Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dad: Mission Accomplished

I don’t want to put words in my wife’s mouth, but the nine months of hormonal swings, back pain and general ickiness of pregnancy was worth it. WELL worth it. We now have our baby girl. She is awesome. And chubby. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. The first “I’m a dad” moments for me came shortly after she was born when she a) grabbed my finger and b) looked me right in the eye while I was feeding her.  

Mary Jane went into labor at about 9 p.m. on Sunday night a little over a week ago, and we were in the hospital by 12:30 a.m. She, of course, had to shower, do her makeup and fix her hair before we went. She wasn’t really sure when her next shower would be. Then there’s the whole Maternity Ward Beauty Pageant that she had to prepare for too (she won).

All the labor inducements we tried over the past month paid off. It was either the sex, spicy food, walks, evening primrose oil, pineapple, bouncing ball, eggplant parmesan, membrane sweeping or Punxsutawney Bill that did it. The good thing is, one of them worked. The bad thing is, we used 25 independent variables so we’re not exactly sure which one worked for next time around. Maybe that’s why nobody can pinpoint what exactly triggers labor.

Albert Einstein had three kids, and we still don't know what causes labor.

During the 19-hour labor, Mary Jane was a champ and lasted about eight hours without an epidural. She was much better once she got that going, but then she ended up pushing for OVER THREE HOURS. Susan, all 8 pounds and 14 ounces of her, was very stubborn working her way through the complicated maze that is my wife’s birth canal. She came out with her hand on her chin, which – if you’ve seen any her ultrasound photos – is her standard pose. It didn’t make the pushing any easier, though. Susan still doesn’t sleep without at least one hand on her chin.

The many faces of Susan. All with that hand.

My role during the entire labor was to coach Mary Jane through the contractions and pushing, but honestly my job was not that hard. I just tried to keep her focused on the next push while holding her leg up and telling her how awesome she was. She will say that I was a great coach, but coaches are only as good as their players. Phil Jackson was a great basketball coach. He won 11 NBA Championships. Six of those were with the Chicago Bulls and a guy named Michael Jordan. Five were with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. In the delivery room, I was coaching my wife who outperformed Michael and Kobe on their best days.

Michael Jordan = MJ. Mary Jane = MJ.
Coincidence? I think not.
Since the birth, we’ve spent no less than 12 waking hours per day just watching the baby. Everything she does is cute. Open and close her hands? Cute. Stretch her arms over her head? Cute. Yawn? Cute. Burp? Cute. Fart? Super cute.

All babies have undeveloped motor skills, so their movements are very herky jerky. Susan lays there and flails her arms and legs at random, which is also cute but keeps our dog, Oscar, on edge at all times.

You know who else has undeveloped motor skills? Her father at 3 a.m. I woke up to feed her two nights ago and BOTH my arms were asleep. After trying and failing to push myself out of bed, I eventually rocked myself back and forth into a seated position. I whipped my torso around, and my arms flopped along like Bernie Lomax. After doing what I can only describe as a human helicopter, the feeling finally returned. Only then was I able to pick up my baby daughter. I was still 75% asleep at that point, so it got even more out of hand when I ended stumbling into the bathroom with Susan for meal time instead of her nursery. The unforgiving chill of the porcelain toilet on my legs (as opposed to the plush warmth of the glider) snapped me out of my daze in time to avoid feeding her a bottle of hand soap.

Weekend at Bernies 3 is currently in production every night at our house.

So now we’re parents. Susan is an angel. I’m not sure at what point everything goes to hell and she becomes a screaming banshee all night long, but she’s taken it pretty easy on us so far. We’re getting settled into our routine, and while Susan throws us a curveball every now and then, we feel like we’ve gotten the basics down. I know it’s early, but parenthood hasn’t been the terrible “say goodbye to your free time” and “have fun while you still can” scenarios that some people will have you believe. Susan IS fun, and we’d rather spend our free time playing with her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Husband: March Madness

It’s March, which means its basketball tournament time and for those of us working in college athletics, it means a whole lot more work.

On the homefront, however, we’re having our own version of March Madness. My wife, she of the 38-week and one-day-old infant in her womb, is looking for signs of labor. Any sign of labor…anything that could even be construed as labor because she wants that baby out of her right now. She can’t sleep. She can’t get comfortable. She can’t bend over to tie her shoes. What she can do is balance things on her belly, which she now refers to as “the shelf,” but I know she’d gladly trade that party trick for a baby. Madness is an appropriate word because I’m watching her slowly descend into said Madness trying to figure out if she’s in labor or just having another false alarm.

So the past few weeks for us have been mostly Labor Watch 2012. There are seven main signs of labor, and Mary has experienced six of those. She’s had a major uptick in Braxton Hicks contractions, some of which are pretty intense. She’s 1 cm dilated and 50+ percent effaced. The baby has “dropped,” meaning Susan has settled down into Mary’s pelvis and is forcing her to adopt the pregnancy waddle. We already talked about Mary’s nesting, and we WON’T talk about the thing called a mucus plug which looks exactly like what you think it looks like. If her water breaks, she wins pregnancy BINGO and an all-expenses-paid trip to the maternity ward.

Baby Kicks
I want pickles
Wake up at
2 a.m.
…every night
New maternity wardrobe
Swollen feet
Mucus Plug
So tired I can’t move
Mood swings
Baby Kicks
Water Breaks!
I feel fat.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Can’t tie my shoes anymore
Baby stabbing vagina with a knife
Baby Punches
Crying at nothing
Severe morning sickness

For a first-time mom, it’s gotta be very nerve-wracking trying to figure out what is labor and what is not. Every new twinge in her stomach could be a sign. Oh, three contractions in a row? Is it labor? You feel like you’re going to puke? That’s new. Is it Labor?? You’re leaking something? Describe it to me! GROSS! That's gotta be labor!!??

In related news, I saw two groundhogs hanging out on the side of the road on Monday (true story). One (who I’ve named Punxsutawney Bill, the Patron Groundhog of Labor) ran across the road in front of my car. Assured it was a sign that he made it across safely, I expect labor any day now.

In Punxsutawney Bill we trust.

Every time we go see the doctor, we’re both secretly wishing that the doc will pop out from between my wife’s legs and say, “Well, look at that! You’re like 8 centimeters dilated! I can’t believe you haven’t felt that yet! You must have had the most painless labor ever! Eight centimeters, wow! You’re like a pregnancy miracle! Let’s get you right over to the hospital so we can have that baby right NOW! And before you go, here’s a trophy, your $5,000 baby delivery award and a NEW CAR!!!” 

You'll get a baby...and a NEEEEEEEEEW CAR!!!!

According to doctors, nobody knows what causes labor. In all the years that humans have been pushing out babies, NOBODY has been able to figure out what sparks the process. According to the highly trained research team at, an average of 133 million babies are born each year. That’s 247 births EVERY minute, at least half of those fathered by Travis Henry alone. All the OBGYNs in the world can’t find one factor that those women had in common and say, “Yes, that, that right there is what caused her to go into labor.”

So since we both want Mary Jane to go into labor like right now, and since we can’t find any definitive answers as to how to get that train a-runnin’, we’re trying every possible method we come across. Every wives’ tale out there, we’re giving it a shot (except castor oil, gross): raspberry leaf tea, long walks, sex, evening primrose oil, spicy food, sex, massage, pineapple, oregano, bouncing on the exercise ball, sex, sweeping the membranes, visualization and sex. Of course, we have two weeks to go until the actual due date, so the doctors won’t induce Mary yet because of “medical risks” or something.

Tonight, at the suggestion of one of my friends at work, we ate a massive vat of eggplant parmesan. No labor yet, but based on these testimonials, we’re hopeful.

Not in the pregnancy books, but you can't argue with the results.
All this aside, we both realize that we’ve been so blessed to have a complication-free pregnancy. But COME ON SUSAN. It’s been 38+ weeks! What else can there possibly be to do in there?

Surely, one of these methods HAS to work. My only hope is that when she comes out, she doesn’t see her shadow and jump back in.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today, Susan is 37 weeks and considered full term, even though there are still three more weeks until my due date.  So in my opinion, she is more then welcome to come at any time.  I don't think she will come this week, but I do think it is possible for her to come sometime next week, especially toward the end of the week.  FINGERS CROSSED.

This part is pretty yucky.  I am so uncomfortable and miserable.  And I only get more uncomfortable every day as she gets bigger.  About two and half weeks ago, she "dropped." This means her head sank lower into my pelvis.  So now my pubic bone is killing me, my hips hurt and I have that unmistakeable late-pregnancy waddle.

 And since last Sunday, I can no longer sleep..  I have to go to the bathroom at least every hour, if not sooner.  I have to sleep on my side, and my left side is the preferable side.  But when my hips start hurting, I turn to my right side.  But that is not as comfortable, so I usually just doze on my right side until I think my hips can handle the left again.  And then almost every single night, without fail, I wake up at 2:30 and cannot go back to sleep.  My mind starts racing with all kinds of thoughts and anxiety, all having to do with Susan.  Last night it happened.  I laid in bed until 3:30, got up and read my book for about an hour until I got sleepy and went back to sleep from about 4:45 to 6:45.  It was awful.  And it is every night.  I tried staying up later to see if that helped, and it didn't.  And the thing is, this is apparently very normal for the last few weeks in pregnancy.  The books joke about how it is preparing me for the sleep deprivation to come!  UM, shouldn't I be getting tons of sleep now so that I can be better rested?  That makes a lot more sense to me.  Sadly, after almost a week and a half of this, I am getting used to it.  I guess that is a good thing.

So how have I been passing the time?  As Chris explained in his last blog post, I have been nesting.  But now, I have run out of things to do!  I don't feel like watching TV, even though I have a DVR full of things to watch.  I mostly just want to stay busy, because I feel like time goes by faster if I am doing stuff.  So we finished the nursery, putting together all of her things, and we have packed our hospital bags.  I have included all the pictures of the nursery at the end of the post.  I have done laundry, cleaned, cooked and its just getting harder to find stuff to do.  These last three weeks seem like the longest ever.

It isn't just that I want her to come so I don't have to be pregnant anymore (but that is part of  it).  We are just so ready to meet her!  So far, we have waited 37 weeks.  I want to feed her and change her diaper and play with her and cuddle her and watch her sleep.  I am ready for the next part!  So not only are my fingers crossed that she comes sometime next week, but I am doing all I can to help her along.

Now, all the books and websites say that nothing has really been proven to induce labor.  I will go into labor when my body and baby are ready.  SO SICK OF HEARING THAT IT MAKES ME WANT TO GAG!  I know that!  But it doesn't mean I can't try to help things along.  I can be proactive.  Nothing I am doing is hurting her, it is all doctor approved and it could help!  So I have been taking nice, long walks almost everyday.  I bring Oscar along so we can make it a family thing.  The walking helps lower her further into the pelvis and get her into a better position.  The same is true for the yoga/exercise/birthing ball.  I typically bounce and rotate my hips on that for about an hour a day.  I added that on Sunday.  Other things that can help prepare my cervix for labor and sometimes cause contractions:  pineapple, evening primrose oil and sex.  Check, check and check.  As far as the last one goes,  I told Chris that it was a great way to bookend the pregnancy.  We did it a lot to get pregnant; now we are doing it a lot to get un-pregnant.  So while I realize Susan will come on her on time regardless of whether Chris and I are doing it six times a day while bouncing on the birthing ball, I at least feel as though I am being proactive.  And having fun too!

So I am partly doing all of these things so that I can start getting comfortable again and start feeling like me.  But I am mostly doing it so that I can meet my daughter!  I mean, I already feel like I know her really well since she has been sharing my body for the last nine months.  But I want to hold her hand and give her kisses and cuddle her. And I am doing everything so I can do all those things sooner rather than later!

Check out the nursery below - it is pretty awesome!
Entrance into the nursery.

Glider and dresser - view from the doorway.

Changing table.  Also, our second nursery project - framed children's book covers!
We are both huge readers and we wanted to pass our love for reading onto Susan.  We love how sweet this turned out!
Glider.  It is also swivels and reclines!  For rocking, feeding, reading and cuddling!
Susan's dresser - filled with all of her clothes that I have organized and folded several times.
Susan's bookshelf for all of her toys and books!

Crib and bookshelf!  So happy with how everything turned out!
Second view
Susan's closet!  Everything has been washed and ironed.  And we have stockpiled a pretty good selection of diapers!
Chris' great aunt gave us a huge box of bows that she made for Christmas.  Susan is set!
More bows!  These are a little bigger for when she is older!