though the little guy inside is making normal things even more difficult for her in these final few weeks. It's to be expected, of course, but the reality is always more difficult than what the stories may foretell.

Yesterday, the wife and sis-in-law went to the OB/GYN to get an ultrasound of the boy since last week the doctor had concerns that he may be getting too big and labor would possibly have to be induced. It seems some fears were allayed as the ultrasound showed him to be about SIX pounds (though the margin of error is an amazing +/- one lb.). So he could be seven or five pounds, but gauging by even my poor eyesight, I'd have to err on the + side!

All his parts seem to be intact, and no cleft palate was seen (which I didn't know could be determined in utero). He is definitely a boy, since the wife got a glimpse of his Balzac (inside joke), which she thought looked rather large. I can't claim responsibility for that, really, it's supposed to be common in babies. The ultrasound photos she got showed him looking right at the camera and you could see his little open mouth. He really looked a lot more "normal" than in other ultrasounds, though I was still looking mainly at his skull. We now know how he's situated inside so when we feel him thrust or parry we know what parts he's moving. It's all pretty cool stuff...!

I'm definitely getting antsy to start this journey. I think about the whole thing all the time and find myself daydreaming about scenarios with my son (though when I picture him in my head I see the kid version of me, for some reason. Any Freuds care to take on that?). We seem to be as prepared as we're going to get, except for the obvious onslaughts that come which we have no/little experience with, such as sleep deprivation and changing our entire lifestyle. I have grand illusions of trying to do things "differently" though I'm sure the boy will have a monkey wrench or two to toss into those plans. The idea of letting a baby sleep in a car seat, for example, goes against most of what I've read, but I know it's been successful and you have to go with what works, so I'm told. I also know kids love to run around in their Halloween costumes in April, say, though I abhor the idea. So while I'd love to re-write the "book" I will probably ending caving or being the "pushover" my wife thinks I will be (to her bad cop, haha).

So the nerves, anxiety, excitement and worrying has started to kick it up a notch. It's all for the good, though, and I welcome it. Bring it on?!