Warning: The following newsletter contains certain graphic materials that should be viewed by mature audiences only. (Unfortunately, that pretty much knocks out my entire mailing list.)
Oh…the hardships of pregnancy. Sure, I knew a bit about the expected weight gain (though if babies only weigh about eight pounds at birth, why do mothers gain considerably more?). I had even heard something about the strange cravings (and can attest that the pickles and ice cream combo isn’t half bad). But, I wasn’t prepared for many of the other accompanying symptoms: constant tiredness, swollen feet, stretch marks, heartburn, and excessive flatulence. (How’s that for graphic?) While Barb has come through these past eight months having experienced very few of the above, no one warned me about the sympathy symptoms that expectant fathers often encounter in support of their wives (and I’ve suffered through every last one of them).
At last measurement, I’ve gained about five more pounds than her (and I’m not even eating for two). I only hope the cocoa butter works its magic on my stretch marks. (It actually smells better than my normal body lotion.) My morning sickness ended by the beginning of the third trimester, but the flatulence continues for now (OK…grow up). Apparently, pregnant women cannot eat sushi (no complaints here), and they must also stay away from kitty litter (which means I now clean up after Max and his nervous stomach a few times a day…talk about your spousal support).
ONE BRIEF SCARE
All in all, the pregnancy could not be going more smoothly. Barb has felt great throughout and truly experienced very few adverse symptoms. She never complains and we only had one somewhat worrisome situation very early in the pregnancy. While vacationing in Hawaii a few months ago, Barb encountered this bad coughing spell that she simply could not lick. Being the very inexperienced (and panicked) expectant parents, we feared that all of the coughing was somehow damaging the baby so we rushed to the Maui emergency room. Fair warning…though a luxurious travel destination, Maui’s hospital is just a step above a third world country’s facility (not that I’ve ever been to one).
While our physician proudly displayed his Universidad de Costa Rica diploma on his office wall, I became suspicious when he became a bit squeamish at the first sight of blood. We were pleased that they possessed an ultrasound machine to hear the baby’s heartbeat, though no one at the hospital seemed to know how to use it. It appeared to be more like a prop to lend additional credibility to the OB wing (which also doubles as the cafeteria). In actuality, our physician was very skilled, experienced, and comforting. He made us feel at ease, prescribed an antibiotic (that we confirmed with a “real” doctor at home) and convinced us that the baby would suffer no ill-effects. (Apparently Barb has an exceptionally large uterus…just kidding, dear…it’s an appropriately sized uterus.) We even considered bringing the doc in to assist with the birth, but he’s already signed up for a double shift at the hospital that week: one in OB; one in the cafeteria.
NOT THE TEACHER’S PET
For the past month or so, we have been knee deep in baby classes, attempting to be as prepared as possible for our new arrival. As the “mature” couple, the average age of these classes increased by about 10 years once we registered (and that includes the instructors). I had hoped to make a few friends in these classes and maybe even form a play group with some of the other new parents. I soon changed my mind after overhearing one of the other fathers-to-be comment that he wishes his baby’s grandparents would be just as involved as us. I was pretty limited in my participation in breastfeeding class (though we watched some decent porn disguised as an instructional video). I learned the advantages of the football hold and the cross cradle hold and how to make sure the baby grabs onto the whole areola and not just the nipple. (I warned you.) The child birthing class was insightful and educational. (Who knew mucus plugs could be so interesting?) We learned about natural childbirth and C-Sections, but mainly I felt the entire class was a hidden attempt for our wives to get an hour long back massage each session. (Of course, Barb already gets that massage nightly at home…don’t you, dear?)
We even took a hospital tour so we would know exactly what to expect when the big day arrives. Wandering the halls, I’ve never seen so many people look euphoric, relieved, excited, nervous, and dead tired all at once. (At least, not since last year’s Rose Bowl.) Our “Life with Baby” instructor compared and contrasted Pampers with Huggies and taught us that baby clothes must be washed in a special unscented detergent called Dreft (that costs three times as much as our standard CVS brand). We saw pictures of kids born with pimples (is it too soon to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist?) and learned all about umbilical cord care. Infant CPR seemed to be going just fine until I pounded on my doll’s chest a bit too hard and her head fell off. (Distraught at first, I was told that rarely happens in real life.)
A QUESTION OF SEX
Barb and I had differing opinions about finding out the sex of our baby. I wanted to be surprised and relish the moment in the delivery room when we would learn whether a bris or baby naming was in our future. Barb is more of a planner than I and wanted to be able to make certain room decoration and clothing decisions in advance of the birth. She also felt that the surprise comes whenever you find out, whether it be in the doctor’s office or on the delivery table. She would be just as happy, just as surprised, but better organized her way. And so we compromised. She found out its sex and has been doing her absolute best to keep that crucial information from me.
She’s almost slipped a couple of times (and now maybe I have a slight clue). Sure, the nursery is painted very neutral shades of rose (pink) and cream (yellow) and most of the outfits are pink and purple dresses, but I have yet to see any real concrete evidence. You see, Barb’s two brothers are as metrosexual as they come, so the colors are not a dead giveaway. (Just kidding, Rich and Mark…how ‘bout those Dolphins this year?) Sure, we stopped discussing little boy names a few months ago, and Barb always refers to the baby as “her” and “she.” But, in reality, “Eunice” actually works for either a boy or girl. (It’s such a classic name.) So, if you happen to find out prior to October 2 or even suspect from the way she is carrying or the fullness of her face, please have the common courtesy of not spilling the beans to me. I can’t wait to be surprised in the delivery room and look forward to bringing home our son (or daughter) to his (her) perfect rose and cream colored room.
In the meantime, we’ve been installing car seats and assembling joggers and baby furniture. (Barb does most of the heavy lifting). We’ve hired a night nurse, interviewed a pediatrician (Duke grad), and are beginning to explore nannies vs. day care. Ready or not, we are getting down to the wire and are so very excited to bring our baby “Eunice” into the world. We may even be calling on a few of you guys for advice every now and then. Stay tuned…and, by the way, how soon after childbirth does that constant tiredness come to an end? We can’t wait.