Monthly Archives: January 2013

13 Things Men Need to Know About Pregnant Women

angry_pregoWhen it comes to handling pregnant women, I’m no expert. Hell, I haven’t even figured out how to deal with women in general. In fact, I’m the antithesis of an expert. Luckily for you, I’ve made just about every single stupid mistake and placed my foot so far in my mouth during MJ’s pregnancies that I’m overqualified to speak to you about things you need to know to avoid getting knocked out by the knocked up.

Here are the 13 most important things to remember.

1. Feed Her Constantly
Everyone knows food is important to pregnant women. But what the uninitiated might not realize is that time is of the essence. The bottom line is when she says she’s hungry, she means it. Feed that woman immediately or she will eat your fucking face. Know that “I’m hungry” doesn’t mean she’s looking forward to the dinner plans you have in an hour. It means give her a snack before you leave for the restaurant. And then again when you get in the car. Failure to give that woman snacks will result in extreme bitchiness at best, and bodily injury at worse. Just turn yourself into a walking, talking vending machine for 9 months and you’ll be fine.

2. Food: What’s Yours is Hers, What’s Hers is Off-Limits
You’ve likely been married or together a few years now, so it’s perfectly understandable that you bought into all that stuff about togetherness and sharing a life, etc. And while some of that still applies, all bets are off when it comes to food. If you eat food that’s hers (or food you bought for yourself but she somehow claimed it as hers), she will cut you. Not physically perhaps, but by the time she’s finished excoriating you you’ll wish it was just a knife wound you suffered. I ate some of MJ’s chocolate once and when she went to find it during a craving and saw that it was gone, she flew into a rage that was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Just don’t do it.

3. Get Ready to Gain Weight
Notice how all the topics so far have involved food? That’s no mistake. Ultimately at some point she’ll have cravings. When MJ was pregnant with Will she wanted pizza, Kit-Kats & grapefruit. This time around it’s nothing but fruit salad. But whatever the craving, one of the unmentioned side effects of pregnancy is YOUR weight gain. Yes, the guys gain weight too. Mainly because we inevitably partake in her cravings and all the extra junk food results in a spare tire. I gained 25 lbs during MJ’s pregnancy 5 years ago, just a shade under the total amount she gained — WITH THE BABY! So watch your step.

4. Don’t Point Out How Big She’s Getting
My Boston sports habit notwithstanding, I’m a fairly logical person. I knew MJ was pregnant and pregnant women gain weight. That’s why I thought absolutely nothing of pointing out my wife’s really cute swollen belly. In my mind it was just nature progressing and running its course, and there was nothing more beautiful. But after the first 2-3 times I said it, she snapped on me. “STOP TELLING ME I’M FAT! I KNOW I’M FAT! I DON’T NEED YOU POINTING IT OUT!!” It didn’t matter that in my eyes she never looked more beautiful or that she was SUPPOSED to be gaining weight. Which leads me to my next point…

5. “Pregnancy Brain” is Very Real
I know it sounds like some sort of cutesy, media-created term. But it’s not. Pregnancy Brain is legit. It starts with everyday occurrences like looking for her glasses while they’re on her head, which is kinda cute. But it soon progresses to things like leaving the basement door open in 5-degree weather and freezing the entire bottom floor of the house while simultaneously leaving us susceptible to a home invasion. And in a fit of irony, I just asked MJ to give me more examples of Pregnancy Brain, but she couldn’t — because she can’t remember.

6. Goodbye Sense of Humor
The good news is she’s gained a baby. The bad news? There wasn’t enough room for the baby AND her sense of humor. If you’re a smartass like I am, this is especially troubling since I show affection by giving people good-natured shit. Unfortunately, my pregnant wife does not appreciate my unique brand of humor whilst carrying our little parasite around in her stomach. The results are often me firing off (what I consider to be) beautiful comedic quips and zingers, which don’t just fall on deaf ears, they fall on potentially homicidal ears. You’ve been warned.

7. Say Goodbye to Sex
Listen to me carefully — you’re about to be sexually frustrated. The first trimester is by far the worst. It’s when she’ll be going through the most changes and feeling the shittiest. It’s everything she can do to avoid throwing up every morning (and sometimes at night), so you feeling unloved and “backed up” doesn’t really register. So fire up the porn and give yourself a hand, because you’re now a sex camel my friend. The only silver lining is you’ll have sex two times during the pregnancy. You have a 1-2 week window where her sex drive returns early in the second trimester. Enjoy that, because it’s not happening again until very late in the pregnancy. Right at the end she’ll be so desperate to get the baby out of her that she’ll use you in the hopes that sex will send her into labor. It’s slightly awkward, but after the drought it’s a welcome relief — as long as her water doesn’t break right then and there.

8. Yes Her Boobs Are Bigger, No You Can’t Touch Them
While we’re on the topic of sex, let me tell you about one of Nature’s cruelest tricks. When a woman is carrying a child, it’s a beautiful thing. That “pregnant glow” you always hear about is real, mainly because she’s carrying around a few extra pints of blood which does wonders for her hair, her fingernails and — her rack. A becomes C, B becomes D and C becomes Hallelujah Thank You Jesus! They swell up to gargantuan sizes, literally breaking bras at the seams and popping off her chest in a fit of Playboy glory. The only problem is you’re not allowed to touch them. It’s like going to the pet store and seeing the cute puppies behind the glass but not being able to pet them. They’re adorable and you want to take them home and keep them forever, but if you try to motorboat her puppies she will slap the shit out of you. Trust me.

9. Your Dick Can’t Won’t Hurt the Baby
Speaking of sex, let’s get this one out of the way right now — your penis will have no effect on the baby in your wife’s womb. Got that? I don’t care if you’re on par with Ron Jeremy or not, your dick is not going to scare the kid and it’s certainly not going to poke him in the forehead. Not only that, but any suggestion to the contrary will send your pregnant wife into hysterics. And there’s nothing more demoralizing than a conversation that involves your penis and hysterical laughter. So I’m told…

10. You Will Be Replaced by Pillows
Did you spend a crap ton of money on a mattress? Some sort of memory foam or pillowtop deal that makes you feel like 1,000 little angels are massaging you as you fall asleep every night? Well I hope you spent money on a comfortable couch because that’s likely where you’ll be sleeping for a decent part of the pregnancy. And it’s not so much the increased space your pregnant wife takes up either. It’s the pillows. Yup, that’s right. You become increasingly irrelevant as the pregnancy wears on, but the 37 pillows — including that godforsaken full-body pillow — become absolutely vital nighttime companions. And when push comes to shove, you’re getting the shove to the sofa.

11. Don’t Treat Her Like Glass
Many men — myself included — feel very protective of their wives as is. But when it’s our baby growing inside of her, that suddenly ratchets up several notches. I try not to let MJ open doors, carry groceries, pick up heavy objects, etc. And for whatever reason, that sticks in her craw something fierce. It’s not that I don’t think she can fend for herself, I just feel it’s more important than ever to keep her safe and to make sure the heavy lifting is kept to a minimum. And that’s when I get the “I’M NOT MADE OF GLASS, STOP TREATING ME LIKE A PRINCESS!” retort. Oh well, husbands/boyfriends of pregnant women are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

12. Pregnant Women Are Lazy
This one is VERY touchy. After all, they’re carrying new life around inside of them. Their bodies are growing, stretching and changing to accommodate said life. But the fact remains, pregnant women are L-A-Z-Y. Case in point, a disturbing trend has emerged in the Daddy Files household the last few weeks. MJ has not only stopped doing dishes, she’s no longer even attempting to put the dirty dishes in the sink. Instead, she brings them into the kitchen and puts them a foot away from the sink. Moreover, all of the coffee cups are half-filled and every bowl has a ton of soggy cereal remaining in it. I don’t mind doing the dishes, but I do mind a counter full of crap. How hard is it to empty the dishes and move them ONE MORE FOOT into the sink?? But you can’t gripe about this because…

13. You Can’t Complain
All these things I’ve listed? You can’t mention any of them to your pregnant wife. Because even if she’s lazy, not giving you any, won’t let you touch her boobs, can’t remember a thing, sleeping with the Pillow People, making you crash on the couch, putting on massive amounts of weight, and eating you out of house and home, it doesn’t matter. She’s pregnant. She’s carrying your child. Which means she’s got the trump card and all your complaints are hereby dismissed. Seriously, just think about you complaining and what her response will be. Something like “Dishes? You’re complaining about dishes?? I’m growing a human being in my stomach the size of a watermelon that I’ll eventually have to push out an opening the size of a lemon. NOW WHAT WERE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT AGAIN?!?”

Share Button

IVF: Chasing Hope

“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” — Shawshank Redemption

So you all know we started IVF a few months ago. Many of you have sent me very sweet (yet persistent) notes asking me how things have been going. Well, after a lot of soul-searching and a roller-coaster ride, MJ and I want to share what happened.

First of all, it only took a couple of weeks of shots, blood work and doctor’s appointments for MJ and I to agree on one thing — this would be our final attempt at having another baby no matter what. After all, we had been down this road five times already. That’s five positive pregnancy tests, five rounds of telling friends and family (and all of you) the good news, and five instances of getting our hopes up. I’ll never say that we “only” got Will out of it, because he’s the most unbelievable thing in our lives. But 4 out of 5 times ended in heartbreak. That’s just a lot of hurt to absorb, and it has taken a toll.

As I alluded to before, this IVF shit ain’t easy.

Poor MJ has been a trooper. She basically turned herself into a human pincushion to try to have this baby, taking subcutaneous and intramuscular shots in the butt and thighs for more than two months combined. Not to mention all the different meds that accompany the needlework. And for half that time she had to inject herself because I was so afraid of needles it took me that long to work up the courage to do it myself.

All of it led up to a 5-day stretch in mid November when the doctors extracted eggs. All you really need to know when it comes to eggs is the more the better. The more eggs that can be retrieved the better the chances of fertilizing them and successfully implanting them. Unfortunately, we ran into some trouble.

After the retrieval, we were sitting in the recovery room with two other women — all of us separated by curtains. The doctor spoke to both women before she got to us, and we could hear everything. The doctor told the first woman she had retrieved 14 eggs, which seemed to please the patient. A few minutes later the doc told the second woman she retrieved six eggs — and the woman started crying hysterically, apparently because that number was way too low. Therefore, I expected to have somewhere between 6 and 14 eggs.

But we had three. Just three. And when we went back in five days later, the news got even worse.

The doctors were able to fertilize two of the eggs, but in reality only one embryo was viable. They implanted the second, but basically gave us a snowball’s chance in hell of it taking. So after all those shots, all the pain, and all the time devoted to expanding our family, it amounted to a single chance of a successful pregnancy. Even the doctors called the whole thing “not exactly ideal.”

It made me want to strangle the woman crying over 6 eggs. But, we were pregnant. At least for the time being.

With our spirits low and nothing to do but wait a few weeks, we were pretty down. As negative and pessimistic as I am, I’m actually the glass-is-half-full person in my marriage. Scary, isn’t it? But even though I kept reassuring her that everything was OK, well — fortune hasn’t exactly favored us the last few years in this department. Still, I soldiered on believing the universe had to owe us one.

But apparently MJ and I were puppy killers in a past life because the universe was not done fucking with us.

I was at the gym about to hop on the treadmill when I looked at my phone and saw 4 missed calls from MJ in the last 3 minutes. And then the phone rang again. When I heard the pain and anguish in her screams my heart sank and my knees gave out. I couldn’t make out everything that was said, but I heard “spotting” and “clot” clear enough. I bolted out of the gym trying to calm her down, all the while watching Hope disappear over the horizon for the last time.

Walking into a doctor’s office for that final ultrasound and diagnosis is hell — especially for those of us unlucky enough to be repeat visitors. We’ve lost pregnancies at several different points in the first and second trimester, so we knew the drill and had pretty much resigned ourselves to our fate. We walked, teary-eyed, to the exam room and held hands. Nothing more could be said or done. I gave her a look that told her I love her more than life itself, and that everything would be OK. We have a beautiful, healthy son. And that’s a lot more than some other people have.

But I also told her I was proud of her. After you’ve been hurt that many times, it’s excruciatingly painful to even put yourself on the line again for more disappointment. All those times we had to tell our friends and family we lost another baby. All the empty cribs and baby clothes that had to be stuffed back in the drawer. Trying to be happy for all the other people you love in your life who have kids, when a part of you just wants to curl up and cry because you can’t have that kind of happiness one more time. And, for me, the pain and guilt of knowing it’s all my fault because my boys aren’t great swimmers.

The ultrasound tech went to work, we looked at each other one last time, and we cried…

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” — Shawshank Redemption

hope

Sometimes all it takes is one! ;-)

Share Button

If I Die, Give My Wife Some Breadsticks

breadsticks“If I died, would you get remarried?”

I’m sure that’s a question all married couples have tackled at some point. The “What would happen if…” game can be an interesting peek into the mind of your soul mate, but when you have kids it takes on added importance. Mainly because you want to know that if something happens to you, your partner will be able to carry on and take care of him/herself as well as the kids.

So when MJ asked me this question out of the blue, it was actually pretty timely. Our wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and I was thinking a lot about her and how much I care about her. And yes, I admit, the macabre side of me had begun to think about what would happen if I lost her. So I took a deep breath and answered her with what was genuinely in my heart.

“Would I get remarried if I lost you? Honestly, no. I wouldn’t. And I don’t say that to score points with you now or kiss your ass — I mean it. There are a whole bunch of reasons I married you, but first and foremost it’s because I’ve never loved someone like I love you. I’ve never loved so hard, so much, so completely, so passionately that sometimes the line between loving you and wanting to throw you off a balcony is blurred. I’ve never been so fulfilled by another human being in my whole life. I’ll never be as comfortable with anyone else as I am with you. No other woman could imprint herself onto my soul like you have. Besides, trying to find someone as gorgeous as you — someone who I see day in and day out yet still gets me worked up like a horny teenager just looking in your direction — would be absolutely impossible. 

You’ve ruined me forever. I’m no good to any other woman except for you. Trying to get remarried would be fruitless because it’d be like getting to have the Mona Lisa in my living room and then having to settle for dogs playing poker. Like driving a Ferrari and then being forced behind the wheel of an ’84 Buick Skylark. Like eating at the Olive Garden after traveling to Italy and feasting on the best Italian food in the world.

You are my world. And if my world is gone I’ll carry on for Will, but my heart will be closed off to any future romance because no matter how great she is, she’ll never be you.”

I know, right? Quite a soliloquy if I do say so myself. I looked at her with a smile, confident I had just bowled her over with my passion. And then, thinking I knew the answer already and that it mirrored mine, I asked her if she’d remarry if something ever happened to me. Her response?

“Oh hell yes. Sorry, but I love Olive Garden and I’ll be needing some breadsticks.”

Happy freaking anniversary.

Share Button

Why I Hate Playing with My Son

playwithson“Dad, do you wanna play?”

This sounds horrible, but lately those are the words that strike fear into my heart. And before you get all bent out of shape about the headline of this post (which is definitely linkbait to get you to click on it and elicit that exact reaction — sorry), it’s not that I NEVER want to play with my son. It’s just 1) I can’t stand the kind of playing he’s talking about and 2) I’m terrible at it.

This is all my fault. You see, the whole concept of “play” to me — even as a child — has never been like most kids. I have absolutely no imagination. I know that’s odd for a writer, but it’s true. Even as a kid I never understood all my friends playing “imagination.” Pretending to walk on the moon? Sorry, there’s no gravity and you’d need an astronaut’s suit or else you’d die. Traveling back in time? Not without a DeLorean. Playing with dinosaurs? Sorry, but I learned about fossils and preferred not to harbor any delusions about an extinct species coming back to life.

But seriously, to me “playing” was always well defined, and never nebulous. Usually it was sports. If someone wanted to play then it was baseball, basketball, soccer or tossing the football around. There were defined rules, plenty of structure and always a winner and loser. And if it wasn’t sports, then it was a board game or (when I got older) a video game.

I was just a peachy little kid wasn’t I?

Will, however, isn’t anything like me. And while that’s probably a good thing, I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to relate to him when he wants to play with me. At first I tried to redirect him towards sports. So we tried playing catch and kicking the soccer ball around outside, but I could tell he wasn’t into it. Then I’d break out one of the many games we have, but it’s just not his bag and he got sick of it after a few minutes.

Then he’d start making all these weird requests that not only didn’t make sense to me, but also annoyed me. Stuff like:

  • “Dad, pretend you’re a Parasaurolophus (yes, he actually differentiates between this and other dinosaurs) and I’m a space monkey.”

and

  • “Dad, I’ll be Spiderman and you be Batman and we’ll fight the Transformers but we’ll ride on dragons that poop eyeballs on the bad guys.”

MJ loves it and encourages it. She supports his creativity and imagination, seamlessly adding to it and fostering it in a way that just mystifies me. It’s not that I’m some heartless and uncaring jerk, I really just don’t get it. I don’t understand why people want to pretend when truth is so much stranger and cooler than fiction. I don’t get how MJ’s first reaction isn’t to correct his misstatements and set him straight. And I don’t get how living in a fantasy world of kooky imagination is any fun at all.

But after awhile, the one thing I knew all too well was that he could tell I wasn’t into it and his feelings were hurt. And making my son sad is the truly unacceptable thing in this whole scenario. So, I decided the next time the opportunity presented itself I’d switch gears.

“Dad, do you wanna play?”

The game consisted of a tennis ball and two Velcro circles you wear on your hands that are shaped like frogs. You throw the ball to the other person and it sticks on the Velcro, as if the ball is being caught in the frog’s mouth. But after a few minutes of straight catch, Will was bored. And that’s when I stepped outside the box.

Instead of standing up and playing catch, we’d lay on the floor. I’d throw the ball straight up at the ceiling and try to have it land on Will. If he caught it he’d give a loud “RIBBIT!” and then try to hit me with the ball. From time to time there would be a zombie attack (?????) and we’d have to use our frog paddles to fight the zombies and save the world.

And suddenly, “Frog Ball” was born.

Honestly I still don’t get it. It’s silly, nonsensical and ridiculous. I made the game up and I don’t even understand the rules. Thankfully, what my son has taught me is the rules don’t matter. The only important thing is letting him know I care about him. That I’m interested in what he’s doing. That his happiness is far more vital to me than anything else. The most difficult yet rewarding parts of parenting continue to be the unexpected surprises taught to me by my boy, who is wise beyond his years.

“Dad, do you wanna play?”

Absolutely.

Share Button