Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Easter Bunny!

Yesterday we took Connor on his first trip to meet the Easter Bunny.

For those in the area, we went to South Coast Plaza, which was a fantastic choice.  They convert the Carousel from horses to bunnies, and the whole area is decorated with an Easter theme.  The bunny is not a creepy guy in a bunny suit, but is instead an impressive puppet controlled by a puppeteer who interacts with parents, the baby and photographer.  The photographer was also good, utilizing top of the line photography equipment and capturing great photos.

They are a little pricey — $8 to use your own camera and $14 to purchase their 5×7 (this includes allowing you to take your own photos).

There were some other neat things too, like a wishing well with a video camera mounted so that when the kids look inside, they see themselves in the bottom of the well (while avoiding the liability of water!).  There were quite a few people there getting pictures taken (at about 1 in the afternoon), but the wait was not bad at all.  We strongly recommend this location, and come Christmas, we will be going back for him to meet Santa!

Childbirth – A Grandparent’s View

Well, we are two weeks into this new experience of actually being a Grandparent.  What can I say?  So far it has been GREAT!  You have probably read some of Jeremy’s posts about the birth experience and the days that followed, but I would like to add some thoughts.

When we had our kids, 26 and 30 years ago, I felt a little “cheated” because I grew up in the black-and-white TV days when dads were pictured as waiting in the “Fathers’ Waiting Room” for a nurse (typically) to come in and say, “It’s a boy!” (or girl, as appropriate).  The babies were always healthy, and half the time, the father fainted.  The other half of the time, he passed out cigars to the other waiting fathers.

That “cheated” feeling came because I found myself staring into my wife’s eyes and blowing into her face to encourage her to BREATHE (he he ha, he he ha, and so forth).  I was soon rewarded by the sound of our baby crying and my wife smiling up at me and saying, “I could do that again.”  So much for the “Fathers’ Waiting Room”!

Flash forward, and it is MY son with HIS wife entering transition.  And the nurse came in and kicked us all out!  Thirty years ago, in the same hospital, we had my mother-in-law and one of my wife’s friends in the room taking pictures, but for whatever reason that was no longer a option.  And we were relegated to the hallway outside of the maternity ward.

So there were two doors between us and the exciting event.  But we still heard  the baby’s cries.  That was a moment I will NEVER forget.

So far, I’ve got to say, grandparent-hood has much to recommend it.  But I’ll save some of that for later posts.

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We are wondrously made: reflections on pregnancy and the first week with baby

Why does it take so bloody long for the baby to come?

9 months, 40 weeks, 280 days.

Other mammals have far shorter gestation periods than humans.  Sure, some parts of our internal systems are more complex, but 9 months?

I remember around month 7 realizing that this long gestation period wasn’t for the baby — it was for us, the parents.  I think it was around the time we got the infant seat for the car.  As I sat and stared at it, thinking that I should get it out of the living room and installed in the car, I realized that the mental processes required to get from “We’re pregnant!” to “We’re parents!” required at least 9 months.  It’s easy to buy the infant seat — it’s far more difficult to get used to the idea of it being in your car!

As we walked into the hospital to induce labor, I was ready to be a dad.  I had done my time in purgatory (pregnancy) waiting for the little one to come.  I had considered many of the ways that my life was going to change.  I knew that those 9 months were as much for me as for the baby.

Connor arrived at 4:41 pm.  Mom was exhausted after having contractions for over 12 hours.  Even so, she happily took all of the visitors who came to welcome Connor into this world!  Connor, on the other hand, cried for the first 5 hours of his life.  We put him to bed around 1, with a clean diaper and full stomach.  With the exception of one little cry, he slept until the nurses came to do a blood draw at 6 am.  After a change and feeding, he slept again until the pediatrician came to see him at 9:30 am.

The entire first week, he does very little but eat, sleep, dirty his diaper and cry. From what everyone has indicated, the first few weeks are easier than what comes next.  Our design allows for a couple of weeks just after birth for the parents to figure out the baby a little bit, but also to catch up on sleep (even if it is in the form of naps) to recover from the delivery.

Each stage of the child’s development is as necessary for the parents as for the children.  During the first weeks, we develop a rhythm, learning what the cries mean and getting familiar with the reflexes that we have read about, but aren’t used to seeing.  But can you imagine having a baby, born into the terrible two’s stage?  You wouldn’t have had time to learn the child’s personality, sounds or cries.  They would not have developed a bond with you.  In short, the mortality rate on babies would likely go up due to the pure frustration of parents trying to learn two years worth of information all at once!

As frustrating as it may be at times, thank God for the ‘long’ gestation and seemingly slow development.  We are better parents because of it, and our children are better off as a result.

Dog training with Baby!

Ok, so this post might get CPS called on me, but I’m going to risk it.  We have lost a few people from our class after having babies, and understandably so.  Dog treats are not generally manufactured to human consumption standards, and may carry nasties like salmonella to which dogs are not generally susceptible.  Thus, extra care is necessary when handling treats and a baby.

Our mini-schnauzer, Milo, has been in training since shortly after we got him.  We keep him in class to keep him occupied and for socialization — Schnauzers are very smart and require something to occupy their minds.  If you do that, they are fantastic dogs.  In the more advanced classes, they learn how to delay gratification, which is wonderful when doing things like eat dinner.

Milo’s class meets on Monday nights at 9 pm.  So, this Monday we bundled up the baby — at 5 days old — and took him to class with Milo.  Something to understand about this class — all three of the dogs that are currently enrolled have been in the class at least 6 months.  The dogs are off-leash and expected to  respond to commands from a long distance and for extended periods of time.  They are incredibly well behaved.

Class went very smoothly, in spite of a feeding and two diaper changes.  We took our Uppababy Vista along with the pram attached, and kept Connor there for the majority of the class.  It did become abundantly clear that Milo needed the time for things to be, as much as possible, about him!

Milo has been fantastic with Connor.  He attempts to calm Connor when he is crying by licking the top of his head, and wants to great him when we get home from the store.  He has been very understanding when Mel is nursing and when we are changing diapers… in fact, he likes to supervise!  When we got to class, however, he went a bit nuts.  He spent a lot of time running around the store and not listening (which may partially have been the result of the rain that we have had, meaning he got less time outside to play).  Dogs don’t deal well with change, so we see continuing his training as a constant which will help him to cope with the changes in his life.  It takes a bit more work to continue the training with a baby, but we think it is worth the effort and will help Connor and Milo to become the best of friends!

Maternity pictures

Many thanks to Brienne for doing our Maternity pictures!

Brienne is a friend who we have known for quite some time, and who is married to a friend from High School.  Over the years, we have seen her start her photography business and blossom into an amazing photographer.  When it came time to choose a photographer for our wedding, we knew who we wanted.  I like to dabble in photography myself, and am always blown away by Brienne’s work.  In fact, some close friends were so impressed, that they also just HAD to have Bree shoot their wedding.


 

We did our Maternity shots at Scripps College, part of the Claremont Colleges and had Milo come along.  You can see some shots on Bree’s blog, linked below.  Of course, she will also be doing our newborn and first-year shots, so keep an eye out!

If you are looking for a photographer for any event or situation, take a look at her blog and website and consider her work.

Ready, Set, PUSH!

During our weekly Tuesday OB appointment, our doctor recommended that we induce.  Wednesday was our due date, but he prefers to induce earlier to reduce the risk of complications leading to a c-section.  He indicated that in the past, only about 10% of his inductions have resulted in c-sections.  For almost a month, Mel had been at .5 cm dilation, and induction (or a c-section) was beginning to seem likely, so we figured we should take his advice and go for it.

We got some dinner, checked and double checked the hospital bags, and headed over to San Dimas Community Hospital at 1 am for our reservation.  At 3, Mel was given the pre-labor drug, intended to thin the cervix.  By 9 am the dilation had increased to 2 cm and contractions were noticeable, so they pushed the meds to start labor.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Dilation was still sitting around 2 cm, when the doctor decided to break the water (around 3 pm).  Instantly, dilation increased to 6 cm, and contractions intensified.

Some friends (Mark and Laurel) called at about 2:45 wanting to come by.  By the time they arrived, Mel was indicating that she needed to use the bathroom.  Mark and Laurel, both EMT’s, exchanged a knowing look… it was coming.

I called the nurse and she checked the dilation, walked to the phone and called the doctor at his office.  He needs to come NOW.  Pull him from his appointment, she is 9+ and is feeling the need to push.

All told, Mel went from 2 cm to delivery in less than 2 hours!

It would have been faster, but there was a minor complication with the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck.  This is common, but can be dangerous.

Perhaps the most amazing part of labor/transition was watching the way that the human body dealt with the overwhelming pain of delivery.  When Mel was getting close, she entered an altered state of consciousness.  She seemed to be going back and forth between delirious (at times appearing passed out) when there was no contraction and oblivious to everything when there was a contraction.  I found it helpful to take her face in my hands and touch foreheads to get her attention.

A recommendation — if anyone is waiting until the end to come, call and tell them to hurry when she reaches that point!

For first-time dads-to-be:

Forget the stages that they talk about in birthing classes.  Here they are in terms that you will remember (for natural birth, no epidural) ;)

1) water breaks/early contractions

2) “I can’t do this” stage (this is what she will be saying/screaming — my wife indicated that we needed to leave the hospital and tried to get up out of bed, IV and all, which was the transition to stage 3)

3) Altered state of consciousness/”I need to do a number 2″

4) “I need to push” (strap yourself in, it’s coming)

 

 

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San Dimas Community Hospital Review

After much debate, we opted for San Dimas Community Hospital.  Good thing, too, because had we been farther away from our doctor’s office, he would have likely missed the delivery.  More on that in a different post.

In spite of hearing quite a bit negative about the hospital (much of it having to do with the ER), the delivery staff was fantastic.  Our delivery nurse, Peggy, has been a delivery nurse for more than 30 years and took great care of us.  Other nurses assisted with nursing and other tasks, helping us as new parents to get our ‘sea legs.’

We got to stay in the same room from the time we checked in until the time we left.  The dad (me!) got a roll-away cot to sleep on, while mom stayed in the hospital bed.  This made for a slightly more crowded room, but a marginally more comfortable sleeping experience.

Due to high-risk of jaundice (positive on the Coombs test), we were kept a full 48 hours after delivery.  Connor was put in the double Bili-bed, which was hard because we had to limit how much time he spent off of the table.  Even so, they brought the unit into the room, rather than taking him to the nursery.

Perhaps one of the most impressive things occurred just before we were discharged.  We were unsure as to whether Connor would be discharged, but Mel had to be due to insurance.  Due to a low census, they offered to let us stay with him in maternity, even though we were being discharged.  Knowing that we would be able to stay right there with Connor if he had to stay another day for the light therapy gave us peace of mind.  This was something that the hospital did NOT have to offer, and yet they did!

Thanks to all of the staff at San Dimas Community Hospital for a great experience.

Improper Latching

So latching, as most of you already know, is when a baby ‘locks on’ to the breast for purposes of feeding.  Sometimes babies lock on to things other than the breast.  Usually this is a pacifier, a bottle, or something otherwise appropriate.  The strength of a baby sucking is very impressive.  Connor has no problem latching… when he wants to.

Just before we were discharged from the hospital, I was holding Connor.  He had been resisting his feedings during the day, but was going after everything else with his mouth.  He also, as of day 2 of life, was lifting his head to look around.  This was the perfect storm.  His head raised from my shoulder, and I brought him off my chest so that I could look at my son — and he promptly latched to my nose.

Now, babies tend to grab hold of something, suck a couple of times and let go.  Not this time.  He grabbed hold and latched hard, sucking like a hoover.  At this point I was laughing so hard that I was crying and couldn’t pull him off!  The image of slingshotting my kids head across the room flashed through my mind, so I let him suck until he decided that he would not get any milk from my nostril and let go.

A minute later I handed Connor off and got up to use the restroom… only to find that I had a darkening hickey the width of my nose!

 

So, latching and sucking: doing it right.  Aim: needs work!

 

It’s official!

I’m a dad.

On 3-14-2012 at 4:41 pm, my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  19.5″, 7 lbs 2 oz, and with all of his fingers and toes.  We went in for our weekly appointment, and the doctor wanted to induce (we were full term, but my wife was not dilating).  We agreed, and went home for a few hours before going to the hospital at 1 am.

Birth is surreal.  To watch the child push its way out and into the world is stunning and beautiful (in a Carrie is a beautiful movie kind of way).  Watching the head deform and reform as it passes through the canal is nothing short of miraculous.  Immediately, you are responsible for this little guy.  I mean, you walk in to the hospital with your wife and walk out with your wife and a baby.  You know this kid, you have bonded with it in utero, yet there is so much that you don’t know about him.  You almost want to ask the staff if you get to keep him.

Life is forever changed.

Welcome to the world, William Robert Connor (Connor for short!).

Home stretch!

We are in the home stretch!  Our due date is in the next 3-4 weeks (we were given a range).  The nursery is done (almost — still need to fill some nail holes in the baseboards and touch up the paint) and Mel goes on maternity leave in two weeks.

Does anyone have any must-have suggestions for the newborn?  Obviously, burp cloths, diapers and a carseat are on the list, but what about something a little less obvious?