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First child? No problem!

May 29, 2014 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category :

Being that there will soon be another addition to the smaller faction of great grandchildren- the children of all us first cousins, I think it may be a good time to turn back the clock (pardon the weak pun) and visit some pre-birth and (shortly) thereafter themes that I never wrote about. Fortunately, you won’t find too much repeat here because my backlog doesn’t contain any of these thoughts. Being that this blog came about several months after to my incarceration at Mr. Mom Penitentiary, most of DC Daddy’s dark ages were formless and directionless. Kind of like the void in Genesis but exponentially less grand. Anyways, I feel that this may be a great opportunity for me to vomit out some of the apprehensions, successes and good advice I received (that I probably didn't follow or follow well) before my daughter was born and shortly after.

In the weeks leading up to the induced labor day (my wife was late- damn baby didn’t want to come out), occasionally I would have vivid flashes of myself in the birthing room, and cold sweats would coat my body as various visions took over. The “me” in the vision would always draw a blank to each situation my imagination would conjure up. Vision DC Daddy would be lost and terrified, not knowing what action he should take next or where his hands should go or what he should say. No matter how hard I tried to put myself in the right presence of mind in these imaginary scenarios, I couldn't conceive of myself being like the corny turds in the birthing class videos who looked liked they were doing the right thing. Yes, they uttered a litany of cringe worthy lines, probably lifted from an after school special on lifetime, but at least they did it. I would most likely be a muted wreck in the birthing room. A blow up doll would be a more effective support system..

Various freak scenarios would run through my through my visions... I mean, what if my wife pooped on the floor and the nurse or doctor or both were in there and we made eye-contact? How would I deal with that and what would I say? What if I suddenly had an imminent need to relieve myself of excreta, but couldn’t run out to do so? What if I sharted? Would I jokingly tell my wife, as I have many times before, that I had to take a dump or just excuse myself for twenty minutes or more while she was alone with strangers and in pain? Of course, there were a multitude of other fears I had but there isn’t enough patience in the lot of you or myself to list them all. Needless to say, I had no fucking clue what to do (hoo hoo).

The classes offered some minimal protection against the oncoming “day of labor” apprehensions, but they couldn't fully prepare me, or you, to the reality. But, that isn’t the point, is it? The idea is to put some thoughts in your head so that it’s not completely empty, but not completely inoculate you. Furthermore, the medical staff will be there and a true survivor will learn to adapt by watching them, which is something I would advise you to do. There are some valuable behaviors you can learn, on the fly, by being observant, and that should be enough to keep you afloat in a deep and mysterious ocean... 

What I did learn from the classes I found to be wholly true, after the birthing experience, so I’ll share some of them, in long form, here. 

We’ll start with things you may want to consider before you or your “someone” goes into labor:
  • First and foremost, this is your birth. Don't let anyone dictate what you should do and how you should do it (barring the important information/ advice provided by the medical health professionals). Accept advice from others graciously but remember that whether or not they actually do know best, they’re still the outsider, here. If they are pushy, then push back, in a polite manner (or, not if that's your style). If you would rather have someone dictate to you how the process should go, then, by all means, relinquish control but don’t balk later on when you want him or her to back off. In reality, anyone who is in the birthing room should be considered your personal slaves and they should defer to your “voice” (explained below).
  • There are other things, like if you and your baby are healthy, you can dictate the path of birth, whether it be C-section or vaginal. Discuss with your significant other (or friend/ family member who is your "go to") what the plan is so that they can be "your voice". You may be in no position to make demands or deal with assholes or other unruly people, so have "your voice" take care of that for you. 
  • Your position, what makes you comfortable, is also within your control. You can also choose whether or not you take an epidural. Don’t let anyone push you to do something you’re uncomfortable with doing. Once again, this is where your “voice” will come in handy. There are some other things you should be aware and if your medical provider hasn't explained them to you, then they should be fired.
  • Having people around who are in tune with your needs and desires and want to help and do help are invaluable, though (thanks mom/ dad).
  • Lastly, make a one page or less birth plan; it’s document that incorporates all that I have mentioned. Have your “voice” memorize it and stick to it. The last place you want to hit unnecessary “bumps” in the road or make rash decisions is when you’re pushing another human being out of your vagina.
Regardless of how you feel about the birth of your first child, it is a very intimate experience, as one friend once told me. It is something for you and your significant other (if he’s still around) to experience together. For you significant others or “voice”, be there and be present. All the support you can give, whatever that means, goes along way.
Some secondary shit to consider…
While it’s not a guarantee, you should expect all sorts of people to jump in with suggestions on how you should handle your baby’s care those first several months. You may find yourself having conversations you never thought you would have and depending on your personality, you may or may not be butting heads. If you’ve navigated this possible minefield deftly enough, they will back off and defer to you down the line, but expect them to go behind your back when you’re not around! Yet, I wouldn’t be overly concerned with their deviousness as it is what relatives, especially grandparents, are for- to spoil your kids.
Pointers that are worth mentioning:
  •  Be wary or take with a grain of salt those who are a constant source of unrequested advice/ input. Putting your foot down early with those who seem to criticize everything you do, without being constructive, will benefit all parties involved down the line. 
  • Personally, I’ve found the best advice and help comes from those who are engaged with what you’re doing, instead of at odds with it. An “engaged” helper tends to ask questions about your parenting style and seems genuinely interested in how you’re doing things, even if they think they know better or actually do know better. They know that being complementary to your style is the best position to be in.
  • Grandparents can be invaluable.
  •  Don’t follow tradition just because. If you’re not down with it, don’t do it until you feel comfortable, the time is right or you whole-heartedly agree with it in the first place. And, if you never want to follow certain aspects of tradition, then just don’t. You can politely keep having “that discussion” as it pops up, or blow up in people’s faces (whatever your style). The “We’re done with the conversation” line also works, but just don’t expect people to understand or accept your stance... Remember other people feel strongly about this or that because they know they’re right.
  • Soon as your baby starts to focus on the TV, DON’T EVER LET HIM/ HER WATCH IT AGAIN.
  • Lastly, people who come to visit you in those first few months should be there to help. You’re not going to have the time and energy to cater to them. The best help you can get is someone coming over to cook, clean or let you get some rest. It’s totally not rude to politely hint or remind people of this. Otherwise, short visits are golden.  

To conclude (so I don’t keep yapping on)…

There are obviously too many fucking things to keep track of when you’re inundated by the seemingly overwhelming demands of your first child. Just making it day by day without killing your child should be counted as a resounding success of parenting. With any luck you’ll wake up 6 months down the road with a happy healthy baby who is just learning to crawl. By then, you’ll have learned to subsist on so little sleep over consecutive days that you’ll think longingly of finals week in college. You’ll also be a pro at changing diapers, dealing with incessant crying, mixing bottles and humming. And if you’re anything like me, DO NOT read mommy blogs or other parenting blogs- those do it all goody two shoes will just make you have a panic attack. Just do you and don’t kill your child. Finally, remember that you are not in control, just go with it and your sanity may not suffer too much.