Posts Tagged ‘ pregnancy ’

The Amazing Photo of Alicia Atkins’ Baby Reaching From the Womb

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

In the age of the Internet, there have been some awesome, yet possibly fake, pictures of yet unborn babies reaching from the womb, holding onto the doctor’s hands.

Well, here’s one that is definitely real:

Nevaeh Atkins

This black and white picture features the tiny hand of Nevaeh Atkins, in the midst of being born into this world, via C-section.

As the picture is currently going viral, it makes me wonder what people are thinking as they see it for the first time.

It makes me think of what was going through my head when Mommy was only 21 weeks pregnant with you. Here’s what I wrote about you during that time:

“And as real as this is, that our son is actually inside there, so lively, it’s still ingrained in my brain somehow Baby Jack is light years away, floating around in a heavenly baby universe until November. Despite feeling him with my own hand, with just centimeters separating the skin of my hand and the skin of his body, despite him literally being a matter of a few feet away (or less, depending on how near I am to my wife), I’m having trouble grasping that in reality, he’s right there.”

This picture is obviously worth a thousand words; so simple and universal, yet still nearly too difficult to capture in words.

Just off the cuff, though, my initial thought is about how helpless a newborn is; grasping desperately for comfort, strength, and guidance. Likewise, when you were born, I also was grasping desperately for those same things.

It’s as if when you were born, I felt like I was automatically supposed to know what to do with you. I see now how impractical it was to think that at the time.

No matter how many books, blogs, and relevant conversations I exposed myself to in an attempt to prepare myself to be your dad, none of it really came close.

Probably the most realistic image to symbolize the moment you were born is if your hand would have popped out of the womb and we nervously shook hands, in agreement that we’re both really new at this. We would then half-jokingly wish each other good luck.

Here we are, over 2 years into this and I’m still trying my best to give you comfort, strength, and guidance in this world. That will never change.


Photo credit: Randy Atkins / A Classic Pin-Up Photography

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Intactivists’ Responses To AAP’s Revised Circumcision Policy

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

21 months.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its stance on circumcision, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.

If you are a soon-to-be parent of a baby boy who has been trying to figure out whether or not circumcision is right for your son, then the AAP’s statement is good news. Now you can have some closure on this subject.

Circumcision it is. Done.

But if you are an Intactivist, one who actively campaigns against circumcision, then the American Academy of Pediatrics’ revised circumcision stance is bad news:

After all, it means that an organization that most parents would find to be respectable and trustworthy is justifying an unnecessary tradition of genital mutilation.

The AAP’s revised policy takes away the credibility of what Intactivists have been trying to tell us all along.

So much for the neutrality of this article: I’m not an Intactivist, by the way.

Like most parents who have decided to circumcise their son, I am not and have never been passionate about the subject of circumcision.

However, on three different occasions now, I have explained what propelled me to choose circumcision:

Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son?

Dadvice #6: Is Circumcision Unnecessary And/Or Immoral?

Dadvice #7: A Skeptic’s Letter To Intactivists

When it was all said and done, I had no problem saying this to Intactivists:

You may be right.” It’s just that ultimately, I don’t care if they’re right. What’s done is done.

It became evident to me that the only way I could find shelter from the tidal wave of violent comments I received in those three Dadvice articles was to A) repent of the sin of circumcising my son, B) start using The Dadabase as a platform to preach Intactivism, and C) make an oath to not circumcise my next son, should I ever have one.

That sort of parenting extremism simply turns me off to their ideas, as valid as some of their points may be.

The vibes I have received from most Intactivists have been saturated in condescension, sarcasm, and prejudice.

I realize that stating my opinion on this today is only throwing gasoline on the fire; further perpetuating the frenemy relationship I have with Intactivist readers. Maybe I’m just curious to see if Intactivists will collectively be clever enough to learn how to be relevant in how they communicate with us unbelievers?

Will Intactivists kill me with their kindness? Will they prove me wrong when I say they are condescending to those of us who do not believe the same way as they do?

For their sake, I hope so.

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6 Things This Dad Got Wrong During Pregnancy

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Eleven months.

Above photo credit:

Now that my son Jack is just days away from turning a year old, I’m having these flashbacks from when my wife was pregnant with him. I remember how people were constantly asking me about our plans for his delivery and postpartum care. Looking back now, I wish I would just kept my mouth shut.

My wife and I are planners. Sure, so much of life (especially when it comes to parenting!) is unpredictable; but still, we like to be able to take control of little we can in our lives. So we had plans on how Jack would be born and raised. But as John Lennon sang in “Beautiful Boy,” “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And that is exactly what happened in our case.

Life (our son) happened while we were busy making other plans. Here are the Top 6 plans that didn’t work out:

1) No epidural. We watched The Business of Being Born and wanted to do this thing as naturally as possible. We knew that statistically, a woman who is given an epidural has an increased chance of needing a C-section. So my wife decided (on her own) that she would not get an epidural unless it become absolutely necessarily.

After enduring 17 and a half hours of labor naturally, we were told that if my wife didn’t get an epidural, she would definitely have to have a C-section because she wouldn’t have enough strength to deliver him.

Five hours later, our son was born. In case you’re keeping up with the math, it was a 22 and half hour labor, only five of those hours being drug-induced. Just for the record, I could never have done that! That’s why I was born a man.

2) Breast milk only; no formula.  Jack was born tongue tied, so breast-feeding wasn’t much of an option because he couldn’t latch on properly. We did have his tongue clipped when he was three weeks old, but at that point we just decided to continue pumping and supplemented with Enfamil until he was nine weeks old; at which point we switched him entirely over to formula.

3) That he would be born early or on his due date.  I knew I had to be ready, so I was; as ready as I could be. All that anticipation caused me to actually think he would come out on time. But of course, though he was due on November 11th, he was born five days later on November 16th.

4) Cloth diapers. Yeah, that would have saved us a lot of money. But I guess we’re just not disciplined enough of parents to raise an exclusively cloth diaper wearing baby. They were too bulky, they leaked if they weren’t on just right, and they made Jack smell bad by the end of the day.

5) Co-sleeping. Mainly, Jack just didn’t want to. He fell asleep better in his Pack ‘N Play, so that’s what we let him do. I admit, I’m glad I was wrong about this one. Because it sure is nice that since being seven months old, he has slept 11 hours a night in a separate room down the hall. I love my Jack-Man, but I don’t think my bed is big enough for the both of us.

6) Pacifers. Evidently, Jack thinks that pacifers suck. He experimented with one for a brief amount of time, but ultimately, he couldn’t pretend enough to even care about having it. Granted, he has put his mouth on a whole lot of other stuff, including a closed water bottle, a pumpkin, and his own foot.

In the midst of planning this blog post, Shawn Brook Williams, one of the graphic designers for Comics Buyer’s Guide magazine, sent me a copy of his graphic novel, Five Pounds and Screaming. His comic book style novel covers those subtle and understated moments a dad goes through, from the realization of pregnancy up until the child’s first birthday. So that’s why reading Five Pounds and Screaming was so perfect in writing this post; it conveniently jogged my memory.

I feel that Shawn and I share a very similar perspective and narrative on fatherhood. The book doesn’t cover being a dad in the cliche ways that Eighties sitcoms typically did. His approach is fresh, original, charming, and warmly familiar.

One of the most memorable scenes in the book, for me, is when the protagonist brags to a supermarket cashier, “I’m a dad!” This stood out to me because I remember doing the same thing the first couple of weeks after Jack was born.

From the telling of the family of the pregnancy, to the anxieties of expecting, to the frustrations of breast feeding, to the child’s first birthday party, Five Pounds and Screaming is like an illustrated version of The Dadabase. In particular, I think the book would make a perfect (and fun) gift for any expecting or new dad.

In the tradition of mini book reviews here on The Dadabase, the first reader to A) leave a comment on this post requesting the book, and also B) send me an email with your mailing address to nickshell1983@hotmail, I will have the author mail you a free copy of the book.

*Congrats to Hannah W. from Dover, Delaware on winning this!

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If the Dadabase were a Movie

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Nine months.

I consider myself a “good movie connoisseur.” Because I know the criteria for what makes for a good movie, I have cleverly avoided dozens of lame movies during my lifetime.  If I’m going to invest 90 minutes or more of my life to a movie, it better be worth it.

When I watch a movie, it’s not simply a passive event.  For me, it’s a deeply involved event where I am eager to mentally bookmark subtle symbolism, look for nostalgic familiarity, and decide what deep message about life the movie is trying to convey.  A few prime examples of flawless movies that fit this criteria are Garden State, (500) Days of Summer, Away We Go and Sideways.

Combine my passion for good movies with my love for writing and that means it’s only natural for me to see different stages of my life as their own movie in which I am the narrator.  Never has my life been more of its own movie since I found out I was going to be a dad.  Since April 2009, my life really has been documented on a nearly daily basis, as it pertains to parenthood.

I view this Dadabase of my life as a movie and I imagine how that movie would play out.

As far as who would play me, I have to think back to all the actors that people have told me I remind them of. Coincidentally, my doppledangers all happen to be Jewish and right around the same frame and height (5′ 9″) as me: Paul Rudd, David Arquette, Don Adams/Inspector Gadget, Bronson Pinchot (played Balki on “Perfect Strangers,”) Shia LaBeouf, and brothers Fred and Ben Savage.  But I would ultimately cast the role to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the best overall and most relevant fit.

Whereas I evidently resemble a plethora of 5’9″ Jewish actors, I can’t say that my wife has an obvious look-alike. But in the likeness of how Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, as well as, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, have co-starred in multiple movies, I would cast Zooey Deschanel as my wife; reuniting the main characters of (500) Days of Summer. (Pictured below.)

Think of how every recent comic book-turned-movie starts out; as the opening credits are super-imposed over pages of the actual comic book.  For The Dadabase movie, “Sheep Go to Heaven” by Cake would play as the opening song, as you would see just my hands typing on a MacBook; overshadowed by actual shots of older blogs I have written.

This opening scene would span from April 2009 (when I first decided that I officially wanted to “become a writer”) until a year later (when we found out we were going to have a baby).  It was during that time that I was trying to find my niche, as a writer.  I tried specializing in health blogs (I found the cure for eczema, being healed of my own); writing a series on manhood and marriage, recaps of The Bachelor,  and even a series which questioned why marijuana is an illegal drug, from the perspective of a guy who has never himself used it, but believes it should be legalized.

But it wasn’t until I decided to become the first guy in history to regularly and publicly document my thoughts as a dad, starting from the moment my wife and I went public with the pregnancy, that my writings gained a broad and consistent following.

That idea itself would be the whole “point” of the movie: that I found my purpose and my niche, simply by becoming a dad.

All the hundreds of blog posts I had written (nearly 500) before fatherhood had simply prepared me to find my voice as a writer and as a dude.

The Dadabase movie would include several subplots, like the move to Alabama, but ultimately, it would sort of be like The Social Network meets Marley and Me meets Mr. Belvedere.

Oh, and here’s one of my favorite parts about planning this imaginary movie: the movie poster. A story I never shared before on The Dadabase is that when my son Jack was a newborn and my wife and I were unemployed, at the house all day with him, when my wife was asleep I often found myself in the predicament of a full bladder but little time or opportunity to relieve myself because my arms were literally full as I held my son.

So I learned that I was able to carefully hold him in one arm while taking care of business with the other.  Therefore, the movie poster would simply show Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the back, in front of a toilet, holding a baby who is watching the water splash down below.

The Dadabase.  The movie.  Coming Fall 2012.

(Or easily, never.)

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The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Eight months.

In today’s publication of the New York Times, there is an article entitled The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy. It tells of the growing number of women who are pregnant with twins and choose to abort only one of the fetuses, and allowing the other to survive.  In other words, these women are having a “half abortion.”

According to the article, New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center performed 101 abortions last year; 38 of those pregnancy terminations involved a mother pregnant with twins who decided to only abort one unborn child.  And that’s just one medical center in the entire country.

One mother who used fertility drugs to get pregnant, then aborted only one fetus, gives her reasoning for the decision:

“If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

What is it about the idea of a half abortion that somehow seems more difficult to grasp than a “normal” abortion?  The immediate thing that comes to mind is that it is an ultimate case of “playing God.” As if a “normal” abortion wasn’t already giving one person the authority to choose another human being’s ability to live, a half abortion gives a person the ability to decide which unborn child deserves to live and which one deserves to die. That’s playing God, times two.

Is there any justification for a half abortion? The article in the New York Times gives several examples of why women made their decision:

1. The mother was 45 years old and already had children.  She felt financially insecure, as well as, too old to have twins.

2. The mother was known as a “good parent,” highly devoted to her children.  Pregnant with twins, she decided she couldn’t be equally devoted to two more; just one.

3. The mother already had a son. Then she got pregnant with twins; a boy and a girl.  She chose to keep the girl.

4. Many of these mothers were in their 2nd marriage and already have kids from their previous marriages.  Twins would have been too complicated, compared to only one more addition to the family.

5.  Some were single mothers.

6. Some mothers did not want to jeopardize their education.

7. Some did not want to jeopardize their careers.

8. One woman’s husband was an officer in the Army, fighting in Iraq. They already had a few kids.  Twins were too much a risk if something happened to her husband.

For those of us unfamiliar with the idea of a half abortion until today, we now make a decision in our own minds of whether it is ethically justifiable or wrong. The fact that The New York Times is doing a story about it says something in and of itself: This is not your typical “gray area” moral dilemma.

This isn’t a discussion about whether abortion is right or wrong, in general.  Honestly, “pro-choice vs. pro-life” debates bore me. Polls show that our nation is split 50/50 on abortion.  Most of us have already made up our minds on the issue and the truth is, we are not going to convince each other otherwise via comments on a blog post; especially if we ourselves play God by judging other people’s character and life decisions.

I hope it is clear that I am not asking anyone to cast stones, but instead to think with an open mind about a tough issue that has some undeniable ethical questions surrounding it. I enjoy mature, mutually respectable, deep conversations. Therefore, I’m curious to know how other people feel about the “two minus one pregnancy.”  What ethical issues does the half abortion raise?

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