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Breaking Out of Comfort Zones

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So it’s been a while since the last post. Once again, I was out of town for the weekend, so we missed the Week 14 picture. At this point, it’s too late, so we’ll do the next pregnancy picture and post this weekend.

I’m beginning to understand that this whole having a baby thing is really a process of bringing you way out of your comfort zone. I’m certainly not saying it’s a bad thing, but the more we dive into this, the more I realize it.

Last Wednesday, we decided to start attending weekly Bradley classes. Being a guy, when Carrie first introduced the idea, I thought it meant we were moving to Illinois and going back to college. As it turns out, it’s a 12-week class on a natural childbirth method. Yes, women, I know you’re probably bored reading this by now because you already know all about it, so bear with me.

Essentially, what Carrie wants to get out of this is a greater understanding of techniques to improve the natural birth process, and for me to learn them as well since I’ll be a vital part of it all. I agree wholeheartedly since I know about as much about childbirth as she does about the intricacies of Rich Rodriguez’s offensive system.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t super excited about going to the first class last Wednesday because I thought it was way too soon to start it. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I envisioned sitting at a desk watching a teacher put slides on a projector, and taking notes. Then we got there and it was in a woman’s apartment and there were mattresses, pillows, and big rubber balls all over the the floor. Cool, apparently the natural birth process involves going back to kindergarten.

We sat indian-style on the mattresses and did introductions and talked about nutrition. The first class was very basic. It was just us, one other couple about our age, and a 40-year old girl whose boyfriend lives in Florida and, therefore, isn’t able to attend the classes with her. So while the first session wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, I found it interesting and was excited to come back.

Tonight, there were two more couples there, both a little bit older, in their mid-to-late 30s. I must admit, it was nice to have a couple more guys there who are in the same position as me. One is a Michigan State fan whose wife is a Notre Dame law school grad, so we have some big bragging rights on the line in the next couple of weeks (Michigan plays Michigan State next Saturday).

Tonight’s class was certainly a first for me: the first time I’ve ever been in a room with 10 random strangers talking about breasts, breast feeding, and breast pumps for an hour. Talk about stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone! But you know what, probably 99 percent of guys know nothing about it, yet it’s something we’re going to have to learn about in the coming months. I know it will be beneficial for both Carrie and I in about six months, and sharing those awkward moments with three other husbands made it not quite as bad.

To tell people at work that I can’t go out for drinks to celebrate their birthdays because I’m going to a birthing class doesn’t exactly sound like the most manly thing in the world. But to be there with my wife and to be amongst three other couples (and the one woman whose boyfriend is in Florida) who are all committed to helping the birth of their first child go as smoothly as possible, is definitely more manly than a night of drinks at a pub in Hoboken. And I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Today really hit me how we’re entering that new world. The one of the stroller brigades in Starbucks and shopping for groceries with an infant strapped to your chest. The one of screaming babies and extreme lack of sleep. The one that the single friends and co-workers don’t understand. And it’sone that I’m really looking forward to.

I hope that we can really get to know these other couples in the next 10 weeks even though they all have due dates earlier than we do (late Nov, Christmas Day, Jan. 17, and Feb. 2 to be exact). I also hope to learn as much as I can about how to help Carrie deliver this baby and how to support her all the way.

So bring on the breast talk and push those comfort zone boundaries to the limit. Here we come.

The Dad Life

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So this is what I have to look forward to:

A Peanut Seen and a Heartbeat Heard

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There are few things that can get me up in the early hours of the morning. Chief among those things is golf and apparently I can now add babies to the list. We trekked down to midtown on the East side for an 8:15 a.m. appointment…the first ultrasound. I had no idea what to expect other than the awkwardness of being a guy in a woman’s lair.

Thankfully, after a frantic search for a Starbucks (and coming up empty and having to settle for Oren’s Daily Roast) there was hardly anyone else in the waiting room when we arrived and we were ushered back to a private room pretty quickly. The nurse got to work right away and the image of Baby X flashed onto the monitor. It was our first look at the peanut-sized (and shaped) living being incubating inside Carrie’s uterus. It was both exciting and emotional, especially when she turned on the sound to hear the heartbeat, which sounded more like a string of firecrackers going off than the typical sound of a heartbeat that you hear on TV shows and movies. But it was the best sound of firecrackers I’ve ever heard.

The first ultrasound

As I sit here looking at the souvenir printout of the baby that she printed out for us, it really sheds a new light onto the issue of abortion in my mind. I just cannot fathom how somebody can look at this knowing that it is a part of the two of you and is being intricately woven together over a period of nine months, and decide that it’s not worth keeping. Of course, my situation is much different than that of many who get to this point, so my feelings of love and compassion for this peanut I’ve only seen in a 2″x 3″ picture don’t reflect those of everybody else, but it just goes to show how amazing the miracle of life really is, how it’s so far beyond our control, and how life really does start at conception, rather than birth.

The only awkward part of the experience was while waiting for Carrie to get her height, weight and blood pressure measured, I was standing next to the bathroom door where other women were passing by with their urine samples. I may have gotten a few dirty looks, but hey, I just saw my kid for the first time, so I don’t care.

The doctor we met with after the ultrasound was very nice and not like the doctors I’ve been warned about in the fatherhood books I’ve been reading. She welcomed my presence in the room, talked to me, and asked if I had any questions or input. Apparently some doctors barely even recognize that the guy in there with his wife or girlfriend. This one, however, seems great and Carrie seemed to really like her. She could be the one delivering the baby (she’s one of four doctors in the practice) so it should be an exciting time over the next seven months!

The Beginning

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When I found out a few weeks ago that we were pregnant I was instantly excited, nervous, and determined to do everything possible to get ready in the next nine months. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the weight of the whole process leading up to birth falls on the woman.

It’s my job to provide extra love and support, to run out no matter the time of day or night and fuel her cravings, to make sure she eats healthy, to pick up the extra chores that she’s not able to do because of nausea, to give massages, to take the dog out so she can sleep, etc. Yet, while all of those things are vitally important, they don’t really give me any connection to the baby. I mean, she’s carrying the thing in her stomach, feeding it, and feeling the kicks and I’m just in a supportive role. 

Carrie told me a quote that she heard that goes something like, “Motherhood starts at conception. Fatherhood starts at birth.”  Well, I may be unconventional, but I would prefer fatherhood to start from conception as well. So when I read an article the other day on CNN.com called Meet the Modern Dad, I was inspired to start this blog.

I’ve never really been into blogging about my life, but I do love to write. The other blog I run is all about Michigan football and basketball. I realize blogs like this one are typically run by moms and they do a great job, but I’m here to reverse that role and become the modern dad. If you’re a mom and reading this blog, believe me, I’m not trying to outdo you. I’m joining you. Feel free to share stories in the comments section of how your husbands handled and are handling their journey of fatherhood.

So anyway, that’s how this began. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes in the coming months leading up to the due-date in late March. Thanks for your support!

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