Monthly Archives: April 2008

Get pumped!

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

I may be risking a divorce by telling this story, but it’s too good to pass up. I knew parenthood would place me in situations I never prepared myself for, and sure enough, one presented itself last night.

So MJ and I packed Will up yesterday to head to Norton to visit my parents. The town election was yesterday and my father was running for Town Moderator, so we thought we’d give him a little support. Knowing we’d be away from home for about 5-6 hours, we decided to give Will a bottle of formula before we left. She also pumped a few ounces of breast milk in advance so she could have it for later and avoid having to breastfeed him in public. I’m quickly learning that moms are constantly thinking 10 steps ahead of dads when it comes to traveling with a newborn. When I go somewhere I think about what I need for where I’m going. MJ on the other hand, has become a strategist. She calculates how long we’ll be gone, when Will was last fed, when she’ll need to feed him next, whether she should pump or breastfeed and our diaper bag is packed to the hilt because we are prepared for every possible scenario while away from home.

But I digress…

So we gave Will the formula before we left, knowing he eats about every 90 minutes. And sure enough, about an hour and a half later he woke up and we gave him the bottle MJ had pumped earlier. But then a funny thing happened. Will slept. And slept. And slept some more. Pretty soon he had been sleeping for more than three hours which is unprecedented. We were able to go out to dinner with my mom and brother and enjoy a meal in rare silence as Will peacefully slumbered away. As we left the restaurant and headed to the polling station to hear the election results, we were basking in our good fortune when all of a sudden I heard an “Oh shit!” from the passenger seat.

I was going to ask what was wrong but one look at my wife told me all I needed to know.

Let’s see now, how can I put this delicately? For those who may not be aware, when a mother is breastfeeding she needs time in between feedings for the milk to replenish itself. But if you take too much time…well…let’s just say your cup will runneth over. And so even though we were enjoying Will’s longer-than-usual nap and its accompanying silence and peace of mind, MJ also neglected to “pump & dump” her milk. Think of it like a dam on a river. If you don’t have a release from time to time, you’re going to have a flood.

So I’m driving down Route 123 and MJ is hurriedly trying to locate her breast pump. Not the super-duper electronic breast pump that resembles a small suitcase we have at home. That’s too cumbersome to bring on a trip. So instead, we brought the dinky little pump you have to operate by hand. Sitting in the passenger seat with her shirt lifted up and her nursing bra flaps pulled down, MJ is frantically trying to use this archaic pump to ward off the drippy mess slowly staining her clothes and possibly the car. Thank God we tooks hers and not mine.

And so that was the scene as we pulled into the parking lot filled with dozens of people waiting on the election results. My wife flashing her funbags, breast milk going every which way and all the while she’s pumping her little heart out. It was quite a scene.

But then she complained she wasn’t getting enough suction and the pump wasn’t working, since her arms were tired. She looked at me as she said this and immediately I knew what she was getting at.

“You want me to pump your boobs, don’t you?” I asked incredulously.

It just so happens the school we were at was where we first met in the sixth grade, and it’s where I took her in 2005 after I asked her to marry me as we danced in the parking lot during a snowstorm. Now, three years later, we were back again. Except this time we had an infant in the backseat and I was furiously pumping milk out of my wife’s ta-tas like someone trying to inflate a bicycle tire. Finally the two of us just looked at each other, took stock of the situation, and cracked up laughing. The laughing subsided slightly when I began making “moo” noises during the pumping, but still…that’s the hardest we’ve laughed in about a month and it felt great.

By the time I was finished pumping I felt like I needed a cigarette. Seriously, that’s the closest I’ve come to any kind of intimacy in months! Such are the woes of pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of a newborn. It just goes to show you how drastically things can change in such a short amount of time. If you had told me a year ago that I would end up in a parked car in a semi-deserted parking lot touching my wife’s boobs, I would’ve thought it was my birthday and I was getting lucky. But now, it’s just another day in the life of a new dad.

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Already a political machine

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

The Gouveia family united in Norton, MA earlier today for a political rally.

My dad was running a write-in campaign to become Town Moderator and we figured he could use all the help he could. So after work, we bundled Will up, put him in the car and trekked 45 minutes north to Norton. Voter turnout was low due to bad weather (and a very uninteresting ballot) but Will seemed to warm everyone up as soon as we took him out to cheer on his grandpa. We also made him two signs. One you can see in the picture that said “Vote For My Grandpa Bill Gouveia — Moderator.” The other one said “If You Don’t Write-In Bill Gouveia for Moderator Then You Hate Babies!”

As it turns out, little Will is good luck as my father unseated an incumbent by a healthy margin. Pretty impressive considering his name wasn’t even on the ballot. My son isn’t even a month old yet and he’s already spearheaded a successful political campaign. That’s my boy.

But I think the coolest thing about today was how everything has come full circle. You see, my parents are townies in Norton. Their parents grew up in town, they chose to marry and stay there and so my brother and I were the third generation to grow up there. My dad has always been involved in town politics, serving on the Finance Committee, twice as a selectman, the Cable Commission and now Moderator. So when I turned 18 he happened to be running for selectman, meaning the first person I ever voted for was my dad. I held campaign signs for him when I was a kid and now his grandson had a sign attached to his carseat.

And if that’s not proof enough Will is good luck, the Sox pulled out a win in the bottom of the 9th.

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A moment amidst the chaos

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

I’m assuming every parent has been there at some point.

It’s 2:30 in the morning and the only time the baby has stopped crying is to eat. Mom and dad are both exhausted, completely sapped of any and all energy. He’s been quiet for nearly two minutes and the two of you are hoping against hope that this will be the time he falls asleep. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Hell, even if it’s 45 minutes that’s something. When you’re so tired you can’t even think you’ll take whatever you can get.

Even though it’s dark, neither one of us needs to look at the other to know what’s going on. We rest there, frozen in place, for fear that any kind of movement will disturb him. No one moves, no one even breathes. Even the dogs are quiet as they seem to inherently understand what’s happening. Thirty seconds go by, then a minute…silence. Is it possible? Is he really asleep? This is just about the time you allow yourself to drift off, slipping into that half-dream state that leads to peaceful slumber.

Then you hear the first squeak.

Although you don’t move your body, your mind snaps back to reality and your breath catches in your throat. “Maybe it was nothing,” you think to yourself frantically. You squeeze your wife’s hand under the covers in the hopes of warding off the crying fit on the horizon. But as he starts to wail for the 43rd time that night, you realize you knew in your heart sleep was not in the cards. It’s what Red Sox fans felt every single year from 1919 to 2004. Frankly, it’s demoralizing.

But even though you have to work in a few hours, you get up because your wife is done. She’s had him all day and she’s given him all she has for now. So even though your soft bed and comforter seems to have developed its own gravitational pull downward, you fight it off and struggle out of bed and to your feet. In your bleary-eyed state you stub your toe on the dresser as curse words escape your mouth in a profanity laced tirade. Then you lean down and pick up your son, whose head should start spinning around in a 360-degree circle any minute.

He’s been fed and his diaper is clean, so you have no idea what he needs. That’s the most frustrating part. You keep hoping he’ll somehow summon the power to speak or maybe point at what he needs. So all you can do is put his little head on your bare chest, cup the back of his head and walk with him. At first there’s no positive result. The screaming continues at full throttle.

Out of desperation you start singing to him. Soft tones, just above a whisper. It’s the song you sang to his mother’s swollen belly when he was still safely tucked away in the womb. Sure it’s an Irish drinking song, but all of a sudden you realize it’s doing the trick. He stops crying as you continue singing and patting him softly on the bum. When you finish the song it’s silent, and you gently pull him off your shoulder and see two wide open eyes just staring back at you.

“It’s OK big guy, daddy’s got you,” you whisper.

And just like that, he slowly nods off with his head tilted to one side. Soon his chest is rhythmically rising and falling and he’s completely at peace. Stunned and amazed you carefully put him back in the bassinet and wrap the blankets tightly around his little body. You smile like a conquering hero and even though you really didn’t do much, you feel great. You feel like the king of the world.

You feel like a dad.

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Formula crisis

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

My wife is a saint.

No, not just because she puts up with me and allows me to write this blog without any kind of censorship. Although that helps. She was a champ this past week as I went back to work and she was left all alone with Will for the first time. And of course, just like everything else she does, she is excelling at it.

But it’s not easy for her. Specifically, it’s no simple task for her to keep up with Will’s voracious appetite. Basically, he never stops eating. And the last few days he’s been hungry every hour on the hour. And without getting too graphic, when a woman breastfeeds it becomes a matter of supply and demand. And when the demand is hourly, the supply naturally starts to wither. Poor MJ reached the end of her rope Sunday afternoon when quite literally, she had no more to give. Will just screams his bloody head off when he’s hungry and my wife was finally forced to do what she had been avoiding since Will was born: she had to give him formula.

And I tried to tell her it’s not a big deal. After all, many babies are never breastfed and they turn out just fine. But MJ is a perfectionist and she is that way because, well…she hardly ever fails at anything. And despite my reassurances that this was in no way, shape or form a failure, she could not be soothed.

For once, I think I performed my duties as a husband well. Although my first instinct was to say “Relax. You’re crying about nothing,” I just hugged her and told her she’s light years ahead of where most young mothers of a 3-week-old are. It just breaks my heart to see her so upset, because she really is incredible. She doesn’t give herself the credit she deserves and she’s too hard on herself when it comes to things that are out of her control. That’s why although we dads and husbands don’t do much, we need to recognize when it’s our turn to step up and do what we need to do to help moms keep it together.

And on a side note, I’m not sure if it’s the formula we gave Will but he’s been quiet and sleepy ever since. Frankly it’s been a nice change from the blood-curdling screaming fits he’s been displaying the last few nights. I thought about suggesting formula full-time but then I remembered I like all my limbs intact and attached.

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Mini Me

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

I know it’s been three weeks, but it still stops me in my tracks every time I go to pick up my son and I see a tiny, screaming version of myself looking back at me.

Sure he’s got his Mom’s mouth, hands and feet. But the rest of him is all me…the poor kid. Unfortunately, that includes my receding hairline as well. A lot parents say the novelty of having a baby starts wearing off right about now. I guess I can see where they’re coming from. The crying, constant feedings, diaper changes and sleep deprivation can get pretty cumbersome. But I’m happy to say that isn’t the case with me. I’m still just as awestruck by Will as I was when he was born.

And now I find myself studying him more than anything. I’m starting to learn which cries mean what. There’s a gassy cry, a hungry cry, an “I want to suck on something” cry and finally, there’s just an “I’m a pissy infant and if I can’t sleep ain’t no one sleeping” cry. I still don’t think he’s smiled yet though. I thought maybe he did a couple of times but I think it was just gas. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying. I make funny faces, I play with his arms, I blow on his belly and I talk in a really high pitched voice. So far nothing, but one day he’s going to smile at me and I’m going to feel like the coolest person on Earth.

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