Male contribution
It's pretty remarkable how insignificant the male contribution to birth actually is.  Jim Gaffigan covered this pretty well in his standup special.  But really, aside from the initial part (sex), here's a list of things the male participant doesn't do: 
  1. Grow a fetus inside their body.
  2. Grow an additional organ (placenta) inside their body.
  3. Figure out how to use an organ they've never used before (uterus) to safely eject the fetus from their body.
  4. Feed a human with their body.
I knew I would be mostly on the sidelines for this, but honestly it's kind of embarrassing. #lifestyle

On the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2018, my daughter Hannah was born in an inflatable water tub in our bedroom, under the supervision of two certified nurse midwives and one midwife assistant.  Wendy did a fully natural childbirth over the course of about 48 hours, the last three hours of which were spent in the tub pushing. 

Wendy wanted to go with midwives because she liked their philosophy of "helping a birth happen" instead of "getting a baby out of you" which many doctors and hospitals seem to practice.  She wanted to avoid a C-section and an epidural if at all possible.  The idea of having the birth at home just sort of made sense (as long as there were no medical issues) instead of having the baby at a hospital and then waiting around for a few days before we could go home. 

Sometime on Sunday afternoon, Wendy started making a face and saying, "I think something's happening."  As instructed, she called the midwives who told her to take a Benadryl, have a glass of wine, take a bath, and get some sleep.  The idea was to chill out, relax, and get some rest before the real action started.  She followed the directions but didn't get much sleep, and later came downstairs during the Sunday night Bears-Packers game and said her contractions had officially started (this sort of ruined an otherwise amazing Aaron Rodgers come-from-behind win, but oh well). 

After a somewhat fitful night of sleep, we both got up Monday morning and sat around while the contractions continued to become more regular.  I kept time on my phone, and rhythmically tapped Wendy when a contraction came.  She read that tapping can distract you enough to more easily get through pain and discomfort, and it worked great. 

Once the contractions reached a certain rhythm, we called the midwives and they showed up at our house for some initial exams.  Their first cervical exam on Monday evening accidentally broke Wendy's water, which happens sometimes but isn't exactly ideal because it sort of starts a 24-hour clock where if the baby isn't born in that time, we'd have to go to the hospital and get the process really rolling.  The midwives suggested taking castor oil to try to speed up the contractions, but after one dose, then two doses, we were still mostly in the same spot.  The midwives gave Wendy some slightly stronger sleep medication (Promethazine) because they wanted her to conserve her energy and rest.  This didn't quite work because the contractions kept waking her up. 

Side note:  One of the midwives was about to do a cervical exam, and she said sort of deadpan, "I'm a lefty, but I do my cervical exams right-handed because I used to play trumpet."  I thought this was hilarious. 

Tuesday morning, the midwives showed up for good (they kept coming and going because they didn't feel like Wendy was in a phase that needed constant supervision) and we all mostly waited around while Wendy continued her contractions.  She found that walking around made things feel better, so we walked around the house, up and down the driveway, and down our street.  It must've looked weird for the neighbors to see Wendy and me strolling slowly down the street, with her occasionally putting her hands on my shoulders and hunching over to deal with a contraction.  Nobody mentioned it. 

The midwives had a magic touch where they placed a hand on Wendy's lower back during a contraction and it made the pain go away.  Wendy said later that the pain on the second day wasn't as bad as the first day, which the midwives said was likely due to her hormones kicking in. 

By mid-afternoon, I was instructed to assemble the inflatable tub and start filling it with hot water.  Wendy's labor was progressing, and the midwives were doing periodic checks on blood pressure and fetal heart rate to ensure everything was good.  For one of Wendy's contractions, I put my hand on the magic spot on her back, and she kind of yelled to not push there because it felt like I was pushing the baby out.  This was the cue to enter the tub and start the show. 

The water allowed Wendy to float a little, as well as try out a few different positions (laying down, squatting, hunched over the edge) to see what felt best.  When she started pushing, the midwives really took control and told her what to do and when to do it.  As someone said at some point, "You've never used the muscles that push a baby out, but when the time comes you'll figure it out." 

The pushing went on for a few hours, with constant monitoring of the fetal heart rate.  And then it happened.  The baby came out essentially all at once with one big push.  It was a bit chaotic.  The midwives put the baby on Wendy's chest and let her gradually figure out how to use her lungs.  After the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, I did the honors of cutting it, which weirdly prompted Hannah's first cry, almost like she could feel that I was taking something away from her.  They wrapped her up in a towel and handed her to me while Wendy finished up in the tub.  Our bed became a makeshift operating table as the midwives hooked Wendy up to an IV (just a precaution because it was a long labor) and gave her a few stitches. 

After some cleanup and whatnot, it was time to drain the tub.  The midwives removed the various gunk associated with childbirth, and so the tub was full of just water and some blood.  They suggested instead of dumping it down the drain and filling the septic tank, we could just drain it into a garden or some other place outside.  This was news to me, but that's what we ended up doing.  We ran a hose out our second-story window and into some decorative red rocks. 

The midwives stuck around for a few hours while we figured out how to breastfeed, change a diaper, and put clothes on a newborn (surprisingly difficult).  After that they left, and we slowly and quietly rested and recovered in the comfort of our own home. #lifestyle

Baby communication
I used to think babies just cried all the time for no reason.  But in my very limited experience, crying seems to be their only way of communicating.  It's sort of like the beginning part of a video game where you only have one skill or one emote unlocked.  Since it's all you have, you use it for everything, even when it's not particularly appropriate or effective.  You melee an enemy, then try to melee a door because you haven't figured out the "open door" command.  Or you dance to say hi to a fellow gamer, then dance to warn them about the enemy behind them.  It's actually kind of amazing how a single action can communicate hunger, discomfort, gas, dirty diaper, etc. #lifestyle

Volunteers needed
I find it ironic when I see a sign or something announcing Some Big Event™ but also "Volunteers Needed".  Shouldn't you get your volunteers first, then have an event?  "We're doing a thing, but you have to help" isn't a very enticing offer for me. #lifestyle

Expecting a baby
I'm expecting a baby in a few months, and it's an odd sensation.  I know it will completely and permanently alter my life in countless ways, but I'm just not sure of the details.  I mean I know I'll never sleep again, and I'll never have free time or energy again.  But how will I feel about that? 

Having a due date is sort of like planning for a major event like a wedding, where you're saving up money, buying various necessities, and generally counting down the days.  Except it's less like a wedding and more like a natural disaster.  You know something big is gonna happen, and it'll affect every aspect of your entire life, and so all you can do is sit there and wait for it to happen.  Also it won't happen gradually like a slow-moving volcano in Hawaii; it'll be all at once like a fucking meteorite.  In short, I'm panicking, but only a little bit at a time. 

I haven't spent much mental energy worrying about things -- will the child be a human, will it have a sufficient number of limbs, will it inherit my baldness?  And the simple reason is that it's too late now.  You can back out of a wedding; you can cancel travel plans; you can get a tattoo removed.  You can't undo a pregnancy (I mean obviously you can, but we're past that point).  It's happening, and as much as we can paint and prep and read books, we're still just sitting around waiting for that meteorite to land on our heads. #lifestyle

Baby holders
I'm expecting a child ("congrats" thanks), and for the first time in my life I checked out the children's sections of Walmart and Target, and immediately noticed that there are a plethora of products designed solely to hold babies: 
  • strollers, for holding babies while you stroll
  • papooses, for holding babies while you walk
  • car seats, for holding babies while you drive
  • cribs, for holding babies while they sleep
  • boppies, for holding babies while they lounge
  • bumbos, for holding babies while they sit
  • high chairs, for holding babies while they eat
  • baby tubs, for holding babies while they bathe
I'm new to this, but can babies do anything? #lifestyle

Multiple wives
People tend to think that having multiple wives would be a good thing.  They look at polygamists as sort of sexual heroes.  "More wives means more sex!"  Yeah that might be true, but I tend to look at it from a different perspective.  More wives means more relationships, and relationships are more than just sex.  There's feelings and emotions and anger and jealousy and irrational brooding over perceived harms.  Relationships are work, and work isn't always fun.  Multiply that by several wives and add in some inter-wife relationship issues, and you've got a mess on your hands.  No thanks.  As I tell my own wife, one wife is more than enough. #lifestyle

How to dress like an adult
I was at a wedding this past weekend, and the bride's older brother was dressed like an idiot.  Not because he didn't feel like dressing for the occasion, but because he apparently never learned how to dress like an adult.  I'm no fashion expert, but I feel like there are a few simple rules to follow when you reach the age of maturity and don't want to look like an idiot: 
  1. If you're wearing a collared shirt, iron it.  Sometimes you can get away with a somewhat wrinkled shirt in a casual situation, but if you're at work or a formal occasion, that shit won't fly.  It's ridiculously obvious you bought that white button-down shirt on the drive over because it still has the crease marks from the packaging.
  2. If you tuck your shirt in, wear a belt.  It doesn't make a difference if you need a belt or not; just wear one.  I don't know why this is a rule, but I remember learning it from my dad and subsequently judging everyone who broke the rule.
  3. If you wear a tie, tuck it under your collar.  There's no better way to signal to the world that you're an incompetent dumbass than by having your tie stick out of your collar as if your stumbly bumbly childlike fingers were unable to accomplish a simple mechanical task.
  4. If you're at a wedding, wear a tie.  If you're at a job interview, wear a tie.  If you're at a formal occasion where most men are wearing ties, wear a tie.
This message is for you, Mr. No Tie Creased White Shirt with No Belt at a Wedding. #lifestyle

Not many people know this, but I'm planning on getting a tattoo of the solar system on my inner left forearm in a few weeks.  I've thought on and off about getting a tattoo for a while now, and I was always dissuaded by my inability to choose a design.  My uncertainty led me to hold off on the idea altogether, since getting a tattoo isn't a requirement.  My mind was changed somewhat gradually and recently by my advancement in age (35), my choice of topic, and my dissatisfaction at being undecided. 

I chose the solar system for a few reasons.  One is that it's a symbol of humanity's knowledge, specifically knowledge about ourselves and our place in the universe.  The structure, order, and motion of the solar system was really one of the first things we learned using the scientific method.  We knew how the planets moved way before we knew nearly anything about the human body or the history of the earth.  So the solar system is a symbol of knowledge, and of science.  But it's also a symbol of perspective.  We used to think we were the center of the universe.  Later we discovered that our planet isn't even the center of our own solar system.  Our solar system is just one of many, which instantly elicits a sense of smallness.  We're tiny in the grand scheme of things, and that's important to remember. 

Deciding to get a tattoo presented a surprisingly unique challenge:  Predicting how the future me might feel about a tattoo, the design of it, and its placement.  No other choice, action, or event has the same type of emotional baggage attached to it.  I don't worry about whether future me will like the t-shirt I just bought, or will be pleased with my current choice of hairstyle.  I don't worry about how future me will feel about my upcoming vacation plans, or the car I bought, or my current job duties.  I guess you could say choosing a mate might be a similar decision, but at least that involves the feelings of another person.  A tattoo is all about me, and how I imagine my future self will feel.  It's a difficult thing to predict. 

As far as placement, I went with the inner forearm because it's readily visible to me, but not all that readily visible to other people.  I didn't want a tattoo on a body part that I would rarely see on myself, like my upper thigh or my back.  I also didn't want to have to take off my pants to show people my tattoo.  I'm not too concerned about how my tattoo placement will affect me professionally or socially.  If it comes down to it, I can wear long sleeves.  I have a hard time envisioning a situation where (a) I would be forced to wear short sleeves in a setting that forbade tattoos, or (b) tattoos are even forbidden in the first place.  The meaning of tattoos has changed over the years, as has the types of people who get them.  I am slightly concerned about people asking me about my tattoo and why I got it and what it means.  It's more likely people won't even notice in the first place. 

To be perfectly honest, I'm still concerned with (1) getting a permanent mark on my body (2) of a topic or design that will be forever relevant to me (3) in a location visible to other people.  My feelings and concerns on the matter haven't really changed, but I've decided to take a risk.  I don't know whether that's good or bad, but it is what it is. #lifestyle

Spring anxiety
The weather just started to get warm near me, and I have a bunch of outdoor projects in mind.  I find myself experiencing a bit of anxiety each year around this time, because for the past several months I've been doing essentially nothing, and now the weather is nice so I can finally do something.  There's a limited amount of time for planting things or clearing brush, and there are certain things that need to be completed before other things are started (e.g. changing oil before running lawn mower).  I keep waking up on Saturday mornings nearly at a sprint because there's so much I want to get done.  And god forbid it rains. #lifestyle

« Older Newer »