dad from day one: What Does a Real Baby Do?

Fifteen weeks.

My expectations of what it will be like for my wife and I to have a real baby are pretty limited.  When I try to imagine it, I can only think about a few things: the baby crying, the baby being hungry, feeding the baby, the baby wanting to be held, holding the baby, the baby pooping, changing the baby’s diapers, the baby sleeping, us wishing we could sleep.

And aside from the 80’s sitcom stereotypes, I of course am well aware, thanks to everyone who has ever been a parent and given me any advice: There’s nothing in the world more rewarding than being a parent.

In November I will begin to feel like a real parent (once the kid is born).  Until then I won’t really truly be able to understand or fathom this most rewarding thing in the world.

It’s funny to think that eventually we won’t be comparing our baby to the size of a certain fruit.  (This week our baby is the size of a naval orange.) Eventually, our baby will be the size of a baby.  Interesting thought.

Excerpt from “the”, regarding week 15:

“Continuing the march towards normal proportions, baby’s legs now outmeasure the arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. Your fetus is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in the womb, though you probably still can’t feel the movements.”

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



dad from day one: Preparing to Be a Sleepy Head

Ten weeks.

I’m catching up on all the sleep I haven’t missed yet.

By far, the most reoccurring advice I’ve been receiving is this: “Get all the sleep you can now, because you won’t be getting much when the baby gets here.”  Noted.  So I’ve been getting to bed around 9:30 or 10 for the last couple of weeks.  My body allows me to fall asleep instantly, perhaps as a courtesy, knowing what’s to come.

If I’ve got an advantage over this up-and-coming sleep deprivation issue, it’s this: I function best on 5 and a half hours of sleep, not 7 or 8 like most people. In college, I typically went to bed at 3:30 AM and woke up at 9:00.  Graduated on the Dean’s List.

And here’s why I’m better on less sleep: I function at best, in general, when I am thrown into stressful situations.  Having a task at hand, in addition to less mental and physical rest, equals me in my prime.  Which also explains why I write “an excessive number of posts every month” (Being Down to Earth, Yet Never Really Touching the Ground).  I’m not good at sitting idle, because that’s the one thing that truly stresses me out, in a bad way (Rubik’s Cube Syndrome).

I am at my worst when I have no project going on, no deadline to meet, nothing new to contribute to society. Aimlessness and restlessness are synonyms for hell.

Of course, because I also so strongly believe in working smart, not hard (The Modern Day Tortoise), and because my organic lifestyle isn’t limited to my eating habits, we’re choosing to try an unpopular, traditional approach to helping Baby Bean sleep comfortably at night.  The baby shall sleep near us, in the same bedroom.

Because if it means the baby cries less in the middle of the night, I’m all for it.

We have some cool friends that did this with their first daughter, and not only did they have limited instances of the baby waking up and crying during the night, but now (at around 1 year and half old) she decided she wanted to sleep in her own bedroom, in her own bed.  It worked for that family, hopefully it will work for ours.

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



dad from day one: How We Told the Family

Something else I’ve learned so far about being an expecting parent: People are intensely, genuinely excited when they hear the news.  Now that it’s gone viral (facebook), I have been blessed with all kinds of encouraging messages.

As well as some that crack me up:  A friend from high school said I will be a “fab dad” and that I should have a diaper bag with FAB DAD written alongside guitar-shaped flames.  And my 7th grade English teacher said, “You are like a mom… with testosterone.”

That’s brilliant.

But before the news could go public like it has this week, there was a point in time where we had to find a creative way to break the news to our family first.  It’s not something we wanted to do over the phone, if possible.

Conveniently, we had already planned to spend Easter weekend back in my hometown.  Even more convenient was that my mom’s birthday was exactly one week after Easter Sunday, so we found a way to make her birthday gift the news of the baby.

My wife found a tote bag with an insert on the front for a photograph.  With the sonogram in that slot, as well as a “grandparents’ brag book” inside the bag, we had our strategy ready.  The trickiest part was convincing my sister that she and her husband needed to be there at my parents’ house as soon as we got into town that Friday night at 9 PM.  Fortunately, she didn’t question my shady ways too much.

After the usual “settle in” conversations, I handed my mom’s gift to her, which was inside a larger gift bag.  She lifted up the bag from the bag.  It took about ten seconds.

Then her face dropped.  And the tears turned on instantly.  As to inform my dad, my sister, and her husband, my wife announced, “We havin’ a baby!”

It was everything we had hoped for during the four weeks we had to wait to tell them.  We received our “new parents hugs” in a joyous celebration.

My sister, noticing that my dad hadn’t said a word, asked him, “What do you have to say?”

He responded, “Speechless.”  And a little later: “I guess this means we’re gonna be spending a lot of gas money driving back and forth to Nashville.”  That means he’s really excited.  And again with the convenience thing, our child’s due date is on my dad’s birthday.  No way we could have planned that.

My wife had mailed a card and sonogram picture to her mom in Sacramento, with “do not open until you call me” written on the envelope.  Fortunately, it arrived just a few hours before we told my family.  So both sides of the family were able to find out the same day.

It’s not the kind of news a person can just announce to their closest family and friends through a facebook status.  It takes strategic planning.

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



dad from day one: She’s Having a Baby

The word on the street is true.  And we couldn’t be any happier about it!

Three weeks ago my Mexican grandma (who has always been very religious-superstitious) called my sister, saying, “Do you have something to tell me?”


“Are you sure?  You don’t have anything to tell me?”

“Nnnnno…”  (more hesitantly than the first time)

“I had a dream.  I had a dream where I saw your grandfather in Heaven and he was so happy.  He was pushing a baby stroller.”

In other words, my grandma assumed the wrong grandchild.  She also told my sister about another dream she had where she saw “the most beautiful little girl in a rocking chair”.  We’ll know in about eight more weeks whether or not that second dream is true.

Something I never realized about finding out you’re going to be a first time parent is that it has to stay a secret for a while.  Long enough to make sure it’s not a false alarm.  Long enough to confirm with a doctor.  Long enough to get a sonogram.

We’ve known for over a month now.  It’s a huge secret to keep from the entire world for that long.  What a relief!  Hey, we’re having a baby!

Expected arrival is on my dad’s 54th birthday:  November 11th.

Obviously I’ve got a lot more to say about it all and I will continue to encounter plenty more as time goes on.  Therefore, this is the first of many in my new series I call “dad from day one”.  While it seems pretty easy to find material out there for expectant moms, not so much for expectant dads.

Expectant dads don’t encounter physical changes, but they do experience psychological ones.  In this new series I will be journaling the whole process, from the time we found out we’re having a baby, until… well I can’t say until the baby is born because that’s only the beginning.  And speaking of the beginning, when is day one?

Was it the day of conception?  The day we found out?  Today, the day I’m publicly telling everyone I haven’t already told in person or on the phone?  I don’t know.  Day One is the beginning of this new person I am becoming.

In the likeness of a TV show I’ve never seen but heard good things about, How I Met Your Mother, another goal of “dad from day one” is to create an archive for this kid to come.  To show him or her what was going through my head during all this.

Eighteen years ago, I was given a blank journal by a classmate from school as a Christmas present.  Inspired by my favorite cartoon show at the time, Doug, I remember my first entry:

“Dear Journal, I will be writing everyday so that in the future when I have kids of my own one day…”
Then I stopped.  I embarrassed myself with the phrase “kids of my own one day” because it wasn’t the way I actually talked.  It just seemed too weird.  I threw the journal in the garbage.

Here I am 18 years later, seven months away from the big day.  About to have a “kid of my own”.  Let’s do this thing.

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