My wife and I can’t relate to the concept of “trying” to have kids.
At the very beginning of 2010, we decided that we might consider starting our family around November of that year. Instead, our son Jack was born, not conceived, in November 2010.
(I’ll spare you the mysterious details on how exactly that happened ahead of schedule.)
Meanwhile, our very good friends Dave and Karen were living the opposite version of that story. For Christmas 2009, Dave told Karen that all he wanted for Christmas was to be a dad. Accordingly, she very much wanted to start having children as well.
But it hasn’t been easy. They have done everything in their power to get pregnant; from cutting edge new technology to alternative medicine. None of it has been effective.
I know it’s been an emotional journey for them. If there has been one thing Jill and I have prayed more for on a daily basis, it has been for Dave and Karen to be able to have a child.
When I think of the biggest-hearted people in my life, they both instantly come to mind.
In fact, they took us into their home twice (a total of over 6 months) as we were moving to Alabama and then again when we moved back to Nashville. Interestingly, when we brought Jack “home” from the hospital, it was their house we came back to. (In the picture above, they are holding the newborn Jack.)
They have sacrificed greatly for us; amidst the ease of us being able to have a child.
And this whole time, they’ve acted as if it was their privilege to do so.
Dave and Karen recently returned from a 2 week in vitro fertilization session in Colorado. We didn’t ask them about it because we knew they would let us know if it was successful.
Yesterday my wife Jill saw that she had missed a call from Karen. This video that Karen posted on her Facebook wall pretty much sums it all up:
It just so happened they we found out their wonderful news as we were watching a Season 3 episode of Lost called “Greatest Hits” where Charlie learns how and when he will die; he must sacrifice his life so that his girlfriend and her son can be rescued from the island.
In the hours leading up to his death, he writes out a greatest hits list of his entire life to give to his girlfriend for the moment she would learn of his death: The #1 “hit” was when he met her.
So that’s what got me thinking about this “Greatest Hits of Parenthood” list for myself.
My list so far would be A) Jack’s safe arrival into this world, B) the fact that we has blonde-hair and blue eyes though it doesn’t make much sense when you look at his parents, C) how at 15 months he started recognizing me as his dad and choosing to want to hang out with me even if my wife was in the room too, and D) Jack surviving his febrile seizure.
But never in my life have I ever felt so much joy because of a blessing in someone else’s life.
In fact, finding out that Dave and Karen are having a baby is definitely included now on my “greatest hits” list of being a parent.
And now they get to start their own greatest hits…
“What do you think the consequences should be for a woman who harms her unborn baby by drinking alcohol?”
That is the question a friend from high school recently asked on Facebook. She and her husband adopted a little girl from Russia who suffers from several physical conditions because the birth mom drank alcohol while pregnant.
It’s common knowledge that when an expecting mom drinks alcohol, it greatly puts an unborn baby at risk. Granted, alcohol isn’t the only harmful threat for a child in regards to the pregnant mom’s wreckless behavior.
What about drugs? What about carelessness in general? What consequences are there for those in our society whom we consider to be “unfit mothers?”
It’s not like it’s easy to always pinpoint the “birth defects” of a child on the mother’s bad decisions. After all, not every baby born from a good mother makes it into this world perfectly healthy.
But going back to the topic of pregnant mothers who make destructive decisions, what exactly can we consider to be “child abuse” in the womb? Or as I like to call it: in utero child abuse.
For me, though, I take this topic a level further:
If a mother deliberately harms her fetus with the intent to kill her child, maybe by using a coat hanger, or having someone repeatedly punch her stomach, or even if the mom herself shoots her own stomach with a gun, and the child dies in the womb, is that definitely considered murder?
I realize each state may have its laws regarding this situation, but I’m less concerned with man’s law and more interested to know how our society perceives this within our own moral scope.
When a mother intentionally terminates her pregnancy on her own in some unthinkable way I just named, is that definitely murder?
Or do we deem that as an illegimate version of an abortion?
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…
So the legend goes, pregnant women get crazy cravings for weird food combinations. The token pairing of pickles and ice cream has become so familiar that it’s now a swanky maternity clothing store. But is it a funny cliché or simply a reality? For us, it’s the real deal.
Though my wife has not once dealt with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, she has definitely battled leg cramps. Of course, I’ve documented how she’s overcome them, by giving her body a surplus of the nutrients the baby is taking. Yet since then, as our baby has been getting much bigger, the discovery of pickles (which provide electrolytes) and ice cream (which provides calcium) has helped ensure those leg cramps are kept at bay.
And hey, I’ve got no complaints. Last Friday night we had to make an “ice cream run” after dinner at the house. She chose a box of fat free Vanilla frozen yogurt, while I chose a low fat French Silk Chocolate. As usual, she liked mine better. Her secret to eating low fat ice cream is this- add two spoons of peanut butter and a little Hershey’s Syrup. Some might think this defeats the purpose of low fat ice cream. We’d rather live in ignorant bliss.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Just a few short weeks ago I published dad from day one: Leg Cramp Alarm Clock where I proclaimed, “Ultimately, she’s pregnant and leg cramps are part of the deal. They will probably be replaced by another annoying inconvenience. And what will I do? What can I do?”
But now, looking back, I think,“How could I have been so absent-minded to say that?” In that moment, I must have forgotten my own belief system when it comes to curing ailments- that any kind of developed physical ailment is a symptom and a warning sign of something the human body is either lacking or has too much of. I believe God gives us those clues to help us figure out how to become healthier, not simply to fix or mask the problem.
Just like the way I learned the hard way The Cure for Eczema(click title to find out how), my wife had to learn how to prevent/stop having leg cramps. And since she has made some slight changes, the cramps not only stopped, but haven’t came back once since then. These leg cramps weren’t simply another annoying side effect of being pregnant- they were my wife’s body’s way of screaming out for at least four things in particular (because the baby is “taking them from her”): calcium (the baby’s bones are hardening), magnesium, water, and better blood circulation.
She has been faithful to take at least one calcium supplement and one magnesium supplement every morning and constantly drinks from a Voss water bottle (it’s just a cool botttle, since it’s made of glass instead of plastic- it’s not magic Norwegian healing water or anything) she refills several times a day from the fridge (she also drinks water any time she wakes up during the night). And as much as possible, keeps her legs slightly elevated- she has a papasan rocker chair so her feet don’t touch the ground when we’re just hanging out at home; and often she rests her legs on a pillow when she sleeps.
So far, it’s done the trick.
The leg cramps have not snuck back yet. And if they do, my first response will be: More water, more calcium, more magnesium, elevate your legs…
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: