dad from day one: The Due Date

Forty weeks.

Don’t ask me how, but all week my wife and I have had the theme song to the ‘80’s sitcom Mr. Belvedere stuck in our heads.  In the mindset of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, we downloaded the song as our ringtones for when we call each other.  That has caused me to revisit some of my most favorite theme songs from these sitcoms that served as the backdrop of my childhood.  A very interesting trait that many of these TV shows had in common with each other (and accordingly, the lyrics to their theme songs) is that premise was that an outsider moved into the household, therefore throwing normalcy out of whack.  Which totally relates to what’s going through my head right now about our upcoming new addition, a baby boy. (In order to qualify, the sitcom had to actually start in the 1980’s; Diff’rent Strokes, Mork and Mindy, and The Facts of Life don’t qualify since since they premiered in the ’70’s.)

For example, here’s a sitcom that had it all, yet could have only existed in the 1980’s: An all-American family, laugh tracks, and an Alien puppet. Of course, I’m referring to Alf. While the song had no words (instead it sounded like what would happen if you pressed the “demo” button on a $200 Casio keyboard in 1988), the thought of a little creature running around the floor chasing cats loosely translates having a baby boy. For Family Matters, the intended outsider was Estelle Winslow who moved in with her son Carl’s family, though unexpectedly the true outsider instead became Steve Urkle (intended only as a guest star) instead a few episodes into the first season.

In Mr. Belvedere, a British butler moves in with an American family living in Philadelphia: “Sometimes things get turned around and no one’s spared… There’s a change in the status quo.  Preparing for our new arrival.  We might just live the good life yet…”


Another prime example is from one of my favorite sitcoms ever, which happens to have my favorite TV show theme song ever.  In Perfect Strangers, city slicker Larry Appleton is thrown for a curve when his distant cousin Balki moves from his mysterious Mediterranean village to live with Larry in Chicago: “Sometimes the world looks perfect- nothing to rearrange.  Sometimes you just get a feeling that you need some kind of change…”


In Full House, it was  Joey and Uncle Jesse who mixed things up by moving in with the Tanner family: “What ever happened to predictability?”

There was CBS’s version of Diff’rent Strokes: Webster.  As a kid, I actually liked Webster more than Arnold: “Til there was you…”


The next two sitcoms both premiered in 1984 and featured an Italian-American who moved into the household as a “manny”. Who’s the Boss? contains my 2nd favorite theme song ever and often caused me to believe that Tony Danza was my uncle: “You might awaken to a brand new life around the bend…”


Even though I never watched it, I know it was a big deal to a lot of people- Charles in Charge: “New boy in the neighborhood…”


You’re welcome… for being led into a world of nostalgia.  It’s pretty much a fact that you’ll be struggling to get one of those songs out of your head for the rest of the day.  So being such a sentimental guy as I am, I’ve been thinking about the current events that are going on right now.  That way I can tell Jack what was going on around the time he was born:

Interestingly, on November 5th, the movie Due Date hit theatres.  Daylight Savings was two days later; meaning that when it’s that time again to set back the clocks every year, it will almost be time for Jack’s birthday.  Conan O’Brien’s new show premiered this week (November 8th) and sure enough on last night’s episode during the monologue Conan pointed out that it was exactly nine months ago that his gig at The Tonight Show ended; so if because two people felt sad for Conan losing his job they decided to “get frisky” to be happy again, their child would be born this week.  Good call.

It will also be pretty neat that I will be able to show Jack the November 2010 issue of American Baby, in which in his birth was anticipated.  He is not making his debut unannounced; that’s for sure.  Today, November 11th, is not only Jack’s due date but it’s also my dad’s birthday, whose name is also Jack.  So even though he won’t have the same exact birthday as my dad, their birthdays will always be close.

Of all the pregnancy advice I’ve been given, the one thing no one warned me about is this: For first time moms, it’s normal and expected to not delivery until a full week after the due date.  So if you or your wife are approaching your due date, don’t do like I did and get all psyched, thinking the water is going to break at any moment.  Because then everyone is constantly asking for and expecting baby news, but sure enough, the baby is unaware of his due date.  He’s coming out when he’s good and ready.

I have to remind myself that my baby is not a Hot Pocket, with an exact predetermined time of two minutes in the microwave.  In fact, that would be pretty weird if he truly was born right near the due date.  We went to the doctor today.  Thank God, Baby Jack has still got a strong heartbeat and is in a good position.  He’s turned the correct way and everything.  But as far as when he gets here, I’m sure it will be the moment that I (and everyone else) least expects it.  He’s a sneaky little guy.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com




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: License to Procreate

Twenty-eight weeks.  (The beginning of the 7th month.)

I’ve been thinking how it’s kinda weird that in order for two people to reproduce, there’s no paperwork involved before things can get started.  Giving birth to another human being is one of the most life-changing events that can happen to a person.  And not just to the family of that new baby, but also to the world-wide network regarding that human interaction of that person’s present and future life.  For example, in 1981, my parents had me, and now 29 years later there’s a guy at Aflac getting a commission off my paycheck every week because he sold me an insurance policy three years ago.  I am affecting that Afflec guy’s life simply because I am alive.  And that’s the slightest of examples!

In the back of my mind, I question why God is okay with the fact that it’s so easy and natural for human beings to be born.  If I was God, I would be pretty tempted to prevent certain people from being born, like Adolf Hitler (a pretty obvious choice).  And not let future serial killers and rapists be born either.  Instead, God allows all kinds of people are allowed to be born into this world, under the best and worst circumstances.

But God doesn’t prevent “ignorant people” from having babies, nor does He keep “bad people” from being born into the world, nor does He prevent unwanted pregnancies.  Ultimately, every time a person is born, it’s another opportunity for someone to bring glory to Him, whether they ever do or do not.  Not every child who was abused in their youth grows up to repeat the vicious cycle and by becoming an abuser themselves, even if most do.  And what about all the babies who were born into this world as a result of rape?  What about all the orphans throughout the history of the world who were born destined to die young of starvation or disease?

It’s pretty easy for babies to be born, given that that the father and mother physically can conceive.  No paperwork and background check required.  So as I tame my wildest fears regarding all the ways I can mess up this kid who is planning to arrive in two months, I have to remind myself, millions of babies have been born into this world under the worst of circumstances and actually turned out okay.  My future is as unpredictable and uncertain as anyone’s.  Yet I must daily resist thoughts of financial concerns and pointless worries regarding my own conceived incompetence.  But all I really can do is enjoy this new life and remind myself of all the countless times God has provided for me before.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

dad from day one: Instantly Becoming a Complete Goofball to Entertain the Baby

Twenty-seven weeks.

I know nothing about how to take care of a baby, yet.  But what I do know, and what I have always known when it comes to babies is how to make them laugh and play with them.  In the way that women instinctively speak in a high, falsetto voice to babies (I’ve read that that’s the frequency babies hear when they’re that young, as opposed to a normal speaking voice), I automatically become any given idiot monster when I find myself in a situation where a baby is looking at me, waiting for some kind of confirmation.

The default character I play while entertaining babies could best be described as Popeye mixed with Grimace mixed with Beaker: A smiling, squinty-eyed, beeping mutant.  But what can I say?  Babies like me when I am this fictional goofball.

And really, that’s what happens to any adult when a baby is set in front of them.  Adults become ridiculous.  That’s one of the many reasons people like babies.  Because adults get a free pass to act stupid.  All in the name of making a baby happy.

Needless to say, I am so looking forward to my free pass.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


Picking Up Where We Left Off Last Time: Going Back to the Future After “To Be Continued”

The phrase “to be continued…” is a way of life for me.

In the summer of 1988 one of the things I remember most is watching reruns of The Incredible Hulk with my mom.  So many of the episodes ended with “to be continued…” flashed up on the screen.  For some reason, that really excited me.  Even to this day, if a TV show ends with that phrase I like it more than a regular episode.

Yes, closure is an important part of life.  But in my mind, the door is never really closed just because time separates me from another person.  (Obviously, I’m not including the given exception of ex-girlfriends. Instead, I’m referring to everyone else.) Childhood classmates and guys from my college dorm.  Anyone I’ve ever met in my life- I don’t forget them.  I may not remember many details about them- but at least in the smallest of ways, I remember them.

Therefore, something I have to remind myself of is this- my way of thinking and exceptionally good memory are not necessarily the norm.  Just because I can remember specific quotes from something someone said in 5th grade, it doesn’t mean they do, or necessarily even care.  The file folder in my head for that person reads “last seen: May 1998- to be continued…”  Theirs for me reads “last seen- sometime in high school- relationship terminated/cancelled”.

When I am reacquainted with a person I haven’t heard from in years or decades, I have this habit of immediately bringing up the first positive memory I have of that person.  For me, it’s like time never passed.  Interestingly, that’s how I think it will be after we die and are reunited with people in eternity.  Since time doesn’t really exist in the afterlife, we just pick up where we left off.

dad from day one: Leg Cramp Alarm Clock

Twenty-two weeks.

Last week, my wife started suffering from leg cramps due to the pregnancy.  About every other day, I wake up to her crying out in sharp pain and moving around in the bed.  Though I should know better by now, in my “just awoken from a dream where I am exploring underground caves in canoes with people I haven’t seen since 3rd grade” state-of-mind, still mostly asleep and only technically awake, I always assume the worst- that she is scared because she saw that someone has broken into the house, so I now I need to pull out the closest weapon available to play Dexter or Chuck Norris.

But no, it’s another leg cramp.  And what can I really do?  Sympathize (which is easy to do) and start massaging her calves.  No matter which one I start with, it’s always the wrong one.  Murphy’s Law.  And I typically start massaging too hard, then too soft, then by the time I get it right, time has ran its course and the Charlie Horse has trotted away.

Baby Jack will basically be the size of a papaya until Week 25.

Eat more bananas for potassium.  Drink more water.  Keep salt by the bed to lick.  Elevate the legs.  Avoid standing flat footed.  She’s trying it all.  And still, the leg cramps still happen.

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?  Be there.

What The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:

Watch what you say — baby is now able to hear outside noise from down in the womb. Studies show that baby finds gentle music and your own voice most soothing. Nipples are starting to sprout, and that little face is fully formed. And, baby’s starting to settle into sleep cycles, snoozing about 12 to 14 hours a day. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out when — just pay attention to those kicks as they start and stop.

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/weeks-21-24-month-5-papaya.aspx?r=0&MsdVisit=1

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

The Most Popular, All-American Summer Activities for Kids

Notice I left out the word “normal”.


Now that summer is here, I realize I keep having flashbacks of my summers as a kid. The ways we all spent our summers as kids were unique in their own weird ways. I don’t know what a normal summer for a kid is supposed to be like. All I know is the version of summer that my sister and I experienced between the summers of 1989 and 1999 to keep ourselves entertained in Fort Payne, Alabama.

 

Mmm... Sharkleberry Fin flavored!

 

In the summer of 1989 our mom was obsessed with making homemade popsicles. She bought blue and red plastic molds into which she poured a random substance and placed in the freezer. Four hours later when it was frozen, my sister and I indulged in the flavor of the day. It started out as an alternative to “all those sugary popsicles they sell in the stores”. So orange juice was the first flavor. Then chocolate milk. Then yogurt. By the end of summer it was Dr. Pepper and eventually my personal favorite flavor of homemade popsicles: sweet tea.

The next summer, in 1990, we discovered water balloons. My sister and I would fill up about 30 water balloons, place them in a bucket, and take them out to the trampoline. One person would jump as the other launched the balloons at them. One point for every hit. Then eventually flashbacks from all that fun with the homemade popsicles gave us a new idea. We put water balloons in the freezer.

Not to throw at each other, but to throw into the air and watch them fall onto the driveway. I think the point was to see how many times the balloon could hit the asphalt before the broken ice inside would cut through the balloon. At one point we ran out of balloons to play with so our mom let us use some medical gloves. We filled them up with water and stuck them in the freezer. The funny thing is, there’s still a frozen glove in our parents’ freezer as of today. One last survivor.

My favorite classic summertime activity would have to be the paper rafts. It all started one day in 1993 when I drew and colored a cartoon man about 4 inches tall. Then I was compelled to grab some scissors and cut him out like a paper doll. My sister liked mine and made one as well. Ultimately we had made our own action figures. So in order for them to live up to their name (“action” figures), we decided to make paper rafts for them. So we drew, colored, and cut out Tom Sawyer style rafts and taped our paper men onto them, folding the men’s backs so that they sit down comfortably on their vehicle.

 

Destined for greatness...

 

Now all we needed was a good river for our men on rafts. No need to looking any further than the nearest bathroom. We dropped the men into the toilet and flushed them away on an adventure. I clearly remember my sister waving and telling her paper man goodbye. Then we did the whole event over again later that day, only with improved, more detailed paper men. And again and again.

In fact, I really, really want to make a paper raft right now.