Part of my agenda as the daddy blogger for a major parenting website is to positively re-brand fatherhood; to reinforce the fact that a dad changing his kid’s diaper is not ironic at all and that taking care of his own kid without Mommy around is not babysitting… it’s a man taking care of his own kid.
That’s the world we live in and that’s the generation I’m a part of.
Needless to say, I am not cool with the cartoonish concept of a soon-to-be dad having a drunken party (or the likeness thereof) with his buddies to celebrate his final days of freedom before he inevitably says goodbye to his sex life and his ability to watch football games on his 56 inch TV without being interrupted by his crying infant or nagging wife, which therefore makes his life a 1980′s sitcom hell.
Just to be sure that I’m not exaggerating what Dadchelor Parties are all about, an article on The Huffington Post describes them as an event “where men bring diapers in exchange for beer, while others are more extravagant and involve all day bar-hopping or even a destination weekend. All seem to involve drinking, sporting events, gambling, and more drinking.”
Okay, okay, but what about the non-drunken version of a Dadchelor Party?
What’s wrong with a soon-to-be dad hanging out with a couple of friends to share some beers and smoke some cigars in an effort to invite the days of fatherhood in a more sophisticated fashion?
Well, I guess I don’t have too big of a problem with that, except for the simple fact I don’t know anyone in my version of the real world who would think that’s cool; especially when attached with the phrase Dadchelor Party, Daddymoon, or Manshower.
I have a feeling that my own friends would actually think that having a “Manshower” is not only tacky, but also, uh…
Manshower? Come on, need I say more?
So what am I offering as a legitimate and respectable alternative? I say the kind of man who I would consider cool enough to be my friend would leave me out of the equation all together and instead take his wife on a babymoon.
The phrase “babymoon” is uber trendy, and therefore annoying, and is not a word I will ever speak aloud, but the concept of taking your pregnant wife on a getaway trip before the baby comes is righteous.
My wife and I went on [one of those] before our son was born an then we went on another one about 6 months after he was born.
It’s a good thing; especially for husbands and expecting fathers who, you know, are A) actually responsible adults B) who respect their wives and C) can understand that having a good time doesn’t need to require a hangover afterwards.
But for those soon-to-be dads who would rather flirt with 20 year-old waitresses at bars all weekend while getting “plastered,” and then brag about it the next week on Facebook, all in the name of a Dadchelor Party, you’ve lost your man card.
Today was my wife’s last doctor’s appointment before the due date (November 11th), which it just one week from today. She is dilated one centimeter and effaced 50 percent. However, the nurse told us today that it is common for first time moms to go a week past their due date. But still, it could happen at any time.
For the past week now, I’ve noticed that I have been completely spaced out. My mind is obviously preoccupied with knowing that our “Jack-in-the-box” could spring out any moment. People have asked me if I’m getting nervous- to my surprise, the answer is yes. I thought I was over that stage. But the first time I got nervous, around a month ago, it was because of the realization I don’t really know what to do with a newborn baby. Now that we’ve finished our Lamaze course, I’m much more confident on the basics of how to help care for Baby Jack. The thing that makes me nervous now is knowing that I have to see my wife in pain and discomfort, for hours. No matter how easy it could end up happening, it will still be difficult.
People have asked me if I think I will pass out during the delivery. The answer: a simple “no”. Blood and guts don’t bother me. Besides, unlike the reality TV star of the moment Kody Brown (Sister Wives), I will not be on the “receiving end” while my wife is giving birth. I don’t need to see his head coming out. Instead, I will be holding my wife’s hand, or at least beside her, as he’s being born.
Speaking of blood and guts, my wife and I have come up with some exciting plans for the weekend- that way, even if our baby isn’t born in the next few days, at least we can be busy and entertained otherwise. And we don’t have to just sit around getting anxious. So either way, we win: Saturday morning we have brunch plans with some friends- I’m very excited about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the place we’re going. Then Saturday afternoon, my wife and her mom (who is in town for the next couple of weeks) will be getting a facial. (I guess I’ll read a book during that time.) Next, we will go to the matinee: I will see Saw 3D (finally explaining the “blood and guts” reference), while my wife and her mom see something a little more light-hearted, yet appropriate for the upcoming event: Life as We Know It.
That’s right- my mother-in-law got into town Sunday night and plans to be here through the end of the month. If the audience of dad from day one was male, I would have to take a page to humorously explain that though my mother-in-law is living with us, it’s not a wacky, cliché sitcom sort of deal. I can’t complain. When I come home from work, dinner is already ready- as my wife has had help preparing it. As well as the fact that her mom immediately takes care of the dishes afterwards.
People have asked me if I’m planning on taking off a while from work once the baby is born. At this moment, I’m thinking I’ll take off just a couple of days. Because fortunately, I won’t be leaving my wife alone- she will have her mom there with her until I get home. We are very blessed that my mother-in-law has chosen to stay with us.
Those are my final thoughts as a man who has yet to see his son. Everything is about to change. Unless Baby Jack stays in past his due date, the next dad from day one will be “Baby Jack is Here!” Pictures of him will be included, of course.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Until this week, I didn’t even know how to spell “Lamaze”, or even more importantly, what exactly it meant. All I knew is that it involved breathing techniques for women in labor. Monday night we had our first Lamaze class (out of six) and now I have a better understanding of what this is all about: Lamaze (named after a French doctor) classes help expecting parents to prepare for the birth of their child ideally without the use of medical intervention (AKA: going natural).
I think our take on “going natural” with this birth is currently along the lines of “let’s just see if we can do it”. Ideally, we won’t use pain medication, and a C-section won’t be necessary. But we obviously recognize it may not happen that way. We half-way joke with each other that if we can do this without an epidural, we’ll spend that saved money on a trip to Maine. I’m seriously planning on printing off a picture of us on our honeymoon at Kennebunkport to take when we go to the hospital, as inspiration. But we’ll see how it turns out in reality. I’m starting to care less either way.
With us starting Lamaze classes, it takes us to a whole new level of “Wow, this is really happening!” We’re both having weird, off-the-wall dreams, evidently fueled by our subconscious anxieties. I recently dreamt that Jack was born with light blonde hair and blue eyes, which I think is near impossible given our particular genes, though Uncle Jesse and Aunt Rebecca from Full House had blonde twins (and I could never get past that).
We both have sore backs these days, as it’s hard to sleep comfortably for either of us because my wife has to sleep sideways now with about five pillows, meaning I’m limited to a smaller sleeping space. But hey, I’m not complaining. I just want to do anything necessary to help her feel a little more comfortable during the pregnancy. And we are starting to feel this sense of unsettledness as we count down these final eight weeks or so. It’s getting to the point where we are both thinking, “Enough of this pregnancy stuff, I’m just ready for him to be born already!”
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
As I predicted earlier, the process of coming to terms with the fact that my wife and I will actually be bringing a baby into this world is one that is done in phases; yes, the inevitable comparison of peeling back the layers of an onion. With each new proof of life inside of my wife’s womb, another new sense of realization happens, often accompanied with my own eyes “watering”.
(Conveniently for me and my onion reference, this week our baby is the size of an onion.)
It’s official- my wife is starting to show. And she’s “carrying the baby high”, which often is a clue that it’s a girl. We took a trip to target on Memorial Day in an attempt to find some “stretchy pants”. While she didn’t find what she was looking for, I ended up walking out of there with a 3 disc set of Hall & Oates greatest hits for $15- so it all worked out.
The Bump says:
“Baby’s skeleton is hardening, changing from rubbery cartilage to bone, and fat is finally accumulating around it. The umbilical cord is getting thicker and stronger, and those little fingers and toes are now topped by one-of-a-kind prints.”
For the past several weeks, my wife has been toying with the idea of “going natural” for the birth. In other words, no pain medication. And I’ve been impressed just by her willingness, because I know if it were up to the men of the world to continue the human population by giving birth instead of women, the human population would have died off thousands of years ago.
I had been seeing The Business of Being Born keep popping up on my Netflix as a recommended title that I would enjoy. Then recently, a writer friend (http://www.meetmissjones.com/) also told me I should see it after she read about our disappointment with our first two appointments at a standard hospital. (Of course, we ended up switching to midwives and are so happy, though I had no idea what a midwife really even was when we first met with them.)
So last night we watched the documentary, The Business of Being Born, directed by Ricki Lake and produced by Abby Epstein (yes, they are both Jewish). I went into it thinking it would be a tiring movie telling how much money is made off of strollers, cribs, daycare, etc.
Instead, it is a one-sided film about the importance of the long-lost tradition of natural births. And we loved it!
I took notes:
-Induced labor increases the chances of C-Section by 50%
-In Japan and Europe, 70% of births are delivered by a midwife. In the US, only 8%
-The US has the 2nd worst newborn death rate in the developed world
-The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries
-Since 1996 the C-Section rate in the US has risen 46%; In 2005, it was one out of every 3 American births
While there are obviously certain situations where a C-Section is absolutely necessary (like the baby being “breach”), it is a major surgery that has become the new norm.
Interestingly, in the movie, a group of young doctors are asked how many live births they have witnessed. Basically, none of them had.
And to me, that’s scary. That it’s easier, less time consuming, and more profitable to induce labor and perform a C-Section that it is to let the baby born naturally.
In the documentary they explain how the peak times for American babies being born is at 4pm and 10pm, the times at the end of the work shifts so that doctors can go home.
For me, the desire to have a natural birth all comes down to observing the downward spiral of having a baby in a hospital, with a doctor, the American way:
The mother is given Pitocin, to induce labor. Which causes longer, more intense contractions and cuts off oxygen to the baby, putting both the mother and the baby at risk, as well as potentially causing birth defects (even ADHD or Autism in the child later on, though not enough evidence can back this yet, but I won’t be surprised when it can).
So inducing labor increases the chances of having a C-Section by 50%, which puts both mother and child at greater risk. And the epidural slows down the birthing process- which in addition to the Pitocin, is another drug that may also affect the health of the baby.
Until last night, I had never witnessed a live human birth. But now I’ve seen at least four or five. All of them natural.
It’s pretty interesting to watch. I didn’t think it was gross, and I’m not artistic enough off a person to go on and on about how beautiful it was. It just seemed natural and normal. Like watching someone poop. But a baby came out instead.
The Business of Being Born does contain a large amount of nudity, as most of the mothers are nude while giving birth. But we were so intrigued by watching the births, that it didn’t register, “hey, this is porn”. It was just a woman giving birth. The documentary is not rated, because if it was, it may have to be rated NC-17. But to that I say, What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get?
One of the major reasons I now support natural birth (and denounce induced labor by a doctor, with certain exceptions) is the fact that in a hospital, the mother lays down flat on a bed. Common sense tells us that gravity will naturally help pull the baby out. Plus the fact that by having the mother lay down flat, it gives the baby less room to come out.
I also learned that when a baby is born naturally, “a love cocktail of hormones” is released by the mother, causing a unique bond to occur between the mother and the child.
This is where we’re headed. This is what we will attempt. A natural birth overseen by midwives. Yet just down the hall from an M.D. in case something goes wrong.