Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"How I Learned to Love Sleep Deprivation"

So Lil' Lucas is approaching the three week mark now, and some things have changed, some have remained the same. He looks around a lot now, and will occasionally carefully regard mom and dad with measured stares, but generally peers around a lot. He still sleeps a lot. Still gets a disproportionate share of my wife's mammalian bits as his personal playground. (An amused, sarcastic part of me finds this mildly jealousy-arousing.)

In some ways, Amy and I are becoming more adept at the parent thing. Quite by accident we stumbled on a talent I appear to have that moves me from "Semi-useless cheerleader" to "one-act freakshow." Seems as though I have a talent for clubbing my kid over the back until he imitates his dad with a great guttural belch. So Dad has a purpose that allows him to assist Mom in a way that isn't sub-par, and therefore lets Mom go do something else. (Fellas, here's the method: when you burp a kid, you're supposed to pat their back, right? Instead of patting their back with the ends of your fingers vertically, aligned with the spine, use them big ham hocks the maker gave ya. Don't pat vertically, pat horizontally and use your whole hand. Cup it slightly to conform to baby's body and there you go. Instead of patting maybe 10% of their back, you're patting about half their abdomen. Don't hammer the kid, but don't need to be too gentle, either - babies are medium sturdyish and they'll squawk if you're doing it too hard, but for some reason it soothes them - kid will curl right up against your shoulder and not peep, you do it right. For real.)

Unfortunately, this also makes for a frustrating situation whenever kiddo is upset and we don't succeed immediately at soothing him. Particularly for Amy, who has hormonal hardwiring that makes her judge her effectiveness as a mother on Lucas's happiness, this hits pretty badly. For me, it's a little less upsetting - I can accept that sometimes kids get annoyed - but I have my own Achilles Heel, as it were: I really dislike the fact that when he's upset because he's hungry,  I'm about as useful as a bumper-mounted airbag. Rationally, I know that on the rare occasions Amy's busy for a minute or five (guys, make sure you jump right up to take kiddo when wife needs to shower, and bitch not at all about how long she showers for - it's probably her longest break of the day) that Lucas will survive just fine if he isn't fed, and that he doesn't hold it against me that I have totally non-functional breastage. Rationally, I can articulate all of that and be just fine.

Emotionally, on the other hand, I do not as well.  Fatherly hardwiring is a bit different than mommy hardwiring. Theirs is to nurture and protect. Ours is to protect as well, but we tend to be more aggressive in seeking solutions. So to sit docilely with your son in your lap, screaming bloody murder, when you can't do a single thing about it - emotionally, that's very hard on a fella. You alternate between wanting to charge into the bathroom and berate your wife for daring to take a three minute shower, bashing your own head into the wall in frustration, or breaking down in tears because you're useless.  Funny thing; I'm a guy who controls his emotions very well for the most part. (Or so I like to think?) Baby-induced fatigue, though, combined with the fact that we DO have some primal reactions - not so much as mom, but some - to our child... brings your emotions RIGHT to the surface. Major way. Can catch a fella off-guard too, if he's unprepared for it. 

Dunno. This baby thing is tough. As I told a coworker today: "babies are hard." Really, the routine hasn't changed much since week one, as we now approach week three. We're trying to get things to the point where Amy can put milk into some bottles so that I can break up her hellish "two hours of sleep, one hour of feeding/burping" routine, but not there yet. We're examining more advanced/varying methods of keeping kid happy and getting his sleep schedule more aligned with ours. (Right now, Lucas's most active time is 11pm-3am...brutal.) Be prepared for the toughness, but supposedly it does get better. At no time have we regretted his presence, though. He's a cool lil' bugger, and seeing him wiggle and coo and snore (yes, babies snore, friggin hilarious) is a treat.

Besides, it does get better after awhile. Supposedly.

-MT out

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lucas Emmett Fletcher, Part Three: Or How a 1lb guy can kick YOUR ass

So Lucas - or I may refer to him by his affectionate nickname, the "Fuss Bus" - has been home for a week now. Despite my higher-than-it-should-be weight, I consider myself a pretty bad dude. Did some MMA in college at the local level for play cash, lifted way too many weights in high school, spent far too much time on blue mats learning the fine art of dealing out a beating. I'm not stupid - I still avoid the darker sides of the street, say "yes sir" to anyone with a weapon, and don't go looking for trouble. Having said that, I feel safe escorting my wife and child somewhere if need be. 

...especially now that I know that kid can whip my ass. Damn.

K fellas, here's another wee bit o' education for you. Kiddo, when he's still doing the scrunchy-in-momma's-belly thing, he's still affected by the laws of gravity. I mention that because if you imagine where he's sitting and all the things momma's doing - especially late pregnancy, with that preggo-waddle thing goin'- the kid effectively spends all day being held tightly and rocked. Translation: Kid gets encouraged to sleep a LOT during the day. Now I've since learned that newborns, even sleeping, are not entirely still, so that may explain why you still notice mom's belly doing the Alien thing during the day.

At night, though, momma's still and all stretched out, so baby's not getting rocked, and he's getting as much space as is available.  This means that kiddo is going to be as active as he's likely to be at night. Besides allowing you to view the Flesh Freakshow before going to bed (seriously - late enough in the pregnancy, you're going to see clear limbs; elbows, occasionally even the impressions of HANDS and FEET...mondo weird) this also means the kid's activity table is actually reversed. He's the ultimate college student from day one: party all night, sleep all day.

Here's the really fun part: that doesn't change after they're born.


Remember that partying roommate from college? Yeah - he's back. This time, you can't ignore him, though. For the first few days, it's quite possible to get 8 hours of sleep. Problem is, you don't get them in a row. You get an hour, then 45, then an hour, then two, then another hour... 'cause kiddo's going to wake up pretty often with a nasty diaper or an urge to feed. Funny thing, though. Normally, if someone wakes a fella up that many times in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder, you're looking for a club and a muzzle. When it's your kid, you wake up, roll your eyes, and smile - 'cause it's your kid, right? He's just fussing 'cause he needs something, and then he's more than happy to let everyone go back to sleep.  It's frustrating and annoying, sure, but you can't blame the lil' dude - it's not like he can hop up and get himself a burger, y'know? And how much would you be hollering if your entire lower half were covered in your own fecal matter? Yow. Here's the jaw-dropping part: kid may require diaper swap as much as a dozen times a day, and may require feeding nearly as many.   It's not that any of the times require a lot of effort - feeding is pretty passive, and diaper changes, while active, are actually pretty quick jobs. It's the fact that, well, we're used to sleeping in large blocks. Kid's fine with the pace, but we're very much not used to catnapping as a lifestyle choice. That can and will wear you out, FAST.

So the lil' dude's going to keep you awake a lot. For the first two days or so, the fatigue won't be too bad, but by day four, you're going to notice some pretty dramatic fatigue symptoms. If you're not off work, take advice: car pool for the first two weeks or so.  Fine motor skills are going to get very wobbly. So is coordination - you'll stumble more. I think I've nearly broken most of the toes on my left foot, which is exceedingly damned annoying. The obvious irritability and emotional insanity are going to be there, too. Remember that in all your interactions - especially with the wife. Remember that you don't hate each other, that you are on the same team, and that you both want the same thing: happy healthy kiddo. Silly as it sounds, you may even want to write it down somewhere you'll see it. We're guys - visual reminders help. 

But anyhow, you'll hear this elsewhere, but here it is again: babies only really fuss for three reasons: they're hungry, they've got a messy diaper, and they've got gas. (Let's NOT think about just how much that's like the adult male, shall we?) No real magic or mystery to 'em, fellas. The good news is you can do something about two of the three - all three if the wife isn't breastfeeding. (Not getting to that whole debate; that's out of our realm of ken.)

So anyhow. Here's a bit you can read to the wife, and my own wife agrees heartily with it, and we're doing a pretty damn fine job so far, if I do say so myself:

You should not be getting up with her for the late-night feedings. You, my fine fellow, should be sleeping. There's nothing you can do at those feedings, and she's got to be there anyhow. You are more useful getting what rest you can, so that during the day, you can take care of a lot of little things that normally would be in her purview - dishes, picking up, etc. (Hey dude. That's the trade-off. You don't have someone nom-nom-noming on yer boob at 2am, so don't bitch.) On the other hand, if you're not getting up, she DOES have the right to expect you to help out a little around the house, because she's going to be exhausted, and recovering from childbirth, and a bit dehydrated. Remember to bring the lady a lot of water - somehow that strange device known as the female body converts that to milk. Go figure. (If we could get it to convert water into other things we'd be set, neh?)

The good news is it does get better - and, for someone being beaten down by sleeping in one hour doses, it gets measurably better fairly soon.  The kid's dominant activity periods will, over a week or two, start to shift to daytime, and while they'll still have nighttime needs, they won't be nearly so active as in week one.  Lucas is 1 week 2 days at this point, and he's already showing some shift and we're getting a bit more (not a lot) sleep at night. Mind you, there is a condition called "colic" that makes all of the above completely moot. Short version is that if you're one of these unlucky fellas whose kid has colic, well.  Just remember that it doesn't last forever, and make sure you get a night a week to go and be a guy with your friends. (Colic - this is hearsay, 'cause Lucas doesn't have it - is basically the ultimate in gas pains. Babies need to fart. A LOT. Colic, in simplest terms, is the inability to fart; usually happens to babies. Lots of gas, no ability to cut loose with a wild and warbly one. You'd scream bloody murder, too.)

So anyhow. This blog entry has probably been a bit dull compared to the frank accountings of parts one and two, but eh, it's the Saturday before I go back to work. (Fellas - take a week off when kiddo's born. Seriously. Major brownie points with wife, and when the kid starts actually looking around with intent, and you can see the eyes are clearly watching things... you don't want to miss the one and only first time that happens, y'know?) Newborns are challenging, but your life isn't destroyed, uberdrama doesn't commence, you can still do most of the things you used to do, and one of you at a time can even leave the house and take care of things out and about. Babies are not soul-and-society-shattering beasties. They're just lil' dudes, lil' chicas, just need some attention, some boob,  and a clean place to sleep.

....and that really is an awfully lot like you, ain't it, bub?

Respect your peer - because he/she can kick your ass.

-MT out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lucas Emmett Fletcher, part two: "Your life is never the same" and other weird, cryptic phrases

So if most guys are like me, at least part of your mind views such phrases as "you instantly fall in love, the kid immediately becomes something you'd die for, your whole world changes, you're never the same" and other such melodramatic fuzz as unlikely, alarming, strange, or just something not to be thought about at all. Emotional discussions are voodoo, witchcraft, bone-rattles and not to be trusted for most men. Once they have a kid, most guys are uncomfortable trying to understand/explain their emotions, so they just fall back on the tired old cliches and call it a quick day.

Which, sadly, doesn't do a friggin thing to help the next guy in line, eyeing the strange cliches with a sense of distaste and suspicion. So let me attempt to break down into reasonable, non-mystical bits the chain of thoughts and realizations that have been going on in my head for the last ...yeesh, I guess it's been 72 hours, now.

1. Love at first sight is only for moms and men who haven't SEEN yet.
K, look. If you're lucky, when your kid comes out, you've got a pinkish-red Winston Churchill with bluish extremities. If you're unlucky, you've got a greyish-blue creature from the Black Lagoon, covered in nasty, cheesy crap. Yeah - could look that bad. So maybe moms are hardwired for love at first sight, but we're not.

My first reaction (we were lucky, he looked pinkish-red) was to be very curious and generally happy, but happy in that "Friendly dog seeing new people" kinda way - wanted to sniff and poke and touch (didn't want to sniff his butt, and given what's come out since, glad that's true) but "love at first sight" not so much. Lucas seemed like a pretty cool dude, but wasn't ready to sacrifice life and limb quite yet. For me - and I suspect most guys - there has to be a trigger.

Got kiddo cleaned up, wife got first dibs on holding kiddo (and fair enough, given her recent activities) and then kiddo got handed to me. Now, Lucas was very much unkeen on being tossed around - I mentioned that last entry - but sitting on mom, now that was okay. I fully expected that when he got handed to me, the horrible screaming he was doing the moment he was pulled away from mom would continue.

The moment he landed on my chest, his head rammed straight into my neck, little fists grabbing.... and he shut up. Mind you, for an agitated baby, that doesn't mean silence - but the screaming stopped. Glorps, gurgles, chirps continued - but he felt safe here, listening to my voice, holding on to me for as much as his now three-minute-old-life was worth. Then it went through my head:

"This kid knows as clearly as I do that we are family. And he NEEDS me." That's what did it. Babies don't need you like your wife needs you, like your coworkers need you, like your dog needs you. Wife would eventually get over you, coworkers would hire someone new, even your dog can scrounge. Your kid? That kid's one shot at survival is YOU, sucka. Obviously they don't know it in those terms, but I can't imagine the kind of fear/anger that must go through a newborn's undeveloped noggin. Hearing a voice they heard while they were inside, a heartbeat nearby... they need that. Something fierce, and you provide it - and so kiddo calms down.

So yeah. Not so much love at first sight, but pretty quickly something will trigger. Maybe you'll notice something in the kid's face that is unmistakeably you or your wife, or maybe kiddo will hang on to your finger like it's his only tether for the world, or maybe he'll quiet down from a desperate fuss - but something will trigger that your unconscious will react to in some way.

"The moment you see your baby, the whole way you look at the world changes."
Yeah, again fellas - not so much. Maybe women are hardwired, but we take a minute to figure this kinda crap out. And when you do, it really isn't soul-shattering or profound or "knock-you-off-your-feet" type stuff; or at least it wasn't for me.  Attempting to explain: Shortly after your kid is born, there's a federal law or some such that says they have to put these special eyedrops into your kid's eyes. (Had something to do with a rampant STD problem  in the 60's and blindness because it got in the kid's eyes on the way out ...yes...ew.) Now in principle I understand this and I'm fine with it. In reality, when the nurse put the drops into Lucas's eyes he went from "pretty annoyed" with the world to "absolutely furious and in pain." Remember what I said about being afraid that I'd beat the screaming jesus out of the doctor? Yeah, well. As soon as the thought went through my head "that nurse just hurt my son" I had to quietly walk to the other side of the room, behind the curtain, and get my temper back under control. I found myself quite unexpectedly VERY angry - and I've usually got a pretty good sense of what's going to trigger my temper.

I was kinda surprised and I thought on it for a minute. I had never really realized "Lucas is important to me; I love him" or anything like that. It wasn't earth-shattering when I DID realize it. It simply... was. Much in the same sense that if you turn on a light switch, you're not conscious of the photons bouncing to the floor and then to your eyes. You're not aware "the light is turning on." It simply is on - and, if you looked around, you would have no evidence the light was ever NOT on. The light doesn't leave record of when it wasn't that way... it just is on, you accept it, and you move on.

That's basically how it was with Lucas. There was never a heart-rending moment where I realized I'd throw myself into the path of danger for him, or anything like that. It simply... "was." The kid had, quite unaware, become absolutely vital. Nothing weird or insidious - I simply recognized that the light was on. I didn't know quite when it had happened, nor why - but I surely knew it had. Lucas was now protected material in the same way my wife was - and woe betide anything that threatened him.

Your whole world view doesn't change, your life doesn't "begin all over again", your perceptions of reality aren't torn asunder - just, quite without expectation and reasoning, there's a new notch on your "things to care about" ladder. Very high on the ladder, and very permanent.

Oh, right, the last one for today:

"Your life starts all over again," or one of a dozen variations on that theme.

What-ever. Simple as that. I got home, I was very happy to play with my kid, but y'know what? I still likes  my video games. I still talk MMORPG shop with my guy friends. I suspect that if I'm a particularly spiff dad, I'll still get to go out this Wednesday night with the guys for 3-4 hours. I still have hobbies I love, and frankly, now I dream of the day when I can get the kid in on them too. (Fletcher father and son dodgeball team? Bet your ass, bubba.)  Yeah, I spend some time staring at the kiddo sleeping (cause that's about all he does, really, but that's cool) and yeah, I spend some time thinking about the future - but then there's 23 more hours left. Lemme tell ya, you'll be awake for a few more of those than you might be used to, as well.

Here's the thing: If your life "starts all over again" YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Your hobbies need to stay intact. Your stress relievers DEFINITELY need to stay intact. Your relationship with the woman you love absolutely MUST stay intact!! Yes, she's mom now. She's the caretaker of that which is vital - but she's also still that woman you wanted to drag into the closet nine months ago. (And if you're lucky, that's how...er...nevermind.) While the doctor may say "nothing here shall pass" for a month and a half - and yeah, that sucks too - your relationship with your wife shouldn't change. She's still the hottie that gets your attention at any party, the woman who laughs at your jokes and puts up with you farting at her. (Okay, well mine thinks it's funny, sorry if yours doesn't.) Baby is vital and a cool part of your life - but don't stop being the slick dude that you'd want baby to meet, nor the great fella that your wife wanted to marry. Stick with that! Adjust for less spare time, and tweak so you can respond to baby emergencies if they arise.... 

but you're still an excellent dude, and lord of your manor.

Now if you'll excuse me, the lady of this particular manor wants me to do something. So much for being ruler of the castle, eh?

-MT out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lucas Emmett Fletcher, 9lbs, 3oz, May 7 2009. - part one: the big entrance

We're home. All three of us.  This will probably be the longest blog entry I put together, so you may want to take it in doses, and with a cup of coffee. ;) 

Part One: Pre-Lucas - this part has some semi-gooey description towards the end, fair warning

So Thursday morning, come 5am, we went down to the hospital and things got underway. Yeah, 5am. Apparently the idea there is that you start early, you deliver before the late hours of the night when humans are a bit slower and less energetic in general. Getting up at 4am on delivery day was a trip, lemme tell ya. They hooked Amy up to various devices - some took multiple tries, as her veins are apparently a bit instrument-shy - but eventually she was set. Amy wasn't too happy a camper, as it didn't take much potocin (guys: this is a drug they use to induce chicks, make 'em go into labor faster. Downside is it makes 'em go into labor HARD..hurts extramuch.) for things to get going. There is some real possibility that Lucas would've shown up Thursday regardless, but it really took VERY little medical help for her to start delivery.

In fact, Amy's contractions got so close together, so soon, that poor Lucas was having a bad time of it - they had to back off the stuff. Apparently getting your body squeezed REALLY FRIGGIN HARD every minute or so is hard on a lil' guy. Go figure. So they ended up backing down her potocin until she was practically only getting a spitter's trickle.

Long about halfway through the process (guys: Short version; until the opening for kiddo gets large enough, women can't actually push the kid out. Longest part of the delivery process is actually waiting for that opening to expand, not the "PUUUUSH!!!!" part you see on TV) the pain for Amy is getting pretty friggin religious, and she calls for the epidural. I won't lie; I wasn't happy, though I had the wits not to show it. At that point I was vigorously anti-epidural. I knew the pain was very real and I didn't envy Amy that, but I have always had a deep dislike of modern medicine and "We'll give you a medicine to fix that, and give you some medicine to fix what the medicine does, and some medicine to fix what THAT does, and..." until Mom's got enough meds in her system that her body goes bananas. I will come flat out and say it:

I was wrong. 

I understand why people are hostile to epidurals; completely and entirely. I even agree, in principle, with the thinking I said above - but I no longer agree with the no-epidural crowd. As soon as "no pain below the waist" action got started, my wife came back. It was no longer the quietly whimpering, grimacing, red-and-pale-faced woman. She actually smiled again; giggled at a joke, and wanted to take a short nap. Fellas, lemme tell you - having your wife be the calm, enjoyable woman you married at this point in the process does a CRAP TON for lowering the chance you will beat the screaming jesus out of the doctor in a moment of terrified, protective-dad angst. It lowered the "OMG! DRAMA!" aspect of things considerably. Amy was rational again, I became more rational (hadn't lost it yet) and the next few hours passed. They actually had a DVD player in the delivery room since we'd be there so long, and we watched our favorite TV series and generally were an amused and happy couple again. (Surreal? Yeah. Go with it, though.)

(Yes, hours, guys. We got there at 5am. Amy was hooked up by 5:45, the potocin running by 6:30-ish... and Lucas showed up at 3:39 PM that day. Bring a book, or get lots of sleep and make sure you have a food/drink runner.) The actual "push push" delivery only takes about an hour... but I get ahead of myself.

So about 1:30, Amy's a 6 (a "10" means the opening is ready for biz) and we both bed down for a quick nap, her on the bed-o'-fun, me on the cot-o'-crap. Doc has predicted she won't be ready for pushing until 4-ish/5-ish, and we won't see Lucas for about an hour thereafter. Nurse comes in to check on her at 2:30 and looks visibly surprised. She checks something again. (And fellas, abandon pride/sensibilities - in order to check, they're putting their hand somewhere you'd beat someone six kinds of bloody for the day before, k? Yeah. THERE. Eh,  that's only half the fun by the end of the day, believe me.)

So anyhow - nurse is surprised. It's 2:30 and uh, "Amy, how would you feel about pushing?" Cue the room transformation. Bed gets chopped in half, gets elevated about two feet, stirrups get added, spotlights go on (yes, a friggin spotlight,  right on your wife's biz) and people start coming in and setting up tools, blades, devices, and everything you'd expect to see in a Saw movie.  Fellas, tell you in advance: the place to be during all this is about three inches to the left or right of wife's head. It keeps you out of the way of the whirling maelstrom of STUFF going on. It also keeps you from unduly staring at anything now on display like a museum (Amy wasn't self-conscious, but I could see a wife getting weird if her hubby started staring in train-wreck- fascination at her biz, go figure) and best of all, it keeps you close and not feeling like you're now outside everything. If you're like me and like to feel in-control or at least significant in all actions, be prepared for a shift during delivery day. I was absolutely fifth-wheel cheerleader all day. That stupid birthing class can kiss my ass; I didn't do ANYTHING from there, nor was I invited to - scared the crap out of me for nothing.

So Amy starts the pushing bit. Fellas, best analogy here is "they look like they're taking a REALLY, REALLY monster crap." Even get red-faced, tongue-out, veins-bulgy. Because Amy was on the epidural, though, she felt very little/no pain from it. After each push, she's friggin chatting with the delivery nurse. "Oh, yeah, our nursery is green and white, and we're so proud of it, and when are you due again".... more than a little surreal, but honestly, it kept me shockingly calm. I was totally not in freak-out mode, and that surprised me. Amy chatting and giggling (and yes, she did, even then) kept me at ease, and so it made the whole thing easier on the big dude.

Mild gross warning from this point forward, but in the spirit of keeping this blog very guy-friendly, I'm going to stick with trying to keep it only mildly gross.

Amy wanted a mirror in front of her so she could see what was going on down there. I'm told a lot of chicks do - I wasn't too keen, because I most assuredly DID NOT want to see WHAT WAS GOING ON DOWN THERE. I've gotta poke ol' willy in there again someday, y'know? Scar me for life.

Eh. So. About halfway through the pushing, Amy and nurse (still chatting cheerily away - wtf is that about?) both comment on the fact that you can see the baby's head while she's pushing. Whatever. I am NOT looking at the mirror and down there while my wife is straining on the world's ultimate poo. After awhile, though, they then comment on the fact that you can now see the head - still IN THERE - even when she's not pushing. Eh. So I kinda take the quick glance, and I can't see anything. Just looks like a lot of black swirly crap inside a place I don't usually inspect this closely anyhow, y'know? Makes the foreplay a bit awkward if you go gyno on yer lady. Then they mention how much hair the kid's got...and holy crap... you mean that black swirly crap IS THE TOP OF MY KID'S HEAD AND THAT"S HAIR? Whoa!

Mind you, bear in mind where he was living for the last nine months. The hair ain't clean and it ain't dry, but yep. There cometh the lil' dude. Now here's the thing. Lil' dude doesn't particularly WANT to come out, and the body's kinda protective of the lil' dude anyhow. So when lil' dude's getting pushed out, after every push, they actually slide back IN a bit. Not so much as the push got them out, but you have something of a tug-o'-war going. Five inches out, three inches in, kinda thing. So lil' dude's head - top of it - actually COMES OUT and I can see a noggin and black swirly wet-gookish hair...and then the push ends, and it actually goes away. In my head I'm thinking "Dude!? WTF? GET BACK HERE" but I manage to keep that to myself. Doc reaches back and grabs some scissors at one point - I knew what that was for, but I avoided watching. Sometimes, fellas, the lady's biz isn't quite large enough to pass the munchkin out, and so the exit has to be widened a bit. Here's the thing: IT WILL BE WIDENED a bit - either by the doctor, or by the kid, y'know? Doctor will do it all neat and straight. Kid will just go all "Hulk" action and tear their way out. You figure out which you prefer. ;)

Break time for a tip: Guys, we all have different stomach levels. I considered myself a man of weak "gore" stomach until two days ago, and you may or may not be the same. Here's a tip - when things are going fast and furious, if you even start to think you're going to have an issue, look away immediately. Check out the wife's face, or if that's still too intense, look at one of the million random machines in the room. Stare at the buttons, and try to figure out what they all do. Give yourself a minute or so and then come back to watching, if you wish. Far better to take a short break than to do a concrete swan dive or a technicolor yawn, y'know?

So after the second such advance-and-retreat, doc gets enough head out there to keep a grip, and it's all over with another push or two. The cord, fellas, is not really so bad. It's kinda this grayish rope that has a clear cover and some other colors mixed in.  It's not clean, but it's not horrid, either. They cut that (actually, they offer you the chance to do so, but I declined - I'm a confident guy, but I am not screwing with ANYTHING regarding my dear and precious wife's delivery; that's the job of a pro, not a guy who can barely serve up a turkey) and then voila, you've got a lil' munchkin. Munchkin goes straight to mom's chest, and this is a tactical move as well, I think. I never actually saw the placenta (aka afterbirth) come out, because I was too busy staring at my son and his mom. 

(Placenta, eh, kinda like a "bag" version of the cord, fellas. Gray, some red veiny bits lacing through it, wet-looking. Moderately eugh, but I was surprised to discover it didn't bother me much.)

So son will start hollering pretty promptly after arrival, and ours decided that once he was right on top of mom again, all was right with the world and he quieted right down. He got quite noisy again when pulled away for some of the initial testing, but I guess that's fair. As my mother put it when I told her: "If someone put your naked bare ass on a freezing cold metal bin, you'd probably holler about it a bit, too." Fair enough indeed. 

That's when you get to hear the kid's weight and length: in Lucas's case, a pretty friggin big 9lb 3oz, 21 inches. That's not chart-busting, but that's definitely on the high end of the spectrum by a fair measure. It's a good thing the doctor did widen the opening a bit - and as it turns out, Lucas did some widening of his own on the way out anyhow. I didn't notice the doctor stitching down there (nor did Amy; hurray epidural) because we were both too fixed on the very small person in front of us. 

And now, dear reader, I must confess that while there is a part two and a part three to this tale, I am going to cut it off for the time being.  Last night was our first night home and I'm more than a bit weary, heh. I imagine there's more than enough here to chew over anyhow.

Fellas, a few points in summary:

- Scheduled inductions are a little odd ("Time to have a baby, kids!") but it helps decrease the drama and makes preparing a bit easier... though you may see Mom a little more freaked out at the last, since she KNOWS when the pain will come now.
- Epidurals decrease the drama to the point where everyone's calm and clear-headed. This is good.
- Don't try to be superhuman about your ability to tolerate "the gross."
- The dramatic part you see on TV is like the last five percent of a very long and surprisingly dull show. Bring a book or some DVDs and be prepared to make conversation.
- Don't overdrama. It's not nearly as cool a deal if you're wild-eyed.

More later: next section, "Your life changes forever and other badly explained cliches that make guys nuts, discussed in guy terms."

-MT out. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stimpy, you IIIIIDIOT

I used to watch Ren and Stimpy on Nick in college. (No, I'm not ashamed. Ask me what I didn't do to my liver or lungs in college. Hurray moral high ground!)

There's the one episode where R&S are lost in space somewhere for a hideously long amount of time, and it's basically a humor run on space madness/cabin fever. At one point, Stimpy starts tapping his finger, and the tapping - in Ren's mind - gets louder. Tapping...then thumping...then hammering...then massive, building-shattering sound... and while this is going on, Ren's eyes get wider and wider and more and more bloodshot until he screams at the top of his lungs and goes completely ape.

....yeah. That about describes my mindset right now.

Due-date-plus-five. Nada.  No kid. I swear if I have to hear one more "Oh well, you just keep waiting, you'll see it's worth it" so-called encouraging comment, I'll beat my head against the wall. More drama I don't need.

On the flip side, Amy and I are enjoying the quality time. Her mom hit town yesterday, and she's cool, so we're all just kind of mellowing. I get to do even less around the house with her mom here - muahaha - so I have lots of spare time on my hands. That's both good and bad.

I get a lot done, which is nice, because I probably won't be able to get a lot done for a week or two. (Spare me the "NO, FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS, HAHAHA..." joke.)

On the other hand.... tapping is really getting on my nerves just now.

-MT out

Saturday, May 2, 2009

All Dressed Up, No Place to Go

So it's 3:42 AM.

...the day after 2.0 was supposed to be born.


Intellectually, logically, I knew this was a possibility; in fact, I knew it was more likely than not. Emotionally, I was absolutely convinced that MY kid would show up early. I'm sure I had some subconscious justification involving my own "ahead-ness" in most aspects of life, or some other rubbish, but the truth is I just wanted it to be that way. I'm not really disappointed - more impatient. I don't think, when the time DOES come, that I'll be nervous anymore. More excited than anything - mostly 'cause the show will finally be back on the friggin road, y'know?

Yesterday was pins and needles, but when the day ended and Amy and I went to bed, we just kind of shrugged and moved on. It's a little tough for me to judge whether or not each following day will be pins and needles or not, but I'm guessing not. Right now I'm in that groggy/grumpy/bleary-eyed-cattle mode that comes from sleeping from 10-3 and waking up. Figured I'd better get up after 45 of tossing and turning, because Amy seems to actually be getting sleep - uncommon in the last few days - and I don't want to disturb that. As much as the doomsayers (yes, that lovely clique that thinks it's fine and dandy to give you "Just wait and see how miserable your life will be" 'advice' has been at it again; and I hate it as much now as I did five months ago) remind me that I'll need every bit of sleep I can get, figure Amy needs it a lot more. So here I am, tap-tapping away. Heh.

Life very much goes "on hold" at this point. I end a lot of my sentences with "provided the baby hasn't arrived." I'd love to play some strategy card games with the guys on Friday "provided the baby hasn't arrived." Some computer games? Sure - "provided the baby hasn't arrived." Amy's brother/brotherly family came into town today and she went out to lunch with them, and I had to restrain a pretty large grumpy bone - didn't like the idea of her driving ANYWHERE alone at this point. One contraction and she's in a ditch with an airbag, I figure, but the teachers at school assure me the first contraction is neither so shocking nor painful. Eh, fine, but I'm still being overprotective. 

With us teacherly folk off for a week  - hurrah, swine flu media circus - I can now face the certainty that I will be a father before I next teach a class. (Something weird in my gut twitched after I typed that.) The upside to this is if the kid is born naturally in the next few days, I've got 3-5 days off without burning my sick days. Not such a bad deal. Having a bit of a moral quandry over whether or not to take the five days I had both planned and saved after that, though. Most people seem to feel I should definitely take the time off, but I've never in my life ducked out of my job for two weeks, and it feels...odd. I'm not the most aggressive grade-taker amongst teachers to begin with, and I figure one week sans school and then one week a la substitute won't improve that. On the other hand, meh, you only get one first birth, right? Eh.

Well. Home for a week. Kid imminent and yet still over the horizon - Amy's had no contraction twinges of any sort yet, so natural birth is still very much unknown. Me not sleeping at 4am now; part of which is probably because of all this and probably because I had too much caffiene at dinner.

Eh. Well, s'pose this means, dear blog readers, that there's a good chance I'll post more thoughts in the next few days leading up to the assured birth on Thursday if it doesn't happen sooner. 


"Provided the baby hasn't arrived."

-MT out