dad from day one: Nervous, Preoccupied and Spaced Out

Thirty-nine weeks.

Today was my wife’s last doctor’s appointment before the due date (November 11th), which it just one week from today.  She is dilated one centimeter and effaced 50 percent.  However, the nurse told us today that it is common for first time moms to go a week past their due date.  But still, it could happen at any time.

For the past week now, I’ve noticed that I have been completely spaced out.  My mind is obviously preoccupied with knowing that our “Jack-in-the-box” could spring out any moment.  People have asked me if I’m getting nervous- to my surprise, the answer is yes.  I thought I was over that stage.  But the first time I got nervous, around a month ago, it was because of the realization I don’t really know what to do with a newborn baby.  Now that we’ve finished our Lamaze course, I’m much more confident on the basics of how to help care for Baby Jack.  The thing that makes me nervous now is knowing that I have to see my wife in pain and discomfort, for hours.  No matter how easy it could end up happening, it will still be difficult.

People have asked me if I think I will pass out during the delivery.  The answer: a simple “no”.  Blood and guts don’t bother me.  Besides, unlike the reality TV star of the moment Kody Brown (Sister Wives), I will not be on the “receiving end” while my wife is giving birth.  I don’t need to see his head coming out.  Instead, I will be holding my wife’s hand, or at least beside her, as he’s being born.

Speaking of blood and guts, my wife and I have come up with some exciting plans for the weekend- that way, even if our baby isn’t born in the next few days, at least we can be busy and entertained otherwise.  And we don’t have to just sit around getting anxious.  So either way, we win:  Saturday morning we have brunch plans with some friends- I’m very excited about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the place we’re going.  Then Saturday afternoon, my wife and her mom (who is in town for the next couple of weeks) will be getting a facial.  (I guess I’ll read a book during that time.)  Next, we will go to the matinee: I will see Saw 3D (finally explaining the “blood and guts” reference), while my wife and her mom see something a little more light-hearted, yet appropriate for the upcoming event: Life as We Know It.

That’s right- my mother-in-law got into town Sunday night and plans to be here through the end of the month.  If the audience of dad from day one was male, I would have to take a page to humorously explain that though my mother-in-law is living with us, it’s not a wacky, cliché sitcom sort of deal.  I can’t complain.  When I come home from work, dinner is already ready- as my wife has had help preparing it.  As well as the fact that her mom immediately takes care of the dishes afterwards.

People have asked me if I’m planning on taking off a while from work once the baby is born.  At this moment, I’m thinking I’ll take off just a couple of days.  Because fortunately, I won’t be leaving my wife alone- she will have her mom there with her until I get home.  We are very blessed that my mother-in-law has chosen to stay with us.

Those are my final thoughts as a man who has yet to see his son.  Everything is about to change.  Unless Baby Jack stays in past his due date, the next dad from day one will be “Baby Jack is Here!”  Pictures of him will be included, of course.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

This is our friend Nickie's baby, not ours. Did I fool ya?

dad from day one: Lamaze Classes Have Begun

Thirty-two weeks.

Until this week, I didn’t even know how to spell “Lamaze”, or even more importantly, what exactly it meant.  All I knew is that it involved breathing techniques for women in labor.  Monday night we had our first Lamaze class (out of six) and now I have a better understanding of what this is all about: Lamaze (named after a French doctor) classes help expecting parents to prepare for the birth of their child ideally without the use of medical intervention (AKA: going natural).

I think our take on “going natural” with this birth is currently along the lines of “let’s just see if we can do it”.  Ideally, we won’t use pain medication, and a C-section won’t be necessary.  But we obviously recognize it may not happen that way.  We half-way joke with each other that if we can do this without an epidural, we’ll spend that saved money on a trip to Maine.  I’m seriously planning on printing off a picture of us on our honeymoon at Kennebunkport to take when we go to the hospital, as inspiration.  But we’ll see how it turns out in reality.  I’m starting to care less either way.

With us starting Lamaze classes, it takes us to a whole new level of “Wow, this is really happening!”  We’re both having weird, off-the-wall dreams, evidently fueled by our subconscious anxieties.  I recently dreamt that Jack was born with light blonde hair and blue eyes, which I think is near impossible given our particular genes, though Uncle Jesse and Aunt Rebecca from Full House had blonde twins (and I could never get past that).

We both have sore backs these days, as it’s hard to sleep comfortably for either of us because my wife has to sleep sideways now with about five pillows, meaning I’m limited to a smaller sleeping space.  But hey, I’m not complaining.  I just want to do anything necessary to help her feel a little more comfortable during the pregnancy.  And we are starting to feel this sense of unsettledness as we count down these final eight weeks or so.  It’s getting to the point where we are both thinking, “Enough of this pregnancy stuff, I’m just ready for him to be born already!”

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


dad from day one: She’s Starting to Show

Seventeen weeks.

As I predicted earlier, the process of coming to terms with the fact that my wife and I will actually be bringing a baby into this world is one that is done in phases; yes, the inevitable comparison of peeling back the layers of an onion.  With each new proof of life inside of my wife’s womb, another new sense of realization happens, often accompanied with my own eyes “watering”.

(Conveniently for me and my onion reference, this week our baby is the size of an onion.)

It’s official- my wife is starting to show.  And she’s “carrying the baby high”, which often is a clue that it’s a girl.  We took a trip to target on Memorial Day in an attempt to find some “stretchy pants”.  While she didn’t find what she was looking for, I ended up walking out of there with a 3 disc set of Hall & Oates greatest hits for $15- so it all worked out.

The Bump says:

“Baby’s skeleton is hardening, changing from rubbery cartilage to bone, and fat is finally accumulating around it. The umbilical cord is getting thicker and stronger, and those little fingers and toes are now topped by one-of-a-kind prints.”

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/week-17-onion.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

dad from day one: Nesting

Thirteen weeks.

People have been asking me if my wife has started “nesting” our home yet.  And the answer is pretty much “no”, being that we’re in the process of selling our house.  It’s a matter of gradually moving all our possessions out of the house, not getting ready for the baby right now.

However.

This past weekend we did a 24 hour road trip to my hometown.  (Meaning from the time we left Nashville, until the time we got back, it was 24 hours).  My mom has kept my crib from 1981, along with my wooden high chair up in the attic this entire time.  It appears she is turning my sister’s bedroom into the “grandbaby room”- even my favorite childhood toys are there on display.

It’s hilarious.  And awesome.  My mom is going through a nesting phase.  Even if my wife isn’t yet.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

dad from day one: As Long as the Baby’s Healthy

Eleven weeks.

In the history of expecting parents being asked, “What are you hoping for- a boy or a girl?” the token answer is, “We’d kinda like a (gives preference), but really, as long as the baby’s healthy”.  And sometimes the word “normal” is added on to that sentence as well.  Healthy and normal.

But what if it’s not?  What if the baby isn’t healthy?  Or normal?

A few weeks ago for my wife’s 2nd appointment, we were quite unhappy with the way the nurses and office staff handled the whole process.  They didn’t explain what they were doing; they just take a lot of blood and at the end, said, “That’ll be $492.”

And then they assumed we also would want to do the test for Down’s Syndrome, which is an extra $400.  I understand that there are people out there who would try to sue their doctor for not telling them their unborn child has Down Syndrome.  I understand it’s a legal issue.  But the way there was this unspoken assumption that we would have an abortion if the child had Down’s Syndrome… really, really rubbed me the wrong way.  It was a very impersonal process.

Tomorrow we have another appointment. With a new doctor.  One that others have assured us will treat us like expectant parents.

Whatever state of health or normalcy this child is in, I am overly aware that this human life is a gift from God, a gift we are responsible for.  A gift, that we know, isn’t promised to arrive.  Part of being an expectant parent is knowing that something could go wrong and praying everyday that it doesn’t.  But still, if our child is born sub-par to medical standards, this is still the child God gave us.

By thinking these “what if?” thoughts out loud, it doesn’t jinx or bring upon a certain situation either way.  But I do feel a need to prepare myself for the both the best and the worst.

It’s seems a reoccurring theme in parenthood is the “not knowing”.  Saturated in hoping and praying.

http://www.lifeissues.org/ultrasound/11weeks.htm

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com