Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Obama Response

In speaking with a few friends of mine who have recently had babies of their own, I realized how all new parents suffer through the same elephant in the room, not the cute cuddly stuffed elephant but the awkward conversation of what to say about you as parents and your kid as a baby. Obviously, the newborn baby is the center of attention and all discussion topics revolve around everything about his pooh, the screaming vs. sleeping battle, and the not very fun stuff about my wife’s breasts (breastfeeding and breast milk).

But in all these conversations, there is one very subtle, very dangerous tight wire line floating around new parents, “How do I describe our experience?” Sounds harmless I know but that is so far from the truth. Newborns come with a same set of questions from everyone, “How is the baby?” “How is he sleeping?” “How are you sleeping?” “How bad are the diapers?” And the list goes on. People who never had kids try to be supportive but usually say things that mirror how they raised their golden retriever puppy. People who have had kids will spew out suggestion after suggestion and heaven forbid story after story about their experiences which would be nice except for when you try them with your baby, it somehow makes things worse.

The true tough part of the new baby inquisition though is in how to answer. Answer positively and you risk alienating yourself and your baby. “How’s the baby sleeping?” Answer “Great. He has been a good little sleeper.” Immediately, the room grows cold, the wind stirs the tree branches outside, you get the look of death and the figurative middle finger saying “f*** you and your well rested household!” Answer “It is brutal. He is so fussy.” Immediately, you get the look of curiosity saying “what are you doing to that baby and try reading a baby book or two lazy slouch?” It is like this for everything topic also: 1) sleeping, 2) gas and pooping, 3) breastfeeding, 4) awake/alert time, and I assume regular feeding, crawling, walking, talking is even more intense and then comes school and sports where competitiveness rears its head.

So how do you answer questions about your newborn and being new parents? I find disappointingly vague and contradictory statements work best. This confuses everyone so we just move on to the next topic. “How are you sleeping?” Answer “Not great but we are getting some.” “How is the baby’s gas?” “He hates it but he deals with it.” Classically worthless and uninformative but more importantly, politically neutral as to support or defend any stance…I call it “the Obama Response”.

Chaos...every night and morning...and afternoon and evening...just getting by...

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Danger of Gas

11 days old and the most important thing I have learned this past week is something I already know, gas can be a very dangerous thing.

For Gunner, the danger is not in the smell as there is no real odor so even the resulting discharge is easy to manage. The danger is in the discomfort it causes him. He has no problem letting one rip. When he does, the pictures on the wall rattle. It’s impressively grotesque. His issue, and the same with a lot of newborns also, is knowing how to let it rip on command when he needs to release some pressure. Instead, Gunner prefers to tell my wife and I about his discomfort in the loudest and most incoherent way possible. This gas is brutal for us all.

Thus far, we have done numerous little remedies to ease his unpleasantness and all have worked to a small degree. But this discomfort in Gunner’s current predicament opens my eyes about a few things.
1)      It is inhumane to see a baby in pain and even worse when your efforts aren’t soothing.
2)      It is equally as inhumane that babies communicate through crying and communicate negative emotions by wailing! Where is evolution on this one? I would assume a crying baby and his exhausted parents in prehistoric times would have been easily found and eaten by a saber tooth tiger or pack of hyenas or something thus quiet babies survived to pass quiet baby genes forward as our species evolved over time.
3)      This is why we laugh at fart jokes on Family Guy. We subconsciously find pleasantness and comfort in passing gas. To enjoy fart jokes is no longer less civilized as it is entwined in our emotional neurological upbringing.

So as Gunner’s digestive system further develops and starts settling down, we will move back to dangerous gas in it just being simply gross.

Oh the agony...

And when we pooh, it is disguised in a stare down....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Dilemma of Child Raising

6 days into life with a new baby…it isn’t all that bad.

Gunner cries when hungry so we feed him. He hates getting his diaper changed so we do that while he is crying. I got the diaper change routine down pretty quick…best time 3 minutes 36 seconds…and that’s with adequate circumcised penis care provided also. Then he sleeps until he gets hungry, farting out his gas in his sleep like a little frat guy. That’s fatherhood in week 1. Maybe my wife is having a more profound emotional connection and bond with our son, but for me, he is a little man with plan and he demands dad steps up…no weak links in our house.

Tomorrow Day 7 is the dilemma. Marc Gunner Forster was named for the following:
1)      Marc – In Memory of his awesome uncle who he does resemble a little. If he grows up to be even 10% of his uncle, this world will be super lucky and he will be a quite fantastic person.
2)      Gunner – Derived from our soccer loves, a) my favorite club is Arsenal, mascot the Gunners, b) my wife’s professional playing days were with the Fredericksburg Gunners, and c) my wife’s favorite team is Manchester United and one of their legends is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer “the Baby Face Assassin”…good strong Scandinavian name.

Tomorrow both Arsenal and United play. We have the kits for both teams. Unfortunately for me, United play first meaning United will be the first jersey he ever wears. Can I stomach that as an Arsenal fan? His uncle Matty is already plotting with my wife to convert him into a Red Devil! Oh the horror at the dilemma I find myself in!

Gunner wore both that weekend. Man United first on Saturday...

And Arsenal Sunday for the derby match....even celebrated with the boys...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What the Heck?!? The Arrival of Gunner

I intend to contribute to this blog weekly on Saturdays but the monumental occasion of Gunner’s birth and arrival into this world will get its own moment of distinction.

After 90 hours of false labor, 14 hours of active labor, and 2 hours of intense pushing, Gunner arrived at 2:07 pm, 6 lbs. 15 oz. and 21 inches long.

The way I would describe Labor and Delivery is not “the miracle of childbirth.” Miraculous is far from an appropriate adjective for the experience. It is a long, intense, and exhausting and all I did was stand there in a Banana Republic sweater and jeans and said “you’re doing great” over and over again, not much different from my routine day at work.

Monday March 10th was not like that. My poor wife went through something I can would describe as the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan meets the battle scene of Lone Survivor…it goes on goes on and you know how it ends but every now and then something makes you gasp and your heart rate is jacked up even more. And the “you’re doing great” mantra from myself and all the doctors and nurses in the room is really “oh my God! What the heck were you thinking?!? Why would you volunteer for this?!? Are you feeling all this and how the heck are you pulling this off?!?”

Gentlemen it’s simple. If you care about your lady, you will NEVER EVER ask her to have a vaginal delivery. There has to be better ways to have a child. It is tough to watch someone you love in that kind of distress….straight brutal.

Fortunately, everything went well for both mom and baby and we were blessed with our beautiful baby boy. I would say everything went well for dad also but during our 2 day hospital stay, they only delivered meals to mom the patient, completely ignoring dad who stays with wife and child during their time of need….kind of out dated, chauvinistic, and not cool.

Mom and baby on our first night. Thank you Touro.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mind Games Already

My favorite author is Michael Lewis, the genius behind Moneyball and Liar’s Poker. He writes with a wonderful blend of insight, perspective, and humor. As I embark into parenthood, I am reminded of his hilarious wisdom from his own experiences in his book Home Game. Anyone with kids or about to have kids, it is a must read because it is a fun read.

In one part of the book, Mr. Lewis discusses the ongoing mind games a parent and child play constantly. These games are laced with bribery, plea bargains, threats both vile and harmless, negotiating banter, bluffs, etc….a true struggle for power that would make Game of Thrones proud.

Gunner was slated to arrive Tuesday March 4th. Not only did he not feel like making his scheduled grand entrance, on Wednesday the 5th he decided to make the doctor feel like he was nowhere near ready to come as he has still not lowered towards the exit door. Not that big of a deal until Thursday the 6th at 3am when my wife woke up with contractions. Excited, we got up and ready to be hospital bound when my wife realized there was no consistency to the length or frequency of the contractions. So we wait…

55 hours later, the false labor continues. Mind games already….

The nursery awaiting Gunner's arrival, painted by Ayo Scott. So amazing...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fast Forward 9 Months

T Minus 3. We are 3 days until D-Day, March 4th 2014. Ironically, our D-Day should share some similarities to the actual D-Day. Both will have started in France. Both will have been one long, intense day. And the world won’t be same after either. The arrival of Marc Gunner Forster…

To start this journey off, I won’t bother too much with the pregnancy. It went pretty much as I would expect. To sum it up:

1)      my wife had back aches
2)      our fridge was always empty
3)      all baby classes and baby books were way more graphic and terrifying than necessary

So it’s all been about preparing for parenthood where watching all 5 seasons (111 episodes) of Modern Family in one month have been a life saver! I feel ready.

A special note to my lovely wife: you have been amazing; good spirits, productive, active throughout the last 9 months. You never cease to amaze.

My wife and my sister in law Christine at our Reveal Party...

Hello Dear Friends...

Hello blog world. Please treat me kindly.

I must thank my wife for encouraging me to start this blog. Whether it’s out of her love to see me be productive or her desire for me to stop entertaining myself with reruns of the same sitcoms day after day is still a mystery. Either way, I created this blog to share our story as we embark on the surreal adventure of parenthood. Thank you for indulging me.

A 3D ultrasound of Gunner...