dad from day one: Parenting a Tongue Tied Baby

Week 5.

I chose not to go public about Jack being tongue tied, maybe in a subconscious attempt to avoid being overwhelmed with polarizing schools of advice before my wife and I had time to assess the situation ourselves and learn what would truly be best for him.  We realized after just the first couple of days after Jack was born that he wasn’t able to feed like other babies.  He could never get a good latch nor could he take more than a few sips of milk before crying and making a gurgling sound.  Actually, I never knew that being tongue tied was a real thing.  I just thought it was a phrase people used to describe momentarily not being able to successfully speak.  In case you haven’t already clicked on the Wikipedia link in the first sentence or already know this, some babies are born with that “skin bridge” attached too closely for them to stick out their tongues very far.

In Jack’s case, it meant extreme difficulty in feeding.  For more extreme cases, a tongue tied baby may grow up to become a child or adult with a speech impediment.  So last Thursday, we drove back to Vanderbilt in Nashville and had Jack’s tongue clipped.  I consider it a 2nd circumcision of sorts.  In fact, I was offered the chance to watch the procedure, so I did.  It was everything you would imagine. Just a few quick cuts.  I highly recommend it if your infant or child is tongue tied.

Since Thursday, the silver coating the doctor sprayed on the lacerations has been slowly peeling off.  So in a few more days, he should be out of pain and be able to begin learning to feed normally, with a tongue that can reach past his lips.  So if you have a tongue tied baby, and you’re asking for my opinion, just get it clipped. It’s no big deal and it sure beats having to wonder how much easier feeding could have been and whether your child will have difficulty speaking.

Baby Names: Jack vs. Frank


In naming our first child, my wife and I were very careful to choose a name that fit several important criteria: a) it has to be familiar, yet not overused or trendy; b)  there can only be one obvious way to spell it; c) there can only be one obvious way to say it; d) it has to be a “classic” American name; e) it has to be a strong name, f) it has to sound good with my last name(“Alex Shell” couldn’t work because it sounds like “Alec Shell”- same thing with “Max”). So Jack was the most obvious choice.  But as we have daydreamed about what to name another boy if we were to have one, we’ve had trouble finding another boy name that would fit our criteria.

All I could come up with is Frank.  But here’s the problem with Frank.  It’s not a cool name these days.  You can’t name your baby Frank.  Despite all the cool, classic, all-American Frank’s in our nation’s history, Frank isn’t a cool name for a baby in the 2010’s.  Even Frank Sinatra’s legacy of coolness can’t change that.

So why has Jack remained cool but Frank has not?  I’ve only got ridiculous theories.  But here they are:


1. Frank is another word for “hot dog”.  Jack is not.

2. Not a lot of cool young names start with “fr”.  Like Fred, for example.  But a lot of cool young names do start with “j”.  Like Josh, Jerome, and Jake.

3. Frank is pretty similar to the f-word.  So is Chuck.

4. Frank sounds rhymes with both “stank” and “rank”, which indicate bad odor.

5. It’s not easy to think of a recent, young Frank who is cool.  The closest I can come up with is the Jewish Frank from the Ali Fedotowsky season of The Bachelorette.  But by referencing that TV show, it obviously is an indication of “not cool”.  (So what does that say about me for admitting I watch the show?…)

6. It’s easy to think of cool Jack’s- like Jack Donaghy (30 Rock), Jack Tripper (Three’s Company), and if this were 2003, Jack Black.

7. I can’t think of any negative associations with Jack, where I obviously easily was able to with Frank.

8.  As you continue eating leftover Halloween candy, keep this in mind: Jack O’ lanterns are cooler than Frankenstein.

Popular (Yet Subtle) Songs Dealing with Abortion

Pop music finds a way to safely put into words what we sometimes can’t easily speak.

Yesterday as I was driving home, a song came on the radio that I had never heard before- “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw.  I’m the kind of person who always listens carefully to the lyrics of a song; and part of the 2nd verse caught my attention: We were young and wild; we decided not to have a child. So we did what we did and we tried to forget and we swore up and down there would be no regrets.”

It’s important in songwriting to say something without actually coming out and saying it.  In Aerosmith’s 1989 hit, “Janie’s Got a Gun”, the words “rape” and “incest” are never used, but for anyone who has halfway listened to the song before, it’s pretty obvious it’s a story about a girl who is sexually abused by her father and eventually takes revenge by killing him.

Abortion is such a heavy and delicate topic; laced in political, moral, and religious factors.  It’s an extreme thing- typically people are either hard-core against or for it, while there are obviously some in the middle who believe abortion is excused from their opposition reasons in the event of rape, incest, certain death of the mother, etc.  But to never bring it up in the entertainment genre of music would be odd, given that it’s an event that happens every day- an event that has affected many people, most of whom I am not personally aware of who they are.

So I find it very interesting to see songs become hits that deal with abortion.  Aside from “Red Ragtop” which went to #5 on the Country charts, there are two particular songs I want to examine.  It was only a few years ago I found out that in these songs the protagonist’s girlfriend gets pregnant and has an abortion.    They were both performed by alternative rock artists and were popular while I was in high school.  And the songs both have a strong emotional tune to them while straightforwardly telling their stories with lyrics that evoke shame, sadness, and a sense of regret and guilt mixed with the realization of the need to move forward in life, despite their personal choices.

The first of these songs is “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe which rose to #5 in 1997.  While this song is officially about a guy dealing with guilt after his girlfriend commits suicide, I can’t deny the fact that some of the lyrics paint the picture of abortion as well- which according to Wikipedia, is the actual story behind the song: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Freshmen_(song).  Here are some lyrics from “The Freshmen”.

When I was young I knew everything
And she a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I’m guilt stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor
Stop a baby’s breath and a shoe full of rice

I can’t be held responsible
‘Cause she was touching her face
I won’t be held responsible
She fell in love in the first place

For the life of me I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise
For the life of me I cannot believe we’d ever die for these sins
We were merely freshmen

We’ve tried to wash our hands of all of this
We never talk of our lacking relationships
And how we’re guilt stricken sobbing with our heads on the floor
We fell through the ice when we tried not to slip, we’d say

The other song, more surprising for me, is “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, which also was a hit in 1997: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brick_(song).  Below are lyrics from the 2nd and 3rd verses.  After reading them, the reality of this song becomes much clearer.  I had always thought of “Brick” as a decently happy song; at worst, a song about a happy guy and a depressed girlfriend.  But it’s obviously much more than that:

They call her name at 7:30
I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers
And sell some gifts that I got
Can’t you see?
It’s not me you’re dying for
Now she’s feeling more alone
Than she ever has before

As weeks went by
It showed that she was not fine
They told me son, it’s time to tell the truth
She broke down, and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying
Driving home to her apartment
For a moment we’re alone
Yeah she’s alone
I’m alone
Now I know it

So beyond our own personal convictions on abortion, the songs mentioned here give us the gravity of it: Even dressed up in a catchy song, the truth is, the subject of abortion itself leaves a feeling of sadness and regret.  The narrators of these songs have been deeply affected by their decisions.  It appears they’ve learned to forgive themselves, even if under the guise of “we were young and irresponsible”, yet they aren’t able to forget; as consequences resurface.

dad from day one: Influence and Individuality

Thirty-one weeks.

Parenting is one of the few institutions where brainwashing is not only allowed, and a given, but it’s also sort of the whole point.  Like a duo-dictatorship, two people (the parents) have so much influence over another human being (the child) on so many levels.  Freedom of religion?  Nope.  Freedom of speech?  Not so much.  The rules that matter are enforced by the parents and accordingly, the child learns his or her moral code and adopts his human culture largely from how the parents choose to raise him or her.

Will I be a strict parent?  “Strict” has such a negative connotation these days.  It evokes thoughts of having rules for the sake of having rules, yielding a teenage kid that is either so nerdy that he thinks getting to stay up until 11:00 at night to watch Battlestar Gallactica is an idea of a good time, or he’s so rebellious he gets a DUI and a huge tattoo by the time he graduates high school.  So I’d rather not use the word “strict”, but instead “consistent and practical”.  Like my parents were to me.

I have always been very close to my parents; I knew I could talk to them about anything and they would listen, without being judgmental or condescending, yet still guiding me in the right direction.  They gave me a little responsibility at a time, and when I proved I could handle it, they gave me more.  I never had a curfew, nor did I need one.  But had I responded differently to the responsibility I was given, I know for a fact the rules would have been stricter, as they would have needed to be.

I think it’s funny when I hear parents of young kids say, “Well my Brayden won’t eat what I cook him.  He only eats chicken nuggets and pizza, and he only drinks Coke from his sippy cup.”  I smile and laugh with them, shaking my head like I know how it is, when really I’m thinking, “It’s not up to your kid!  It’s up to YOU!  YOU’RE the parent!”

Just like I’ve heard other parents say, “I’m not going to force any religious beliefs on my kids.  They need to figure out what they believe on their own.”  (Which is always a clear indication that parent has no solid religious beliefs, otherwise they would pass them on to their children.) It will not be the case for my kid.  He will know who Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Peter and the Apostle Paul are.  He will know the importance and relevance of John 3:16.  Just like my dad read to me from my kid’s Bible every night, so will I do for my son.

And when he grows up, I will have influenced who he is.  Yet still, he will have his own personality and make his own decisions.  Truly though, that’s how it was for all of us.  Even if one or both of our parents were out of the picture, they still influenced us- negatively or positively.  So I am choosing to make a conscious, solid, positive influence in his life.  And I will be very deliberate in doing so.

Here’s what The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:

Baby’s energy is surging, thanks to the formation of white fat deposits beneath the skin. (Have those kicks and jabs to the ribs tipped you off yet?) Baby is also settling into sleep and waking cycles, though — as you’ve also probably noticed — they don’t necessarily coincide with your own. Also this month, all five senses are finally functional, and the brain and nervous system are going through major developments.

http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-tools/slideshow/how-big-is-baby.aspx?page=21

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


dad from day one: The Countdown to Found Out the Gender of the Baby

Eighteen weeks.

In my first “dad from day one” post on April 13th (dad from day one: She’s Having a Baby), I told the almost spooky story of how my Mexican grandma dreamed she was having a granddaughter two weeks before we went public with the news that my wife was pregnant.  Since then, we have been asked on a near daily basis if we think it’s a boy or a girl.

I have found it easier this whole time just to assume my grandma’s dream is right.  And in the past couple weeks since my wife has began “showing”, it’s become pretty obvious she’s “holding the baby high”, which is typical for a girl in the womb.

I would never go see a psychic myself.  But… what happens when someone else goes to a psychic and their fortune is about you instead?

That’s exactly what happened.  Today, one of my wife’s coworkers went to a psychic as a sort of “joke birthday gift” to herself.  The fortune told: “One of your coworkers is pregnant with a girl.”

So it’s settled.  My grandma and a psychic have both had a vision about this baby girl.

Our kid is the size of a sweet potato.

Only one way to know for sure- wait until next Thursday (June 17th).  That’s when we’re officially finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl- given that our baby isn’t crossing its legs during the procedure.

In a week’s time, I will have posted “dad from day one: The Gender of Our Baby”.

Here’s what The Bump says about our baby this week:

“Your fetus has become amazingly mobile (at least compared to you), passing the hours yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking and swallowing. And, baby’s finally big enough that you’ll be able to feel those movements soon.”

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/week-18-sweet-potato.aspx?r=0

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

dad from day one: The Business of Being Born

Fourteen weeks.  Second trimester.

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.

We just have to be weird, don’t we?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Business_of_Being_Born

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com