Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dave Monthly

While I get used to having two kids, I don't think it's wise for me to keep up with two blogs.  I'm not exactly the type of person who posts without editing or rewriting, so these things take a bit of time, and time is a little scarce these days.  Because of that, I plan to take a break from Dave Weekly to focus more on my blog for family and friends.

I will continue to write on this blog, but only once a month in July, August and September.  I'll go back to my weekly column in October, just in time for Kyle to begin nursery school.  We'll have lots of fun then, especially with all the diseases our kid will be bringing home.  Oh boy!

Have a great one, and be sure to come back here next month!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spoiling Our Dinner

There are certain things you don't do in the days leading up to a scheduled c-section.  Using a slow cooker is one of them.  In the evening of June 16th, I had to prematurely kill what would have been a delicious rump roast meal, with just two hours of cooking left to go.  The smell of marinated meat, accompanied by peppers, onions and other savory ingredients, had already permeated the apartment.  For much of the day, we welcomed the aroma, and became increasingly excited about our gourmet dinner.  But as I stood there, with my hand clicking the knob to "off," the smells became a tease for a meal that wasn't meant to be, mocking us for even attempting to cook anything that requires hours when we were living minute-to-minute, waiting for a sign that the baby was to arrive.  The meal had to end.  Jennifer was having contractions.

I will never forgive Adam for killing my rump roast.  His brother had the decency to arrive after the due date.  The least Adam could do was wait 'til the c-section appointment, which was scheduled five days before he was due.  Or maybe wait 'til taco night.  But no, our son had to go ahead and launch contractions before our meal was finished.  The nerve.

At first, we weren't even sure that Jennifer was going through actual labor, which made killing our meal all the more painful.  After dropping Kyle off at our emergency sitter, we rushed to the hospital, grabbed a couple chairs outside the delivery room... and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Then a nurse gave us a room, put Jennifer on a bed, hooked her up to monitors, and made us wait some more.  It was a very busy night at the maternity ward, exactly nine months after iTunes released Barry White's "Ultimate Love" Collection.  A doctor introduced herself, asked why we were there, checked Jennifer's pulse and the baby's heartbeat, and then disappeared for hours.  From time to time, nurses came in, again asking why we were there before checking Jennifer's pulse and the baby's heartbeat.  They downplayed the contractions, saying they probably weren't signs of actual labor, and were likely triggered by dehydration or the aroma of a very, very good meal.  Still, Jennifer was not to eat or drink anything, just in case we really were on the baby train.  For long stretches we were left alone in the small room with no TV, shielded from others by a thin curtain.  We had no music, just beeps from the monitors and Adam's heartbeat, which would fade in and out depending on where he positioned himself.  I sat in a chair by Jennifer's bed, next to what appeared to be the only working bathroom in the entire ward, so we had more visitors than medics checking up on us.  We waited some more as Jennifer's contractions intensified.  Then the doctor we had met earlier walked back into our room.  She introduced herself and asked us why we were there.  It was a long night.

At about 1 a.m., nearly seven hours after we had checked in and long after our rump roast began to decay on our kitchen counter, the doctor and nurses finally determined that labor was indeed happening.  Jennifer and I gave each other a high-five.  It's Baby Time!  The doctors said they'd be right back, and about an hour later they returned and prepped Jennifer for the operation.  I went downstairs to the admitting office and signed about 400 papers to appease the hospital's lawyers. I also ate the snack I had packed in my emergency bag.  Maternity doctors suggest that the husband should eat, since it's pointless to have two hungry parents, and they don't want the dads thinking about chicken wings when they receive their babies for the first time. 

A doctor then guided me to the operating room, and I sat there by Jennifer's side, waiting for our little one to arrive.  Adam joined our family at 2:58 a.m. on the 17th.  The surgeons cleaned him up and then handed our beautiful little boy to me.  I was overwhelmed with pride and joy, and I smiled widely as I talked to our son for the first time.  He cried and nearly passed out as he smelled my rancid breath.  That night I learned another thing about preparing for a child's birth: when putting together your hospital bag, don't pack a "barbecue and cheese" snack mix as your emergency food.  I don't think Adam received a good first impression of his dad.

A little more than a week has passed.  We're now at home, surviving life with two kids.  It's going well so far, and our family and friends have been there to lend support and offer their congratulations.  Life is great.  My mom is here as well to help us along during the first couple of weeks.  She's also doing much of the cooking.  I think I will make a special request.  Let's hope Adam doesn't ruin it again.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And Then There Were Two

Little Adam has arrived.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Pop" Quiz

I've had this recurring dream: I'm back in high school or college, and I suddenly hear I have a major exam coming up within a few hours.  The exam is based on a large book that I have not read, and I realize there's simply not enough time to read it.  I am not ready at all for this exam, and flunking it could get me kicked out of school.  I panic.  Then I wake up.  I'm a bit rattled, and it takes me a few moments to remember that I've been done with school for more than a decade now.  The dream has been one of the more vivid and bothersome dreams I've had in a while.  It's almost as bad as that one where I go to a U2 concert and Justin Bieber takes the stage.

I don't analyze dreams for a living, but it's not difficult to figure out the meaning behind this one.  Sure, I could blame it on something I ate (which may explain why I'm usually in the classroom naked and carrying a ukulele), but I don't think it's a conicidence that I've had these dreams while I've been preparing for my second child.  The due date is approaching very quickly, and I can't help but think to myself: am I ready?

(Above: "Ready or not, here I come!")
You bet I am.  I'm not nervous because I've done this before.  Been there, done that, ready to do it again.  Yet, I'm slightly unnerved by the fact that I'm not nervous.  Maybe there's something I prepared for last time that I didn't this time, and it'll spring upon me last-minute (like that exam).  Each child is different, so how will this child surprise us?  Will he sleep well?  Will he have colic?  Will he be into country music?  I don't believe I'm ready for that.  I think this might be the kind of stuff that haunts me in my sleep. 

Or maybe I haven't fully prepared for all the familiar things.  Things I remember not liking the first time around and was so glad to be done with.  Middle-of-the night feedings.  Spit-up.  Changing-time explosions.  Enfamil.  Soon I will have to deal with all those things again.  And then there's the waiting.  I had forgotten about the waiting.  Our little guy is full-term now, so he could pop at any time.  He will be out within a week regardless.  But will he come early?  It happens often with the second child.  Jennifer was two weeks earlier than her due date, and we've already crossed that line.  So now we're in the stretch where we are on edge, awaiting any sign that the little guy might be ready to come out.  According to the pregnancy books, I'm supposed to be a calming force during this time, but I still find myself jumping up, grabbing the bags and preparing to call our backup babysitter whenever Jennifer signals any discomfort, even if it's from indigestion.  Yeah, I hate the waiting part.  But even that doesn't make me nervous; I just want to get out fast enough so we don't get stuck delivering on a crowded FDR Drive.

As for having two kids, I'm really not sure what life will be like once that happens.  I think more of our stuff will be broken.  We might also need a better diaper pail and some earplugs.  Again, for some odd reason I'm not worried about it.  I feel prepared for two kids.  We have Band-Aids, Neosporin and a fire extinguisher.  We'll be fine.

Of course, this is what I say when I'm awake.  I think my dreamland self is still terrified.  Fortunately, my dreamland self won't be making an appearance in the first week after the birth, and after that he'll be here in just short spurts.  By the time I get a full night's sleep again, I'll be too tired to even worry about anything.

So, it looks like the next time I post on this blog I will be a father of two.  Honestly, I am very much looking forward to it.  I think, in the long run, it will be lots of fun.  If anything, I won't be starving for new things to write about.  I just hope that, if we're surprised by anything in the coming week, I pass the test. 

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Buddy and Me

This week is bittersweet for me.  It's the last week before Jennifer begins her maternity leave.  While I am thrilled to soon have her here full-time, and to welcome into the world our second child, this is the last full week of just Kyle and me.  By the time maternity leave ends, Kyle will be going to nursery school.

It's that whole old vs. new thing again.  We've been dealing with it a lot this year, and we have even more to come (for example, our neighbor, Kyle's best friend right now, moves to Colorado next week, and Kyle's babysitter moves to Maine in August).  It can be difficult at times.  Yet, it's unavoidable.  Change will happen, change must happen, change can be fun and the greatest thing that could ever happen to us.  Though we are often excited about the future, there's still that little tug that says, "Yeah, but what you have now is coming to an end."  I like what I have now.  I like it a lot. 

In three short years, Kyle has transformed from a crying/eating/pooping machine into my buddy.  We joke together, we can talk about our day, we build train tracks, we wrestle from time to time, and we occasionally debate religion and politics.  Kyle has really matured.  Many times it's fun doing things with him, and whenever that happens, the time flies and I almost feel as if we're just a couple friends hanging out.  At those times, I just love being a dad.

Naturally, in this final week of just him and me, Kyle has chosen to throw me a curve ball.  He has not napped since last Wednesday.  If this is the start of something permanent, then June 1, 2011, will be a day of infamy in our household.  When Kyle refuses to nap, his behavior goes sour. He whines often, fights with me, and starts testing the limits of what he can do.  He throws things.  He rips things.  He roots for the Yankees.  He even starts hitting me, and, as he gets closer to age three (Monday's his birthday), that sort of thing actually hurts. I also lose my sanity break and my writing time, which makes me all the more irritable as the day winds down.  I have trouble getting things done, and sometimes it's hard to even think.  Even though Kyle and I have had our fun moments, it's been a rough last week.  Maybe that's a good thing, since it's making me less nostalgic and even more excited to have Jennifer here next week. It's much easier to have a second person to help with a kid refusing to nap.

But then it's on to a new routine, and, in two weeks, a larger family.  A new home is around the corner, too (more on that next month - stay tuned!).  Then there's nursery school this fall.  I wonder how Kyle will react to all this change.  His mommy is going to be home full-time for a while as new people and places will enter his life.  What we have right now, this time when it's just the two of us, is coming to an end.  Sure, we'll have many more moments together, but it won't be as regular as it is now.  So far, Kyle has done well with adapting.  There's a good chance this change will affect me more than it will affect him.  In many ways, I hope that's the case.

I am looking forward to change.  I can't wait to meet my new son.  I'm excited that Jennifer will be home for several months.  It's going to be a ton of adjustment, and those first weeks with a newborn will be very tiring, but I know I will experience some of the greatest moments of my life during the next few months.  For now, though, I think I'll savor the last couple days I have alone with just my buddy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wasn't Born Yesterday

I really had my doubts about this past weekend.  With Jennifer just weeks away from giving birth, I was starting to think that taking an eight-hour road trip was probably not the best idea, especially if I had no intention of delivering the baby myself.  But our close friends Chad and Nicole were getting married on Saturday in Wheeling, West Virginia (home of Gumby's Cigarette & Beer World), and we didn't want to miss it.  We decided it was worth taking the chance, even if it meant sitting in nearly two hours of traffic... just to get to the Holland Tunnel.

(Above: Kyle finds a good spot in the hotel
for the bassinet... just in case)
So began Operation Do Not Give Birth.  Our mission was to get to West Virginia and back with only one child in the back seat.  For a while, I considered preparing for the possibility that our baby could be born during our crazy trip, and I intended to put together a list of the hospitals along the way, just in case we needed to rush to one.  A friend of mine also suggested printing out information about delivery so that I'd be all set should I have to deliver the baby myself at a rest stop.  I didn't like the thought of delivering our child myself, or delivering him at a rest stop, or even worse: delivering him at a rest stop in New Jersey.  The thought of that was so appalling that we became determined to not have this baby this weekend.  We decided that we'd skip on all the prep and just avoid the three major things that, according to rumor, may induce labor: dancing, stress and potholes.

BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  Okay, so we couldn't avoid the potholes.  Apparently New Jersey and Pennsylvania get their roads paved by the same people who do New York's streets.  Great stretches of highway looked as if workers had dug trenches there and then filled them up when they realized that the fighting was happening overseas.  There were bumps every few feet, stretching across the entire lane, making them almost impossible to miss.  Our little guy shifted around, but still didn't feel the time was right.  Phew!

BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  We couldn't avoid the severe weather, either, and that caused a bit of stress.  It was just before 10 p.m. Friday night, as we were on the road near Harrisburg, when the beautiful lightning display we had been seeing turned into Armageddon.  A waterfall burst from the sky, pounding our car and everything surrounding us.  Within seconds we were practically floating on water.  I think I saw a submarine pass by us on the interstate, but it was very hard to see anything at all.  We took the next available exit, and as we contemplated staying at the local hotel/trucker hook-up spot, the rain suddenly turned into a pleasant mist.  We went back on the highway and continued for another hour or so, and the stress had no impact on the baby-to-be.  Phew!

BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  BA-BOOM!  Then came the live wedding band.  That was perhaps the most dangerous part.  We made it to Wheeling without incident, only to play with fire after the nuptials.  While I spent most of the reception chasing after Kyle (who chose to turn the reception into a triathlon practice), Jennifer took a quick spin on the dance floor.  By taking a spin, I don't mean she did anything wild and crazy, like break dancing.  While that would have been fun to watch, it probably wouldn't have been good for the baby or our mission.  No, Jennifer just stood there, swaying her arms and moving slightly.  Her plan worked perfectly, and, by the time we returned to the hotel, there were no signs of labor.  Phew!

The drive home went smoothly, except for the aforementioned potholes.  We held our breath through New Jersey, partly because of our desire not to have a baby there, and partly because of the air pollution.  Once we hit New York City, we celebrated.  Mission accomplished!  Our kid's going to be a New Yorker after all.  We got home - just the three of us - and had an uneventful evening.  So, no baby yet.  He will arrive this month, but hopefully, when that time comes, we'll be in a hospital with Jennifer's doctor right there.