Monthly Archives: March 2013

boyorgirl

Why We’re Not Finding Out If We’re Having a Boy or Girl

boyorgirlYou might not know this, but when having a conversation with a pregnant woman or the partner of a pregnant woman, there is an unofficial script you must follow. It can vary slightly, but it generally goes something like this:

“Oh my God, that’s so great. Congratulations!”
“How far along are you?”
“So that means you’re due when exactly?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”

I love that last question. Love it. Maybe it’s because I’m a born contrarian, or perhaps I just like seeing people uncomfortable. It almost certainly has something to do with the fact that I’m an asshole. Hell, I’m the same guy who began listening to country music because I ran out of ways to irritate my friends. But as soon as I give them the answer to their question, I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

“I’m not sure if it’s a boy or a girl. We’re not going to find out.”

What follows is almost always a furrowed brow and an incredulous look, followed by a “What? You’re not finding out? Why??” I smile and explain that 5 years ago, when MJ was pregnant with Will, I REALLY wanted to find out. I mean, I was so excited to find out at our 18-week ultrasound I couldn’t contain myself. But MJ wouldn’t let me. She wanted it to be a surprise because she said no matter what we do in life, there will never be as big or as cool of a surprise than finding out if our new baby is a boy or a girl seconds after the birth.

I said she was full of crap. But, as usual, she was right and I was wrong.

There are other benefits too. If you don’t know what you’re having, you can delay the pigeonholing that inevitably occurs when people buy you baby shower gifts. If it’s a boy everything is blue and sports related, and if it’s a girl you get a houseful of pink and a bunch of princess shit. To say nothing of the fact that some friends and relatives are secretly (or not-so-secretly) pulling for one gender or the other. If you find out what you’re having ahead of time and it’s not what they were hoping for, you get pissed and hurt when you see the disappointment in their eyes. But when they come in to the hospital and see the newest addition, there’s never disappointment — just the amazement and happiness that only a new life can bring.

Yup, those are all good reasons. And valid too. But when it comes down to it, they don’t capture the real reason I want to be surprised by the sex. And that reason is because it genuinely upsets people.

I can’t tell you how many people are truly bothered by our decision not to find out ahead of time. I’m not quite sure why, but after the surprise wears off I usually hear “Oh my God, I would NEVER do that. That’s just crazy. I’d have to know so I could plan.”

I love it. I love the obvious discomfort people experience when they think about not knowing. It’s fun to piss someone off with a personal choice that doesn’t affect them at all. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, they’ll argue with us and tell us we’re wrong for not finding out. That’s OK though. While they’re busy planning every last detail from the color of the nursery to the perfect “coming home” outfit for the baby, I’m enjoying the anticipation and build-up. And when the time comes, I’ll savor the truly indescribable surprise that can only be had by waiting until the baby is born.

So did you find out or decide to wait, and why?

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Moving on from Miscarriage

new_babyMJ is 20 weeks pregnant. We’ve had several ultrasounds but as many of you have noticed, I haven’t posted a single picture. We have them — lots of them actually, in all their grainy black & white goodness. But I couldn’t bring myself to put them online and share them. Mainly because I’m scared out of my mind, and scarred beyond belief.

It was 2 years and 9 months ago MJ was 13 weeks pregnant with Alexandra. We had already suffered two miscarriages and I was pretty wary about getting too excited too early. But at 13 weeks we had an ultrasound, I saw the picture, and my heart — as well as my defenses — completely melted. I ended up writing this post with a picture of my unborn baby. I went on and on about how it was finally time to be happy and celebrate the pregnancy instead of worrying about things that could go wrong. After more than 3 months of driving myself nuts, I actually let myself be happy and got it in my head that we really were having another baby.

Less than 24 hours after hitting “publish” we got a call about a potential abnormality involving the baby, which ultimately ended with us terminating the pregnancy due to a fetal condition incompatible with life. And so this time around I vowed not to get suckered again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we’re having another baby. Beyond happy. I’m just scared. Scared to fucking death. This is our sixth pregnancy with all but one (Will, obviously) ending in heartbreak. That’s a ton of really high highs when we see plus signs on the pregnancy tests, to crushing lows when we end up losing the pregnancy. And that says nothing of the hell in between that is getting up and dusting yourself off to chance it again. You start to feel insane, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. You start to question why you’re putting yourself through it and if it’s doing more harm than good.

You start to wonder if you’ve done something to deserve all the nightmares.

Since November MJ has asked me if I think everything is going to be OK. I love my wife with my entire being — which is why I chose to lie to her and tell everything would be fine. Someone has to say the right things and stand firm at all costs. It’s a role I’ve embraced quite a bit over the years in this department. I know I’ve said it before, but the truly cruel thing about repeated miscarriages is it robs you of hope and joy. The positive pregnancy tests are no longer a celebration, they’re a necessary milestone. The first ultrasound isn’t a sigh of relief, it’s a stay of execution. And since we lost Alexandra well into the second trimester, even the 12- and 16-week ultrasounds haven’t provided me any relief from all the pessimism.

MJ is 20 weeks pregnant. Her belly is round and hard. She can feel the baby moving, and soon I’ll be able to feel it from the outside. By the time most of you read this we’ll be getting our 20-week ultrasound. And Will is coming with us.

I know some of you think that’s crazy and ripe for disaster. I don’t blame you. I thought it too. It was my first thought when MJ told me she wanted to bring him. Even though we haven’t experienced any problems and the baby seems fine, the thought of walking into that room with Will only to find a lack of a heartbeat or any movement…it’s terrifying. It turns an unthinkable tragedy into an unimaginable nightmare.

So why do it?

Because at some point you have to be happy. Despite the ample and justifiable reasons to remain guarded, this is a new baby we’re talking about and we’re past the halfway point. New life and new hope shouldn’t be clouded under a veil of fear and pessimism. And I figure what better way to break on through to the other optimistic side than by wielding the brightest and most awe-inspiring weapon in my arsenal — Will. He’ll get to see the baby, ask the doctor questions, and get his first live glimpse of his new brother or sister.

And as for all of you, allow me to introduce you to my new baby!

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10 Reasons I Feel Bad for Your Husband

nagging_wifeI was going to let this one go. Really, I was. But all the man/dad bashing is so fashionable lately that letting it go unchecked seemed borderline irresponsible, so once again the dad blogosphere finds itself defending ourselves against idiotic, sexist and unfunny crap that litters the Internet.

I clicked on an article yesterday (and no, I won’t link to it) called “10 Ways Your Husband is Just Another Child.” I cringed at the headline, but since the byline was attributed to Scary Mommy — a genuinely funny and respectable writer — I thought maybe it would surprise me and be witty or a parody of some sort. Hell, I’m definitely not above laughing at myself and so I soldiered on with high hopes.

Well, it turned out to be a guest post written by some woman named Rebecca Gallagher. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t original, it didn’t make me laugh and hell — some of it didn’t even make sense. I’m less outraged than offended by the horrible writing, complete absence of originality, and the entire piece being nothing but linkbait. So without further ado, I’ll give you what she wrote and then what her husband might really be thinking having to deal with such a nightmare of a wife.

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“He gets so hungry on outings as a family, you give him the protein bar you keep for the kids in your purse for snack emergencies.”
Whoa. Starting off with a really egregious one here. I can’t believe the nerve of this prick. Are you telling me he was hungry during a family outing and then — wait for it — asked if you had anything to eat?? Selfish cocksucker!! He’s literally taking the food out of his childrens’ mouths. They’ll probably starve. After all, you never know when a routine family outing will turn into the Donner Party and that protein bar becomes the only thing standing between survival and cannibalism. I guess we know who everyone is killing and eating first. Although to be fair, after enough years married to Rebecca Gallagher I’m sure this poor guy looks at death as welcome relief.

“He would rather play video games than clean the garage or do any chores.”
Well…yeah. Of course he’d rather play video games than clean the garage or do chores. What other human being says “Man, you know what I’m dying to do today? Chores. And lots of ‘em?” Chores suck. We do them because they’re necessary, but we’re never happy about it. Especially when a nag of a wife is harping on us and barking out orders simply because we haven’t done what Miss Rebecca says in the timeframe in which she mandates. At least video games have a mute button.

“He’ll leave his underwear on the bathroom floor.”
Ho-ly shit. Underwear? Dirty underwear on the bathroom floor?? Chances are this poor slob just jumped in the shower and hasn’t even had the chance to put his clothes away, but Rebecca the martyr just LOVES to have any excuse to play the poor mommy who is constantly overburdened and does everything herself. Woe is her.

“He forgets to hang up his towel.”
Wet towel AND dirty underwear?? That’s it. Rebecca’s right, let’s just take this prick out to the backyard and cane him.

“He leaves his ice cream bar wrapper on the end table by the couch.”
Oh boy. Underwear, towels and now trash. Forget the fact he’s still sitting there eating the ice cream, let’s focus on the wrapper because that presents Rebecca with the opportunity she needs to criticize her husband. Nevermind the fact that he might’ve worked all day or played with the kids and is taking a break, the fact of the matter is HE’S LITTERING! Add it to the list of things to complain about when you drive to meet the other soccer moms for your weekly gripe fest in the car his salary paid for.

“You have to remind him where things go in the kitchen.”
This is one of my favorites and a popular one among people like Rebecca. But here’s the irony — this only comes up when Rebecca’s husband is putting things away. That means he’s either cleaning the kitchen or putting away the dishes, but Rebeccca doesn’t recognize his efforts. Instead, she’ll focus on the things he’s doing “wrong,” like putting things in the wrong place. And let’s be honest, the “wrong” place isn’t really wrong, it’s just not where Rebecca wants them to go. Is it any wonder he doesn’t want to put the dishes away or clean the garage? You’re just going to criticize him for it anyways!

“He would rather stay up and watch a stupid TV show than go to bed at a reasonable hour.”
Or, in other words, he’d rather watch that episode of Family Guy for the 100th time than come to bed with you. Do you think it might possibly be because of the constant nagging and criticism of the above items? When the idea of bedding down with you takes a backseat to TV, you might want to take a hard look in the mirror, Rebecca.

“When you ask him to take the garbage out, he rolls his eyes.”
He’s not rolling his eyes at taking the garbage out. He’s rolling his eyes because he’s already cleaned the garage, put things away in the kitchen, and now you’re on his case again. Not to mention he’s realizing he’s married to a grown woman who can’t even take the trash out herself.

“He needs to be reminded to not eat junk food when he goes out with his friends.”
Are…are you kidding me? Really?? Rebecca, he doesn’t need to be reminded about anything. You’re not “reminding” him, you’re driving him friggin crazy. On the rare occasion you actually let him out of his cage and out of your sight, if he wants to eat some fucking junk food he’s entitled. And forget junk food, you need to worry about him mainlining tequila in his quest to forget who he’s married to and what he’s become under your tyrannical rule.

“He stashes his brussel sprouts to the side of the plate hoping you won’t notice he didn’t eat them.”
First of all, it’s Brussels sprouts. Apparently you’re too busy to proofread, but I’m sure you’ll blame that on your husband too. Second, you’re standing over him, telling him what foods he can and can’t eat, and then criticizing him for not eating them? Who cares if he doesn’t eat Brussels sprouts?!? Maybe he doesn’t like them, or maybe your cooking sucks. Bottom line is he’s not acting like your child, YOU are acting like his mother.

Look, I’m not above a funny piece that pokes fun at dads or husbands. I’m about as far from politically correct as there is. The problem with Rebecca’s piece is that it sucked — every part of it. It was lame, uninspired and it wasn’t funny at all. So if there’s no funny, then it’s just dumb, offensive and nonsensical. And if you put something out there like that before it’s ready to be published, you deserve any and all backlash. If I were Scary Mommy I’d seriously reconsider who she lets represent her brand.

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The Husband, the Wife and the Wardrobe

suits_closetI didn’t know much when I was younger, but I did have a few fundamental rules on which I based my life:

  1. I will never “sell out”
  2. I will never “go corporate”
  3. I’ll never have a job that requires me to dress in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt

I held true to #1 for a long time. Working as a print journalist is about as far from glamorous as you can get, with long and unpredictable hours, a crazy amount of stress, all for absolute peanuts when it comes to pay. But despite the lack of zeros in my paycheck, I held fast to the knowledge that I was educating the public everyday, tracking down leads and serving as a conduit between public officials and the citizenry.

MJ was the one who lived in the corporate world.

As a bank manager she was sharply dressed day in and day out with a seemingly never-ending supply of professional power suits that I termed “Business Sexy.” Working for several large banks means she definitely sold out and was unequivocally corporate. I would listen to her at home taking these foreign things called “conference calls” and speaking in some sort of corporate language rife with unintelligible acronyms and buzzwords that made me want to light myself on fire.

At the paper we didn’t have conference calls and we didn’t mask all our speech. We yelled at each other across the newsroom and usually argued with each other right out in the open about our stories as deadline approached. No scheduling meetings to talk about scheduling meetings to “noodle on some cross-platform synergy.” She had her world and I had mine — and I liked it that way.

Two years ago, with my family in financial ruin and our situation on Cape Cod untenable, I took a deep breath and realized at least a couple of my cardinal rules had to change.

I sold out and got a new job outside of journalism. I was still writing, but I couldn’t pretend I was making the world a better place and uncovering corruption like I was before. And I knew on my first day I had gone corporate. I received an email from the guy sitting next to me who invited me to a meeting later in the day. That just didn’t happen at the paper and I never once used Outlook to schedule anything. So I stood up, leaned over my cubicle wall and said “Did you just send me this email? Why didn’t you just ask me? I’m sitting right here.” He looked at me like I was an escaped mental patient, and I knew right then and there I was a corporate sellout.

But I still had #3 — not dressing up. The office dress code is fairly relaxed so I was still getting away with jeans, which kept me sane.

You have to understand something — I never dressed up. I mean EVER. I had one suit jacket, one pair of dress pants, one tie and one pair of black socks. The suit and dress pants didn’t even match each other, and the tie was one I stole from a wedding after someone left it at the reception. “Dressing up” meant wearing my jeans with no rips or fraying, and my shirt with a collar. I couldn’t stand all the pretentious fashion-conscious ninnies who made sure their socks matched their shirts which matched their expensive watches.

MJ tried to tell me about the importance of looking professional and how it truly does benefit your career, but I wasn’t having it. Whenever she talked about that stuff all I heard was “you’re trying to change me,” and the minute I know someone is trying to change me is the minute I become more obstinate than ever and vow to NEVER change. Because while I sold out and went corporate, I would never cave in on the dress stuff. Never!!

I had to go to a wake for a family friend’s mom earlier this week, so I needed a suit and tie. I went into my closet, grabbed the suit — and stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Four suit jackets.

It’s not like they were all new. MJ didn’t go out and buy me a bunch of suits that day or anything. They had just slowly made their way into my wardrobe over the course of several years without me even realizing it. Taken aback, I then grabbed a pair of dress pants. But in doing so, I was suddenly hit with a terrifying truth — there were about eight pairs of them. Glancing up towards the top shelf where my jeans are kept, a quick count revealed I have more dress pants than jeans.

Panic started setting in and a grim realization settled around me like a thick fog. There was one more test — the ties. With great trepidation, I moved to the left side of my closet and then — fingers trembling — grabbed the hanger holding my ties. In my head I had 2-3 ties, tops. Surely that’s all I’d find there…right? Wrong.

Fourteen. I have 14 different ties.

I won’t lie, I was mad at first. Mad at MJ. Because it’s obvious I didn’t go out and purchase these fancy clothes myself. I’m not allowed to buy my own clothes without a competent person accompanying me, so I knew it was her. I had a brief bout of “HOW COULD SHE?!” but I couldn’t maintain that level of outrage. Mainly because I was too impressed with MJ’s efforts.

For two years MJ has slowly and painstakingly been infusing my wardrobe with dress clothes. A suit jacket here, a dress shirt there, black socks for Christmas, etc. She’s been smuggling in ties and dress slacks like inmates trafficking contraband into prison. And in a fit of genius, she had the presence of mind not to throw out my old stuff because I would’ve noticed and her entire operation would’ve been blown. All the old jeans, ripped sweatshirts, comfortable boxers with “natural cooling” (or in other words, holes) — instead of throwing them out like many wives would’ve, she put them on the top shelf where I could see them and take comfort in the fact they were still there. But in the meantime, she was funneling in dress clothes on the sly, subjecting me to tiny increments of maturity.

I love MJ. She not only knows what I need, she knows me well enough to realize I’m my own worst enemy. So instead of throwing down the hammer like a lot of wives, she allows me to think I’m still in charge while silently and thanklessly helping me improve.

Good wives change you for the better. Great wives make you better yourself without you even realizing it.

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