Tag Archives: ultrasound

Who’s that girl?

Growing up, there were a few things I knew a lot about: “Star Wars,” comic books and really bad haircuts. Consequently, there was one thing that I knew next to nothing about: girls.

So, just over a month ago, fate decided to give me a crash course on the subject of girls when my wife Jen and I welcomed our daughter Kate into the world.

I'm starting to suspect that Jen began buying baby headbands quite a while ago.

I’m starting to suspect that Jen began buying baby headbands quite a while ago.

As with our son Matthew, Jen and I decided to be surprised by the sex of the baby, even though Jen spent the length of the pregnancy obsessed with figuring out the mystery. She remains convinced that if we had an ultrasound machine at the house that she could not only determine the sex, but also diagnose the maladies of others. As she reminds me frequently, she is practically a doctor.

While everyone in our families was pulling for a little girl, the odds seemed to be stacked against it as my side of the family has, to this point, produced enough boys to field a hockey team. (I had to look that up, as I know nothing about sports in general and hockey in particular. Please refer to the first paragraph.) But somebody up there really wanted me to paint my old bedroom pink.

While the lead-up to Matthew’s arrival two years earlier was filled with preparations, list-making and general fears of being unprepared, we both took a somewhat more lackadaisical approach the second time around. Like me working on a grade school science project and spending two hours watching “Night Court” re-runs and 10 minutes spray painting some Styrofoam globes, I felt that I could get everything I needed done in the two weeks leading up to the due date.

In our defense, it was a whole lot easier to build cribs and read baby books when a two-year old wasn’t asking you a hundred times a day to open the garage door.

How many 10 minutes conversations about not having the ability to open other people's garage doors can you have in a week?  The answer may surprise you.

How many 10 minutes conversations about not having the ability to open other people’s garage doors can you have in a week? The answer may surprise you.

With no emergency bag packed for the hospital, and no newborn laundry or bottles washed, we arrived at the night before our final ultrasound. After a full night with Matthew, capped off by a particularly excellent reading of “My Nose, My Toes and Me,” Jen informed me that the only thing she wanted for dinner was White Castle. And as a loving husband, and a lover of terrible food, I was more than happy to oblige. What better way to end the evening than by patronizing a restaurant whose customers and employees all look like they are on their way home from a parole hearing?

The next morning, Jen and I went to the hospital for the ultrasound, both thinking that afterwards we would then be free to go about our day. Jen was having some cramping which, like any sane person, we both assumed was due to the White Castle. We were moved to another room to monitor the cramping and as more and more doctors and nurses came through, it became apparent that we would not be free to go about our day.

Jen’s plan to have a scheduled c-section, allowing her to have her hair and make-up done and to generally not smell like little square hamburgers, was quickly dashed as we were informed at 11 a.m. that she would be going in to have the baby at 12. If you are going to have a baby and you can’t quite remember all of the things you need to get ready around the house, a good way to jog your memory is to be told that the baby is coming in an hour.

In one of the few moments Jen and I had to ourselves before being wheeled upstairs, she confided in me that she was terrified because she was passing gas every time she had a contraction. I asked her how far apart the farts were coming, at which point Jen probably had some second thoughts about bringing me along.

With Matthew, Jen had labored for two nights before he was born, and we had even been evacuated from the room due to a tornado, but this was a tornado of a different kind. Amid the frenzy, we called our families and I called work to let them know that not only would I not be making it in that afternoon but that they would not see me again for two weeks.

Jen was wonderful, and hardly missed a beat as she was poked and prodded and even had the epidural knocked out of her back as they moved her onto the operating table. For those first few minutes, the Dad’s job is just to stay out of the way and to not look over the curtain. (Never look over the curtain.) It is almost like being in slow motion while everyone else is moving at double speed, but everything slows down when you first lay eyes on your beautiful baby.

A girl. A beautiful baby girl.

Visions of tea parties, frilly clothes and me punching boys in the face flashed before my eyes. I could almost hear the whispers of the women at Target who would say “Did her Dad even try to comb her hair before he brought her out?”

I’m not sure what to expect on this journey, but I am excited find out. Maybe I will finally figure out something about girls, or at least figure out that I’ll never figure them out.

But right now, all I know is that Kate is coming in to a family that loves her very much, and is lucky to have a big brother who thinks that “Baby Tate” is the bees knees….at least until she starts touching his stuff.

kate and dad

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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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Filed under Baby, Humor(?)

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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