Archive for the ‘fatherhood’ Category

On Inlaws

2014-07-16

We are rapidly approaching our trip to Tennessee to see my Mom, Sister, Aunts, and other relatives. It’s times like these that I am reminded just how different my and my wife’s family are from one another. I grew up in a household where any objections to a particular action was a gauntlet thrown down for a verbal duel. No only means no when you’ve reiterated it at least five times and after being told at least four different ways your objections could be overcome. This was certainly how wife’s family operates. I think this often means my family is seen as pushy and argumentative. My wife is frequently telling me “do you have to argue everything to death?!”

The fact that I see that as a good and actually enjoyable thing further iterates this the environment I was raised in. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but it is family. My wife’s family and likely her culture (she’s Norwegian) couldn’t be further from my own. I won’t be as presumptuous as to describe how I think her family is because I wasn’t raised in that environment. It would only be dime store psychiatry for me to do so. I will say only say that based on what I’ve experienced everyone spends an enormous amount of energy trying to anticipate what everybody else really wants but is too modest or shy to say. Reading between the lines isn’t a hobby it is a full time job. I apologize in advance to my wife if I’m completely off base but it is my perception.

This trip is making me nervous. My Mother’s suggestion of buying denim shorts was countered with my explaining how his Michelin Man Vanilla Tootsie Roll legs need more stretchable material. That was promptly foiled by an explanation from my Mom of how we could get them just big enough that his thighs would be OK. That was enough to get the exasperated hand throwing in the air from my wife. After the call I was lectured by my wife about how my Mother never knows when to take no for an answer and how she feels she’ll really have to set some boundaries with my family.

I don’t disparage my wife for feeling this way. I really don’t. I don’t think she’s being unreasonable. I just think she’s different and realize she was raised In a different family environment. Not better, not worse, just different. I don’t think my Mom was being unreasonable or different either. She was just being Mom.

When my wife asked me if I would support her “boundary setting” I responded with a definite yes, That’s my job as her husband. She’s the Mother of my child and my role is to support her whether I understand these “offenses” or not. I trust my wife and her instincts. Could it cause friction with my own family? Yes. But I have confidence in my ability to handle it if it arises. I have confidence in my family also to accept my wife’s parenting style. Above all else I have confidence in my wife that she will always do what she believes in her heart is the absolute right thing to do with our child even if I don’t understand how denim shorts could be such big deal.

Our Beating Gummi Bear

2013-06-26

It was spectacular. I have seen the Grand Canyon, the Mona Lisa, the tropical waters of Okinawa, the mountains of Norway, the canals of Copenhagen, the medieval churches of Riga, and so many other sights. None can hold a candle to the beauty and miracle I saw today.

Today I saw my child for the first time. He was a blur on the ultra sound screen. His silhouette barely the outline of a Gummi bear. His heart beating ever so rapidly. Working so hard to grow.it is one thing to see a line on a pregnancy test, it’s another to see a dark fluid filled sac, but it is a different planet on which you see the vague outline of baby whose arm and leg buds are starting to sprout and know that is part of you and your wife. There is a euphoria and a reality in see that thin transparent skin and seeing the heart pound furiously. That heartbeat makes it so real.

That heartbeat also makes it terrifying. We never saw our last child who left us after only 6 weeks. This time we’ve seen her. We know that it’s real. We know it is trying to grow. I don’t know if I could bare losing this one. I know I would have too. I know somewhere deep down I would make it through but it’s a thought so terrifying I can barely speak it. I don’t want to focus on the negative though.

The image of that itty bitty life and that itty bitty heart pounding away is something I will never in my life forget.

My Father’s Legacy

2013-06-22

We are 230 days and counting. It’s amazing how quickly the time is passing by. A little anxiety here trying to speculate all the things we need to do. Everything from converting the guest bedroom to a nursery, buying all the needed cribs, strollers, etc. I was thinking about working on a to-do list today but got suckered into watching Battlestar Galactica today. Yes, I’m a nerd. No apologies here. My wife’s morning sickness is still going strong but she’s learning better how to eat around it. She’s now eating whenever she’s not feeling sick just so she can keep something down. Her big cravings now are beef (of course well done) and carbs. The only off key cravings she’s had so far were yesterday when she wanted Indian samosas so bad she was ready to run to the nearest Indian restaurant.

This week I’ve been mulling over the question, what kind of father will I be? I have such mixed feelings about this. Will I be Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver, or Darth Vader? I don’t know. I look at my father and grandfather and I’m a little concerned. Both were alcoholics, as am I. I don’t mean the kind of raging abusive alcoholic father they often show on TV. I mean the scared insecure need a constant buzz to interact with people and the world alcoholics. Rarely falling down drunk but perpetually having to finish off a beer before leaving the house and avoiding any social functions without alcohol. Not mean or intentionally abusive. I just mean neglectful in that fearful self absorbed way. My father to this day is as two dimensional as Ward Cleaver. Everything is fine, we don’t talk about bad things, or any real emotions. We never confront, ever. Then there is the narcism. Year before last I to,d him “Dad, we had a miscarriage.” His response? “I’m sorry. That’s terrible. Did you hear my new answering machine message? It’s really funny.”

I’m just trying to be open here and put my thoughts into words. I don’t hate either of them. I love them and all their faults. I truly believe they were both the best fathers they knew how to be. In my heart of hearts I truly believe that if they knew better or if they weren’t so scared of the world they would have they would have done the things other fathers do. They’re only human. They did (and do) the best they know how.

I gave up my resentment of my father and his failings many years ago. I had a lot of rage towards him because I felt he didn’t care enough about me to teach me to be a real man. He didn’t teach me to how to have freinds, talk to girls, be confident, play sports or (what i though all real men do) work on cars. That’s a big deal to a 19 year old boy who is in the Marines to cover his own fear and inadequacy. When I was 22 (still in the Marines in Japan) I got sober. With that came the shocking realization that my father was indeed actually only human. With it, the knowledge that in his own alcoholic, narcissistic, inadequate, and fearful way he tried his best to be a father. He may not have been the father I wanted him to be but he was the only father he could be. Today, I love him despite his failings because I recognize them for what they are. They are proof of his mortality and humanity. They make him beautiful.

Do I wish my own father had been more involved with me, more confident, less fearful of new things and people? Yes. But not as much for my sake as his. I think of the decades of life he’s missed out on because of his fear, alcoholism, and inadequacies. He’s missed out on the richness and fullness of life. I tried to share that with him. I tried to give him insight into my world and my inner peace. The year before last his drinking got worse and I convinced him to go to 90 AA meetings with me in 90 days. We did. Two days after that I went to a meeting I knew he would be attending. He was there. Drunk. Drunk at an AA meeting. He’s only human. As an alcoholic myself I understand him better than he knows. I don’t resent him for it. I pity him. I pity him because I desperately wanted to show him there’s another way of life. A wanted to give a piece of my serenity. He just wasn’t ready.

So based on my family history what kind of father will I be? A perfect father? No. A “better” father? I don’t know. Like my father and my father’s father I will only be the best father I know how to be, I only hope that one day my son or daughter looks at me and knows that despite all my own personal failings I really did try.

Planning on my long run tomorrow. After my botched long run last week I will be taking my training plan more seriously and alternating extending my distance and cutting back my distance on my long runs each week. Tomorrow will be a cut back long run. I ran a short three miles yesterday just so I can still feel that all this slower longer distance running isn’t mucking up my speed. It went well and I was within a minute of my 3 mile PR which is excellent since I run on a very hilly course meaning my next organized 5k should result in a new PR because organized runs are often on flatter courses. The problem is there is a lack of organized 5k’s here over the summer because it gets so hot. I’m still keeping my eyes open.

Kicking my wife in defense

2013-06-21

We are officially in week 7 of our pregnancy and heading into week 8. My wife’s morning sickness is definitely getting stronger. It’s transitioned from mild nausea and rare vomiting to continual nausea and more frequent vomiting. We are keeping her on the BRAT plan. Or something like that. Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Simple and bland. The cravings have started. For her it’s all about burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, and potatoes. Sounds like my little baby likes carbs and proteins. She hasn’t had any totally bizarre craving yet (but its early).

Last night I kicked my wife. Hard. It wasn’t my fault though. It was a black dog trying to eat my baby. The baby that’s still in my wife you ask? Yes. It was a dream. I dreamed I was walking down the sidewalk with our new baby swaddled in my arms when a black dog came up, bared its teeth, and lunged at the baby in my arms. My father-to-be instincts kicked in and I tried to kick it as hard as I could. No one’s going to hurt my baby.

Of course my valiant defense of my baby in my head resulted in a scream from my wife’s I kicked her pretty hard in the shin. Her scream woke me up just enough to say matter of factly “sorry, for kicking you but a dog was trying to bite our baby.” Then promptly fell back asleep immediately.

Luckily my wife realizes I would never kick her intentionally. She let it go (phew). It’s astounding to me that this little thing in my wife’s tummy (tummy sounds cuter than uterus) has already managed to work it’s way into my head and my subconscious. Already my thoughts and focus are so geared towards this new life that I can’t escape it even in my sleep. Equally amazing is how enraged and desperate I was to protect it, him, her, the baby. It’s really is astounding.

On a running note a friend of mine sent me some other half marathon training plans that are based on distances and duration based runs. Thank goodness. I’ll be starting it next week. I’ve got one of those color run 5k’s coming up at the end of this month. I hardly count it as a real race though since 1. It’s not timed and 2. There are a large contingent of my coworkers who are participating. All but 1 or 2 are not regular runners so I think it’ll be more fun based than competition based. It will still be a lot of fun.

Go Spurs Go.

My Bouncing Black Bag

2013-06-14

Oh joy, oh joy! God has blessed my wife and with a black sack. A black sack high in my wife’s uterus. A black sack high in my wife’s uterus with a white line around it! Yeah!!!

I don’t mean that sarcastically. I’m completely serious. We went for our first sonogram this week. We were both thrilled with the results. I had a very long post all about the visit written while I was in the waiting room but somebody doesn’t have wifi in their office so unfortunately I lost the whole thing.

My wife went back to the exam room first and I got called in afterwards. She promised she would call me if they did a sonogram. When I came into the room it was darkened, my wife was on the exam table, the nurse and the doctor smiled as I entered. “Welcome” the doctor said. My suave response? “Welcome.” Yeah, apparently I was nervous.

“What we have is a baby in the uterus” says the doctor with a long pause. “IS THAT GOOD?!?!?! For Pete’s sake is that good?! Please tell me!” thinks I. I’m just a little gun shy after years of hearing stories of my wife’s online friends who’ve had atopic pregnancies or incompetent cervixes. Luckily everything is just perfect. My baby is a little black sack about a half inch long. It even has a little white line around it which the doctor said was a good thing. I’ll take his word for it. We couldn’t be happier. Both of us were completely ecstatic. I was so excited that even as a middle aged man I read an entire issue of FitPregnancy from cover to cover. I’m pretty excited if you can’t tell. So all is right with the world.

On a running note things are just as good. This morning I ditched the timed running and decided to just do 3 miles to see if I’m getting as slow as I feel when I do a time based run. I’m not. To the contrary, I was within 30 seconds of my 5k PR. That’s amazing for several reasons. One, I run a very very hilly course from my home. I know if I were to get out on a flat course I could bust that old PR right in the teeth. Two, it didn’t feel even remotely close to being that close to my PR. Yes, I felt like I was pushing but not anywhere close to the effort I thought I would have to expend to get that close to my PR.

An awesome run and a baby in my wife’s uterus. Does life get any better?

What do I know about being a dad?

2013-06-10

My wife knows everything. No, I mean like seriously everything. She is a walking Wikipedia. It sounds so weird to call her a walking Wikipedia instead of a walking encyclopedia. Oh, how times have changed. My wife is one of those people who spends close to two hours researching online so she can buy the perfect nail clippers. Seriously, she like knows everything.

I on the other hand know absolutely nothing. Nothing about babies or pregnancy or infants. I barely know enough about conception to get the job done. FMLA, NLRA, Title 7, health care reform, FLSA, horror movies, and a slew of video games? I’m your man. Anything baby related, I know less than nothing. If you are reading this, you probably already know more than me.

The other night at dinner I was expressing my concern (a toned down word that really means abject terror) about not knowing all the things I need to know, and she told me to ask away. Here’s a small sample of the questions I bombarded her with;

How do I change a diaper? Because I’ve never actually done that.
How long before you can get the baby to start using the sign language stuff? Because I’ve seen YouTube videos of that and it looks pretty amazing.
How long before I can take the baby running with me? In the stroller, I don’t expect an infant to keep my pace (even though I am a penguin).
Will I kill the baby if I don’t hold it the right way? Because people at work freak out about supporting the head when they pass around their babies.
How long before it screams “I hate you! You’re ruining my life!”? Because I’m actually looking forward to that.
If the puppy we got last year brought me within a bark of having a psychotic snap because I couldn’t sleep, what are you going to do to insure everyone’s safety when the baby is screaming for months?
How long will it be before you start running again after the baby is born?
Does this mean I can’t go to Vegas every year “for business”? Because work says I have to. Really.
Which one of us is going to be the cool parent and which is going to be the Mom? Because I’m thinking you’re the Mom.
When will he start to talk?
How many times a night will he wake up?
If you wear ear plugs now because of my snoring how will you manage sleeping without ear plugs?
Do you still spray the bottle on your arm to see if its too hot?
How do you warm up the milk? Is it like the movies wear you put it in how water on the stove?
How long before we can have another baby?
What do we have to do make our kid go viral on YouTube? Like giggle or sneeze or come back from the dentist or what?
Will the baby really put a piece of pizza in my PS3 because thats what they do on the TV shows?
How can I keep my PS3 safe?

So you can see I really don’t know anything at all about this whole parenthood, fatherhood, baby daddy thing. I know less than nothing. But hey, at least I admit it. I know some of you are likely to say that I’ll figure it out and I totally get that. I’m just hoping to figure it out pre-pizza-PS3 incident.

Of course now that I think about it a pizza jammed in the PS3 could actually lead to a PS4. Hmmm….maybe this baby thing will work out after all.

We are both excited for our first doctor appointment tomorrow. Early? Yes. But with the miscarriage and my wife’s PCOS we are high risk so we were able to get in early. There’s a potential they may do a sonogram and another potential we might be able to see the baby’s heartbeat. I’ve already been warned by my infertility buddy (see older post) that it might not be there yet and not to freak out if isn’t.

On a running note I’ve had it with the time based running. I went out again this morning and again I felt slow as molasses. More importantly than feeling like molasses I ran like molasses. Sweet, but slow and syrupy. I’m going to have to find a new half marathon training program based on distance and not time. Is it really 5 more days until my next long run? Ugh.

Yeah for Puking!

2013-06-09

My wife texted me yesterday with “I puked! yeah!!!”. If that sounds odd its because her after years of struggling with infertility and having survived a miscarriage it really is a good sign. It means her symptoms are getting stronger. She has had waves of nausea but yesterday was the first day she actually threw up. She is excited about it because last time, during the miscarriage pregnancy, her symptoms were minimal. The throwing up, hopefully, means the pregnancy is stronger this time.

We want to make sure we have an attitude of gratitude. When people who haven’t struggled with infertility complain about their pregnancy symptoms or their kids they don’t always realize that some people would give almost anything to experience that stuff. It’s not their fault. They have a right to complain. They just don’t understand.

Last night we went to World Market to get plenty of ginger chews to help with the nausea. We also got Nyakers pepparkakor. They are Swedish ginger cookies. For my money the best ginger cookies in the world. My wife grew up eating ginger and ginger cookies as a snack. She’s from Norway. We also giddily looked at things that might be good for the nursery. Oh my God, we’re going to have a nursery. That sounds so weird to say aloud. You know it’s been 9 days since we tested positive and there hasn’t been a day (and nearly an hour) that has passed that we haven’t both looked at each other and said “I can’t believe it!”

My long run yesterday was stellar. I used the Cliff Shot Blocks and made sure to get the caffeinated ones this time. In my post the other day I mentioned I wasn’t sure if the energy chews were working. Well I definitely felt the difference yesterday. It helped too that it was a cool 64 degrees, clear as a bell, and low humidity. The best part of all, other runners. Normally on my Saturday long runs I might pass 2-4 other runners. Yesterday one of the subdivisions must have been organizing some kind of community run because about a mile out from my turnaround a waterfall of runners can pouring out of a subdivision. Big, small, young, old, there was a little of everything. I LOVE running when there other runners. That’s why I love races so much. I love seeing there faces, I love seeing the effort, I love feeling that connection and bond to them. I especially love seeing the beginners. I love living vicariously through them and remembering those first miles and that sense of accomplishment when they transition from sedentary to active. I can’t count the number of times I looked in the mirror beaming and said “I did it. I ran today.” When I see someone who is starting to get active I get to feel that all over again. That’s why I love beginners (and running in general).

Breaking Good

2013-06-05

We’re pregnant. Somehow, some way, it happened.

I thought I was getting a Garmin.

When I got home from work my wife met me at the door with the dog on its leash (as is our custom) and as I took the leash she said she had something that would brighten my day. I thought she was talking about the dinner she was making. When I got back from walking the dog there was a gift box on the table. She said she got me something. She said she she knew we couldn’t afford it right now but I had asked for one and so she had to get it for me. COOL! She got me a Garmin to track my runs. Or maybe a heart rate monitor? Maybe a new video game?

No. It was a baby onesie. She said when I opened the box there was no expression at all on my face for at least two minutes. Underneath the onesie was a positive pregnancy test. She said after those long two minutes my shoulders just started to convulse. Tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. We’re pregnant. Years of trying and thousands of dollars and we finally did it.

To say my emotions were mixed would be an understatement. My intense joy was peppered with abject terror. We had survived a miscarriage only 1 1/2 years earlier. The emotional toll was heavy and cut deep. Now here I was being told that after a long uphill battle we were pregnant. My only emotion should have been unadulterated bliss. But I can’t forget.

I am joyful and thankful for this blessing. It would be ungrateful and unfair not be filled with happiness. Our new child doesn’t deserve for us not to be happy. We owe that child as much joy as the one we lost. Certainly the immediate reaction included a heaping dose of fear. A degree of caution and concern is warranted. My wife’s medical condition puts her in a high risk category.

I am happy. And scared. And hopeful. I am making the conscious decision to be positive. I am deciding to think of the future and the joy and love we’ll give this child. I am thinking of games we’ll play like pirates, spaceship explorer, zombie survivors, and my current favorite “drive mommy crazy game”. I’m thinking of how different Christmas and Easter will be. I’m thinking of being able to show him/her how to see the good in people. I’m thinking of the every day things that are a reflection of God’s love. I’m thinking of all of these things. But down deep there is still part of me thinking of the very special angel in heaven who is watching over our new child.