Sunday, 12 May 2019

Mother's Day Madness

I'm sitting in my kitchen reflecting on the last year of my life, my first year of parenthood, with a completely new perspective. Mother's Day, for me, had always been a time to show my mom that I appreciate her. This was easy for my brothers and I, because my mom (now an empty nester) was truly the best mom there was. I honestly don't understand how she did it.

A single mom of three boys who literally dedicated her life to raising them, every single decision she made, was with us in mind. No matter what we broke, no matter how poorly we did in school, what car we crashed, or how bad we screwed up, she was there for us - in the different way that each of us needed her to be in each individual situation. She was a tutor, a psychic, a security guard, an advocate, a lawyer, an accountant, a nurse, a counsellor, a teacher, a judge, a jury, and an executioner. Many of these jobs she continues to perform to this day, despite her children being "grown ass men who can take care of themselves". She has never stopped being a parent, and never will.

Having a mother, and watching your partner be a mother, however, are two wildly different things. I get to see the sacrifices first hand, something my own mother never talked about, or complained about, something Kay never would either. The reason she never would, is because despite the toll parenthood has taken on her body, her health, her sleep, her career, her bank account, her social life, and her sanity, she loves our son more than she loves herself or anybody else. 

Kay is an incredible mom who is always there for her son. She knows what it means to be a mother and she takes it to heart. She is constantly terrified something bad will happen to him, which makes her an incredible protector. But, despite her fear, she understands that sometimes she'll have to let him fall so that he'll learn to get back up on his own - which is truly the hardest thing about being a parent. Knowing that at some point they'll be bullied, that their heart will break, that they will get hurt and injured, that they'll feel small, or that they'll be sad. Kay can't prevent these things from happening any more than she can prevent lightning, but she will always be there to guide him through it.

Seeing Kay do what she does best, makes me infinitely proud that she is the mother of our son, and simultaneously makes me appreciate my own mother more than words can express. So to Kay, and my own mother, and to my mother(s) in law - on behalf of your sons and your daughters I'd like to thank you for always being there, for doing what you needed to do, for the sacrifices you made (and continue to make) for your children. We may not always express our gratitude, but you should know, that we know, we literally wouldn't be here without you.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Kay's POV: Birth-day

Since my son’s first birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the day he was born. It’s cliche, but I can’t believe it’s been a year already, it seems like just yesterday Lefty was nervously driving us home from the hospital.

The following is a recollection of the day he was born, as remembered by me, so Lefty may have to fill in some holes. I am not as good of a writer as Lefty, so I apologize in advance for all the errors in grammar and/or punctuation!

At my last OB appointment, I was 4 days overdue, and not thrilled about it to say the least. Pregnancy had been pretty good to me till that point, and right up to my due date I was feeling mostly alright. But as soon as that due date passed, a whole bunch of stuff just got mighty unbearable; my bladder felt as though it had the capacity of a teaspoon, my Braxton Hicks were just a big mind fuck that never progressed into anything real, and sleeping was becoming impossible. The doctor and I had discussed not allowing me to go the full 2 weeks overdue that most women are allowed to, because we didn’t want to overcook the poor little munchkin and being that we knew exactly when baby went in, we knew exactly when baby could come out. We booked a day for induction, in case I didn’t go into labour first. Everything else looked good, so she sent me on my way.

Over the next few days we tried everything to get me into labour (well, almost everything … no way was I going to drink castor oil). I went on vigorous walks, ate spicy food, bounced on my bouncy ball, washed my floors on my hands and knees (like Cinderella, as per the instruction of my L&D nurse friend), and all the other “get the baby out” things. Nothing worked. I really didn’t want to be induced, but I also really didn’t want to be pregnant much longer. I was getting paranoid that something terrible would happen to the baby … well, my paranoia was increasing. I’m basically always paranoid and on high alert. Lefty calls it worrying too much, the world calls it anxiety, I call it - planning and risk mitigation.

We decided not to tell our family and friends when we were being induced - it just kind of took the surprise out of things yet again, and since I was adamant I wanted it to be just Lefty and I at the hospital, it seemed like the best way to keep the experience somewhat private and on our own terms, after sharing our whole pregnancy with what felt like the whole world.

So on the day before Lefty’s birthday (or 41 weeks 2 days pregnant for me), we headed off to the hospital with our bags packed, my own pillow in tow, and what we thought would be more than enough snacks for our stay (more on that later). We checked in, and I was wheeled up to the L&D ward, because apparently once inside a hospital and over 20 weeks pregnant, women become unable to walk. We were taken to a room where I was instructed to get changed by a really Nice Nurse, and my vitals were taken.

“Are you being induced for hypertension?” Nice Nurse asked.
“No, just overdue” I replied. This was met with a ‘hmmm’ from Nice Nurse, who then grilled me about my blood pressure history during my pregnancy. 
“It’s always been spot on perfect, the whole pregnancy, even up to my last OB appointment that was at 40 weeks 4 days. Maybe just try it again, I’m just nervous.” The EMT in me knew that being nervous or tensing my arm could produce a false reading. But 4 readings on both arms later, I was still hypertensive, to the tune of 150’s over high 90’s. Oh well, I thought, not much to do about it at this point except have the baby. Nice Nurse asked me if I would mind if her paramedic student attended the birth with her.
“I would LOVE it … if your student did NOT accompany you to see me today.” I said, and explained that I didn’t really want to run into anyone at work that had seen everrryythingg. Fair enough, I figured. I did know him, it turned out, but I did let him put in my IV at least. #spoilsport

They hooked my belly up to a monitor and wanted to get about 30 mins of readings on both baby and I before starting the Pitocin. I was lucky enough to be going into induction already at 4cm dilated, so I didn’t have to have any Cervadil to start the party. After about 45 minutes I was dying to use the washroom (remember my bladder = teaspoon), when FINALLY Nice Nurse came back and freed me from the contraptions. I got to stretch my legs and use the washroom, and then I hopped back in bed and they started the meds. Everything was super fine for about the first 30 minutes.They wanted to monitor baby and I during “takeoff” to make sure nothing went sideways right off the bat. Again, my bladder was screaming at me to be emptied. They came back after another eternity and let me up to pee. I had yet to feel anything from the meds, but on the way back to my bed my first contraction hit me. 

‘Ohhhhhhh’ I thought. That was interesting, definitely different than Braxton Hicks. I was now allowed to move around the room as I wanted, as long as I took my IV pole buddy with me. I sat on the bed. Got up again. Walked to the bathroom AGAIN because the urge to keep emptying my bladder was driving me insane (thanks for all the IV fluids Nice Nurse). I had another contraction on my way to the bathroom. It smarted a bit and was ‘interesting’ but no problem. On my way back to bed I was hit with another contraction. Stronger. Enough that I stopped in my tracks and scrunched up my face. It passed within about 20 seconds and I started back for the bed. Nope, just kidding here’s another. 

I finally made it back to the bed, only for another contraction to hit me, stronger still, and lasting about 45 seconds. Please keep in in your minds folks, that I’ve been in labour for about 5 mins at this point. I crawled up onto the bed and BOOM. Again. And thus this continued, contractions about every 1-3 minutes, lasting between 30 and 45 seconds, getting more intense with each one.

This was crazy, This was insane. This was fuuucked uuup. A new nurse came in with a blonde Ponytail. Between already VERY intense contractions, I asked her something to the effect of, how long should these be lasting? She told me that the goal was to be contracting for about a minute every 2 minutes. So many questions entered my mind, but primarily I wondered: When do they start doing that? You want me to do this for HOW long? That seemed like a LOT of contractions, if they kept up like they already were. Being that I was only 4cm dilated, I started to panic a bit inside. These hurt, A LOT. I had expected it to hurt. I had even expected it to hurt A LOT. But I really hadn’t prepared for what induction meant to the female body. No hormones working in sync with each other to move things along, no gradual ebb and flow, NO BREAKS right from the start. I hadn’t had any time to adjust or work out some coping method. They were just coming one after another what seemed like non stop.

“I can’t do this,” I thought. “I can’t do this for like 10 more hours.”

Going into the labour process, I had wanted to try as much as possible to “tough it out” and see how far I could go on my own. But after what seemed like 30 minutes of contractions to me, I was panicking inside. Lefty tells me it was closer to 2 hours, so that made me feel a little less like a wimp. Let me be clear, if you had an epidural at any point in your labour, you are not a wimp. I had a plan set in my mind of trying to see how tough I could be and was humbled AF by the whole process. When Ponytail came back to check on me, I immediately asked how long it would be for an epidural if I “put in my order” now. I knew that anesthesiologists were a hot commodity in L&D, and if they were busy you just had to wait. I decided then and there, I was taking the first chance I could get for an epidural.

“About half an hour, but it could be more because she’s in surgery right now” replied Ponytail.

“Oh. Well … I’ll be dead” I thought, not at all dramatically to myself. “Yes, I would like an epidural as soon as they’re available please.” Ponytail actually agreed with me and said she thought that it was a good idea. I have since learned, that not too many first time moms who are induced make it through induction without an epidural. Yay for status quo!

Blissfully what seemed like 5 minutes later, a really efficient doctor came in and started going over the epidural info with me. I remember none of it. She had me hunch over and hang on to Lefty, which had previously seemed like it would be the worst position ever, but actually turned out to be great. Except I become violently nauseous right as she was about to stick a needle into my spine.

“I might throw up on you.” I said to Lefty.
“That’s ok,” he said, “I brought extra clothes.”
“That is the RIGHT answer” said the anesthesiologist, laughing.

I felt a tiny prick on my back, which apparently was the numbing needle before the actual spine needle - which I did not feel because I was concentrating really hard on not throwing up on Lefty, and also on not moving because I really liked being able to walk and I didn’t want to end up paralyzed from a freak epidural accident.

“How long until this starts working?” I asked. Ponytail told me it would be about 30 minutes and left. I don’t know what was going on with the passage of time on this particular day, but I felt better after about 5 minutes, and I was in absolute heaven by the time I had reached the aforementioned 30 minute mark. #epiduralislife. At this point, Lefty was getting hungry. After all, he had been doing a lot of work almost getting thrown up on. He started to dig into our snacks. I laid blissfully in my bed and “cellphoned” (a term coined by my best friend for when you’re just surfing all the apps and doing nothing of value). Hang on though - a new nurse came in. I remember her name because she was my favourite one, and Katie told me that she was taking over and would be putting in my catheter. Having never had such a thing before, I was a bit nervous, but I was also completely numb from the waist down, so it was smooth sailing. I must admit, the prospect of a COMPLETELY empty bladder was very exciting to me, even if I couldn’t feel it.

Around this time I clued in to the fact that time was indeed passing, and it was now almost 6pm. Katie came back and checked me and told me I was about 6cm dilated. According to my calculations, it had taken me about 3 hours to go from 4cm to 6cm. I was starting to feel some pain on my left side, but it was very tolerable. All of a sudden a weird pop and gush happened and I thought my catheter had popped out. I panicked.

“BABE! Thing’s are happening! I think it fell out, I need you to check!” 
Why it is that I thought HE should check and not the dang hospital staff is beyond me, but my trooper husband checked and informed me, no everything was still in place. Then I realized it was my water breaking, which was hilarious because if I hadn’t been at the hospital, I would totally have been that lady who’s water breaks and goes sploosh all over the floor at the grocery store. We used the call bell thingy to let the desk know my water broke. This was apparently great, because the doc was coming back at 6pm to do it for me had it not.

At this point things started to get a bit intense again, and I was given a top up on my epidural. I could definitely feel pressure building now that my water had broken, but once the meds kicked in, thats all I could feel. They had me lay on my left side with a giant peanut shaped ball between my legs, so the epidural could affect my left side a bit better, and so my hips were open to allow the baby to get into optimal position.

More time passed, more cellphoning was done, more snacks were eaten by Lefty. To be fair, he didn’t leave me to get himself meals or anything, so I can imagine he legitimately was quite hungry. By this point, we had about 1/3 of our snacks left. Katie came back to check me a few times, and I was dilating steadily. I think I had another top up of my epidural at some point, but that exact sequence of events is lost to me. I do remember Katie coming back and saying she thought I was almost at 10cm, and had my doctor come and double check, who confirmed yes I was at 10cm and I got the go ahead to start pushing.

Now, I was pretty darn numb because my top up had happened fairly recently, and in hind sight, I don’t think anyone checked to see how dilated I was before I got it. I think I WAS checked before I got it, but because anesthesiologists kind of run around doing their own thing, it might have been a bit of time before I actually got the top up after being checked. I remember that I was always regaining feeling in my left side WAY faster than my right, which sucked a bit later.

So it was about 10pm and Katie was coaching me on how to push, but I was having to hold my belly to tell when I was having a contraction to know when to push because I was SUPER numb. I was doing an ok job for a while, with lots of encouragement from Lefty and Katie. Once my epidural started to wear off however, this got infinitely easier. At some point Katie left for the night, and Erin became my nurse (I remember her name because she was the last one). My contractions were coming so close together, not hurting obviously, but not giving me a chance to breathe between them. Erin told me to take a break through a few and just breathe. Ok sure … sounds good. NOPE. That was not a thing. My body said PUSH, and I just had to. At some point Lefty was putting a cold cloth on my head and said “hey babe, its my birthday”, to which I replied a breathless Happy Birthday, and kept pushing. This obviously must have been right after midnight, and shortly after that Erin called the desk to have the doctor come in because I guess the baby was just about ready to make it’s entrance into the world. I remember I could feel the baby turning it’s head back and forth as I was pushing and it was SO weird. My doctor came in and turned on the worlds largest, brightest lights - I’m not going to say they were as bright as the sun exactly - and pointed them where the sun doesn’t usually shine. A few more really good pushes and all hell broke loose for me. Everything was well in hand I’m sure, but all of a sudden I had NO control over my body. I was not pushing. I was sputtering and (I think) screaming a bit. The doctor said the baby was coming between pushes, whatever that means, and then the whole night reached a crescendo and BOOM. I FELT my belly empty as the doctor helped our baby out one shoulder at a time.

As previously agreed on, the doctor held up the baby for my husband to announce the gender.
“It’s … it’s a boy” choked out my teary eyed Lefty, and they put him on my belly.

Never. Never in my life have I loved something, someone, so instantly and completely. His little head was a bit coned and he was a bit purple in the face and upper body. He wasn’t crying right off the hop, which freaked Lefty out a bit, but I knew it was ok (#EMTlife). About 10 seconds of vigorous rubbing by Erin and he let out his first cry. 

I laid there, with my little pink naked brand-new baby against my skin and just stared at him. An entire choir of singing cats could have entered the room and I wouldn’t have noticed. I especially remember the way his little nose looked, and how much hair he had! So much and so dark! Lefty and I were both blonde blonde blonde as children so this was a huge surprise!

Some amount of time later, I was informed I needed an extra medication because I was bleeding quite a lot, and so I was given Ergot. Since then, I’ve learned I was probably bleeding more than normal because my uterus was so tired from contracting so much for so long. My epidural was removed completely (and painlessly, to my surprise) and I was able to take a few steps to a wheel chair. I kept my little man tucked close as they wheeled me to my recovery room, somehow surprised that I was being wheeled through a main hallway to reach my destination.

Once settled in we started trying to breastfeed (which admittedly I had wanted to do sooner, but with the bleeding and all it just hadn’t happened) and Grouchy Nurse asked me if I wanted some toast and juice.

Ummm. Hell. Yes….please. I hadn’t eaten in over 16 hours and had just done the biggest workout of my entire life. Those slices of toast and apple juice were the MOST DELICIOUS things I have EVER eaten, but they were not nearly enough to make a dent in my hunger. Luckily a few fruit gummies and granola bars had survived in our snack stash, so those helped tide me over until morning.

Lefty and I laid in the bed and stared at our miracle. I sniffed his head. A lot. I was addicted already. I knew from that moment on, no amount of time spent with him would ever be enough. That I would give my life to protect him. That I would fetch him the moon and stars if that’s what he wanted. I finally knew what true love was (sorry Lefty, but I know you feel the same way so it’s cool). I know I should have slept, but I just held him, and fed him, and stared at him. Lefty and I took turns asking the other if we could believe how amazing he was, and we both agreed, we could not.

My blood pressure continued to be high, and Grouchy Nurse kept asking me if I had a headache. No lady. I don’t. Please leave me alone with my miracle. Why are y’all so obsessed with my headache, or lack thereof? Unfortunately, my blood pressure was super alarming to everyone but me, and I had to stay in the hospital for 2 more days. This becomes important later, but I think that’s a story for another post.

I cannot believe what a miracle conceiving, carrying, and birthing a child is. We may not have gotten there the “usual” way, but none of that mattered as I held my sweet boy in my arms. I would do it all again, 100 thousand times over for him. You never really know just how full your heart can be, until you have a child - however you have that child. 

Happy Birthday to the most important men in my life, my Mini-Man and my Lefty.

TLDR: I had a baby and it hurt and he is amazing.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Are You Not Entertained!?

I'm sure all the parents out there understand why it's November and I haven't posted anything since August. If you're Supermom or Superdad and you don't, well good for you, give me some of whatever drug you're taking because I don't know how you do it. I have this saying I used to say to myself and, admittedly, to other members of my family (who hated it). It goes; "If it's important to you, you'll make it a priority". Which is still just as true as it ever was, except that now the list of priorities has changed and there never seems to be enough time to fit them all in.

My number one priority is ensuring the health and happiness of my amazing, intelligent, soul filling, adorable, little man. The second is building my relationship with him and spending time playing with him, and reading to him, and doing all the things I believe I have to do to be the kind of father I want to be. Although I know first hand, having been raised by a single mom, that doing these things on my own is not impossible, I don't know how I would do it without my wife - who really is Supermom. Especially because now that the little guy is old enough to really have some fun with, he's also old enough to know exactly what he doesn't want, but of course, being only seven months old, he's not old enough to communicate what he does want.

So when my amazing Kay leaves the house, and its father/son time, we get to spend our time building and destroying block towers, and dancing around the living room, and laughing at dad's funny faces. But when these things get boring, or the little man gets tired - all bets are off. You might as well throw your chips in the air because nobody is going to win this game. The games become a frantic search for something that will either entertain him, or put him to sleep - including but not limited to cradling him in my arms and swinging him from side to side, pacing from one side of the house to the other, bouncing him in my baby carrier, rubbing his tummy, giving him some food - basically anything I can think of to chill out the tiny monster and his infant roars. Inevitably, I end up like Russell Crowe in Gladiator exclaiming to myself and my child "Are you not entertained!?" as I look around at the room that fittingly looks like a roman coliseum after the completion of a war game.

Eventually, he does fall asleep, which my mom would say is a lesson in patience for me - and that time that he is asleep with his head resting on my chest feeling completely safe, is just as precious as the time we spend playing together. Or every day when I walk through the door after work and he turns and looks and smiles when he sees it's me. Or any time I hear him laugh and my heart bursts. Or when I'm away from him and I miss him so much it actually physically hurts. Being a parent is the single most amazing thing I have ever done - and I've done some really cool shit. These days, all other thrills in life are cheap compared to raising a human that I've created, whether it be through science or not - this boy is my life - and neither me nor his mother would change it for the world.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Newborns & Airhorns

Taking care of a newborn truly is a full-time job, and while I do know that as a father that goes to work while his partner stays at home with the baby, sometimes I just don’t understand it. I try to be as supportive as I can. When Kay is stressed out and has days that she feels like she hasn’t been able to get anything done, I always tell her, you only have two responsibilities; “take care of the baby and take care of yourself”. Most of the time I mean that, but occasionally, I don’t. Occasionally, I resent her for getting to spend so much time with our son, for being the one he wants when he’s upset, for being the only one that can feed him, and the one that knows him better than anybody.

Jealousy is a manipulative emotion and it can really cloud your judgement if you let it. For example, when Kay takes my advice, and takes care of herself and the baby, nothing else gets done; and sometimes, after coming home from an exhausting day at work, despite my better judgement, I’ll get annoyed that now instead of spending time with the baby, I’m spending my evenings taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat litter, and doing the dishes. We share all our chores and since the baby was born, most of them have become my chores. This is something I’m totally fine with on days when my judgement has not lapsed, but on days when I’ve tossed it to the wind, the resentment starts to build.

Today was one of those days. I’m an early riser and I was up early this morning. It’s Sunday, so I’m not at work. I spent my morning running some errands while Kay and the baby slept. Then around 9AM they woke up and with complete disregard for the fact that my wife had been up every two or three hours caring for our child, I rushed her and the baby out of bed and got annoyed when she took too long. We went for breakfast at a restaurant together, and I scarfed down my food quickly, recognizing that the baby was about to lose his shit, and when I tried to console him, all he wanted was his mom, so the resentment kept building.
Nap time aftermath
Later in the afternoon, Kay decided she wanted to clean the bathtub, so I eagerly took the little man for some father son time, but my three-month-old had other plans. He didn’t want father son time, or lay on his back time, or over the shoulder time, or tummy time, or story time, or singalong time, or a puppet show. He needed nap time, but it seemed he didn’t want that either. By that time, mama had finished cleaning the bathtub, and I begrudgingly handed him over to her and went downstairs for a snack. As I was eating I decided to turn on the video baby monitor that was sitting there, partially to be a creep, partially to be funny, and partially to find out what the hell she’s got that I don’t (besides the milk).

I sat there watching my son’s arms and legs flail, and my wife try over and over to calm him down enough to feed him. She swaddled him, she sang to him, she held him and rocked him. She patiently tried everything she could, one after the other, while the whole time he screamed at the top of his lungs. Eventually, she did get him to sleep by trying a new bouncing maneuver while she held him close to her chest. I watched all of this with a mixture of emotions. I felt shame, for resenting my wife who is seriously just trying to do the best she can. I felt pride, in her for being such a great mother and wife and for being so patient with our son. And finally, I was grateful that it wasn’t me, because I realized that this is every single day and pretty much every night for her – and has been for the last three months – which has got to be a feat equivalent to completing a marathon every day while someone blows an air horn in your face every time you stop for a rest.

I started this blog with the hope that I might reach some people out there and it might help them get through some similar things. But today, I think I just owe my wife an apology. So, to my beautiful wife – I’m sorry if I’m a dick sometimes, you’re doing an amazing job. Please don’t buy an airhorn.

Saturday, 7 July 2018


So Kay and I have, for the most part, figured out how to keep the little man clean, happy, and fed – although we’ve been told on numerous occasions that just when you figure it out they will change entirely.  Both of us are completely in love and spend any small amount of free time we have staring at him in awe. We obsess over his adorably thick head of hair, we melt when we smile at him and he smiles back, and our hearts burst when I sing to him and he coos as though he’s singing along with me. Having a child is every bit as amazing as I thought it would be and so much more.

Some of the things we are still figuring out are the best ways to keep him safe. I mean, there’s the obvious things, like not leaving him unattended at the mall, strapping him into his car seat correctly, and making sure we are following the recommended sleep suggestions (which could really take up a whole post on its own), but something we’ve really struggled with is our son’s online presence.

Kay and I didn’t feel quite right about plastering his photo all over social media and we asked our family and friends not to do so as well, at least until we figured out how we wanted to handle it. It’s not that we don’t want to share him with the world - if it was up to me I’d walk him out to the edge of Pride Rock and have a baboon present him to a crowd of African beasts, while a world class symphony led by Elton John serenades everything the light touches. Fortunately, it’s not up to me because nobody in their right mind should entrust their newborn with a baboon, but I think I’ve made my point.

We grew up before the time of Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Snapchat. We were young adults when Facebook became a thing and we consented to our information being used and shared with the world – even if we didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time, we were able to make the choice for ourselves. The feeling that we have is that by putting his image out there again and again, we are robbing him of something our generation had, and the new generation has much less of- privacy.

The majority of our friends and family have been entirely respectful of our wishes, but inevitably we’ve had to remind some people once or twice or had to ask people to remove photos from social media – but we truly do understand where people are coming from. We are more proud of him than any grandparent, or aunt, or uncle, or best friend could possibly be, and posting pictures of him and seeing the public comment at how adorable he is, or watching that “like” count go up would be extremely gratifying and validating – but then almost as quickly as we posted it, the photo would fade from our memory, and his image would be in cyberspace forever, totally out of our control, and most importantly, out of his control. Kay used the analogy of a teenage crush visiting you at home and your mom hauling out the baby pictures while you’re finishing the touch-ups on your hair in the bathroom – except instead of just being embarrassed in front of his teenage crush, it’s everyone he will ever meet.

It turns out, sharing photos is just as effective through private messages between friends and family.  It’s also just as gratifying as social media for me, when someone asks me if I have pictures of my son, and I get to say “DO I?!” and pull out my phone and show them the 50 most recent photos because my entire library is just pictures of him. I’m not even exaggerating, just because I don’t wallpaper my digital wall with him, doesn’t mean I don’t take pictures of him. I take pictures of everything he does; of him smiling while mom plays pattycake with him, or screaming as we give him a bath, or a picture of a dirty diaper because I was so impressed with how full it was.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that times have changed – that social media is a significant part of our lives now. I’m also not so ignorant that I don’t know what privacy settings are. Nor am I blind to the irony that I write a blog about some of the most intimate parts of my life. These concepts have been carefully considered in our decision to keep our son’s face absent from the word of social media, and at this point in time, it’s really his choice that we are protecting. 

We’re not so self-righteous to believe that this is the right decision for everyone, and I am the first person to hit like on pictures of my friends’ kids, so there’s truly no judgement from us on how everyone else chooses to share their own children with the world. It also doesn’t mean that we will always feel this way, or that we will never share pictures of him on social media – but until then, we remain unapologetically and ironically #sorrynotsorry.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Sweet Child of Mine

In most cases, when you watch an action movie, the protagonist is usually struck with some kind of epic tragedy before their life turns upside down and they become the hero. Peter Parker's uncle died and he became Spiderman, Frank Castle's family was murdered and he became the Punisher, Superman's home planet, Krypton, was destroyed and he was rocketed to Earth by his parents to live out his extraordinary existence. In most cases in real life though, we live through tragedy, we grieve, and then we simply continue on our paths living our lives with the knowledge of what we endured.

My personal tragedy, while admittedly was substantially less tragic than the destruction of my entire planet, has served to change my life for the better. I have proved to myself what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it, I have been offered and taken the opportunity to stand up for others dealing with their own personal tragedies. I have counselled and offered support to people struggling with infertility, and now my hope is that my story will offer hope to those on their own journey. While I am immensely proud of these accomplishments, I am in no way saying I'm a superhero or comparing myself to the likes of Superman and Spiderman. Although, I'm not going to lie, there have been times in the past couple of weeks that I have thrown my fists up in the air, then flexed my underdeveloped dad biceps and declared myself SuperDad in front of my wife and a room full of pets.

My birthday is on April 29th, and at 34 minutes past midnight that morning, my son was born. He came into the world naturally, although he did require a bit of a push by induction. After ten hours of labour, K pushed like a champion for two additional hours to deliver to me the most incredible birthday gift I could ever ask for. I am not ashamed for a second to admit to the tears that streamed down my face, and as I thanked him for the gift of himself, I looked down at that little man and I said, "but I didn't get you anything for your birthday."

Aside from seeing something we'd worked so hard for come to fruition, and aside from meeting my baby boy for the first time, I also came to understand the reason people refer to child birth as a miracle. As K was pushing, I held her leg and did my part to encourage her and tell her how good of a job she was doing. Bit by bit, however, as I watched that baby come I became more and more convinced that there was no way in hell that baby was going to fit.  Then all of the sudden, by some kind of a complete miracle there was another human in the world. It was, by far, the single most incredible thing I have ever witnessed in my entire life, and it gave me a whole new understanding and complete and utter appreciation for the human body and for my wife's accomplishment of giving birth. 

I was in complete awe and I remained so until they finally released us from the hospital (they kept us an extra day because K's blood pressure was too high). The nurse showed us how to strap the little man into the car seat and as we were walking out two things occurred to me: One, I was totally terrified, and two, I couldn't help but feel like someone should stop us and question us to at least make sure we were competent or something, but nobody did. You can't fish without a license but you can make babies on demand and just figure out how to keep them alive - it's mind-blowing to me. 

The drive home from the hospital was the most nerve racking driving experience I've ever had, and I was once in a roll over, in a rented convertible, in a foreign country, so that's saying something. I felt like a new driver all over again. In fact, it wasn't just driving that made me feel like that, it was parenting altogether - it felt like I had just started my first day at a new job, in a new company, and had no idea what I was doing. 

Changing diapers was a whole new experience for me too, especially the black tar-like substance that comes out of a newborn as though they are a tube of charcoal toothpaste. What I mean by new experience though isn't just the colour of the goo, it's that I never thought I would be so okay with having poop on my hand. It's like this weird understanding comes over you and all the sudden, wiping cream on another human's butthole with a bare finger is just something that needs to be done, you just wash your hands and get over it. 

Little by little as we figure out our new life, and in between sessions of staring at our new child in awe, more and more of those parenting instincts kick in and we become better at the job itself. Although, not everything is instinctual, a lot of it is learned, like the lesson learned from getting peed all over because I didn't know that exposure to air is what kicks in the urinary response. Or the realization that my terrible a'capella karaoke voice singing Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine will produce dead silence in a screaming baby while I sing the song as slowly as I can, and on repeat, to draw it out longer.

Of all the lessons I've learned throughout this immensely exhausting and rewarding experience, the one thing I know without a doubt - is that this life, with this woman, and this child is worth every dollar we've spent, every tear we've shed, every heartbreak we've endured, and every fear we have conquered to get here, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

A Wizard is Never Late

With the due date of April 20th having come and gone, and still no baby having shown up, Kay and I are impatiently waiting on pins and needles to meet our new addition. We scrambled to get the nursery completed by the due date, knowing in the back of our minds the baby could really have come any time. We cleaned the carpets, got the vents and furnace cleaned, gave it a fresh coat of paint and K worked her designer magic on the room by building a custom book shelf, refinishing an Ikea dresser, and flexing her creative muscle with some custom artwork and hanging methods.

Practicing on baby's bear "Hiccup"
With the nursery complete and everything set up and ready, we are passing the time by figuring out all of our baby equipment. A friend of ours is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (something I had no idea existed until recently) and she showed K how to install the car seat properly, then K turned around and taught me how to buckle the baby in.

Unfortunately, with the way K's car is built, the car seat doesn't allow for much leg-room in the front passenger seat, which has me considering something I never thought I would - a minivan. Yes, I said it, I could actually see us buying a minivan in the future. The combination of room, practicality, and relatively cheap cost has my dad-eyes glazed over. A friend of mine said it best when she said something to the effect of: "I never saw myself in a minivan, but having this much distance between my head and my kids' mouths is better than sex."

Occupying ourselves with all these activities is, of course, a good thing, but it gets a little mind-numbing when all we really want to do is start our new life by meeting our new baby. The excitement I feel when I think about what this is going to mean for us is inexplicable, although I have to admit, with all the medical procedures we've gone through already, both K and I would really prefer natural initiation of labour than having to be induced.

I truly believe that working really hard at something and then standing back to look at the accomplishment makes everything worth it. With what we've done to get here, and how long we have waited, this is truly going to be the best feeling in the world. So when I think about the baby being past due, I try to remember the quote from the great wizard Gandalf: "A wizard is never late, nor is he (or she) early, he (or she) arrives precisely when they mean to."