Tag Archives: expecting

What To Expect When She’s Expecting

Walk into any bookstore (if you can find one) and you will find row after row of books devoted to advice for women on their pregnancy. While these books offer tips for dad’s which generally boil down to “try not to be a jerk while your wife is pregnant,” there are very few practical guides for men, outside of Billy Cosby’s 1987 bestseller “Fatherhood.” Which, if memory serves, is mostly just a transcript of that “Cosby Show” episode where Denise makes Theo a really ugly shirt.

So, in the interest of helping expectant Dad’s navigate the minefield that pregnancy can sometimes be, please enjoy these tips, tricks and observations from a man who has went through one pregnancy and is in the midst of a second. This is solely based on my experiences, so your results may vary.

First of all, don’t be a jerk. Your wife will be going through a lot of physical changes, and you are going to see, feel and hear a lot of things. Things that you will want to make “funny” comments about. Don’t. For those nine months, you would be best served by sticking with Omerta, the Mafia’s Code of Silence. You didn’t see anything and you didn’t hear anything. “My wife is as beautiful today as the day we met” is what you will say under oath. And that’s all you will say.

The real challenge comes with the emotional changes she will be going through. During Jen’s first pregnancy, she would cry during insurance commercials, old episodes of “Friends,” and anything featuring dogs and the music of Sarah McLachlan.

This commercial should be outlawed under The Geneva Convention.

This commercial should be outlawed under The Geneva Convention.

During this pregnancy, things took an even stranger emotional turn when Jen passed gas like a long haul trucker, then asked me to leave the room, then started laughing, which led to crying, and then went back around to laughter. When she asked me to come back in the room she went into a half laugh/half cry which I can only imagine would be the reaction to finding out that a beloved clown had passed away.

In these type of situations, you will be expected to react accordingly to the situation. Do you offer reassurances, laugh with them or just offer a hug? I would like to be able to offer you a guide on how to respond accordingly, but the truth is that no matter what you do, you will have made the wrong choice.

The most important piece of advice that I can give to expectant Dad’s or new father’s is to always be doing something. Fold clothes, hang pictures, unload the dishwasher. It doesn’t matter. To be safe, just carry around a tape measure.

While the first pregnancy can be tough, the second can offer a whole new set of challenges as memories from the first time around are still fresh on your wife’s mind.

What I didn’t realize when I became a father was that I would never again be truly tired. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am very tired. But I can’t say that I am tired without receiving a reply from Jen that begins with the question “You think you’re tired?” Apparently, she has not slept more than two hours straight in the last 15 years. Like Leonardo DaVinci….or a meth addict.

Similarly, after your wife has had a baby, any physical pain you may feel pales in comparison to childbirth. I don’t care if you have stepped onto a bear trap, unless you want to hear the phrase “Now imagine if that bear trap came out of you,” it is best to keep it to yourself, hobble your bloody stump to the kitchen and take out the garbage.

And when you add a toddler to the pregnancy mix, as a Dad you better be ready to take it up a notch. Our son Matthew hasn’t quite figured out that he can’t do a running belly flop onto Jen’s stomach, so I need to take some of the heat off of her and bring his attention to me. Like a rodeo clown.

As a Dad you need to recognize that your pregnant wife needs some time to take it easy, and that means you to take over baths, play with blocks for hours at a time and read your toddler loads and loads of terrible books. I don’t think the author of “The Teletubbies in Who Stole the Tubby Custard?” was even trying. But I may just be bitter because Tubby Custard was my nickname at summer camp.

So basically, whether it is your wife’s first pregnancy or her sixth, the real key is just to be a good guy. Be nice, get involved, and save all of your snarky comments for a little-read blog.

I think that ultimately, my wife will be able to look at this and laugh. Or cry. I really can’t tell at this point.

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Filed under Baby, Fatherhood, Humor(?), Parenting

A ma’am or a sir? A him or a her?

Like a lot of expectant parents these days,  Jen and I have decided not to find out the sex of our baby since it is one of the last surprises that you can have.  And unlike waiting to see if your car passes inspection, it is a good surprise, since most people will be happy with either gender outcome.  Even if the baby is going to cost a lot more than new brakes.

But while Jen believes in the concept of being surprised, she could not be more pre-occupied with determining the sex of the baby.  Are you carrying the baby low or high?  What is the fetal heart rate?  Every woman we run into turns into a Native American shaman with their own ancient theory on how to unlock the puzzle.  If your elbows itched during a full moon, it must be a boy.  Craving small curd cottage cheese?  Definitely a girl.  (You don’t even want to know about large curd.)

Not finding out the sex also leads to a lot of complaints from people who have no stake in the result but view our decision as personal affront to them. One of the biggest complaints that people seem to have with not finding out the sex of the baby is how can you possibly decorate their room without knowing if it is a boy or a girl.  After telling someone that we were painting the room light green, they told me that the baby would “hate it” if it’s a boy.  First of all, it’s a baby.  If they can’t even hold their head up, I doubt that they have formed a strong opinion on interior design.  Secondly, if we bring the baby home and they are somehow able to utter the phrase “I was hoping for more of a sea-foam green,” I will gladly repaint.

After months of being convinced that she was carrying a girl, Jen has recently changed her mind.  Upon viewing the last ultrasound, she let me know that the baby had my large head , short Tyrannosaurus arms, and blocky Fred Flintstone feet. Signs that could only mean that the baby was a miniature me.  I’m sure there was a compliment in there somewhere.  I’m still looking.

The King of the Dinosaurs never had to suffer the indignity of shopping for a sport coat.

 For me, I am on the fence on whether it is a boy or a girl.  Since both offer their own unique issues, all I can generally think about is what I will face a little further down the line. 

Am I prepared to attend countless dance recitals or bring a little girl into the Men’s room at a Taco Bell?  I have been to some that scared me and that were definitely not suitable for a little girl wearing a pink shirt with a unicorn on it. 

I guess I will finally find out what those plastic trays with the Koala on them are all about.

Obviously, as a former boy myself, I would seem to have the most experience in that area.  But I feel that I am severely lacking in what boys see as the Big Three Categories of Dad Knowledge.

  1. Knowing what kind of wood a piece of furniture is made from.
  2. Knowing who is the Heavyweight Champion of the World.
  3. Knowing what is wrong with a car by hearing people impersonate the noise that it was making.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, so I guess I will just have to make up some standard answers and stick with them.

  1. Oak
  2. Evander Holyfield?
  3. Probably the alternator

At least when it comes to the respective pre-puberty “Big Talks,” I know that Jen will have the girl side covered.  Since my ill-informed explanation would most likely lead to my daughter being featured on a reality show.  And not one of the “good” ones where people dance or hunt alligators.

I will probably only be slightly better on the boy’s side, as everything I learned at that age came from either listening to Jimmy Grace on the grade school playground or watching the movie “Hot Resort” multiple times on HBO.  Both sources turned out to be wildly inaccurate.

I know it is a cliché, but I will be overjoyed with a boy or a girl as long as they are healthy.  And I guess I will just have to figure out the answers to those other questions along the way.  But until that time, I will be sure to carry plenty of Purel and maybe check Jimmy Grace’s availability in 2023.

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Yes sir, that’s my baby

With the clock counting down to B-Day, like most parents-to-be, my thoughts are often consumed with questions of who this little person coming into our lives will be.

Is it a boy or a girl?  Will they have Jen’s nose?  My eyes minus the poor eyesight?

Will they be the best possible combination of us or the worst possible combination of me?  A short, sarcastic girl with a neck that keeps her from wearing any off-the-rack turtle necks.  These are all valid questions.

Since we are not finding out the sex of the baby, around our house the little one is affectionately known as Baby McMuffin. A cute play on our last name and a potentially lucrative cross-promotional opportunity for any McDonald’s executives who may be reading this.

For corporate naming rights, I am willing to take cash or those little fried pies you have. Your choice.

The one bad thought that continues to echo through my head is that familiar parent’s curse that someday you will have a child who is just like you.  Since as a kid, by most accounts, I was kind of an a-hole.   In addition to kicking rented bowling shoes into light fixtures, I was quick to bite, followed through on my threats to throw up if I was forced to eat vegetables, and was only recently able to step foot back into Sears.  To make matters worse, I followed the Mafia rule of Omerta, by never admitting to anything, even when I was the only suspect.

From what I can tell, Jen was a sweet little girl who grew up to be a little more wild as a teenager, whereas I became the world’s most boring teenager after an early childhood which may have been the inspiration for the movie “The Omen” ……or at least “Problem Child.”

John Ritter's untimely death means that we will never see "Problem Child 4."

Nobody wants their little bundle of joy to grow up to be one of “those kids.”  The sort that kick the back of your seat on a plane, or scream at their parents that they hate them in the middle of the toothpaste aisle at Target.  All while the parents stand there with a defeated, “what can I do?” look on their faces.

The unsolicited advice of recent fathers doesn’t help to assuage my fears either, as they tell me horror stories about sleep deprivation and temper tantrums.  The fact that each story seems to legally have to end with the phrase, “But it’s great, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world” doesn’t really help.

I guess I need to trust in the fact that we will know what to do.  Or, at the very least, that our baby will be so cute that we won’t seem to mind so much. 

I need to focus less on the what-if’s and start worrying about the real stuff.  Like putting together the baby furniture, and baby-proofing the house, and figuring out how we are going to pay for everything.

But it’s great, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Can I call you Dad now?

I have been called a lot of things over the years: Little Mac, Stimey, Scooter, Mr. Cool (sarcastically), Scotty, Scotty Potty (mostly from 6-year olds),  Scotty Joe from Kokomo and Matt (long story).  But this June, there will be someone out there who will just know me as Dad.

That’s right, in a year that has already brought major changes to my life, the biggest change of all is set to arrive in June.  A little person who will hopefully share the best characteristics of Jen and I, and who, as we speak, is developing fingers and toes, and a look that will one day keep me from going ballistic when they back into a telephone pole with a car that I haven’t even thought about buying yet.

An ultrasound image of our baby, or maybe a Soviet sub. It is really hard to tell what is going on in these things.

Our plans to start a family were nearly derailed by the work of a nefarious photo booth which promised a glimpse of our baby by combining our photos.  The resulting picture, which placed Jen’s eyes and my 5 o’clock shadow on the face of an infant, made us think twice about procreating.  But we forged ahead, hoping that infant razor technology would catch up.

Schick's Baby Quatro Extreme, available at fine retailers everywhere.

Anyone who has ever “tried” to get pregnant, knows that “trying,” more often than not, means “not succeeding. ”  It is like getting one chance a month to win the lottery. And after months and months of negative tests, the well-meaning pep talks from friends and family about things happening “when you stop thinking about it,” start to be less and less of a comfort.

So when Jen woke me one morning from a sound sleep, the first thought that went through my head was that a pipe had burst overnight.  And while the burst pipe would have probably ended up costing us less in the long run, words can’t express how excited we were to find out that our family was about to get a little bigger.

As the news spread, we received a lot of congratulations and even more unsolicited advice.  It is startling to see how heated some people get about nursery colors.  

We have chosen not to find out the sex of the baby before the big day, and since making that decision, I have found that people either react with excitement or look at me like I just told them that I egged their Mom’s house. 

And while the baby name suggestions come pouring in, Jen and I are having a hard enough deciding on a name between the two of us.  Finding a name that the other person likes which doesn’t remind them of an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, someone who pushed them in the 5th grade, or the ad jingle for a 1980’s butter substitute has proven difficult.

Jen has made lists, read baby name books and, I would venture to guess, put some thought into this subject long before we met.  Unfortunately, prior to the last few months, the amount of time that I had seriously thought about baby names is roughly equal to the amount of time I thought about names for a sitcom I never started writing about a precocious, wise cracking 9 year-old who is adopted by a wealthy African-American family.

One thing that Jen and I can definitely agree upon, is that the amount of crying in the house is up at least 300%.  In the past few weeks, she has wept while watching “The Biggest Loser,”  re-runs of “Friends” and “The Office,” and any animal abuse commercial featuring the music of Ms. Sarah McLachlan. 

Over the years, I have envied dads carrying kids on their shoulders, but also watched in horror as parents stood by helplessly as their 4 year-old had a meltdown because there was mustard on their hot dog.  I know that I will need to be prepared for both.

At 37, I am starting a family at an age when my parents were thinking of sending their first kid to college.  And even though I am older, I still have no idea  what kind of Dad I will be.  But I do know that I can’t wait to find out.  And, at the very least, I know that our baby will have one spectacular Mom.

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