Disjointed Dad

Thoughts from a first time dad

February 2, 2012
by Disjointed Dad
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Crawling

In the past week, little buddy has gone from barely scooting (while voicing his frustration with a chorus of grunts and cries) to crawling everywhere and pulling himself up to stand wherever he can (and in many cases, places he can’t). Thismorning, I plopped him down on his playmat, and went to go get make him a bottle. Lo and behold, the little guy took it upon himself to stealthy follow me into the kitchen and make sure I was preparing his bottle properly. He’s pulled a few stunts like this recently, and every time, he wears the same huge smile expressing exactly how proud of himself he is.

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August 16, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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The midnight bottle

My wife has gone back to work.  It’s been fantastic having her home all summer, but since we can’t afford to not have her working, she’s gone back to her alter ego as a second grade schoolteacher.  That means a whole lot of change going on.  Most significantly to me, I’m now tasked with giving Little Buddy a bottle in the middle of the night.  Now, this is nothing new.  I’ve given him plenty of bottles so far.  However, I am apparently terrible at it at around 4 in the morning.  Take two night ago, for example.  That was my first nighttime feeding attempt.  I managed to:

  1. spill half the formula powder on the floor
  2. spray the now mixed formula all over myself, my son, and the room as I tried to shake it up
  3. drop the tub of powder on the floor making a huge bang, right after getting Little Buddy to fall back asleep

Now, figuring that was the first try, I figured that last night could only go better.  And it did, marginally.  He took the bottle, there was much less crying and spilling, and I had Little Buddy down after about 35 mins.  I creeped out of the room as silently as I could, closed his door, and took a glance at the video monitor to see if he was staying asleep.  And on that tiny screen I saw my son had, in a matter of seconds, managed to get one arm completely free of his swaddle, and the other was wiggling its way out as well.  This of course meant that his swaddle was now bunched up over his face, turning it from “comforting sleep-time aid” to “horrible deathtrap.”  A quick reset of the swaddle, a second round of rocking, and Little Buddy was back in dreamland.  We’ll see what tonight brings.  With luck, I’ll only do something like accidentally turn his bedroom light on and completely startle him awake or something.  Ah, progress.

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July 7, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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It’s a Boy!

After nine months of waiting, stress, worries and hopes, I was introduced to my son.  He’s amazing.  He turned out to be pretty big, at 9lbs 5oz.  I was so awestruck in the moment, I didn’t know what to say, what to do, how to act… I was just… taking it all in.  The morning started out at about 1am, with my wife returning from the bathroom and announcing that her water broke.  That was not the plan!  Only 10% of women have their water break outside the hospital!  My plans for a leisurely first phase of my wife’s labor were dashed.  I went immediately from sleep-deprived to acting like the male lead in a sitcom, bumbling around, rushing to get things in order.  So when my wife said she was going to take a shower, I was a little stunned, and realized we still had some time.

We spent some time in triage while they tried to determine if my wife actually did have her water break.  In the end, their magic test was inconclusive, but in their words “you know your water broke, and we know your water broke.  So we’re sending you on back.”  Good enough for me.

We then began walking laps around the floor to try and get things to progress naturally.  An hour and a half of “there’s the nursery!” and “There’s the nurses station” resulted in little progress.  They had her sit on a big red birthing ball.  That didn’t do much to help either.  Her cervix was being “stubborn” in the words of one nurse.  Some pitocin got the ball rolling.  In less than two hours she went from 2cm to 7cm.  Then an epidural for the pain, and a nap so my wife could regain some strength.

Then… nothing.  Things seemed to stall out.  Turns out the kid’s head was pretty big, and my wife well… isn’t.  The anatomy just wasn’t lining up, and things were getting stressful.  The baby’s heart rate was falling with each contraction.  Skip ahead a bit, and the O.B. decides to use a vacum to help get this kid out.  Everyone in the room was levelheaded, but you could feel the stress building, even among the nurses in the room.  What started with a single nurse, myself and my wife was now at least a dozen people, all donning gowns, gloves and hairnets.  I asked the nurse nearest me where I could stand, so I was not in the way… she directed me up near the top of the bed… out of the way (and my wife’s vision).  The next thing I know, the O.B. is using the vacum to hold the baby in place between contractions and a nurse is literally on top of my wife’s belly, pushing the child down.  It was beginning to become clear to everyone in the room that if this kid didn’t arrive in the next few rounds of pushes, this was going to become a c-section delivery.  My wife had been pushing her heart out and began to lose her strength.  But with the specter of a c-section, she found a whole new reserve.  She worked harder than I’ve ever seen her work.  This was a whole new level of pushing.

Then the head was delivered… Then the body.  A perfect little cry.  The NICU team quietly left the room once they were satisfied they weren’t needed.  Numbers dwindled in the room.  I cut the cord.  The nurse who was handing my son to my wife asked if they could weigh him “We don’t normally do it now, but this little guy is HEAVY!”  They weighed him and called out “9lbs, 5oz!”  Another nurse asked “did it say ’9lbs, 5oz or 9lbs, 15oz?”  They weighed him again, confirming the 5oz figure.  And then my wife held him.  Within an hour he was nursing.  He came out knowing what he wanted, and how to get it.  Family came to gaze at our newest member.  We were transferred to a new room.  My wife, who had an odd reaction to one of the drugs, passed out twice during the transition between rooms (the next few days were filled with apprehension about standing up).  More family visited.  Photos were taken.  Gifts were dropped off.  I was struck by how “right” it felt to hold my son.  None of that awkwardness I felt when holding someone else’s newborn.  And through all of this, my wife never complained.  She never complained when the contractions started to hurt.  She never complained when she had no strength left to push.  She never complained when she realized how much healing she would need to do beyond a “normal” delivery.  She never complained when our room was filled with family and all she really wanted to do was sleep.  She never complained at all.

Fast forward six weeks and my life is settling into a new “normal.”   Nights are still pretty sleepless, and I spend my days in a big of a haze.  But I love this.  I’m taking n each moment I spend with my new son, and doing my best to appreciate and cherish every aspect of it.

I’m a dad now.

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May 17, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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It’s (not) Go Time!

I came into the living room having just taken care of some business in the bathroom to find my wife standing up rather awkwardly in the living room.  ”I think my water just broke” she says. I glanced at the couch to see how much of a cleanup we were talking about.  Nothing.  ”I’m not sure.” she reiterated.  She checks things out, and after she points out that it’s not uncommon to literally wet yourself late in pregnancy, we decide to wait.  Turns out you shouldn’t.  We called the O.B. the next morning, and based on the nurse’s reaction, you’d think we had just told her that my wife just got back from riding roller coasters or something.  She speaks with O.B. who tells us “if nothing else has happened, I wouldn’t worry about it.”  But it turns out that one of the prerequisites of becoming a first time parent is to be worried about things even when your doctor says “I wouldn’t worry about it.”  So we worry.  And worry.  And the next thing you know, we’ve checked into the hospital and my wife is laying there with a speculum in her and the most awkward expression I’ve ever seen on her face.   Turns out it wasn’t her water breaking.  Nothing of concern… apparently leaking small amounts of “stuff” isn’t uncommon late in pregnancy.  And with that, we’ve got another reason why I’m not upset that men can’t get pregnant: leakage.

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PreVue Ultrasound Design

March 25, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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PreVue prototype pregnancy “window”…

My wife and I spend a huge amount of time guessing exactly how our baby is oriented inside her:

“Is that a head?”  ”No, I think that’s a butt.”

and

“I think that’s a knee… or a hand.”

…are quite common utterances in our household.  I’ve often thought that they should make some sort of “home ultrasound” thingy. Apparently designer Melody Shiue agrees.  She’s designed an extremely slick looking device that essentially serves as a magic window into your uterus.  Not only does it seem like a cool idea, but it looks like something sent from the future.  Unfortunately, it’s only a design right now… leaving the rest of us to continue to guess “which end is up” for a few more years/decades.  Lucky for me, I think I’ve become an expert.  That totally is a knee.

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March 14, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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10 Pregnancy ‘Facts’ that nobody tells you…

Oddee.com has a list of 10 ‘facts’ that nobody tells you about pregnancy. While it’s true that everything on the list can occur, one of the reasons why nobody tells you is because these things happen so rarely or they’re hard to observe.  Anyway, it’s a mildly interesting read.  Lucky for me, item 10 (The Father Might Show Symptoms of Pregnancy) hasn’t happened to me, except for the weight gain… it’s tough to watch what you eat when you’re hanging out with someone who is constantly snacking or craving things like ice cream.  Man, now I want ice cream.

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March 3, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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Review: The Expectant Father

The Expectant Father CoverSo, when I found out that we were pregnant, I immediately wanted to learn about the whole process.  While I felt kinda “ready” for fatherhood, I really had no idea what was going on, what was expected of me, or how to pull it off without creating the next Charlie Sheen.  So, I turned to the Internet.  And like most topics, I found a boatload of opinion, but little research to back any of the claims.  When I went to the bookstore, I found even less.  The few books out there that dealt with the male perspective on pregnancy were essentially “joke” books, intended to be given at a shower I guess, chuckled over, and the parked on a bookshelf until sold at the half price book store, where the whole process starts over.  Eventually, however, I stumbled across The Expectant Father by Amin Brott and Jennifer Ash.  The clever cover belies the impact of this book.  It takes the stance that men do have a significant role in pregnancy, and that role extends beyond just being supportive of their significant other.  Brott and Ash go out of their way to not only explain what the wife/girlfriend/woman is going through at each stage of pregnancy in terms familiar to many men, but also explore the emotions that men may be experiencing themselves.  Each chapter (one for each month of pregnancy) explains what’s going on with your partner, the baby, and yourself both emotionally and physically.  It sounds like it could be a hippie-love-fest, but I found it to be honest, enlightening, and extremely helpful.  Knowing what everyone is experiencing makes it easier to be a helpful partner.  And with that foundation laid, Brott and Ash then use each chapter to introduce practical tips from how babies develop to how to start saving for college.  What was interesting was that despite my wife having also bought Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis and Judith Schuller, we both found The Expectant Father to be a more interesting and informative read.  Brott and Ash really go out of their way not to simply throw pre-natal “best practices” at you, but to try and back them up with interesting studies and anecdotes.  It feels like less of a howto manual, and more of an exploration of the pregnancy process.  In the end, I’ve found myself recommending this book to any expectant dads I know.  It’s well worth the price, and in the end, makes you a better informed pre-dad.  If they could have made my high school math books as interesting as this book…

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February 11, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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“Do I need a fetal monitor?”

When my wife and I first got pregnant, I didn’t know a lot of things existed.  Fetal heart rate monitors (or fetal dopplers) were near the top of that list.  Essentially, a fetal heart rate monitor lets you listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  It’s what the OB will use just about every time you go in to listen and make sure the baby is doing fine, the theory being: healthy hearbeat=healthy baby.  So, do you need to get one yourself?  Nope.  Should you get one?  Maybe.  Your OB will probably suggest that you don’t.  And with good reason… they can be really tricky to use.  It’s really easy to confuse the baby’s heartbeat and the Mom’s heartbeat, especially early on.  But my wife and I went ahead and got one.  The key is to only get one if you’re okay with the following two ideas:

  1. You will most likely have trouble finding your baby’s heartbeat early on… especially before around 11 or 12 weeks.  It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.  Don’t stress over this.  It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with your baby.  It just means you’re not a trained professional in finding fetal heartbeats.  If you have trouble, especially early on, take a break, and try again in a few days.
  2. You may b tempted to use the doppler every few hours “to check in.”  Don’t.  While it can be really handy, it’s easy to overdo it with the doppler.  And while there’s no risk to baby or mom in using a doppler too much, for everyone’s sanity, it’s probably best to check in every couple of days, instead of every couple of hours.  Just enjoy the pregnancy.

If you can live with those two ideas, then I say go ahead and get yourself a fetal heart-rate monitor.  If you can use it right, it can actually help calm some nerves.  Two or three times now, for various reasons (“I haven’t felt kicks in a while, and ususaly I do about now”) it’s been able to calm both my wife’s and my own nerves just hearing that heartbeat.  It never gets old.  After a while, it’s gotten extremely easy to find the baby, and it’s been a really nice experience to hear those beats in the comfort of your own home instead of just in the OB’s office.

So, which model to get?  We got the Sonoline B 3mhz fetal doppler.  It runs around sixty bucks.  You can spend thousands on one, if you want, but unless you’re opening your own practice, I’d go with the Sonoline model or similar (look for a 3mhz model… it will be a little easier to find the baby as opposed to the 2mhz models).  Fair warning… it looks cheap.  And it is cheap: cheap feeling buttons, a manual written in some of the most entertaining engrish I’ve ever read, and a tube of some mysterious gel goo.  But here’s what you do… first, have mom lay flat, expose her belly (and a little below the waistline).  Apply a small (maybe quarter sized to begin with) ammount of the mystery goo on the end of the wand (if you run out of goo, lotion, petrolium jelly, etc are economical stand-ins), and turn the sucker on.  Now comes the hard part… finding baby.  I’d start somewhere a few inches south of the belly button, pressing the end of the wand gently against the belly.  Now “look” around.  Remember that you don’t just have to move the wand from location to location… you can also “point” it around.  You’re listening for the same wooshing sort of noise you’ve heard at the OB’s office (or on sappy sitcoms).  The key to telling the difference between the mom’s heartbeat and the baby’s is that the baby’s heartbeat will be around 160 bpm, and mom will be around half that.  When you find a heartbeat, count the number of beats in 10 seconds, and then multiply that by 60.  That will give you an idea of the heart-rate, and in turn, tell you who you’re listening to.  Ignore the numbers on the display of the monitor.  They’re essentially worthless.  I have no idea why they bother putting them there, because I have yet to see them ever be even close to what the actual heart-rate is.  Just time it yourself.  It’s easier.

So, do you need a fetal heart monitor?  Not at all.  Should you get one?  Sure, if you can live with knowing that you’re not a doctor and will likely have troubles using a fetal doppler, and compared to the model your OB has, most fetal heart monitors you can afford are just toys.  But if you can live with those restrictions, a fetal heart monitor can be a good investment in keeping you and your partner calm.  And in my book, a calm mom is a good thing.

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January 11, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
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The Exercise Room in My Wife

I’ve started to feel the baby kicking inside my wife, like my wife is some sort of exclusive gym where this kid gets to work out.  She’s mentioned for a month or so that she could feel movement.  At first, she wasn’t convinced it was the baby.  She thought it was just gas.  When the O.B. pointed out that the baby’s movements will feel like gas, her response was “GAS feels like gas, too.”  Even the first kick that I was able to feel from the outside, she still wasn’t convinced it was the baby.  I pointed out that typically gas doesn’t quickly poke outward, which was what I felt… you know… similar to how a baby might kick?  She reluctantly agreed.  But now, almost nightly, I get to feel the baby kick.  It really kicks up a storm when she’s laying on her back.  I’m not sure why, but apparently thats “a thing” with fetuses… they like to kick when the mom lays down.  What was really odd was the other night when I was struggling to sleep.  I put my arm over my sleeping wife, and could feel the baby kicking.  That was crazy.  I mean, it makes sense that the baby might be awake while my wife isn’t, but it’s still odd the first time I experienced the tiny person INSIDE my wife, wide awake and kicking, while my wife laid there fast asleep.  I suppose it’s the closest thing to sharing a moment just with your kid before their born that a dad can experience.  I’ll take it.

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