Tag Archives: pregnancy

A Barroom Blessing

hotd

“Life has been cloudy and grey
Take the bad memories and put them away
For the sun has come out , we have waited so long
All of the hard days are gone”

I’m not a religious man and I don’t pray. But after five miscarriages, even the most ardent atheist will get a little desperate and start to wonder if there are outside forces working against you. And more importantly, what you can do to turn the odds in your favor.

Eleven months ago, MJ and I found ourselves looking at a positive pregnancy test. It was our eighth in seven years. Unfortunately, as anyone who has been through multiple pregnancy losses can tell you, that Hallmark moment of blissful celebration disappears. It is replaced with anxiety and VERY reserved optimism.

We found out just before our ninth wedding anniversary, so I decided to change things up a bit. I booked a hotel room in Saratoga, NY, bought tickets to one of our favorite bands (Hair of the Dog), and asked a couple of our best friends if they wanted to come celebrate with us. And it was great. We went out to dinner, told them the good news, and enjoyed a night of uninterrupted sleep sans children before the concert on Saturday night.

Then, a few hours before the show, I had an idea.

I jumped online and snagged the email address for the band. I knew it was a longshot, but I fired off an email to Rick, the band’s lead singer, and told him about our situation. I requested my favorite song and the one I sang to my wife’s belly when we lost our Alexandra at 16 weeks, and I asked that the band dedicate it to MJ. To my wife, the strongest person I know and the only woman I’ve ever loved this much.

Amazingly, Rick and the band got my email in time and came through for us. They called us out by name, said they were moved by our story, and dedicated the song to us right then and there. It was pretty unbelievable.

“We’re all safe and warm here my friends
The hard days are gone they won’t come again
So raise up your voices and give us a song
All of the hard days are gone”

The belly of a dive bar might be the furthest thing from a church sanctuary at first blush, but perhaps it’s not so different than most people think.

MJ and I surrounded ourselves with good friends and positivity, and we felt that embrace through song. Not just any song, but a song that bridges our past turmoil and reluctant goodbyes with hope for the future. Our sacrament may have involved shots and we traded godliness for Guinness, but the booze-soaked confines of the Parting Glass pub gave us a barroom blessing neither of us will soon forget.

And here we are, 11 months later, with a healthy baby boy in Tommy. Is a song dedication from an Eastern NY Irish band in a wonderfully old pub the reason? Probably not. Just like it’s extraordinarily unlikely it was “God’s will” we avoided a sixth loss.

But in that respect, I gained an understanding of why people voluntarily give themselves up to the thought of a higher power or larger force.

It’s comforting in a way to believe someone can help you, rather than being the random recipient of horrible luck over and over again. It’s why I still have a lucky Patriots jersey and stand in the same place in my parents’ house during big games. It has no impact on the outcome, but it makes me feel better. And sometimes that’s enough.

“All of the hard days are gone
It’s all beer and whiskey and songs from now on
Laugh at the darkness and dance until dawn
All of the hard days are gone”

Share Button

11 Ridiculous Tips to Induce Labor

mjbellyhosp

Carrying a baby for 40 weeks (and being the partner of someone carrying said baby) is a tough job. But when the due date comes and goes yet baby has decided to stay put, things get a little frustrating. Now throw in two impatient parents and inferno-like summer temperatures, and you have a recipe for disaster.

We’re currently in this boat, and my wife wants this baby evicted posthaste. So we did what everyone does these days when they have a health question — we resorted to asking the Internet for help.

Have you ever looked — and I mean REALLY looked — at some of the things people do to induce labor? Well I did. And then I asked people on my Facebook page for their expert tips, theories, and old wives tale regarding how to bring about contractions. And boy, they did not disappoint. So sit back and enjoy this list of totally serious, 100% Internet approved ways to kick-start labor.

11. SPICY FOOD
The show Fear Factor proved people will eat anything, but at least they had a chance to win some money. From castor oil to ghost peppers to mac and cheese with A1 sauce, there is no shortage of weird shit pregnant women will eat in order not to be pregnant anymore. But I draw the line at the person who suggested eating “hot bologna.” No. Just…no.

10. EXERCISE
The good news is it appears walking, hiking, squats, stair-climbing, and bouncing on a yoga ball are all tried and true ways of going into labor. The bad news is partners who tell their pregnant significant others to exercise have a tendency not to be heard from ever again.

9. TRAMPOLINES
While technically a form of exercise, I gave this its own category for how many people actually suggested a pregnant woman get on a bouncy surface and jump up and down repeatedly. My uncoordinated and not-exactly-graceful wife has a hard enough time jumping on a trampoline when she isn’t top heavy thanks to pregnancy, and she nixed this idea out of the box because she had visions of becoming a YouTube sensation if something happened. Can’t say I blame her.

8. FOOT MASSAGE
It’s said acupressure focuses on the body’s natural pressure points where most energy is stored to induce labor. However, this method does not account for women who hate their feet being touched. I sneaked up on my wife and tried to find the pressure points in her feet to send her into labor, but her foot ended up finding my balls. Good thing this is our last kid.

via GIPHY

7. DANCING
My wife is a beautiful, gorgeous pregnant woman. But her dancing? Let’s just say we took dance lessons before our wedding, and the instructor had to totally adjust his strategy when he realized MJ couldn’t find the beat in the music. So while I understand dancing is exerting physical energy which prompts the baby to come out, if the baby senses the kind of Elaine from Seinfeld “dancing” going on, he/she might be too terrified to actually emerge.

6. CLEANING THE HOUSE
A bunch of women told me they decided to clean the house to go into labor. I’m talking a total top-to-bottom, empty the cabinets, get-on-your-hands-and-knees level scrubbing. After that, they said they went into labor within 24 hours. So I told MJ she should clean the house “better than normal.” I see now where I went wrong. Let’s just say it’s a good thing pregnant women are slower than normal, which allowed me safe escape.

5. NIPPLE STIMULATION
This was a really popular suggestion, as many women told me stimulating the nipples induces labor, as does hooking yourself up to the breast pump for as little as 15 minutes. However, I was still smarting from the cleaning and foot rub incidents, so asking my wife for permission to get anywhere close to her very sensitive nipples was a non-starter.

4. SEX (WITH ORGASM)
The women who suggested sex were very clear that an orgasm MUST be involved to be effective. But honestly, I don’t think this one is accurate. I had an orgasm yet she’s still not in labor.

3. RIDE ON A BUMPY ROAD
I’m not really sure how this is different from the sex suggestion.

coffeepotty

2. COFFEE POTTY
I’m not kidding. This is a real thing people do. Put a bunch of fresh coffee grinds in a bowl, put bowl in the toilet, pour six cups of steaming hot water in there, and then sit on the toilet with a towel draped over you so no steam gets out. Desperate, confused pregnant women actually sit on a coffee shitter for 30 minutes hoping to induce labor. I can only assume this started out as a practical joke and just went on too long until some people started taking it seriously. You know, like the idea of Donald Trump for President.

1. SCHEDULE AN INDUCTION
This is by far my favorite. Because the surest way to make sure you give birth in a hurry is to schedule an induction and get everything ready at the hospital, only to have that stubborn little bastard break your water two hours before you’re scheduled.

So, which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Share Button

11 Things Dads Should NEVER Say in the Delivery Room

mjdeliveryroom

The delivery room is a strange, scary, and spectacular place. There are mystical wonders to behold, a multitude of wires attached to your loved one getting ready to deliver, and a cacophony of beeping coming from unfamiliar machines that leave you unable to decipher good from bad. It is where miracles happen, memories are made, and life is brought forth into the world.

Unless she kills you right there in the birthing suite because you’re one of the brainless jackasses who says something irreversibly stupid at the worst possible moment.

Having talked to L&D nurses, read humorous (yet cringe-inducing) accounts of ridiculous things said inside the delivery room, and having written about a semi-related topic in the past, I thought it best to get specific. In my ongoing quest to help fathers (not just fathers but anyone who plans on being in the delivery room) improve, I think this list is important simply to keep people alive.

Everyone processes emotions differently in stressful situations, and many people (myself included) resort to attempts at humor as a defense mechanism. However, your latest pun might not be well accepted as the mother of your child is attempting to pass something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon.

I thought long and hard, consulted a few mothers in my life, and came up with this list. And I added animated GIFs so hopefully the women reading this will laugh instead of instantly try to murder their partners who undoubtedly said one or more things listed below.

Continue reading 11 Things Dads Should NEVER Say in the Delivery Room

Share Button

A Letter to My Unborn Baby

ultrasound

Dear 3rd Child,

I wasn’t always sure I wanted you.

Oh, sorry about that. Where are my manners? Hi, I’m your dad. Nice to meet you. I’m the owner of that loud voice you’re probably already sick of. If you can even hear. Honestly, I’m not even sure you have ears yet because I hate those baby development calendars that tell me how big you are by comparing you to different fruits and vegetables. You know, this week you’re a peapod and next week you’ll be the size of an avocado. Maybe it’s because some of the vegetables they use are really strange, and because I don’t eat enough of them I don’t know what they look like and then all perspective is lost. I start to feel like if I can’t use vegetables to figure out your size then maybe you don’t exist. Maybe none of us really exist. And suddenly I’m in a full blown existential crisis all because I’m unfamiliar with rutabagas.

Sorry, sometimes I get off topic a bit. As I was saying, I wasn’t really sure I wanted you. I know that’s a horrible first impression I’m making, but it’s the truth.

You see, you’re our third child. The only problem is, I never planned on having more than two. It’s nothing personal, just that I’m a big believer in man-to-man defense. Or, in other words, one parent for each kid. It’s simple in theory, and it comforts me not to be outnumbered. But your arrival means your mom and I have to switch to zone. We’re going to be out-manned, forced to play a prevent defense. Insert additional football metaphors here.

It’s not like your mom tricked me or was deceitful. When we talked about how many kids we wanted she always said “two or three at the most.” I think I just ignored the latter part and assumed we were on the same page. And then we had trouble getting and staying pregnant, so in my mind, three was almost definitely not in the cards.

Last April your mom told me she was pregnant. Unfortunately (or from your purely selfish perspective since you wouldn’t exist, fortunately), it didn’t work out. But from that experience, I learned a few things. Mainly 1) how nervous I am about having a third child, and 2) how much that doesn’t matter because another child would be a wondrous, awesome thing.

We lost that baby before I could really wrap my mind around the whole thing. But here you are in the second trimester, and the reality is staring me full in the face. But, as usual, when one of my kids seems to be the problem, one of my  kids solves the problem and shows me how stupid I am.

Case in point…

I’m freaking out because we have no place to put you. We rent a cozy 3-bedroom duplex and currently, all bedrooms are occupied. To make matters worse, none of them are very big. So the question becomes where do we put you? And the answer is we have to put your two brothers in the same bedroom — the thought of which causes me great consternation.

When Sam was born Will lost his play room because it turned into Sam’s nursery. Now another sibling is on the way and Will is going to lose half his room to a 2-year-old tyrant. As an older brother who shared a room with a younger sibling for nearly a decade, I can commiserate. That experience can be suffocating and the age difference (5 years between them) makes it even tougher. I was dreading having to tell Will and the meltdown that would surely ensue.

But guess what? Will wasn’t angry. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When I told him he’d have to share a room with Sam his eyes lit up and his smile grew wide and bold.

“You mean I get to share a room with my brother??? YESSSSSS!!!!” he said, much to my surprised delight. “I bet Sam will even climb up into my bed and cuddle at night. I can’t wait.”

And suddenly I felt very silly. It reminded me of two years ago when I worried I couldn’t possibly love another human being as much as I loved Will. But I soon found out our hearts automatically expand when a new baby arrives, and in that vein we’ll find a way to make it work regarding everyone fitting under the same roof.

As for Will’s reaction, shame on me for not seeing that coming. Now don’t get me wrong, I know full well his tune will change after a few weeks or a month of his brother all up in his face all of the time. That’s inevitable. But let this be a lesson to you, baby boy or girl, of the kind of family into which you’re entering.

Your oldest brother Will has more kindness, empathy, and emotional intelligence than any 10 adults put together. He is patient, a great teacher, and so full of love he’s in danger of bursting. He’ll be your guide and best friend. Meanwhile your older brother Sam is a tornado. He attacks life with zeal and fears nothing, yet he hugs every other kid on the playground and has smiles for everyone. You’ll be closest in age to him (26 months apart) which means you’re going to battle him your entire life. Yet all the while you’ll want nothing more than to be just like him. He will push you in ways that are frustrating and obnoxious, but ultimately he’ll make you a better person and he’ll force you to work harder and keep improving.

And your mother? Well, she’s a saint. And a gorgeous saint at that. But as beautiful as she is on the outside, she’s even more spectacular on the inside. I don’t have to tell you that though. You literally know what I mean.

You’re not entering a rich family so I can’t promise you a carefree life detached from financial struggles. You won’t have the finest things, occasionally you’ll have to go without, and some days we’ll barely scrape by. But there is one thing I can promise you with complete certainty. You’re being born into a family filled with love. Passionate, unyielding, copious amounts of love and loyalty that we’re never afraid to express. From your parents to your siblings to your grandparents and beyond, love will comfort you and cushion you far better than a life of riches and luxury ever could. So welcome, my little one. You’re the last piece of the puzzle and the world is waiting. Stay safe and grow strong and healthy.

One last thing you should know — it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. As long as you’re a Patriots fan.

Love,
Dad

Share Button

When Should You Announce You’re Pregnant?

pregnancyannouncement

First of all, WE’RE PREGNANT!

Telling loved ones and friends the big news is one of the happiest things I can think of, because everyone is just so ecstatic. Pure, unmitigated joy complete with screaming, hugs, smiles, and tears. And I was very grateful to have received that in spades this week when we announced the impending arrival of our third child. Everyone was overwhelmingly positive and thrilled, and I appreciate that.

And yet…

A few emails and comments began trickling in to the tune of “Ummmm, September? You guys can’t be very far along,” and “Wow, you’re announcing early. Are you sure you want to do that?”

Look, MJ and I get it. This is the eighth time she has been pregnant. Yup, eight times. That means twice it’s worked out favorably, but five times thus far it hasn’t. We’re no stranger to this particular rodeo and we know the ropes. You can either announce shortly after you pee on the stick and hope for the best, or you can go the more conservative route and wait until the 12-week mark — which is when the chances of miscarriage drop dramatically.

We’ve done both over the years. There were times we announced a pregnancy early on and then had to painstakingly break the bad news to everyone all over again. That sucks because invariably someone doesn’t get the news and proceeds to come up to you in a month or two and ask how the pregnancy is going. It’s brutal. So because of that, we’ve also opted to wait to announce until the second trimester. That has its own drawbacks though, because I’m a very public person and that just means less time for people to celebrate and share in your joy.

And of course, even when we did wait until after 12 weeks, we still had something go wrong and still had to feel like we were disappointing everyone by telling them bad news. So, that begs the question, when should you announce?

The correct answer is whenever the hell you feel like it!

There is no right or wrong time to announce your pregnancy, and you should do it how and when you feel is right. We’re just about 8 weeks along and we decided to share the news because we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound and it was a very strong 157 bpm. Our doctor said everything looks terrific and there are no concerns at the moment. So instead of waiting until 12 weeks just because we’ve had bad luck in the past, we decided to just focus on being happy.

For me, good news is always good news. Even if something happens down the road and we lose this pregnancy, it was still good news when we announced. It was still a happy event that brought us and others joy. Nothing can take away the feeling I had when all of our anxiety and fear was alleviated by the flickering of a tiny beating heart, so I choose to celebrate that instead of keeping it needlessly bottled up out of fear. Because good news should always be celebrated and shared in my opinion.

I don’t judge anyone else who waits and takes a different course. I’ve been there, done it, and understand it. But for us at this point in time, we’re celebrating. We’ve had so many dark times and losses that we never miss an opportunity to celebrate a win.

So we’re 8 weeks along. We’re due September 11 (yeah yeah, I know). We will not be finding out if this will be our third boy or our first girl. And if you’re wondering how Will is reacting to the news, well — we videotaped the moment we told him and let’s just say it didn’t go as expected.

Share Button