Posts Tagged ‘fatherhood’

Punching Elmo

2015-01-19

The Boy’s 1st birthday 1400-1700 Sunday

1130 – Load the car up to the point it looks like we are escaping the dust bowl during the Great Depression.
1200 – Arrive at the park to a locked pavilion.
1205 – locate the park office to find the door locked and an out to lunch sign on the door.
1206-1345 – watch wife become more agitated and impatient and start counting off the symptoms of full blown psychosis.
1345 – Daddy (me) escape with The Boy for a short walk around park while wife and sister put up decorations.
1350 – daddy tries to convince Boy that swings are for going “wheeeeeeee” and primary purpose is not to gnaw on decades old weathered plastic.
1400 – arrive at pavilion to find 30% of decorating done and 10% of guests have arrived
1405 – daddy picks up pizza
1420 – get back with pizza and serve to 35% of guests
1445 – pry clinging Boy from sister’s grasp and try to reiterate this is wife’s Boy and not sister’s Boy
1500 – start stressing about time (piñata, presents, Elmo, all undone)
1515 – get into argument with wife over whether Elmo or piñata should be first
1520 – assign brothers to manage piñatas.
1530 – Elmo arrives
1531-1545 – watch Elmo traumatize the Boy scarring him for life
1546 – tear Boy from Elmo’s arms as he sobs hysterically scarring Boy for life
1550 – explain to Grandfather character’s name is Elmo not Emo
1600 – start piñata bashing
1602 – try to fix piñata line
1620 – try piñata bashing again
1623 – watch kinds scramble over busted piñata like zombies over a wounded expendable peripheral character
1625 – lose patience when string breaks on second piñata
1628 – jump and stomp on piñata for kids
1628-1630 – loudly reminded by wife their were toys in piñata that are probably all broken now
1631 – cake time!
1632 – give Boy first taste of real sugar (smash cake) and watch him get icing in mouth, ears, nose, and eyes
1635 – laugh hysterically and walk around pavilion showing off Boy to guests like he’s the Lion King
1636 – fret terribly I’ve doomed the Boy to a lifetime of obesity and/or wondering if sugar shock is a legitimate cause for late night emergency room visit
1640 – start opening presents
1641-1655 – watch 35-57% of guests leave as their present is opened
1657 – scream and demand that guest take all left over party supplies including plates, cups, sodas, cookies, chips, pizza, helium tank, etc.
1710-1715 – (loudly) being reminded by wife that she’s hosting baby shower next week and now she will have to purchase all new sets of plates, cups, sodas, cookies, chips and a helium tank.
1716 – tell wife how pretty she is and hope distraction from discussing my ineptitude works
1718 – find quiet corner to weep quietly over my ineptitude
1730-1759 – jam, crush, and squeeze presents and remaining items back into car
1830 – arrive home with a very happy and very tired little Boy who celebrated his first birthday party.

Being a parent is exhausting but worth every second.

Baby Likes…

2015-01-12

One of the things my wife have tried to be very intentional about is the kind of foods we give our boy to taste. In this day and age of childhood obesity we want to make sure we give him a healthy relationship to food and that includes being able (and willing) to eat alternatives to fast food and processed foods.

Sure chicken nuggets are fast and easy in a pinch but they shouldn’t be the cornerstone of his diet. We believe the more he’s exposed to at and earlier age (hopefully) the less picky he’ll be later in life.

Oh and by the way it’s really fun too. Watching his reactions to different foods and learning what he does and doesn’t like is almost as much fun as the eating the food ourselves.

We’ve been at least somewhat careful about pediatric guidelines regarding what to give him at what age. We’ve also tried to give most things in moderation if there was at least a component he may not be ready for yet.

I feel lucky that my wife is herself somewhat adventurous and diverse when it comes to food. One of my regrets about my own childhood is that with a mother from the Deep South and a father from Iowa my own childhood diet was pretty meat and potatoes. I never had a single bite of even an egg roll until I was a senior in high school.

So far we’ve learned the Boy likes hummus, red pepper hummus, chicken enchiladas, pork roast, samosas, Indian potatoes, vegetable lo mein, Indian cauliflower, refried beans, watermelon, chickpeas, garbanzo beans, lentils, Thai rice noodles, Havarti cheese, roasted red pepper and tomato soup, sweet potatoes, and in fact every form and version of potato ever made. He’s had a wider range of culinary exposure in his first 11 months than I did in my first 18 years. Keep in mind too, please, a lot of things were given in very small moderation. We didn’t, for example, just give him an entire bowl of refried beans. A few bites just to gauge his interest.

If you have little ones of your own I would strongly encourage you to give your child a little taste of everything. CanIGiveMyBaby.com is a great resource to help decide what flavor to introduce your young one.

Bath Time

2015-01-10

I count myself lucky. Our Boy LOVES bath time. He’ll be in the living room playing on the floor, let out a squeal, crawl into the bedroom, then down the bathroom hall, climb to the tub, and then pull himself on the side of the tub trying to get in. If I put him down to hang something in the closet he’ll immediately crawl off to the tub. He LOVES bath time.

I accredit a lot of this to my wife who from day one has always tried to make bath time fun. Always talking to him, soothing him, being gentle, and working with him instead of against him. She’s always made an intentional effort not to get upset if there are accidents or if the floor gets covered in water. She’s always made sure that there are lots of cuddles and mommy time afterward.

I think too one of the things she’s done right is not to sweat the small stuff and recognize its not a perfect process. It’s ok not to get every square inch every single time. Bath time should be fun and shouldn’t be a scene out of Silkwood (for those of you old enough to remember that movie).

I’m usually at work during bath time so I miss his squeals and splashing and whining when he finally has to get out. That’s ok too. When I am here during bath time I’m usually off during chores around the house. I like to occasionally sit in but I really view it as one of those special mommy-baby times. Allot of times doing things for Mommy means taking the Boy but when it comes to bath time (I think) doing something for Mommy means letting her have those moment with the Boy.

She enjoys it and based on his eagerness to have bath time I’d say she’s definitely doing something right.

Baby Man

2015-01-06

I am a man and I fully admit that when I get sick I turn into a baby. I’ve been feeling sick for a couple of days but last night it hit me full blast. After a day of work i came home with a fever. My body ached, my head and throat hurt, I had “fever eyes” but at the same time couldn’t get warm. I just wanted to climb into bed with a bunch of blankets, turn on Netflix, and feel sorry for myself.

You know who didn’t care? My son. You know who else didn’t care? The dishes or the laundry or the dog. My wife might have cared a little. The difference between being sick with and without an 11 month old to care for is night and day.

Childless all responsibilities yield to my whining pity party. The dishes can sit on the stove uncleared for at least a good 24 hours. I can probably get one more wear out of my dress shirt (I do wear undershorts). The dog is still the dog but my usual 20 minute walks can be as short at 3 minutes. Netflix binging is a must.

Having an 11 month thrilled to see Daddy and wanting to explore the world wipes all my poor me sick fun away. My wife, exhausted from a day with The Boy and with her own responsibilities, is more than ready for at least a 1 minute break. That turns The Boy over to me. Sickness and all.

Suddenly I find myself playing with him like I do the dog. Collapsed on the floor with him seated nearby. My one hand outstretched in his general direction (or where I think he is) flopping around with half hearted “wooo’s” escaping my sore throat. “Isn’t this fun?” I mutter with less conviction than a D list actor in an F grade movie.

Any other day I would be romping and rolling with him and chasing the dog around the house. Not today. Today my only goal is to make sure he doesn’t sustain an injury that will send us to the emergency room. I just find myself counting down the minutes to bedtime so I can feel good and sorry for myself.

There are no sick day pity party days when you’re a parent.

Baby’s Favorite

2015-01-05

It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s a phase. Mommy’s the constant and Daddy comes and goes. He just accepts Mommy is always there.

My wife knows these things. We’ve talked openly about them. She’s just ready for the phase to be over. My son is currently obsessed with me. I go to work and he gets hysterical. I take the dog out and he gets hysterical. I go to another room and he gets hysterical. I come home and he crawls and claws over his Mom to get to me. This has been going on for a couple of weeks now.

It’s a tremendous boost to my ego but it makes my heart break for my wife. She’s sacrificed her career and devoted herself to him fully by deciding to stay home with him. All she wants is a little recognition from the boy. I would love to give her some of his adoration. She is the one who feeds him, changes him, rocks him o sleep, stays up with him overnight when Daddy has to go to sleep….she does it all.

She does get adoration but in a very different way. I saw this on Saturday when he was sitting up from a feeding and they made eye contact with each other and their noses were almost touching. They were “talking”, mimicking each other, and giggling. He doesn’t do that with me. I don’t get that intimacy and that quiet calm communication. I get the squeals and gestures for another round of “bouncy” or “chase the dog”. I may be the amusement park ride but she gets to be the trusted snuggle bunny he shares his quiet moments with. She deserves it and she’s earned it.

The Boy has learned to initiate peek-a-boo and it’s adorable. We’ve been playing and enjoying peek-a-boo for several weeks but now he’s figured out how to lift the blanket (at least somewhat) over his face and pull it away quickly. If I blow out my vocal chords I know the last words will likely be “peek-a-boo”!!!!

In fear of R2D2

2015-01-04

I’m determined to get on Maury so I can get a paternity test. My so-called son is terrified of R2D2. I don’t mean unsure, I don’t mean hesitant. I mean full blown terrified.

My father got me a 15″ voice interactive R2D2 astromech robot for Christmas. I’m 44. He told me I could take it to work and keep it in my office. My father like Ralphie’s aunt in A Christmas Story has failed to realize I’ve grown up just a little over the last 4 decades.

I pictured my son and R2 having conversations only they could understand. I pictured my son babbling and R2 whirring and buzzing back. I pictured my son developing an extra ordinary early love of the Star Wars franchise. Instead I got a quivering lip, desperate clawing at my clothes, and terrified stream of tears.

Of course I’m being facetious, I realize that it’s just too early for him not to be terrified of an obnoxiously loud inanimate object. I realize he hasn’t watched the Star Wars movies like a bajillion times. I realize too that Star Wars hasn’t been an integral part of his childhood.

Above all though I realize he’s not me. And that’s OK. Will I be disappointed if he doesn’t like the Star Wars franchise? Sure. Will I miss bonding with him over it? Absolutely. Will it be the end of the world? No. I know there will be other things. There will probably even be things I haven’t imagined yet.

I hope and pray he doesn’t put on a brave smile and pretend to like Star Wars just to humor me. That will make me more sad that him just saying he doesn’t like Star Wars. I remember being a child and constantly having to humor my Dad just so he would spend time with me and just so he would be happy. As an adult I get sad thinking about the fact that Dad never took an interest in my interests. It was always me trying to get his attention.

I want more for my son. I want to discover who my son is instead of forcing him to be someone he’s not. I pray that God will keep reminding me to look outside myself and look outside my narcissism so that I can truly appreciate and value who he is. I still want my own interest. That’s for sure. I just hope that I sacrifice the time to look into his world instead of living separate lives that sometimes intersect. I don’t want to just be a roommate to my son the way my father was with me.

340 Days Old

2015-01-01

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I want to get back on track with it. We are only 25 days from The Boy’s first birthday. It has been an unbelievable amazing year. Since my last post we flew not only to Nashville to see my Mom and sister but in August we flew back to Norway to see my wife’s family. That was an experience I’ll definitely have to share sometime.

The boy is crawling and just on the edge of walking. He’s currently obsessed with me wailing endlessly when I leave the room. It’s flattering but inconvenient. I feel terrible with for my wife who has dedicated her life to raising this boy and suddenly I swoop in for a couple hours each night and steal all the glory. Logically we both know it’s just a phase but I know it hurts her on some level.

The boy has started to mimic us. He will try to brush my hair and crudely try to use a spoon in the bowl.

He’s an amazing child and every day I just love him more and more. I’m lucky and extremely blessed to have such a wonderful child and wife.

His Birth Story

2014-01-29

When I had texted one of my friends that our bundle of joy had arrived one of the things she said was to make sure you write down his birth story because in the days, months, and years to follow you’ll get caught up in the day to day and easily forget the details. There seemed to be so much drama and stress regarding the that day that today I find it hard to believe but if I’ve learned anything in the last 6 days of being a parent it’s listen to those that have gone before you. I’m learning that is one of the golden rules of parenting that are founded in absolute truth. Things like “sleep when the baby sleeps” are fundamentals I wished had followed more devotedly.

The story of my sons birth actually starts the day before. For the entire week leading up to his birth my wife and I had said each day “can you believe this is our last [insert day of the week] as a couple? This time next week we’ll be a family.” We were being induced two weeks early because of blood pressure concerns so we knew the day he would arrive. While it relieved some of the pressure of not knowing when it also added the stress of having a deadline to get everything done we wanted to get done before the baby arrived. My wife and I who are notorious procrastinators joked when 9 months earlier that we would be vacuuming and putting up curtains the night before we gave birth. That “joke” turned out to be more of a prophecy. We were indeed doing last minute shopping and preparation hours before we were supposed to report to the hospital. As a result we only got about 2 1/2 hours of sleep before we started the inducement. So to any readers soon expecting Be sure to get done early!

We showed up at the hospital at 0600 and reported to labor and delivery and and assigned LDR (labor and deliver room) and introduced to the nurses who would be working with us throughout the day. While I was finishing the admission paperwork downstairs my wife commented to the nurse how scared she was and the nurse sat down and gave her a great speech letting her know that today “there is no dignity” and not to be worried about things. That was some of the best advice my wife could have received. She is both Norwegian and very self conscious. I knew the raw truth and ugliness (for lack of a better word) was going to be very hard on her. She primps and meticulously grooms for even the most minor doctors appointments, she refuses to let anyone come inside the house unless it can pass a white glove inspection first, and she’s threatened to destroy my phone if I didn’t delete any unflattering pictures. She’s always thinking of what people will see and say. It’s not a vanity thing though. I think it is a pride and cultural thing. She had told me that her biggest concern about labor was not that she was going to physically be in pain and put through the ringer but that she was probably going to poop on herself during the push stage of labor. THAT was the scary thing for her. Not pushing a child through a very narrow exit, or having major surgery (if we had a c section) but that someone was going to see and smell her poop. God bless that nurse for giving her that advice though. My wife didn’t complain during the entire day about being poked, prodded, or examined by a room full of people.

The original plan from her doctor is that we would induce the labor, give it all day, and if she wasn’t fully dilated or the baby hadn’t fully dropped by around 1900 he would do a c section. When we were first set up one of the nurses said our doctor was an early riser and we would likely see him before 0800-0900 and he would probably break her water then. We knew. By 1100 that wasn’t going to be the case. Closer to 1400 the nurse started preparing for the doctor’s arrival. She laid out gloves and some instruments and commented the doctor liked things a certain way. I jokingly asked if our doctor was a diva and got less joking reply that he wasn’t a diva but did like things a particular way. I immediately got the impression that our doctor wasn’t very well liked by the nurses. Surprising to us since he had always seemed to have a great bedside manner with us and the nurses at his practice seemed to get along with him.

My suspicions about the labor being boring for me were fairly accurate. After pacing the room for the first hour we were there and looking at all the devices and the nurses volunteering to show me what some of the monitors showed I talked for a lot with my wife. Both of us excited and still I disbelief this was actually happening. Once they had administered the drug to start the inducement and her contractions started getting stronger the boredom started creeping in. Now before you wag your finger at me and tell me what an insensitive narcissistic ahole I am let me explain. I mean, yes, I am an insensitive narcissistic ahole but in this case it’s not entirely my fault. My wife is one of those people who, like me, don’t like to be touched, spoken to, or otherwise engaged when in pain. Our breed has a tendency to act like a sick or injured dog when in pain. We want to crawl under the porch and be left alone. When she had a painful contraction I would have liked nothing better than to loving stroke her hair, whisper in ear what a great job she was doing, and look at her with pained loving gazes wishing I could ease her pain. Instead, as is often the case, the most common phrases she threw me were “STOP Talking!” and “don’t touch me!”. I guess if I truly was narcissistic or more thin skinned it would have phased me and I would have pouted being hurt she had rejected my attempts to make her feel better. I would have thrown myself into the chair sobbing petulant tears and gasping “why won’t you let me help you! Can’t you see how empathetic and caring I am?!?!”. Instead I get it. Actually being a little insensitive and programmed the same way I actually appreciate it.

Since I couldn’t help her and she had already told me there would be no music or TV I spent most of the day to myself responding to work emails, posting dilation updates to Facebook, and playing Tower Defense. The only downside is I know the nurses thought I was a gigantic ahole because they would come in to find her curled up in contraction pain, sweating, and almost in tears and I was sitting off to myself working on my iPad. Several of my coworkers actually told me I shouldn’t be replying to emails and should be focused of other things going on today. I didn’t have have the heart to tell them I was giving my wife exactly what she needed. The ability to get through her pain without being annoyed with my attempts to help her.

Once her contractions got to a certain intensity she didn’t have any qualms about requesting the epidural. The thought of having a needle injected directly into your spine can be daunting but I guess compared to the slowly increasing pains of the contractions a little poke isn’t too terrible. Apparently it’s effective because once the medication kicked in my wife said she wanted to kiss whoever invented the epidural.

Around 1300 the doctor came in and broke her water and confirmed she was still around 3-4 cm. The doctor’s prediction was dead on that her water was going to be quarts and not teaspoons because sure enough as soon there was a gushing noise when they broke it. From the time that he broke her water our race against the clock to get her fully dilated and to get the baby to drop was on.

We had inferred from the nurses off hand comments that the doctor may have have been suggesting a c-section by 1900 because it fit his schedule and prevented him from having to be at the hospital late into the night. It was nothing they said directly but when we shared that our preference was for a vaginal delivery they got determined to make at happen. It felt like it was us and the nurses racing together against the doctor’s c-section deadline. We appreciated how hard they worked to fulfill our wishes. They started moving my wife from position to position in order to try and speed up the process. As the hours progressed her contractions and surprisingly her pain increased. When my wife complained about the pain they shared how the epidural works based on gravity and the change in positions may have reduced the full effectiveness of the epidural. They told her all she was really feeling was pressure and that she probably wasn’t actually feeling the pain of the contractions.

My wife was making great progress and dilating almost an additional centimeter per hour. The doctor came back in at around 1830 and saw that she was at 9 cm though the nurses said she was at a full 10 cm. He said he another patient in the next room and would do there -section first then do ours. He felt like despite her dilation the baby wasn’t dropping the way he should. The nurses were excited and even more determined to get the baby to drop. By this time my wife was in a tremendous amount pain. She was lying on her side with trying to bring her knees up to her chest. She was still being told it wasn’t really pain and was just contractions.

About an hour later the nurses were proud to announce she was fully dilated at 10 cm and had her do a practice push. The could feel the baby’s head and he was dropping fast. When the doctor returned though he said she at 9 1/2 and the baby had gone back up. He was recommending an immediate c-section because if the baby had dropped then gone back up there was probably something preventing the baby from dropping. “Or you can give it more time” chimed in one of the nurses. The doctor’s head spun around like it was on a trip wire. “Maybe you should check with the doctor first” the doctor snapped. ” The nurse who was facing us but had her back to the doctor replied “Well you did tell them you could do the c-section or give them more time.” The doctor left the room to talk to the anesthesiologist about the c-section. “You don’t have to do what he says” the nurse told us.

My wife and I looked at each other puzzled and unsure. We were trapped in this struggle between the nurses who wanted to give us the vaginal delivery we had hoped for and the doctor who seemed to be pushing a c-section because it seemed easier for him. We were left alone for a few minutes and we hurriedly talked trying to figure out what the heck we should do. Listen to the nurses who seemed to have our desires at heart or listen to the doctor who had gotten us through when we almost had a miscarriage. We chose reluctantly to follow the doctors advice. Each of us for different reasons. My wife later admitted she was just in so much pay she wanted it to be over. She just couldn’t take it anymore and new the c-section would end her pain within 10-15 minutes. I opted for the doctor’s choice because he had been with us through the entire pregnancy, did not our medical history more fully, and because I knew that 2-20 more hours of delivery didn’t guarantee we wouldn’t still wind up having to have a c-section.

As they rolled her out to prepare her for the c-section I couldn’t help feel like we had caved and tossed out what we really wanted (vaginal delivery) because we were somehow bullied into it by the doctor whose real agenda was to get home at a decent hour. They got me into surgical scrubs so I could be in the delivery room. I was already angry at myself for caving and angry at the doctor for pushing his own agenda. The took me outside the operating room and sat me at the end of a long dead end hallway in a solitary chair. It looked like a scene from a movie.

I don’t think I ever felt so alone and helpless as I did waiting for them to call me into the operating room. At least in the delivery room I had been able to see everything being done to my wife and distract myself with the gadgets, wires, lights, and beeps. I watched the doctors and nurses at the other end of the hallway scrubbing up and going in and out of the operating room. But I sat alone at the end of the hallway with only my thoughts and worries. My very dangerous thoughts. I was already angry with myself for caving and agreeing to the c-section, angry for the doctor for all the months he had feigned care, angry at the nurses for putting my wife and I in a position to have to choose between them and the doctor, angry that after 11 hours of labor we were still having a c-section, angry that this wasn’t turning out the way I had pictured it. Just plain angry.

In my head I ran through what would I would do if something happened to my wife or my child because of the doctor’s own self interest. He probably gets paid more for c-sections I thought. I know myself and I know when I get scared or I think someone I love is in danger it only comes out as anger. There is a line in Wuthering Heights that says (paraphrasing) that nothing makes a man more cruel than fear. If something happened to them I was imagining unleashing a scene that would make Quentin Tarantino queasy. There wouldn’t be a soul left alive. They would all pay if she or the baby were hurt so they could get a bigger paycheck. When I get in this kind of funky mood I turn off all my other emotions. I become utterly cold and stoic. It’s a quiet cold type of withdrawn rage. I assure you it’s all posturing. I’ve never been violent with people. There’s just something about the thought of it and that shutting off all my emotions that calms me when I’m frightened. It’s like I stop being human. If I’m not human I can’t be scared. I’m sure that makes me sound nuts and no one understands it. I hardly do myself.

They finally called me and when I enter they’ve just begun the procedure. I intentionally avoid looking at the bottom of my wife and what they’re doing. I join her behind the curtain they have draped over her neck. My heart broke for her when I see the fear and sadness in her eyes. She’s scared without question but I recognize the other look in her eyes. She feels like she’s let me down. We didn’t want a c-section and it’s totally my fault is what I read. My heart aches because despite all logic and despite all of this being almost completely beyond her control. Logically she knows that too but there are times when I see a 7 year old girl in my wife’s soul so desperately trying to do the right thing and being crushed when she can’t. I stroke her hair as if to say I know you tried. I wasn’t disappointed about the c-section and I certainly wasn’t disappointed in her.

We made small talk while they were doing the work behind the curtain and she shared how relieved she was that she wasn’t in pain anymore. While we were talking we heard a momentary cry and our eyes locked as the corner our mouths curled up into a smile and almost in unison we said “Was that……?”. Just a moment later we heard a longer continuous cry and and she said “That’s your son.” It was indeed my son. I watched as they vigorously rubbed the baby down and tested its reflexes. My wife kept telling me to go to him but I couldn’t leave her. I just couldn’t. We had been worked so hard and so long together to get to this point that I just couldn’t turn my back on her as they were trying to put her organs back in place. I wanted to savior this moment with her. I was ecstatic that I had a son. Ecstatic that he appeared to be healthy. But before I had a son I had a wife and I just couldn’t abandon her to run off with my new playmate.

I did though eventually take a few steps and get handed my bright and shining boy. I took him over to her and held him up to her head. She smiled with tears in her eyes and said “hey little one.” His eyes popped open. He knew her voice and wanted his mother. They told us they had to take baby to the other room while they finished closing my wife up. My wife again told me to go with him and that he shouldn’t be alone but I didn’t want to leave her. I felt awful leaving her there but she insisted. “He needs to have someone there that loves him. Don’t worry about me.” Reluctantly I conceded.

In the other room I started the process of learning who my son is. Measurements, more tests, etc. which was apparently 45 minutes but only felt like a few seconds. Soon my wife joined us and we wept as she held him for the first time. So begins our road as parents.

A couple of things to note. Our son was faced wrong side up in the uterus. The umbilical cord was also wrapped around his neck. We would never have been able to do a vaginal delivery safely. The doctor was right. I can only thank God that we listened to him when he said he felt something was preventing the baby from dropping. The pain my wife was in was not pressure nor gravity interfering with her epidural. The epidural had come out when we were changing positions to speed up the dilation. My wife had gone through hours of unnecessary pain because the nurses had refused to believe her.

So what’s the point of this very long post? There really isn’t one. I just wanted to do what I could now to record the experience while it was still fresh in my mind. My father still recalls the details of the night I was born. I hope this post will be a reminder to me of one very long day in 2014.

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.