Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yes, We Are Going To Be Surprised...

…just hopefully not in the delivery room. My wife and I are finding out the sex of our baby. In fact, we find out next week. Had the date marked on the calendar for a month. If you could tell me now I'd love it. If the home pregnancy test could have told Leanne whether it was going to be a boy or girl, she would have found out and then gone shopping for clothes that afternoon.

What is funny about the “find out, don’t find” out decision, is that it seems to be the first in a long line of parenting decisions that other parents LOVE to question. Until this point, no one asks you if you are refraining from eating soft cheeses, or if you are trying not to yell, or if you are doing pre-natal yoga. But after someone finds out that you are having a baby, almost the first question they ask the mother or father is: Do you know what you are having? Are you going to find out?”

(Quick aside: it sounds really weird when people ask “what” we are having. We are having a baby, that’s what. They are small, floppy, frequently-pooping versions of adults. If you would like to know if we are planning on finding out if it is a boy or a girl, then ask us if we are finding out the “sex” of our baby. Sorry, pet peeve.)

No matter your answer, you are bound to disappoint, maybe offend, a bunch of other people.

“Yeah, we are going to find out. We can’t wait for the ultrasound,” gets responses like:

  • "Oh, but it is so much fun to be surprised!”
  • “We didn’t have ultrasounds when we had our kids. We did it the old-fashioned way.”
  • “I know someone who found out they were having a girl, and then they had a boy!”
  • “We waited to find out for all of our kids and it was the best decision.”

“Yeah, we have decided to wait,” on the other hand, gets responses like this:

  • “Really!? I can’t imagine waiting! How can you possibly do that! Your will-power is SUPERHUMAN!”
  • “You know your kid is going to be wearing green and yellow for the first 12 months of his – I mean her – I mean, whatever, I just hope you like ducks and frogs.”
  • “Well, you know, you are surprised either way. This way you can plan. Maybe you aren’t a planner.”

A parent’s favorite pastime, other than sleep, is questioning other parents. This debate opens the floodgates. Soon comes breastfeeding, co-sleeping, blankets in the crib, day care, going back to work or staying home, television watching, whether or not to dress your son up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween, soccer or football, public or private school, where to send them to college, etc etc. Someone is going to hear your decision and walk away going “I can’t believe they are doing that.” I’m certainly guilty of it, and I am assuming that most people are nodding their heads because they are too, or they know someone who is.

I have friends and family who have found out, and those that have waited. All of them are wonderful parents and are pretty darn happy with what they have. For us? We can’t wait. Whenever you find out it is a surprise, right. We just hope they don’t see one of each.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

These Things Cost Money...

This post is another blast from the past. I wrote this soon after Leanne and I found out that number two was on the way. Enjoy.

I don’t know about anyone else, but after the first month of trying to get pregnant and then not actually getting pregnant, I lose all hope that we will EVER actually be able to get pregnant. I think back to all the years I wore tighty-whities and what that might have done to our chances. I start thinking about the number of Phish concerts I have attended and what that might have done to our chances.

Really, it isn’t that I think Leanne and I will never conceive another child, it is just that I kind of lower my expectations. You get that first negative test and you think, “Oh yeah, this could take a while. I mean, people try to get pregnant for months. Why do we assume this will be easy for us.”

Leanne, though, is a woman who likes goals and deadlines and calendars. She knows the exact day that she can first take a HPT and its likelihood of producing an accurate result on that day. The second month, this day coincided with Leanne returning from a business trip. Olive was already in bed. She comes in the door, puts down her stuff, smiles, and says “Hey, do you want to get me to take a test. It will be 80% accurate today.” To which I, with an excasperated and indignant sigh, reply: You know those things cost money, right?”

Yup. Actually said that.

In my defense, we only had one test left (cause we used three -- all negative -- the month before) and I was pretty sure that this one was going to be negative (with me remembering all the hours I spent with a laptop on my lap, or standing close to a microwave, or talking on my cell phone, or riding a bike.).

Also, those things DO cost money. I mean, pregnancy tests are expensive, especially the fancy digital kind (tip for all you kids: always buy the digital kind. Better yet, buy the most expensive pregnancy test you can find. You buy the generic paper towels and ibuprofen. You definitely don’t skimp on two things: condoms and pregnancy tests. If they sell a pregnancy test that is encased in gold, made by Apple, can stream Netflix, and comes with a home nursing visit, get that one). So I wasn’t all that excited about wasting one and then having to run out three days later and wait in line at the Rite-Aid with a pack of gum, a Vitamin Water and a package of pregnancy tests cause we wanted to “make sure” that it wasn’t a false negative.

Leanne didn’t appreciate this comment very much. Turns out, I was running out to Rite-Aid that night anyway...because the test was positive. For those of you that have taken these tests actually hoping for the two lines or the plus sign or for the word “pregnant” to appear, when it actually happens there are few greater moments. It is one of those times when words can't describe the emotion.

Leanne and I laughed and hugged. We silently screamed because Olive was asleep one room away. We each welled up. We are going to have another baby, we whispered. Then we looked deep into each other’s eyes...

...and we saw fear.

We are going to have another baby? What the @#*% are we doing!?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Re-living the Past

So I mentioned a few posts back that when Leanne and I decided to try for baby number two, that I kept writing short blog posts while we were trying. Well, not WHILE we were trying, but, you know. (Okay, sorry about that. I couldn't help it.) I didn't want to post them at the time, of course, but I thought it would be fun to look back on the summer.

Early July – Really, Time Magazine? You need to do a cover article on the benefits of having an only child a week after Leanne and I decide to try having our second? Really?! If you never saw the article, it does a pretty good job of convincing you that one kid is far superior to three or four. Even that you would be NUTS to have more than one kid. It even references a study that claims couples with one child are happier than couples without children, but also happier with a couple with more than one child. One child is the happiness sweet spot. So basically, Time just told me that it is all downhill from here. Great.

Late July – We are closing in on the end of the first month trying. Boy, am I tired! (Okay, I'm really sorry. That is gross. Promise, no more procreation humor.)
Coming to the end of this month means that Leanne has already taken three home pregnancy tests. All negative. But, of course, these things aren't 100% correct, so you can always take one more!
“Do you want to be pregnant, Leanne?”
“At this point, I don’t care, I just want to know if I am or not. I just want to KNOW!”
This means I need to go out to the store to get the fourth pregnancy test in four days. I think I should think about going to Costco next time.

Also, has anyone at Rite Aid noticed the irony in putting home pregnancy tests right next to the various flavored KY products, condoms, shady erectile dysfunction elixirs, and sensual massage oils? Isn’t that like stocking cholesterol tests next to bacon? Diabetes lancets in the candy aisle?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trick or Treat

Halloween doesn’t mean much for an 18 month old. To parents it usually means a chance to dress our kids up in adorable costumes and show them off. I guarantee that November 1st sees the highest number of little kid pictures on Facebook than any other date. Of course, Leanne and I are guilty of that too. The kid doesn’t know what is going on, they can’t eat the candy the get, and they don’t understand that the scary thing is just a person in a mask.

I tried to resist posting Halloween pictures here, but I really can’t. I mean, come on, look at these cheeks.

Old women would elbow each other out of the way to pinch those things.

Also, I love that the costume Olive is wearing was originally made for Leanne when she was two years old. Coolest hand me down we have.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Daddy Depression

My friends are multiplying. If you know me and my friends, you understand this is a rather frightening proposition, but that is beside the point. We recently got together to watch a football game and the room was filled with two pregnant women, a two month old, an 8 month old, and an 18 month old. Another friend, who has a two year old and another on the way, couldn’t make it. It is mildly depressing when you can’t go over to a friend’s house to watch a football game anymore without spending 35% of your time making sure a weebling wobbling little person doesn’t get their hands covered in buffalo wing sauce, or “accidentally” pick up an open can of Bud Light while you aren’t looking.

But it also means we can now, pretty unabashedly, talk about parenting and kids while we pick over nachos.

One friend said something that got me thinking. With a little hesitation, and a little bit of what seemed like residual shame, he said that it took him a while to bond with his newborn. Weeks, in fact. It surprised him, and he wondered if he was the only one.

It was the first time I heard a dad say something like that. Woman have been given free rein to talk about issues with bonding, post-partum depression, and feelings of helplessness after birth. If any of you read the “mommy blog” -- and if you haven't you should check it out --you know that the devotion of the audience is at least partly due to Heather Armstrong writing openly and honestly (and with a great sense of humor) about her struggle with post-partum depression. It struck a chord with a huge audience, and likely helped Armstrong and countless other women through a tough time.

So why can’t guys (or why don't guys)talk about this?

Does it have to do with the whole macho, I don’t show my feelings stuff? Do we think that any post-partum confusion is relegated to the other sex? Have we been instructed that the woman’s role as mother is so much more involved, so much closer, so much more difficult than the role as father that we don’t really need to worry about bonding? I think it is the latter.

I still remember sitting in a breastfeeding class with Leanne (yes, one of the most awkward classroom experiences of my life) and having the instructor go through a whole litany of ways nursing aids the bonding process between mother and daughter. She then said that the father can bond with the child by…

wait for it…

giving the kid a bath.


So my wife actually FEEDS my child. Provides her sustenance from her own body, food that her body produced. She does this for 12 hours a day. Every day. For a year. And that experience is supposed to be replicated by me dipping my crying child into the kitchen sink for 20 minutes every couple days? Somehow I don’t buy it.

I think a lot of dad’s feel the same way my friend did. He loves his daughter more than light right now, but it took him a while to make the connection. When Olive was born, I remember feeling completely useless when she was crying. I couldn’t do anything to sooth her. But as soon as Leanne got a hold of her, we had a calm baby again. Of course, most of that had to do with Leanne being the one to feed her, but I can’t help but think my daughter wanting to be with the comforting figure, and at that point in her life it was mommy. You would have to be the tin man for that not to effect you a little bit. You are a first time father and your child scream uncontrollably while you rock her and sing to her and hold her, but as soon as mommy is there everything is fine. The first thing that pops into your mind is that you are a bad dad. Tough to take for anyone sometimes.

It will be interesting to see how I handle having another little one to bond with in six months. Will my knowing now what I didn’t know then help me look for ways to bond? Will having an understanding of the process ease some of my parental uncertainty?

At least now I will be able to look at my two year old daughter and ask her to give daddy and hug and a kiss and know that everything works out soon enough.