December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All and To All, A Night Filled With Hungry Screaming, Loud Gulping and Terribly Foul Diapers.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and Happy Friday off to those who don't.  The past two weeks have been a bit crazy.  I think I'm starting to say that more and more, indicating to myself that every week has become crazy.

I was lucky enough this year to get a full two weeks off of school for Christmas and New Years.  Over the past week, I've done almost nothing.  We hang out at home and take care of Harper, which works very well for me.  I would have thought I would be bored, but that is turning out to not be the case at all.  She's always hungry, or always needs to be changed, or always wants to be held, which I am happy to help with.  They say that having a child changes your life completely, but I didn't really believe them.  Now I do.

Harper had a doctor's appointment this week where we, once again, got to converse with the Indian version of Antonio Banderas.  He's a very nice guy, but it seems like he would be more at home as a pediatrician on a soap opera.  He's suave in a way that real people are not.  He wears Nautica turtle necks, snake-skin loafers and easily spends more time on his hair than most people do driving to work.  With all of that said, he seems like a very good doctor and he is very nice and always happy to answer the questions that we pose.

He blows into the room, looks at the baby while looking handsome, tosses his perfectly blow-dryed hair, smiles, then blows out again, saying things like "Your baby, she is doing very well.  She is a beautiful baby.  I want to dance with her!"  Not really, but he says those things in my mind.

Harper is now 20 1/2 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 14 ounces.  Her weight is a little low for her age, but it's within the parameters of normal, and is the perfect weight for her length and head circumference.

She spends much more time with her eyes open and looking around.  She still doesn't respond to stimulus, but she follows faces and Dr. Banderas tells us that this is normal and that she should start responding more during the second month.  I was lucky enough yesterday to take a picture with my phone of her smiling just a little bit.

She's so cute it hurts!  Sara asked a question the other day and prefaced it with "I have a question, and I know that you're going to tell me it doesn't matter and that we don't need to worry about it for a long time, but I've been thinking about it anyway."  She wanted to know my thoughts on how we would do Harper's hair.  After giving a long, slow blink that my college friends hate so much, I told her I think we should do little pigtails.  We should do this in a year or so when her hair is long enough to do it.

Yesterday, having waited until the last minute to finish my holiday shopping, I ran over to the Westmoreland mall at 8 in the morning.  I was in good company with all of the other deadbeat husbands and dads who woke up and said "well, shit.  I ain't got nothin' fer ma little 'uns or ma old lady."  In all fairness, I've known what I wanted to get Sara for a while and just haven't found the particular style that I thought she would like.  Luckily, I found it yesterday.  On my way out, I stopped at Border's to look at their selection of children's books for Harper.  I lucked out in that they had copies of most of the books I loved as a child, including Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, There's a Nightmare In My Closet, and The Five Chinese Brothers.

It has been easy to avoid buying her toys because she doesn't react to things that squeak, ring, ding, beep, squawk, bop, zoom, whir, whiz, pop, drip or ping.  I think it's very important to have a nice collection of children's books, not just for the development of her vocabulary and love of reading, but also for my own sanity.  If you only have two books in the house, she'll want those read over and over because there are no other options.  If she's going to have the same book read over and over, I would rather it be because she loves the book.

Sara and Harper have come out of the bedroom, so I'm going to finish up, but I do have one final thought.  It is very weird to say her name out loud.  I've picked up the habit from Sara of referring to Harper as "Baby Girl."  I don't think it makes too much difference now, but I really need to start using her name when I'm talking to her.

Time to don my HazMat suit and change her diaper.  I hope everyone has a great vacation.

December 14, 2009

Feelings that make you go hmmm...

It has been quite a while since I last posted, been a little busy since the last time.  I must say, since then so many things have changed.  I think the last time I posted I was still pregnant and living somewhere else.  I just checked and it was approximately 5 weeks ago.  I really had no idea what I was in for.
So, just to recap since then, November 18th I gave birth to a cute little girl.  The labor was interesting - you can take all the classes that you want and have birth plans and whatever you want before you even enter the stages of labor, but nothing really prepares you for actual labor.  Towards the end, days before Harper was born, Justin and I were going for walks and timing the contractions - trying to "start" something.  The tiny little contractions that I was having on our walks were definitely nothing to  write home about.  Once we actually started the contractions, whoa!!  Totally different.  I remember feeling anxious and slightly sick - the slightly sick was just because I knew that our lives were going to totally change and in a major way (and hoping that we were really prepared for it).  
So the reason I was induced was because I was getting dizzy and the doctor decided that the baby was probably getting too big and  pushing on things to make me dizzy.  Finally we had a date to look forward to.  In some ways that made me feel a lot better.  I knew when things were going to happen - it took away some of the anxiety.  At the same time that it took away the anxiety of knowing when baby would come - it brought about new anxiety about having to actually go through the process of birth.  I was scared.  You can decide at one point that it would be better if you just stayed pregnant and didn't really need to go through the process of pushing out a baby.  Mind you, don't think that I wasn't totally excited that I was going to find out what I was having and hold my little baby that Justin and I created together.  So I was excited and scared and anxious and happy and ready to be done with the whole process, all at once.
I know alot of people say that they really liked being pregnant or really didn't.  I don't see how you couldn't like it - you have a little person growing in you and you realize how amazing and how much you like it once they are gone from your body.  Despite what some people might think, you have made a connection with said little person.
Everyone who has had a child will say that all the pain and suffering will be gone the instant you hold your little baby in your arms.  That is probably the most true and accurate statement in all of history.  I remember most parts of the laboring, and all of the pushing and yet the instant the doctor said that it was a girl was awesome and then when I actually held this little messy body and saw what she looked like... there are no words.  I remember looking up at Justin and realizing that he was enthralled with Harper.  He reached out to finally touch our daughter and seemed almost afraid to.  The world seemed most real to us both at that point.  Finally he got to share this little person with me and I was so filled with love for the both of them - especially Justin because our love created this perfect little person.
And she really is perfect.  I keep taking pictures of her now and it is amazing that she has changed so much in 26 days.  I want to show her to everyone and at the same time I want to hog her and I do.
It is a lot of fun right now having her because she is so small and helpless.  There aren't too many things wrong and you can tell her all the thoughts that you have and she will keep them forever.  I am also excited for the future.  We (my little family and I) are going to have a lot of fun.  For now Harper and I are going to have fun being together each day.  I will also keep taking pictures.  I will let you know when and where they are posted.

December 9, 2009

I Like My Temper How I Like My Women: Short and Hot!!

I take back what I said in previous posts, only to restate it with some caveats.  Becoming a father makes me feel like a better person on occasion.

While it is true that I find myself wanting to do more things around the house, such as fixing (or pretending to fix) the dishwasher, installing lights and planning how to renovate the bathroom and attic, I also am finding myself to be more short-tempered.

Having a new house and a beautiful daughter at home in that house is making it an agony to go to work.  While this job is not my ideal, it is in the education field and I am working with math students.  Most days, it is acceptable and can even be great, but for the last 2 weeks, I have found it a bit less than tolerable.  After a few days of hard contemplation, I've come to the conclusion that nothing is different about the job, the administration, or the students.  That means the only thing left is me.

I'm aware that I have seasonal mood swings and it is about time for my winter depression.  Over the past few years, I've gotten better at controlling my temper and my depression.  Being aware of the changes make it easier to correct, allowing me to take some time to deeply breathe, count to ten and get back to the situation.

Over the past two weeks, however, I haven't been able to do that.  I've been trying to smile through, and thinking about Harper, especially the latest pictures, make that easier.  At the same time, all I want to do is go home to her.  I can think of a dozen things that need to be done in the house without even trying.  I spend much of my down time at work either losing myself in a book or looking up things on line that I could use to improve my house.

My patience with my students, something that I have actively been working on for several years, is wearing VERY thin.  I have yet to scream at any of them, but in situations when I would normally sit and try to explain something 4 or 5 times, I'm settling for 1 or 2.  I don't like this at all, but I worry that if I stay longer, my frustration at them not understanding will turn to anger and I will explode.

This at least gives me comfort because it means I still have control over my temper.

The thing that I find most shocking is that I have no anger towards Harper.  Thinking about it, I almost feel like I should.  When she lays there and screams in the middle of the night and can't be comforted, I think that I should be getting angry, but I don't.  My frustration is more at myself for being unable to make her calm.  I worry that I'm doing something wrong with her and that if I would just hold her a different way, or rock her just so, she would be happy.  I'm frustrated with myself that I can't find that way, but the only feelings I have towards her are complete and total love and devotion.

Even these feelings are getting a bit out of control and moving into the realm of the insane.  My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (is that a thing?) came over today to watch Harper so Sara and Jill could go run errands.  I was practically shoved out the door and sent on my way to work and I think I was a little less polite to our guests than I could have been.

On my drive to work, while listening to Brittany Spears sing about having a three-some, I had a horrid vision of my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (I think it's a thing) having an argument over who should hold Harper and actually tearing her in half, each lovingly cuddling one arm and one leg.  This vision almost made me turn the car around and call in sick.

It's absurd!  I know how insane it is, but I've already become so protective of this little girl that I barely trust anyone other than Sara to take care of her.  I understand why she would want to be a stay-at-home-mom and I wouldn't at all mind staying home myself.  I'm not sure I would have these feelings if we had had a boy.  At least, I don't think they would be the same or as intense.

I've already become that dad who sits on the porch polishing the shotgun for when the boyfriend comes by.

I don't feel the need to hover over her at all times when I'm home.  I'm happy to let her sleep, or look around, or do whatever without constantly having to hold her.

As soon as I leave the house for work, however, the bottom drops out of my stomach and I enter a state of distracted frustration until I get home.

Is this normal?

December 8, 2009

Picture Post!

Harper has become a bit more social.  She's spending more time looking around and visually interacting with the world around her.  I don't really have a post to put up, but I really wanted to post these pictures.

She's gorgeous!  Yes, those are frogs on her feet.

December 3, 2009

Like a Fountain

My father-in-law came over last night and helped me to (read "he did it") rig up the dryer.  I had bought an outlet to fit and he attached it to the wall, ran the wire and hooked everything up.  What I neglected to purchase, however, was the connecting tube for the exhaust.

Therefore, this morning, I got up early and went to Lowes' (again) to purchase the part.  I came back, installed the hose, move the dryer into place and started making breakfast.  After a nice breakfast with Sara, while Harper sat vacantly in the swing, I got ready for work.

With about 15 minutes left before I had to leave, Sara asked if I had time to change Harper's outfit.  I said sure, took her into the bedroom and started undressing her.  She has been wearing a diaper, a onesie and a full suit (complete with cummerbund and tie).  When I got her stripped, I went to change her diaper.

Last night, Sara had put her in a different type of diaper than what we had been using.  In this new one, there is a mesh lining between the baby and the absorbing pad.  I assume this is to make sure that the baby is not right up against any wetness.  Unfortunately, this mesh lining stuck to her skin, so as I was changing her, I had to peel it off of various parts of her nether regions.

With both of her ankles in my left hand, I lifted Harper slightly to wipe away traces of whatever that may have crawled up her back like a fecal version of Sir Edmund Hillary.  It was at this time, that my beautiful, perfect daughter decided to let loose a stream of matter in a perfect parabolic trajectory.

My cat-like reflexes kicked in and I managed to dodge the brown fountain.  The bed and floor were not so lucky.  I should note here that during the entire time, Harper's face was composed into an expression that can only be described as tranquil.

I thought I might have seen a slight scowl when I told Sara that, luckily, my wardrobe had avoided injury.  I assume that it's a sign that I should be a father, that I did not scream, cry, vomit, fling the baby, set fire to the soiled bed cover, pass out, pack a bag and leave, or attempt to blow my brains out.

And I still desperately love my daughter.

December 1, 2009

A Family of Squatters

I've been told that becoming a parent can bring out the best in a person.  I don't know how much "best" I have in me, but some is certainly shining through, I think.

Every time I look at Harper, I am amazed.  I don't understand how I could have lived my life to this point without her.  True, I was on time a lot more often and it was easier to schedule things, but so what?  Today, she is 13 days old and I'm having trouble remembering what I thought about before she was born.

She's been spending more time with her eyes open, looking around.  Her eyes are a beautiful slate, but I know they will change soon.  I've been trying my best to help Sara with her as much as I can.  There are certainly limitations in terms of feeding, but I do (in spite of my promise to myself) help change her (when I can't pass her off as just hungry.)  I will happily wander the house with her in my arms to try to calm her down, and I seem to be much better at burping her than anyone else.

In terms of sleeping through the night, she's been alright, not great.  She sleeps for several hours, but Sara has to wake her to feed her around 3 am.  If she doesn't, Harper is so cranky in the morning, she can't seem to find to nipple.  Story of my life, right?

Over this Thanksgiving break, we moved all of our worldly possessions into our new house.  We are living there illegally because we haven't closed yet.  The closing company has been dragging its feet and coming up with new and absurd things they want in order to close the loan, but that's a story for another time.  My point here is that, in moving all of our worldly possessions, I have completely wiped myself out.  On Saturday night, I slept so heavily that Sara put a screaming Harper next to my head and I didn't even stir.

In this new place, we had to buy a fridge, which Sara took care of last week.  She went to Lowes', braving the Black Friday crowds, toppled an old man and trampled a group of orphans hoping to sit on the lap of an inflatable Santa in order to get us a great deal, which she did.  I, however, did a mediocre to piss poor job of measuring the space.  The fridge space is 72 inches by 36 inches.  The fridge is 70 inches by 35 3/4 inches.  It fits.  What I didn't think to measure, was the door to the house.

In order to get the fridge inside, we had to take off both French doors, the bottom mounted freezer door AND the house door.  The fridge is in place and if we move again, we're leaving it the hell there.

As a direct result of my failure in this department, I made several trips to Lowes' (now 5 minutes away) over the past few days and fixed several minor issues around the house, including, but not limited to the following:

Installed blinds in the bedroom (we were changing in the hallway so my neighbor, the town constable, wouldn't vomit at my pasty thighs)
Installed door stops to keep knobs from scratching the paint (euphemism?)
Fixed the shower so we can get hot water (it was set to luke warm)
Replaced light bulbs around the property

Small things, yes, but I actually felt like I was accomplishing something.  When this morning rolled around, I could think of nothing I wanted to do less than go to work.  I held Harper and walked around the house for an hour, after making breakfast for Sara.  We've decided, at least for now, that the TV will remain in the basement and the living room/dining room will remain without visual entertainment.  I will be hooking up the DVD player to the TV in the basement so that I can start doing Tae Bo again.  I've been meaning to for a while, but now I have lots of time in the morning and an ever-burning desire to get into shape.

I want to be able to run and play with my daughter when she gets old enough.  I need to be able to.  I was also thinking about joining the YMCA in Greensburg and go swimming in the morning, but I think I'll wait to see how the Tae Bo goes before spending money on a gym membership.  If I can't be bothered to go to my own basement, why would I drive across town?

I understand why people would want to be stay-at-home-moms and -dads.  I love our new house (which isn't ours yet) and I would love to work on projects around the house and take care of Harper.

She is so beautiful.

November 24, 2009

First Real Post as a Dad

As I'm sure you can imagine, the last 6 days have been a bit hectic.  I will try my best to recap them, including the important bits and leaving out the more ... unpleasant.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, Sara and I went to the Indiana Regional Medical Center where they were scheduled to induce labor.  They started the induction with prostaglandin (sp?) gel at around 8:30am.  The contractions started almost right away and we began walking the halls.  Sara asked for an epidural around 2:00, after being given staydol (sp?) so she could relax between contraction, and she turned a bit loopy.  Through the entire process, she was remarkably calm and level-headed, even making jokes all the way through.  Harper Lynn was born at 6:50 pm on Wednesday.  As I wrote before, she weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces at birth and was 19 inches long.

We spent the next two days in the maternity ward, shuttling Harper back and forth from our room to the nursery so they could wash her, check her vitals and make sure she wasn't jaundiced, which she isn't.  The whole time we were at the hospital, I made Sara sleep as much as she could, while I slept almost not at all.

We had packed a bag for both Sara and Harper that included all sorts of important things, like books, clothes, toothbrush, etc.  For me, I packed a book, my toothbrush and one pair of underwear.  By Thursday night, I just walked into the shower with my underwear on, scrubbed them and me, changed into clean underwear and hung the wet ones to dry in the shower.  Harper spent a ton of time in our room, starting to nurse, crying and generally being a newborn.

She is so soft, that it is impossible to hold her and not be constantly kissing her cheeks, her nose, the top of her head.  She smells like a newborn, which is quite a shock, so we're constantly smelling her too, except of course when she needs a diaper change.  At those times, she smells like she's been possessed by the ghost of roadkill-passed.

We brought her home on Friday late morning.  We loaded her into the car seat and drove home.  Since we are moving this coming weekend (anyone want to help us move?  Please?  I'll buy you pizza and beer!) we didn't bother to set up her room.  She has been sleeping in the pack-and-play in our bedroom.  She slept very well on Friday night.

On Saturday morning, my mother-in-law and two aunts-in-law (?) came over to see Harper for a few hours.  Then my mom and her partner, Joan came out.  They stayed for the weekend and were amazingly helpful, even while trying to stay out of the way.  They helped us to pack up and helped talk to us about caring for a newborn.  I heard a rumor that my mom had one of those at one point, possibly two, but I don't believe it.

Harper did not sleep well last night, which means I am amazingly tired this morning.  I assume Sara is as well, but I can't speak to that because I was too busy grunting while I got dressed and made breakfast today.

My desire to be at work is rivaled only by my desire to be torn to shreds by a pack of rabid badgers.  That is to say, zero.  I have a little more to write here, but I have to go to class, so I may post again later today or tomorrow.  I have included a link to some pictures below.  We don't have many, only about 110.  For those of you who are mathematically inclined, that comes out to about 20 per day average.

My Daughter, and a few other people who are not nearly as important.

Another really quick note, I know I mentioned this before, but I want to again.  I love the comments that everyone has been posting and I've been reading all of them.  I may not respond on here, but thank you so much and I hope you continue to share this blog and make comments.

November 19, 2009


She's here!

On Wednesday, November 18th at 6:50 pm, Harper Lynn Aion entered the world.  She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 19 inches long at birth.  She has a full head of black hair and managed to only whimper and not cry for the first several hours.  She is gorgeous.

My daughter is so beautiful.  She and Sara are very healthy.

More will come later, but I'm on pirated WiFi and I'm having difficulty composing my thoughts.

November 16, 2009

Pain and Relief

Decisions have been made, dates have been set.

During the past week or so, Sara has been getting mild dizzy spells.  Today, she called her doctor and was told to come in and take a stress test.  Everything was alright and she wasn't any more dilated, but he told her that if she wasn't in labor by Friday, that he wanted to induce sometime next week.

For those of you who are fans of this program, you may recall that we are closing on a house sometime soon.  That sometime soon is next Tuesday.  As a direct result of that, we didn't want to worry about inducing when we're supposed to be buying a house, or when the hospital staff is angry at us for interrupting their turkey dinners.  Therefore, the doctor will be inducing Sara on Wednesday morning at 7:30.  If all goes well, we'll be parents by 7:31!  If all goes real, it should be later in the day.

In two days, I will be a father.  We've been trying to coax the baby out for almost 3 solid weeks, timing every contraction, eating pineapple, spicy food, going for walks and the other recommended activities to bring on labor, all to no avail.  Now that it's a scheduled procedure, I'm not really sure how I feel about it.  It fits into our other obligations very nicely but it does take out some of the mystery.  I'm also very worried about Sara.

Some time last week, she had a contraction that very strong.  She was clearly in pain, more so than I have ever seen in our 6 years of being together.  I was suddenly terrified for my wife, this woman whom I love with all of my heart and soul, someone for whom I would gladly take the agony if it meant she could avoid it.  There was nothing I could do to help her.  My helplessness was overwhelming.  I've been told that inducing labor makes it more painful.  Sara talks about the pain with a sense of nervousness, but not fear.  In her mind, she has clearly weighed the balance of pain versus gain and comes out very strongly in favor of this baby.  Last week, when she had the contraction, I wavered.  I can think of nothing I want less than to see her in pain.

I know that my job will be to sit by and tell her how wonderful she is and what a great job she's doing and how proud I am of her, but it's not cutting it for me.  I've been having a growing feeling, starting when we saw the birthing video at the Lamaze class, that I'm having trouble putting into words.

The video followed several mothers as they went through the stages of labor, through the birth and then interviews afterwards.  I was struck by something during a particular segment that began with the woman screaming in intense agony, thrashing on the table, throwing things and generally being in labor.  It ended with the phrase "I gave a final push and there was Carl Jr."

My first thought was "Holy shit!  She gave birth to a hamburger??"  Followed very quickly by the idea that naming a child after it's father is arrogant.  To this point, his job was to be a sperm donor and try to be supportive.  She was the one who carried the child, reorganized her life for the past several months, and went through the agony of birth to use this life as a tribute to him?  It made me very uncomfortable.  It seemed like a great reversal of Bill Cosby's routine about raising a son, spending time with him, teaching him to play football, taking him to practice, encouraging him, watching him play, cheering him on the whole way, then when he runs into the end zone to score a touchdown, he looks at the camera and says "Hi mom!"

I've been thinking about this frequently and I've slightly gotten over my initial upset, justifying it that the mother could be so grateful to her husband for allowing her to have this child...

I am so grateful to Sara for carrying this child.  I am beside myself with gratitude and will forever be in her debt.  I am in awe of her ability to face this coming week with such courage as I know I could never muster.  Up to this point, it has been a bit of an abstraction, recognizing that, yes, women give birth all the time and, yes, it is painful and amazing.  It's suddenly becoming real in a way that it wasn't before.

After the miscarriage last year, I was scared for this child all through the pregnancy.  I was worried about the heartbeat, and whether it would make it to be born and what I would do if it didn't.  With the impending birth on Wednesday, I am fairly confident that the child will be fine (barring the horror story I heard when I was teaching in Jersey).

I am now terrified for my wife.  I don't worry that she won't make it through, I have no fears about that.  I am terrified about the pain that she will be going through and my inability to do anything other than help her breathe, let her squeeze my hand and tell her how beautiful and wonderful she is.

November 9, 2009

How many days to go??

Well, today is the 9th of November... if our due date is correct (which they rarely are) we should be about 11 days from a cute little baby. I think everyone, and I really mean Everyone, is ready to know what it is and see it and pinch it etc. My mom is just about nuts and calls me every day to see if I am driving to work or pushing, Justin thinks that it is a hoax and isn't actually going to come out (maybe I really did get stung by something and my swelling hasn't gone down), the mother-in-law loves when I call, but I quickly have to tell her that I am not in labor or she is ready to jump in the car, my brother sends me a text with when he is working and/or available to drive me to the hospital, my loving co-workers want to send me home or print out directions to the hospital "just in case" (I think they are afraid that I might explode at work and then they have to decontaminate the lab), my grandmother wants to be notified immediately, no matter what time of day or night.
And then there is me... I have been carrying little H. L. Aion around for quite a while now. We have had some good times and bad. Bad were probably the early days when nausea was "in" or the time I got sick while driving across a bridge (thank goodness for garbage bags in the car). Good times were obviously the first little flutters of movement and when Justin could finally feel the movement and sonograms are just amazing inventions (I would love to have them all the time just to see what Baby is doing in there.)
I try to bribe it. Yes, I am crazy and that is alright with me. Justin tries to bribe it with the cute little things that we have for it (little stuffed animals, the monkey suit, a nice warm bed etc.) He even attempted to bribe it with the little robot that is now vaccuming our house, it didn't seem to work. I started bribing it with the nice things that we have for it, then mentioning that we are buying it a nice house where we will all live happily. Now my approach has turned more toward scaring it... "you are going to run out of room in there and then mummy is just going to explode" or " if you stay in there too long then you will be really hairy and we might have to put you in the circus" Of course these aren't feasible and probably rude on my part, but it doesn't have much to compare to, so it shouldn't be too scared.
We have had a multitude of suggestions from our friends who are parents and our relatives. I know for sure that I don't want to even think about Castor oil. Spicy food just gives me indigestion and makes me cranky. Walking is good, squatting is good, jumping up and down hurts a little (but I did try it) and then the other "exercises" have been experimented with.
I think that we are just going to have to continue waiting...and waiting. I will ask the doc again on Wednesday if we can just induce (he laughed at me last time.) I think the report will include more progress this week compared to last. I think (and hope) that it will be soon. In the mean time I will be patient and continue dreaming about what it will look like, how soft and chubby it will be and all of those other things one thinks about when anticipating a big event.
(watch I will go into labor tonight... *crosses fingers*)

November 1, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Tom Petty was right.  Damned right!  Another weekend has come and gone and still no baby.  Sara has been having contractions, but they are still spread out to the point where they don't count as labor.  They are more frequent than 4 weeks ago, but not by much.

As of yesterday, we finished week 38 and are no working on 39.  She has become noticeably more sluggish and tired, feeling the weight of this massive basketball under her skin.

As I typed the last paragraph, Sara had two contractions 9 minutes apart that lasted for over a minute each, so we may be coming up on it, just to prove me wrong.

In any event, we've been talking more and more about our respective religious and cultural backgrounds in regards to this baby.  A priest and a rabbi both advised us not to have children unless we were going to pick one religion are raise the child with that.  We are clearly not listening to them.  Sara feels very strongly about having the child baptized, which I know is going to cause my family to cringe.  In the same vein, if it's a boy, my desire to have him circumcised will no doubt make select members of her family cringe.

I have never been religious, although I do identify with and take comfort in the cultural aspects of Judaism.  There is something nice about knowing that what you are doing has been done by your family for thousands of years.  My mother and I both feel the same way about this.  She is a self-professed atheist and I'm a self-professed indifferent, but we both very much enjoy the feeling of being a part of a something that is part of our family.

Sara used to be a very devout Catholic.  She was actually the first female altar server at her church in Indiana.  She was a member of a spiritual sign language club in high school.  Over the past several years, I think that she has felt less and less attached to the church and has moved, in my opinion, away from being religious and more towards being spiritual.  She likes the rituals of Catholicism, but doesn't always believe in their teachings.  I don't really want to talk much about this because it would be better for her to do so.

In any event, I sent an e-mail to a rabbi about 6 weeks ago because I wanted to make sure that, should we have a son, I would be able to get him circumcised.  The response I received was typical of my research.  It was evasive about whether or not he knew of anyone who could do it, but was very clear that my child will NOT be Jewish under the Hebrew laws because Sara is not.

Judaism, like male-pattern baldness, is passed on by the mother.

This is a very pressing matter because, according to Jewish law, the boy must be circumcised 8 days after birth.  I know that I will be a bit busy during that time and, not being a practicing Jew, I don't have a Rabbi to make sure it gets done.  The hospital will want to know if we're going to do it and if I can't get a mohel to say he will, then I may have the hospital do it.  I would prefer not to have to exercise this option.  I would feel...cheated out of something important.

I've been thinking frequently about my grandfather.  I visited his grave before I asked Sara to marry me.  I spoke to him about how much I love her and how he would have as well.  The fact that he never got a chance to meet her brings me a great deal of sadness.  I try (and often fail) to live my life in a way that I think he would be proud of.  We are naming his great-grandchild, the first child of his first grandchild, after him.  I plan to tell this baby tons of stories about him, explaining who he was and why he was so important to me.  If I were to get this child circumcised in the hospital, I would feel like I was cheating my grandfather as well.  I know that my family will be very supportive of anything I do, provided this child never comes home praising the ever lasting glory of Christ, but these are the things I think about.

I cannot even express how much I miss him.  He truly was the patriarch of our family.  He was loving, kind, and generous.  He always watched out for me and I want to do everything I can to honor his memory.

In any event, as I have been typing this, Sara's contractions have been coming about every 10-15 minutes.  It sure is rude of her to be doing this on a Sunday night.  I'm going to have to take "personal days" from work and make up some excuse about an emergency play, or celebrity sighting.  I haven't been at this job long enough to qualify for FLMA, so I can use my 3 sick days and then they will start to dock my pay...  Family values...

According to the guide, these are still pre-labor contractions, so nothing is happening yet.

On a completely unrelated note, a good friend of our is a photographer and has a "baby package" as part of her repertoire. (Insert your favorite penis joke here.)  She takes pregnancy pictures, and then again at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, putting them together in a time-lapse book.  The first of the pictures are posted here for anyone who is interested in checking them out.

This laptop is starting to burn my crotch and this sitting position is starting to cause me to lose circulation in my legs.  All-in-all, my lower body is done with this post.  I did want to thank everyone who has been reading and commenting, either on here or sending me messages privately.  I'm glad you're enjoying the posts and hope you continue to do so.

This baby should be born......NOW!

Didn't work...  I guess we're still waiting.

October 26, 2009

The Name Game

One of my favorite book excerpts comes from Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, which is a continuation of his paper "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctly Black Names."  He talks about how there are no people in power who have really off the wall names that we usually associate with African American youth.  He talks about unfortunate children with names like "Female" because the mother thought the doctors had named her when they wrote down the gender.  He alludes to other famous stories, such as the brother, Orangejello and LeMonjello, whose parents named them after two things they had sitting around the house.

Levitt discovers through his complex economic regression that it isn't the name that makes life hard, but that a bad name is a symptom of a much bigger problem, that being bad parenting.  Essentially, if your parents can't be bothered to come up with a good name for you, most likely, they are going to be negligent parents and you will not get all of the opportunities that will help you succeed.

This is something that I've been thinking about for years, ever since I knew I wanted to have children.  Naming a child should be something on which you spend a considerable of time and energy.  Some names come easy, like naming them after a dearly departed loved one.  Other names can be quite difficult.  With this in mind, I made a small list of rules for naming children a few years ago and I've had to modify them slightly.  They are as follows:

1)  No numbers or punctuation (apostraphes, hyphens, etc.)  There is a girl in my current district whose name is Le-a, pronounced "La DASH a."  Seriously...
2)  Don't name the child something that reasonable people will find offensive.  In Erie, there really is a girl named Shithead, pronounced "Shi-thead."  Seriously...
3)  If you have to pause before saying the name, it's not a good name.   Seriously...
4)  You MUST consider your last name when picking a first.  A coworker of mine went to school with a girl whose last name was Cianci ("SEE-an-see").  Her parents thought it would be a good idea to name her Nancy Ann.  Her name was Nancy Ann Cianci.  Say it out loud.  Even the most benign name can be bad.  Even though he grew into a formidable actor, Billy D. Williams had to spend his childhood as William Williams.

There are a few others, like "If you're going to name the child after an object or an emotion, you need to be VERY careful."  New Zealand actually has laws on the books about what you can name your child.  They are very similar to the first 2 that I put up there.

With that in mind, Sara and I have spent a great deal of time considering names.  We began when we first found out that she was pregnant and continued our discussion for several months in order to find something that we liked.  We wanted names that were individual without being absurd.  We had a hard job to start because we wanted to honor our maternal grandfathers, both of whom have passed and both of whom we were very close to.  My grandfathers name was Herman, so by Jewish tradition, we wanted the first name to begin with an H.  Her grandfathers name was Lowell, even though he went by Eugene, his middle name.  Coming up with good names to fit the initials H L was not an easy task.  We are pleased with our selections and I think they will honor our loved ones while allowing this baby to have a good name.

If the baby is a girl, her name will be Harper Lynn Aion.  If it is a boy, his name with be Harris Lowell Aion.  If it's a boy, we're going to take a page from my aunt's book and give him a nick name right from the beginning to prevent people from calling him Harry.

If we have a second child, and it is a boy, I already have a name for that one too.

October 22, 2009

First Time Posting and First Time Parenting...

I am the female part of this parenting adventure. As I am sure you all know my name is Sara and I am approaching 37 weeks of pregnancy. For the record I am feeling totally exhausted until it is time for me to take a nap, then I want to clean or bake or do laundry. I feel very front heavy, especially when in bed and trying to get out before I pee myself, then it is a pleasant combo of rolling around grunting, trying to find leverage or something to pull me up and then when I actually get to the bathroom it is very unsatisfying due to the fact that my bladder is the size of a pancake with a giant baby head on it.
Other than these few minor distractions I am so excited and amazed and thrilled and happy and ready to see the baby. I never wanted to allow myself to think about the future too much and wish that I was doing all the "grown up things" because that would be like wishing your present life away. Knowing that I would get married and have children was obvious to me and once those times came up in my life I was so thrilled to be doing what I had always hoped. Now I have this little person inside of me, bumping around and I just want to cry, I am so happy. Yes, I do sometimes cry because I am so happy and excited, but that is alright.
When Justin and I made the decision to start a family we were both a little nervous and unsure. How would our lives together change with a little baby? Will it change our relationship? Are we strong enough as a couple to deal with the demands of a helpless little infant no matter what the time of day or what it may need? I am certain that the coming of this little baby will make us stronger and love each other even more than we ever realized. The journey from the beginning when we saw two lines on the stick to the first Sonogram with the little moving (I think it had hiccups) blob with little nubs of arms and legs to the first time Justin got to feel it moving around inside to now when we can lay on the bed and poke at it and it kicks back, has been so astounding and almost unreal. We did indeed make this little person together and we get to meet it soon!!! I have watched Justin during this process and have seen how he went from hopeful to shocked and astounded (because it actually looked like a little baby) to amazed and giggly when it pokes him back or kicks him in the head when he is listening to it. Despite his doubts, he is going to be an awesome Dad and Baby is going to love him. I know it is hard for him sometimes when he realizes that I am with Baby all day and will continue to be when it arrives, but there is always an incredible bond between Dads and their babies, so he won't be missing out.
As for me, I am so excited and ready to see Baby. I am a little nervous about the whole giving birth process, but I get something fun to play with in the end! For now, I am very happy spending my days being kicked in the ribs and head-butted in the bladder.
Baby does have a theme song, "Bump Around" sung to the tune of "Jump Around" by House of Pain. I also make sure to tell it what we are eating and where we are going. I ask it's opinion frequently, but I don't think it cares, nor will it tell me what gender it is. Overall I think it is happy and healthy and soon it will be with us.
Until then, "Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin... get out your seats and Bump Around..."

October 19, 2009

Getting Closer

Another week is starting and it's sort of scary to think that on Saturday, Sara will be at full-term.  This baby could be showing up any day now!  I'm excited and terrified to think that very soon, I will be responsible for another life.  I can barely take care of myself!  Why am I being allowed to start this??

I can't wait to meet my child, to look into his/her face and watch as they learn everything for the first time.  In terms of physical preparation, we're pretty much ready.  The room is set up, the diapers and car seat are purchased and we have some adorable clothes to stick this child in which will only cause minimal lasting psychological damage. (This monkey suit is going to be awesome!)

Mentally, I don't know if I will ever be completely ready.  I think that I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

On top of all of this, we are trying to buy a house, our first.  We've been looking for a few weeks and put an offer in on one that we really like last weekend.  The offer was accepted this morning and I'm suddenly  terrified that we made the offer too high.  I think that we will be able to afford the monthly payments if we tighten our belts, and the $8000 first time home buyer tax credit will certainly help, but closing costs and down payment are a bit high.

I am tired of renting, but I sort of like the amount that we pay right now.  This house would have the benefit of wiping out our savings and doubling our monthly payment for housing, not to mention all of the expenses of moving.  We like this house VERY much but I don't want our first year in it to be filled with the stress of trying to make payments.  It may be worth it to wait and miss out on the tax credit to make sure we have a house that we love and can afford without pulling my hair out with worry.

I've been thinking much more about this baby, which could be here as early as next week.  I want to be able to provide the best for this child.  I want it to want for nothing.  I know that's unrealistic and I certainly don't want my kid to be spoiled.  I see enough of those at work.  How can you justify buying a $200 pair of shoes for your kid when you can't even afford groceries?  Why is fashion and impressions so much more important than being able to pay the electric bills?  I suppose that's a question for another day.

I've been trying to hold back my feelings of jealousy of Sara.  I know that she will have a closer bond with our child than I will because she carried it for all of this time, she's felt it grow and she will be taking time off of work in these early days to care for it.  I know all of this is necessary and I don't want her to NOT do these things, but I am jealous.  I want to be able to take time off from work to be with my child.  I wonder if other fathers feel this way?  I am also well aware that I will want time away from the crying, diaper changing and all of the other unlovely things that children do in the first few years.  I'm sure once that starts, I will be happy to go to work.

I am completely in awe of what she and I are creating together, of the life we are about to build and I am so happy to be doing with with.  I can think of no one with whom I would rather go through this experience.  Sara is a wonderful wife and will be a wonderful mother.  Several people have told me that I will be a wonderful dad, but I'm not sure.  I guess I'll have to wait and see.

I do know that it is something to which I have looked forward for a long time.  I am excited.  And scared.

And excited!

October 15, 2009

Baby Blog

Hello again!  I just wanted to let you know that I've started a blog about my experiences as a first time parent.  Once I get Sara set up on here, she'll be posting too, I hope.

If you are interested, here in the link. A Dad's Blog


Samuel Goldwyn  - "I'm willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."

First Post

I'm going to be a dad!!

Howdy!  This is my first post on my new blog.  I've decided that I want to use this as an outlet to talk about my experiences as a new parent.  In light of that, I'll start at the beginning:

Sara and I have been married for about two and a half years.  We are expecting our first child at the end of November.  That is the due date, but I can't imagine that she'll last that long.  I think this baby is ready to come out soon (as though I know anything about these things...)

We'll be at full term officially on October 24th, so she could go any day now, I suppose.

We are VERY excited.  This process has been slowly taking shape over the past several months, as is dictated by human anatomy.  There have been several points, however, where I have had to step back and say to myself "holy crap!  We're having a baby!"  The first of such moments was the first sonogram.  We aren't able to see much other than a small blob, but it had a strong heartbeat and it was amazing.

The most recent of such moments was last night.  We had a baby shower on Sunday and are so grateful to our friends for their generosity.  Last night, Sara's parents came over to drop off an old dresser.  This was the dresser that Sara used when she was little.  While my father-in-law and I set up the dresser, Sara washed all of the baby clothes, bibs, blankets, socks and hats.  After the in-laws left, we folded and put away all of these clothes that were so tiny, I couldn't quite grasp how a human could wear them.

It hit me like a shot to the chest that in the next few weeks, we were going to have a tiny human that would be able to wear them.

I should say at this point that I'm using "it" to talk about our impending offspring because we don't know what gender our child is going to be.  we made the choice early on that we didn't want to find out until he/she was born.  We have names picked out either way and gender wasn't going to change the color scheme we had in mind for the room.  We're going with a jungle theme and I even bought a monkey outfit, complete with ears and tail for my child.

I'm going to be a dad!



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