Tag Archives: childbirth

11 Stupid Things People Say to New Parents

Prior to Sam’s birth last month it’d been five years since I dealt with a newborn. Which means it had been five years since I dealt with people saying ridiculous things following the birth of a newborn.

Look, I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m really not. It’s just that so many of the things people say are, well — dumb. And obnoxious. And oftentimes offensive. I know it’s hardly ever done intentionally, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happens. When people are unsure of what to say or how to act, they fall back on tired stereotypes and cliches. I know because I’ve been guilty of it myself, so this is a kick in the ass for me just as much as it is for you.

But for all of our sakes, it needs to stop. Together we can put an end to the madness. But first, we need to face the ugly truths so we can identify them and never mention them again.

11. “Are you getting any sleep?”
If you’re visiting the parents of a newborn, it generally means they’ve only been home from the hospital for 10-14 days. It also means there’s a 99.999999% chance you’re asking sleep-deprived zombies whether or not they’ve gotten any shuteye. And that’s just mean. It’s like asking fat people on a diet whether they’re planning to order dessert. Just as diet-starved fatties like myself crave that solitary cupcake, parents would sell a kidney for three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Unless you happen to be speaking to the mythological beings known as parents whose kids sleep through the night from Day 1. If that’s the case, don’t ask these parents anything. Just do the rest of us a favor and hit them with a shovel.

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Introducing Sam

samAll parents think their newborns are wondrous marvels and tiny little miracles. But given the fact that I watched science assist us in fertilizing an embryo, transferring it into my wife where it grew for 40 weeks — as far as I’m concerned I witnessed an honest to goodness miracle last week.

Samuel Christopher Gouveia was born on July 31 at exactly 2 p.m. His Tankness (as I’m referring to him as of late) was a whopping 9 lbs, 3 oz and 21 inches long. MJ delivered him after less than 15 minutes of pushing, and because she’s a badass she didn’t even need any stitches afterward. It was an ironically painless and uncomplicated culmination of a process that was fraught with pain, uncertainty, and heartbreak.

I don’t want to dwell on the past because other people had it tougher and I (unfortunately) know too many parents whose young kids are no longer with us. But that doesn’t change the fact that MJ and I went through a hellish time the last few years. And although neither of us admitted it at the time, we had both given up hope of completing our family. It was evident in our demeanor, the things we said, and the choices we made. Like last year when MJ needed a new car. We thought about going with a minivan because we wanted another kid, but we bought a Kia Sportage instead. Why? Because neither of us believed we’d ever really need the extra room. And even the night before Sam was born, MJ turned to me and said “Are you convinced something is wrong with the baby?” It was no use lying to her, because that is ALL I could think about and I did believe something else was going to go wrong.

But it didn’t. Sam is healthy and beautiful. And for the first time in years, I feel like I can breathe again.

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Hey, Check Out My Wife’s Cervix!

cervixI’ve been a parent for just more than five years, and I’m about to become one for the second time. So maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in dad groups, mom groups, and parenting in general for half a decade that I failed to see something readily apparent to those without kids — some of the stuff we talk about is simply disgusting and way too personal!

As I said, we’re about to have another baby. And since I chronicle much of my life online, everyone wants constant updates on how we’re progressing now that MJ could potentially go into labor any minute. So, like any good denizen of social media, I’ve been sharing regular updates on our progress (or lack thereof at the moment). Which means I routinely post things like the following:

“No progress since last week. MJ is still 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated.”

If you’re a parent that probably makes perfect sense and tells you exactly what you need to know. No big deal, right? But technically speaking, here’s what I really just told the world:

“So I’d like to talk for a second about the intricacies of my wife’s vaginal region. You see, what’s happening is the uterus is preparing for the baby to come out and therefore the cervix is shortening and thinning. Soon it’ll be all stretched out and REALLY thin, at which point it will begin to open. Right now we’re at 1 cm because the doctor who shoved his fingers up there told us so. But when my wife’s baby hole becomes a gaping maw of 10 cm, we’re in business.”

Explained outside the vernacular of pregnancy, it becomes quite clear very quickly that this is pretty personal stuff we’re talking about. And when I thought some more on it, I realized it happens constantly and has been occurring for some time.

Seriously, think about it for a second. After you got married, what was the first thing your old Aunt Mildred bugged you about (probably while the reception was still in progress)? “So…when are you gonna have a baaaa-by?” Sounds common enough, but what Mildred is really saying is “When are you going to penetrate your new wife’s vagina with your penis and ejaculate your sperm into her to create new life in your womb?” Yup. Mildred basically wants a timetable of your sex life and she’s demanding to know it right then and there. Yet it’s not deemed inappropriate somehow because the cultural norm is wedding then baby — so it’s open season on asking you when you next plan on making the beasts with two backs.

I’ve also listened to many women talk about the childbirth experience post-labor, and sometimes the conversations make even a guy like me blush. “How many stitches did you need?” is really code for “On a scale of good to flapping in the breeze, how mangled and destroyed did your vagina get while passing something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon?” Even breastfeeding — as wonderful as it is — falls into this category. “Are you having any troubling breastfeeding?” usually means “How bloody and chewed up are your nipples these days?”

And don’t get me started on potty training. An army of parents (myself included) talking excessively about what manner of human feces was deposited into a plastic bucket, the amount, the number of times a day it successfully occurred — and sometimes with pictures!?

Once I stopped and stepped back from the situation I realized parents often find themselves in this odd alternative dimension in which the rules of good taste and propriety cease to apply. It’s like we all collectively say “Aw fuck it!” because we’ve all been there and we understand. But to the uninitiated, we just look like raving lunatics with no sense of boundaries or good taste.

Gotta run, I think my wife’s cervix may have dilated to 2 cm. Pics to follow.

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Where Do Babies Come From? The Butt…Obviously!

First of all, this is not an announcement that we’re having a baby. Let’s get that out of the way right up front. OK? No baby yet. Trust me, if/when there’s good news to share in this department I will be shouting it from the mountaintop!

But as most of you know, we are trying. And although we’ve been attempting to keep things on the down-low where Will is concerned, that’s slightly hard to do when he sees dad giving mom shots every night. So we told him the basics — mom and dad are going to the doctor so he can help us give Will a new baby brother or sister. Although we tried to temper his expectations for fear of disappointing him, that’s pretty hard to do since 4.5-year-olds get carried away pretty quickly.

The first question he had was logistical. He knows babies grow in a woman’s tummy, but he was confused about how they make their grand appearance into the world. Out of curiosity, we asked him where he thought babies make their exit.

“Well, the baby grows in mumma’s tummy and then when it’s time to be born the baby slides down and mumma poops it out of her butt.”

Look, you can’t fault his logic. It does make sense. And the grunting noise he made when talking about the baby being pooped out was really the cherry on top of that hysterical sundae. But even though the thought of letting him go through life thinking babies come out a woman’s derriere was tempting, we figured we should set him straight. So we told him — in a matter-of-fact tone — that babies make their escape via a woman’s vagina.

His response will forever live in infamy:

“No dada! The baby has to come out the butt. Mom’s vagina isn’t big enough to fit a baby but her bum is!”

He’s got his father’s way with words.

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Where Do Babies Come From?

Our friends Alicia and Vic just had a little baby girl named Amy a few weeks ago. My best friend Craig and his wife Kelly also had a daughter five days ago named Jordan. Will saw both Alicia and Kelly repeatedly throughout their pregnancies, watched their bellies grow and seemed to be constantly amazed and filled with questions as to how the baby grows and survives in the womb.

So I guess it’s only natural for him to wonder how they come out too.

It started Saturday when I told him Jordan was born and showed him a picture. He was ecstatic and wanted to hold her, because he recently held Amy and loved it. It was so cute because of how focused he was. He took his responsibilities as a baby-holder ULTRA seriously and was all business. It took major coaxing just to get him to loosen up and smile. But I digress…

So long story short, Will asked me how baby Jordan came out of Kelly’s stomach. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I bought myself more time by asking him how he thinks babies are born.

“Baby Jordan came out of Auntie Kelly’s bellybutton,” he said.

We all have different parenting styles. For instance, some parents would be tempted to concur with Will’s explanation of childbirth and leave it at that. Others opt to make up a story that loosely resembles the truth but skips all the uncomfortable parts. I don’t fault the parents who go these routes. I get it. But ultimately, when faced with these situations, I’ve chosen a vastly different path.

Honesty. Brutal honesty.

“Not quite buddy,” I began gingerly. “Babies don’t come out of a bellybutton. Actually, they come out of a woman’s vagina.”

“WHAT?!? ‘Baginas??’ Stop it dad. You’re kidding.”

“Nope, I’m serious,” I said. “The mom pushes the baby out through her vagina. That’s how it happens.”

But apparently the mere notion of natural childbirth was decidedly unnatural to my son. He really didn’t believe me. So, faced with his continued curiosity and the fact that he doesn’t believe me, I did what all modern parents do when facing a quandary.

I asked for advice on Twitter.

I got some well-intentioned, run-of-the-mill advice at first but then someone suggested something very simple and brilliant. He said there are many videos of natural childbirth on YouTube, so why not show Will what I was talking about instead of inadequately attempting to describe it?

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re screaming “Are you crazy??? You’re going to show your 3.5-year-old a video of a partially nude woman giving birth?! That’s so inappropriate!” And that’s fine, you’re welcome to your opinions. I know my sister-in-law Melissa had the same reaction, and she’s a medical doctor. But I see absolutely nothing pornographic or inappropriate about childbirth, and therefore I see no reason not to show Will. It’s pretty much akin to breastfeeding. Yes Will sees a glimpse of a woman’s breast at times when she’s feeding a newborn, but so what? We tell him that’s how babies eat. And he accepts it, realizes it’s no big deal and moves on.

I want to be honest with my son and give him straight answers whenever possible. And this was one of those times when it made total sense. So, I showed him.

The video was of a woman engaged in a homebirth. She was pushing and grunting, and Will watched with a look that conveyed interest mixed with confusion. Then the woman got on her knees with her back to the camera, gave one final push and suddenly the baby’s head was visible. Will’s jaw dropped and he smiled, pointing to the baby. And for a moment, I was very proud of my son for being so adult, and for my parenting techniques and decision to show him.

“Do you have any questions bud?” I asked.

“Yeah dada. Why does the baby come out of the mama’s bum?”

Ruh-roh Shaggy.

“No no no, the baby didn’t come out of her bum. It came out of her vagina.”

“Um Dad, ACTUALLY it came out of her bum. Look.”

“Will, I know it kinda looks like the baby came out of her bum, but trust me. It didn’t. Babies come out of vaginas.”

“How do you know, Dad?”

“Because I watched when you were born and I would’ve remembered you coming out of Mom’s bum. Trust me, you came out the vagina.”

“But Dada, there’s pee in baginas. Did mom pee on me?”

At that point, far off in the distance, I thought I heard the distinct sound of a train derailing, crashing into a building and then careening over a cliff landing with a fiery explosion. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, I went from teaching my son a valuable life lesson to discussing ass play and golden showers. And the worst part is he’s obsessed with babies right now and he talks to anyone who will listen about babies falling out of bums and how mom peed on him.

Needless to say I’m dreading the inevitable call from his preschool teacher, and having to explain to her that my son and I were watching YouTube videos together and talking about vaginas and assholes.

That stupid stork is looking more and more appealing.

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