Tag Archives: pregnant

Should We Have Another Baby?

mjpregs

It was the first really warm day in April. Winter finally released New England from its icy grasp and nature was set free to bloom. Everything was new and the leaves were green in their infancy, and people left their houses, looked around, and smiled while taking in deep breaths of unadulterated spring.

Will and I had just tried our hand at trout fishing, with no luck. But despite the zero tally regarding the fish count, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the local hot dog stand for footlongs and fries.

After placing our order, Will bolted to the playground while I sat at a picnic table waiting for our number to be called. I briefly turned my head toward the sky and smiled, then glanced toward my oldest who was already making his way across the monkey bars. My old middle school loomed in the background behind my son — an eerie juxtaposition of new and old, past and present.

It dawned on me we were eating at a place I loved in my youth, in front of a school MJ and I attended for three years. At 11 years old I had already met my future wife, despite the fact she’d move away and I’d go four years without seeing her. Then, nine years ago, MJ and I drove to that very school during a blizzard just minutes after I asked her to marry me. We danced together in the empty parking lot, snow swirling around us and flickering in the headlights.

I was lost in thoughts of storms, tranquility, past, and present when my phone rang. Fittingly enough, it was MJ.

“Perfect timing,” I said, skipping over the hello. “I was just sitting at the hot dog stand with Will and looking at the middle school and thinking about us and everything…”

She cut me off before I could finish, and I could immediately tell she was in a panic.

“Come home now. I’M FUCKING PREGNANT!”

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It’s not like we hadn’t discussed having a third child. Of course we had. It’s just that those discussions never ended with any kind of firm answer.

I think if you forced her to answer, MJ wanted another baby. As for me, well…I was truly torn. Do I want a daughter? Yes. But do I really want to go through the newborn phase again when I had such a tough time emotionally with Sam? Honestly, I don’t think so. Besides, we have terrible luck with pregnancies not to mention no room in our duplex (or our budget) for a third kid.

Also, three sounds like a lot.

I talk to parents with three kids and they’re straight up harried. Not like normal parent harried, but “tear your hair out holy crap I need six more hours in the day” kind of stressed. Three is a lot. Three’s company. Three is being forced to abandon man-to-man defense and go with zone. Simply put, three is scary.

So I told MJ the truth — I don’t honestly know how I’d react to a third kid until I was actually put in the situation.

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My first, split-second reaction was shock. Pure shock. And fear.

We can’t afford this baby. We weren’t trying for this baby. How the hell did we even get pregnant when I have a condition that gives us roughly a 2% chance of conceiving on our own without IVF? Where would the baby sleep? What would I ever do with a daughter? What the hell will I ever do with three boys? And it was all made worse by the fact that my wife was in hysterics, I wasn’t with her, and I had to keep it all together in front of Will.

I quickly collected our food and my son, and we hopped in the car to head home. I passed the middle school, I remembered dancing in the snow, I saw my oldest in the rearview mirror, and I looked at the picture on my phone of Sam.

And then I busted out laughing.

Not a giggle or a chuckle, mind you. I started belly laughing my ass off. Uncontrollable bursts of hearty laughter usually reserved for my favorite comedies. Will was looking at me like I was nuts, but for the life of me I couldn’t stop. I was laughing so hard I started crying, yet I was also wearing an ear to ear grin. As I pulled into the driveway, I laughed once more because I quickly realized I had answered my own question.

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Our baby had a due date of December 25. A Christmas baby. Our gift.

We brought Sam to the OB appointment partly because we didn’t have a babysitter (because we didn’t tell anyone the news), but also as a good luck charm — even if neither of us would admit it. Because if you’re new to these parts, we’re well-versed in miscarriages and pregnancy loss. Four miscarriages in as many years. A medically necessary abortion due to a fetal abnormality at 16 weeks. Not good.

Despite having two beautiful boys and having been through the wringer, being in that room with the ultrasound tech didn’t get any easier.

MJ hopped on the table while Sam bounced on my knee. The grainy image began to take focus on the small screen as I held Sam with one hand and took MJ’s in the other. Sam cooed and raised his hand to the screen, reaching out in an attempt to touch it. His little cherubic fingers finally found the glass, and he started tapping at it.

Right at the void where a flickering heartbeat should have been.

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We’re fine. Really, we are.

I don’t know why or how we’ve lost five pregnancies in the seven years we’ve been trying to have kids. But you know what? I don’t know how I became so blessed to have the two unbelievable boys who call me dad. A lot of people would say we’re unlucky, but we’re not. If anything, we’re incredibly fortunate to have the life we do. To have our happy and healthy sons.

I don’t know if we’ll have another baby. That will most likely involve IVF and all the risks, effort, and potential for disappointment and heartbreak that carries with it. But at the very least, I now have an answer to the question.

I’d be thrilled to have another baby. As if there was really any other answer.

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Thank You People of the Internet

final_mj_bellyIn nine hours my beautiful wife and I will head to the hospital where she will give birth to our second child. But for those of you who have followed our story for the past few years, you know that barely scratches the surface of our long, painful journey.

When you’re dealing with multiple miscarriages things get pretty awful in a hurry. And when you’re hit with a 1-in-100,000 fetal abnormality incompatible with life, combined with the heartlessness of pro-life protesters verbally accosting us on one of the worst days of our lives, it’s enough to send you careening over the edge of sanity. And that’s to say nothing of the hundreds of trolls who badgered me after the video went viral. I got fresh hate mail just this afternoon, more than three years removed from the event.

When politics and religion combine, things get nasty. And I stood for a good long while just staring at dark side of the Internet, which acts as a safe haven for anonymous Internet cowards with too much time of their hands and hate in their hearts. And let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to succumb to the noise and let the venom overwhelm you. It’s like you’re lost while driving at night, and you haven’t seen another car in so long that you’re happy just to see headlights — even if it means they’re barreling down to destroy you.

But right about then, something amazing happened. You guys showed up and saved the day.

Seriously, thank you. Thank you to each one of you fucking glorious souls who reached out to us and supported us one way or another. To the strangers who took up fighting the trolls when I couldn’t stomach it any longer. To the random people who sent us e-mails sharing your own heartbreaking stories to let me know MJ and I weren’t alone. To the folks who left comments telling us to hang in there. To the people who sent us cards and gifts. All of you. Each of you. Each and every one of you who went out of your way to take the time to give a stranger comfort should know that your actions are nothing short of heroic.

At a time when we needed some hope and support, you denizens of the Internet picked us up and enveloped us in a virtual bear hug of love. You did more than leave a comment or shoot over an e-mail. You showed us decency when all we could see was hatred and misery, and rekindled my faith in the basic goodness of people. Simply put, you had our backs. And for that I’m forever thankful.

And yet you weren’t done there.

When we announced we were pregnant with this baby, you rallied the troops again and lifted us up once more. You carried us through our self-doubt and our fears of something going wrong again. You nurtured us every step of the way, and kept checking in to make sure we were OK. You invested yourself in our lives, and for the life of me I can’t think of anything more meaningful than that.

Facing steep odds is difficult no matter what, but I can’t tell you how much it helps to have you guys in our corner. Seriously. When I posted this afternoon about MJ being induced tomorrow, I teared up as I read comment after comment from you guys congratulating us and wishing us well. Having an army of support behind us has made all the difference in the world. And I owe you.

I mean that too. Some of you have reached out to talk about this and that over the years and I love it. Please don’t ever hesitate to drop me a line, because if I can help I will. If MJ can help she will. You guys held us close and helped us every step of the way, and I will spend my entire life trying to pay you back in spades.

At some point tomorrow I will post a picture of our new son or daughter. It will list a name, length, and weight. What it won’t say — but what I’m saying right now — is thank you. And we couldn’t have done it without you. I fucking love you guys. A lot.

Now let’s celebrate!

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7 Reasons Not to Find Out the Sex of the Baby

boy_or_girlThe big day is drawing near and I’m freaking out with anticipation and excitement. Excitement about completing our family for one, but also because I’ll finally get the answer to a very important question — are we having a boy or a girl?

Yup, that’s right. We didn’t find out. That’s a decision that has drawn some mixed reactions and opinions to say the least, but it’s one MJ and stand behind 100%. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, it was the cause of much marital strife with Will because I wanted to know the sex and MJ didn’t. At first I was ridiculously angry, but she kept on telling me how great of a surprise it’d be and that it was worth the wait. I didn’t believe her, but she was so right. It was absolutely fantastic.

Yet out of all the questions people asked us during this pregnancy, the #1 query by far was “HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY WAIT TO FIND OUT?” and “WHY IN HOLY HELL WOULD YOU NOT FIND OUT?!” Well, here are seven answers.

7. The Old Wives’ Tales
In the absence of a conclusive ultrasound, people never cease to surprise me with their methods of determining whether we’re having a boy or a girl. People say if you’re “carrying high” it’s a girl, and low means boy. They ask MJ what foods she’s been craving and if she mentions something sweet, they automatically say girl while sour equals boy. It’s really quite interesting to hear the theories bandied about by these baby soothsayers, which all seem to have been handed down by grandparents and great-grandparents and are NEVER wrong. In fact, 50% of the time they guess right EVERY time.

6. Delaying Stupid Stereotypes
If we found out the sex at 18 weeks that means I’d have 22 weeks to listen to people moronically babble on about what it means to have a boy or girl. If people knew we were having another boy it’d be “Oh man, MJ is gonna be so outnumbered” and “Oh…well when are you going to try for the girl?” And if it’s a girl I’d be fed a steady diet of “HAHAHAHA!! I knew the universe would seek its revenge on you!” and “I know you hate guns, but you’re gonna need one before she starts dating.” Either way, boy or girl, I hate that shit. It’s boring, played out, and often insulting. Not finding out the sex cuts off this avenue of discussion completely.

5. Cuts Down on Disappointment
Sure you might be hoping for a boy or a girl, and the common argument is if you find out at 18 weeks then you get the disappointment out of the way and have time to wrap your head around it. But I disagree. Even if you were hoping for a girl but get a boy and you don’t find out until he/she arrives, you’re too blown away by what just happened and caught up in the joy of the moment to give a shit whether you got what you wanted. You’re just thankful for what you’re holding in your hands. Same goes for relatives. It’s a lot more difficult for your mother-in-law to express her disappointment when you hand her her brand new grandchild.

4. Added Motivation in the Delivery Room
This one is mainly for the ladies. Childbirth is pretty painful stuff as you’re trying to squeeze a large object out a much smaller opening. But my wife told me she kept pushing steadily through the pain in large part because she was so motivated to finally find out the sex of the baby. Who knows, that ounce of added motivation just might be the thing that gets you geared up for that final tough push.

3. No Pink or Blue
If you have a boy people will buy you a ton of blue shit with footballs and baseballs on them. If you have a girl, I guarantee you your baby shower will look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded and hosed everything down in a sea of pink princesses. And if you’re anything like me, you hate the idea of being pigeonholed. By not finding out the sex, you effectively force people to think at least a little bit outside the box and consider things that are gender neutral. Lots of greens, yellows, and reds — all absent the gender stereotypes parents like myself and MJ are trying to move away from in general.

2. It Pisses People Off
I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating. Some people — especially the control freaks and rabid planners out there — need as much information as possible at all times. And I’ve discovered they don’t just need it for themselves, they need other people to have it too. I’m serious. I’ve talked to people who literally get hives when we tell them we’re waiting, because the mere thought of not knowing drives them into a panic. We’ve even had people tell us we are wrong and that we’re ridiculous for not finding out. Making people uncomfortable and bucking societal norms is basically a part-time job for me, so the contrarian in me revels in their obvious discomfort. Try it, I highly recommend it.

1. It’s a Surprise Like No Other
Some people will say it’s a surprise no matter when you find out. That’s true, it is. But for me personally, there’s never been a happier, more exciting, cooler surprise than jockeying for position in the delivery room to see whether I had a son or a daughter. It’s already such a magical moment watching new life enter the world, and the fact that I’m finding out for the first time whether I have a new son or daughter just magnifies the moment exponentially. There is nothing that’s equaled that feeling in my life, and I can’t wait to experience it again soon.

Of course, all of this advice is moot since I’m 100% convinced we’re having another boy. I know because MJ is carrying low.

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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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9 Subtle Common Sense Tips for First-Time Parents

parent_handbookI’m about to be a parent of a newborn…again.

Five years ago with Will, I was equal parts amazed and confused about becoming a dad. What stuff do I need? What can I expect during delivery? What can I expect when we get home from the hospital? What diapers should we use? When is a good time to start solids? I had a smorgasbord of questions but when I went to find answers, I ran into a common problem in the Internet Age — I Googled “advice for new parents” and was hit with vitriolic and hysterical advice from every “kid expert” in existence.

Not only was each piece of advice incredibly inflammatory, it was delivered by the author with such force and certainty. The only problem was each person seemed to have a contradictory take on things. So the result was a ton of different people shouting about different viewpoints and taking it VERY personally if the other experts chimed in and disagreed in the comments section.

For a clueless first-time parent who didn’t know his Huggies from his Pampers, it left me utterly confused and lamenting the fact that no one could provide common sense parenting advice without it ending in a clusterfuck or pissing match.

So now that I’m a “veteran” about to be a parent for the second time, I couldn’t help but think of past me and how lost I felt. So I decided it’s my responsibility — nay, my duty! — to write a balanced, nuanced, common sense article that gives out parenting tips without exaggeration or hyperbole. Just the facts, absent inflammatory opinions. Hope you enjoy.

1. Formula Will Poison Your Baby
Not only is breast best, it’s the only option. Because everyone knows failure to breastfeed means your baby is screwed for life. You need to think long term from Day 1, and giving your kid formula from the get-go is pretty much kissing college and a better life goodbye. Sure your nipples hurt, but what’s a little bit of soreness compared to feeding your baby Satan’s elixir? Seriously, no formula. Or the La Leche League will find your ass. And you don’t want to mess with those crazy bastards!

2. Disposable Diapers Means You’re Basically a Terrorist
If you really love your new baby that means you should love the environment too. And if you’re doing anything other than cloth diapers, you’re contributing to the downfall of mankind by destroying the planet. Sure it means way more laundry and doubling your already stressful and sizable parental workload, but nothing good is ever easy. Disposable diapers? C’mon now. If new mothers are going to spit in the face of Mother Earth, we’re all screwed.

3. If You Don’t Wear Your Baby, You’re a Bad Parent
We need to do EVERYTHING for our children. That means simply holding your new baby isn’t enough. Nope, you need to Baby Bjorn the bejesus out of that kid. That’s really the only way to form the necessary bond with your baby and give it the attention he/she richly deserves. Failure to literally wear your baby close to your heart is basically the equivalent of hanging the kid off a stripper pole, because that’s where this whole scenario is headed.

4. Co-Sleeping is the Only Way
Don’t let the scaremongers bully you into thinking you’re going to crush your child to death by sleeping in the same bed. The alternative is raising a child who feels isolated and unloved because you selfishly stuck him in another room. And besides, it’s a surefire way to keep some distance between you and your spouse, who has probably been pissing and moaning about getting the kid out of the bed so you can have sex again. You’re a parent now — ain’t no one got time for that!

5. No TV — Ever!
They don’t call it the idiot box for nothing. Sure it might be tempting to sit the infant carrier down next to you and catch up on Game of Thrones. Because hey — it’s an infant right? They can’t possibly comprehend Joffrey being a sociopath or the violence Stannis Baratheon’s troops endured during the Battle of the Blackwater. WRONG! Your baby might open its innocent eyes and be scarred for life by The Red Wedding. Even if the kid is asleep all that violence could filter through baby’s eyelids and embed itself in the kid’s subconscious. In fact, any TV exposure before the age of two automatically means you’re worthy of having CPS called on your ass.

6. Daycare is for Deadbeats
So you decided you wanted a baby, got pregnant, went through 9 months of waiting, and endured a painful delivery to finally get your bundle of joy. And now that you have your precious cargo, why on Earth would you ever think about shoving him/her off to be taken care of by strangers? It doesn’t matter if you need two incomes or if you just really love working — you’re a parent now dammit! The only way to really, truly love your kid is to take care of him/her yourself. Paying some stranger to look after your most beloved treasure is abhorrent, and you will be justifiably judged for it.

7. Don’t Ever Let Your Baby “Cry It Out”
We all know you don’t do this with infants, but even when they’re older you should never let them cry. I mean really, are you a monster?? The little person you love most in the world is crying and your solution is to let the wailing and suffering continue for a prolonged period of time? You sicko! Get in there and coddle/cuddle your kid every single time that bundle of joy makes even the slightest peep. And if your partner suggests anything different, verbally eviscerate that clown until he/she never works up the nerve to question your authority ever again.

8. Avoid All Immunizations
Let me ask you something. If someone came up to you and told you they were going to inject your precious baby with a live virus, how would you react? You’d clock the bastard, that’s what you’d do. And yet every single day in this country parents are willingly handing over their little babies to be stuck with needles containing strains of dangerous diseases, all in the name of supposed “prevention.” Yeah right. Doesn’t anyone listen to brilliant minds like Jenny McCarthy anymore? These vaccines cause autism and all kinds of other things. If you’re not going to listen to a former Playboy centerfold turned amateur scientist looking out for the best interests of your baby, then you’re a damn fool!

9. You MUST Buy the Most Expensive Items
Thinking about accepting that perfectly suitable but second-hand crib from your best friend? Do you have a relative who has a gently used stroller? Got a friend in a mommy group with a bunch of used newborn clothes? Well, tell them thanks but no thanks! You have a NEW baby, which means you need to buy all NEW things. Anything less means you don’t really love your child — at least not as much as the other parents who emptied their bank accounts at Babies R Us. After all, babies need the Cadillac Escalade of strollers that can go off-roading and climb mountains along with designer baby booties, because that shows people how good a parent you are. Everyone knows that. Now fork over your credit card.

So that’s it. Nine perfectly sane, reasonable guidelines for first-time parents. And by guidelines, of course, I mean absolute hard and fast rules you better follow or else you’re a shitty parent. You’ve been warned. I mean…helped.

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