You are a boy… and you definitely act like it. You make it so obvious that little boys are wired much differently than little girls.
It’s a rare sight to find you without some kind of overly masculine (and therefore predictably goofy) Hot Wheels car clenched tightly in your hand, whether it’s on the car ride to day care, watching Hard Hat Harry on Netflix at the house, or even navigating your way around any given playground.
At no point do you ever need me to tell you what little boys should like. You are currently obsessed with monster trucks, but it’s not something I prompted.
You just saw a toy monster truck one day and asked me, “I can like that? I take it home?”
The answer was obviously yes. Now you have like 7 of them.
One of your daily routines on the way to school now is to go through the colors of the rainbow in reference to monster trucks and/or Jeep Wranglers:
“I have a blue monster truck? I can drive it?”
I will reply, “Jack has a blue monster truck… He drives it!”
Next you’ll say the truck (or Jeep) is black, orange, purple, or even pink. Twice now you asked for a “dinosaur Jeep.” I’m still trying to figure that one out…
I contrast this against what I see the girls your age doing at daycare. They are always tending to either the baby dolls or the pretend kitchen and food; meanwhile the boys are wandering around, looking for trouble… I mean adventure.
It’s not that I have to stereotype little boys versus little girls. That’s just naturally how it ends up.
Even if you want to drive a pink monster truck or Jeep, the fact is still that you want to drive a monster truck or Jeep.
It would be different if you were fantasizing about a VW Bug, Mini Cooper, Mazda Miata, Dodge Neon, or a Toyota Rav 4.
I say you just can’t hide your masculinity, even behind the color pink.
Earlier last week I heard Jaci Valasquez say on her morning radio show on The Fish that what she wished for most on Mother’s Day was to take it easy while she and her husband watched their kids play.
I figured that sounded like a pretty good idea. So sure enough, I made sure we had the laziest Mother’s Day ever at our house.
There’s something anyway about waking up wearing a Smurfs t-shirt that says “Spaced Out” on it that leads to not taking to a shower, which somehow leads to us not leaving for church on time.
We were so slothful we not only were too late for the 9:30 and 11:00 services, but we barely made it on time for the 11:11 service.
It’s evidently designed for anyone who is just late enough that they need to watch the 11:00 service on an 11 minute delay on a giant movie screen in the big slacker room down the hall while coffee is being served.
That would be us: the slackers.
Not normally, though. Usually we’re okay to confirm to the strict and necessary weekend schedule it takes to socialize, buy groceries and run errands, go to church, and still clean the house, all with a toddler in tow, while living in a big enough town like Nashville.
But not this Mother’s Day. We chose to be as deliberately unmotivated as we could: Starbucks Frappucinos for brunch (where we pushed Jack around in one of their R2D2-looking kid stroller seats) and then had leftover pasta back at the house for a 3:00 lunch.
Jack took a 2 hour grace nap which led to us catching up on some Netlix. (We’re too cheap to ever pay for cable or satellite.)
“Hey, they have the show I Shouldn’t Be Alive now on the instant streaming…”.
Forty-three minutes later:
“That episode reminded me a lot of Lost. Umm… you want to watch Lost now?”
It was pushing Jack’s dinner time and we still had the house to clean.
In the likeness of one of those fast-forward montages in an Eighties sitcom where the characters clean up the mess real quick thanks to speed-dubbing, while zany music plays, Jill managed to get our place feng shui enough to feel comfortable while I entertained/annoyed Jack. (Pictured right.)
I took all the pillows from our couch and made a giant mountain that kept enclosing Jack as soon as he climbed to the top of it. Next I let him continually walk across our unnecessarily long couch until he got beyond giddy and delirious.
Then he discovered some forgotten (and dreadfully stale) fruit snacks in a travel-size container in the closet. I liked them better than he did.
At some point, Jack and I gave Jill her Mother’s Day care package which consisted of a card from Jack, a box of black licorice that were shaped like little hearts, and a gift certificate for a pedicure.
For us, it was a very lazy Sunday and what I have written is all I remember of it. But I already know Jill will look back on it as a good Mother’s Day; one worth repeating.
The moral of this story is to be lazy and then good things will happen.
Something I had always been acutely aware of is that when two people have a baby, there’s a good solid 6 weeks that go by where you stop seeing them in public. But shortly after that, the couple begins to dare to make random public appearances. Like last week, we attempted to take Jack with us to buy groceries. Really, there’s no need for me to paint the details of that story; if you can imagine it, that’s what happened. Therefore, today I went alone to buy groceries. It took just as long being that I’m a guy and we, the male species, don’t have instincts to tell us things like where to find vanilla extract or even at our own house where the cutting boards go in the kitchen.
But with me still not having a job yet and with the cold winter weather, the three of us have spent a lot of time indoors. Now I know what it’s like to be a 29 year-old retired millionaire who gets to stay at home all day in his pajamas and eat cereal for lunch. Minus the million dollars and plus the need to actually make a living. So after a month of constantly looking online for jobs and applying, and taking care of Jack, and watching random documentaries instantly on Netflix through the Wii, we decided we were brave enough to take Jack to church for the first time; out of the womb.
Of course, despite giving ourselves plenty of time to get there early, Jack decided he wanted one last snack of milk right as we were heading out the door. Then we had to change his diaper. So we arrived 10 minutes late and the only place left to sit was up in the balcony. This turned out to be a pretty good location though; since we were right next to the door for the moment he would inevitably start crying. He lasted 35 minutes before we had to dart for the door with him. We were impressed.
There is only one person who directly assured me back before we knew the gender of our baby that he would be a boy. That was Tommy Huong, a Vietnamese co-worker who had already predicted the gender and birthday of another coworker (he has evidently memorized the 12 year patterns of the Chinese calendar). So last Friday (the day after the due date) when someone at work suggested we all do a “baby pool” to predict when Baby Jack would actually be born, a better idea instantly surfaced:Go ask Tommy!
I ventured over to his desk and as he turned around it was as if he already knew why I was there, being that he was too far away to have heard the recent conversation. “When was the due date?” he asked me. “Yesterday,” I answered. Tommy turned to his calendar and without any hesitation, placed his finger on Tuesday, November 16th. “Tuesday, he will be born Tuesday.”
So we enjoyed the weekend. Then I worked a full day on Monday. That night around 8:45, my wife said I should finish the last two episodes of Dexter on the disc from Netflix so we could mail it off the next day- and so I have could time to watch my new favorite show before our schedules became forever changed. I watched my two 50 minute episodes of Dexter, walked to the bedroom in perfect time to hear my wife proclaim, “I think I’m in labor.” And she was.
From 10:30 Monday night until 5:11 Tuesday morning, she labored at the house. Then we drove in the rain to the hospital; a 40 minute ride. After laboring for 12 hours without any pain medications, she then pushed for four more additional hours while not furthering past the 8 centimeters mark (and 100% effaced). By that point, it became clear that after making it that far, she no longer had the strength to push without some outside help. So my wife chose to get an epidural. Because ultimately, we wanted to do everything we could do to avoid major surgery.
But even after several hours of the epidural, it took everything she had to push our baby out. In fact, if it weren’t also for the diligence and determination of the midwives to honor our request of avoiding a C-section, cutting the baby out of my wife’s stomach would have been the only option. But the midwives tried every trick in the book, and finally, it worked. In the end, Baby Jack turned out to be one big Bambino. The first words my wife said when she saw him coming out was, “You’re a big baby! How did you fit inside of me?!”
I realize that the expected Hallmark way to portray the first time I held Jack is to say that I cried, as the emotions surrounding the miracle of life flushed through me. But for the fact all my emotions were exhausted from helping my wife suffer through over 22 hours of labor, here’s what I thought instead: “You’re darker than us! If anyone should be Mario, it’s you!”
I’ll explain. A few months ago I told the story of how the name my parents gave me while my mom was still pregnant with me was Mario. My mom is half Italian and half Mexican, and therefore, dark skinned. The name Mario would not only have represented my dark skin, but also cover both my Italian and Mexican heritage. But as soon as I was born, my pasty skin and seemingly American features brought cause for a name change. Therefore, a few hours after I was born, I was named Nicholas- a less ethnic name that still points to some kind of a foreign background.
So 29 years later as I held my own son for the first time, I had the opposite reaction from the one my mom had when I was born. Because as of now, Baby Jack doesn’t necessarily especially look like my wife or me, but instead what I would imagine Super Mario would have looked like when he was first born. One of Jack’s noticeable features his full head of black hair. I think he has “Gerber baby” lips. And as I have already studied his profile multiple times, it’s safe to say he has an Italian nose- which I am so proud of!
My parents holding their first grandchild for the first time.
Right before we were released from the hospital, Jack was circumcised. I felt really bad for him, yet at the same time realized that I don’t remember my own circumcision. It’s still sad to think about him having to go through that though. He’s holding up just fine and so is his mommy, despite a drawn out entrance into this world. God has answered all of our prayers for his and my wife’s safety and health; we are so grateful for that. The pediatrician at the hospital told us that she checked him from head to toe and couldn’t find anything that needing fixing or reason for caution or concern.
Jack is a cool baby, if I do say so myself. He’s pretty low maintenance- he just wants to be held all the time. But I’m guessing we won’t have trouble working that out. Thanks for following dad from dad one, so far. If life is a sitcom, this is the season finale. The new season premieres next week where I am promising an interesting new plot twist…
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.