Sunday, December 25, 2011

Crying with a woman's diaper bag

Manya goes through quick phases as her development continues. Most nights she goes down relatively easily and sleeps through the night only waking up when the sun rises to feed and then shes back asleep until the work day begins. All two often after this morning feeding I find myself pushed to the corner of the bed as the baby apparently needs 60% of the bed to make herself properly comfortable. If you get within six inches of her sleeping torso expect a swift and jarring karate chop or a delicate yet baleful embrace of both nostrils with a tiny hand, cutting off all flow of oxygen to a sleeping father.

Other times Manni is cranky, fighting off sleep in a furious struggle to stay up with hopelessly overtired zombie parents. She thinks she's going to miss something but is sadly mistaken. DVRed episodes of Teen Mom 2 and Chopped are no reason for us to be asleep never mind and growing four month old (did I mention she's 25 inches aka she grew 2 inches last month?!?! WTF)

Her least ladylike phase we've had to endure this past month has been a slight spell of separation anxiety. Its too early, she's not supposed to care who's holding her where and when. Just be cute, smile, giggle and let people ooh and ahh. Be cute! You're a baby! This business of the curling of lower lips with tears, panic and red furrowed brows is just not polite in any culture. And it makes us feel horrible. I'm pretty sure the unfortunate parties holding her during one of these unfortunate episodes aren't insulted by the act but as the parents of the spoil sport it does make us feel terrible. Is it okay if sometimes she just stops 'being such a baby' and just cooperates... on cue?

Often I take Manya on trips with me around the county. Could be the mall or some other store. We'd take walks in the park but with the winter rolling in I can't take the wind chill much with the stroller I'm not sure how long I'd last. The point isn't what you do but the preparation going into it. Before we had the baby I was warned, it takes a hour to prep before going anywhere. Now I have no idea about preparation. It takes me fifteen minutes max to get ready for a out of state, overnight wedding including showering and putting on a suit and tie. The concept of requiring a sixty minute time block to properly organize blew my mind in epic proportions. Hell, waiting on anyone male or female to get ready for more than half an hour is a concept that I just can not comprehend.

There are a ton of things needed to pack Manya's diaper bag. Wipes, pads, blanket, burp cloths, toys, melkys, change of clothes, cloth diapers, ect. It looks intimidating. The baby has been alive less than 125 days and already owns as many possessions as I do. A trip to the grocery store requires me to pack as much stuff as I brought to sleep away camp for four weeks. The trick is pre-organization. Setting up your diaper bag itinerary before you need it so when you need to go, it only takes 10 minutes of prep rather than 55. At any given time I'm already set to go. Need milk and sugar? On my way. Train station pick up? Just give me two seconds. Zombie Apocalypse, just need to grab the bottle from the fridge, is there still a five day waiting period for firearms?

Now the diaper bag itself? Yes my taste in accessories, necessary as they may be is quite often more disjointed that my fashion sense. See we have several diaper bags but two that are used in regular rotation. I received a Diaper Dude which is a 'hip' and 'cool' diaper bag for a 'dude'. Basically its a man purse but instead of the cool Jack Bauer cell phone that can take over the world, its got diapers and poopy wipes. Our other diaper bag is Kate Spade Diaper Bag. Its black, and stylish, and perfectly designed for the modern mommy.

As I previously stated, the art of packing/preparing a diaper bag has been close to mastered. Quick is not the word. It's chaotic and imperfect but it is expeditious. It also often results in random and significant errors on my behalf. Never and I repeat never do I forget the bottle, a change of clothes or diapers. But put them in the right bag? Oh shit, I screw that up 90% of the time. Tell you the truth, I've probably used that diaper dude mens diaper bag less than ten times. I accidentally sport the no doubt about it black leather Kate Spade woman's diaper bag over and over and over again. And shake my head when I discover the mistake each and every time too. So if you see a baby and a man walking around Jersey clad in east coast garb with a little flavor in their step, some nice tunes in their car/truck and a giant woman's purse, come and say 'hi' cause most likely that asshole is me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One on One time

Welcome to the world of daycare. Sarah has returned to work. By daycare I mean me, a baby, and, well, that's it. Obviously we have events over the course of a day. We have numerous distractions such as toys, a plethora of bouncy seats, rocking seats and vibrating seats, and a stinky curious dog, but in the end, its really just me and her. Sarah has gone back to work.

I freelance write from home so my schedule is open-ended which allows me to be the designated daycare. Or you could be rude and call me a stay at home dad. (BTW, if you happen to know anyone who needs additional freelance writing feel free to pass my name along as I'm always looking for new gigs) I thought I'd get some work done during nap time. Writing is a process and you need to put yourself in a certain mind frame to write properly but I assumed nap time would be the ideal time to work. This doesn't work, ever. Every time I think I have an opening to do some work. Waaaa! Set up the computer, get myself in the proper mindset, sit down, and.... eyeballs. Great. Eyeballs means cuteness, it also means no writing whatsoever. Oh well, another late night of writing once mommy gets home.

We all dreaded Sarah's first day return to work. Sarah dreaded being away from the little one. I dreaded the inevitable building of stress, minor anguish and slight depression created by the clock ticking for her return to a 9 to 5 workday. What I didn't realize is that Manya would act out more than any of us.

T minus 3 hours to Sarah's first day back. Somehow Sarah is fast asleep having braved the countdown like a champ. Manya woke us up for a changing and a feeding thirty minutes earlier and is passed out on my chest face up. I am also in a deep slumber relishing the silence and darkness of 5 O'clock in the morning.

Gurgle, gurgle, peew. I awake to what seems like a waterfall. Face, neck, pillow, chest, drenched in something warm, wet, and slightly thick. A quick scramble for my cell phone to illuminate the crime scene without waking up the wife. Is it drool? A flash of the light momentarily blinds me. Manya is fast asleep, breathing fine. Silence in the room. Why is her face wet? Oh lord. Apparently Manya decided to spit up in her sleep all over her head, my head, my bed, and I guess, her bed too? Lets pretend I did a good job cleaning myself but at 5 in the morning I could care less about the state of my cleanliness.

For the record the previous event reoccurred three days later with staggering similar results. Apparently being vomited on in the middle of the night may be disconcerting but altogether not as traumatizing as one would think. Milk spit up is surprisingly sweet smelling and hopefully good for the skin.

Manya has the innate ability to scratch her face the second her nails get too long. Fortunately Manni has her mother's immaculate fingers, unfortunately she also possesses her mother's ludicrously quick fingernail growth. This means Manni's fingernails grow out every three days minimum. This also means I have the unfortunate task of wrangling a flailing baby arm and clenched fist for nail trimming two to three times a week.

Cutting an infant's nails can be a rather traumatizing experience. I have heard numerous horror stories and most parents react in horror to the mention of finger nail cutting. I happen to be the greatest baby finger nail trimmer in the Tri-State Area. Most parents wait for their baby to fall asleep and delicately trim each nail with the care of a heart surgeon. Manya sleeps very well when she's down but like a Navy Seal flashes her eyes open the at the thought of a nail trim. Lucky for me that I am stupid enough to approach nail cutting only with a fully alert baby.

Babies don't like having their hands held still. They flail their arms like a drowning swimmer, squeal with delight at being on their back, kick their legs like Bruce Lee and scoot their butts with such fervor that a child may move 2 to 3 inches with each butt pop. Did I mention that a baby has a vice like grip that defies logic? It is in this chaos that I choose to bring sharp sheers to my infant's immaculate, soft and delicate tiny flanges.

Its like a game of moving Operation. And I've won every game. No injury. No nicks. No cuts. Just short, smooth, perfectly manicured fingers and toes. And now I'm totally going to screw up my next attempt. (hows that for an attempt at a double jinx?)

Can we talk about babies and cars? How can my child hate the bouncy seat, despise the rocking seat, and loathe the shaky seat. Yes, we have a parking lot worth of baby seats that she won't sit in for more than thirteen seconds without breaking into a conniption fit. Put her into a car seat. Nothing changes. Hate. Pure unadulterated hate. Screaming the likes of which you'd think there were little needles pinching her. But once the car reaches 40 mph. Silence. Blissful serenity.

And then here comes a red light. It has been mentioned by many an infant's parents that pulling up to a red light is akin to a Hitchcock film. The world slows to a crawl as each parent holds their respective breath. An eerie muteness thick with fear and apprehension fills the vehicle reaching a point of near suffocation. The tires roll to a halt and silent prayers are said.


In the end it is all for naught as each red light was created by the devil and programmed by assholes keen on ruining every parent's drive and raising our collective blood pressure.

There is nothing more hopeless than transversing any NYC borough with an infant in the backseat. Its pure masochism.

This is how we get work done in the house.

Too cute!

Peek A Boo!

Look who's smiley!

I found a bear.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day at the Dentist

Its October 29th and there is snow outside. October... October! We rarely have a white Christmas never mind a slushy Halloween. I for one can not recall a single picture or depiction of Halloween with snow. Well at least I know what Manya can be for her first Halloween. She'll be the younger brother in "A Christmas Story" - the one who is so bundled up for winter that when he falls over he can't get back up.

I for one will be utilizing my freedom of Democracy and writing to my Congressman to officially make October 29th "F.U. Al Gore Day". He should donate the billions he made from his global warming talks, movies and books to charity. He made us all think we'd never see snow again and have 120 degree summer days. Once again, its October and there is snow everywhere! At least he gave us the Internet. Thank you Grizzly Adams.

Yesterday Manya took her first trip to the dentist. No, she doesn't have any teeth and none are trying to poke through yet. But Sarah and I needed to go and Sarah scheduled us for appointments at 11:30 and 12:30. We are still fumbling with the intricacies of readying ourselves for specific appointments, now with the added bonus of a youngin' we are more often than not hopelessly behind any morning appointments. Miraculously we arrived at our Dental appointment at Amazing Smiles (yes, I know, horrible name for a Dental Practice) two minutes late.

Sarah jogged in first to log us in and fill out the paperwork. I grabbed the car seat and fusspot from the back seat and entered Dr. Pak's Pediatric Dentistry. Wait, what? Dr. Pak's what? The office we entered more resembled a playground than a practice and blew out my retinas with a striking combination of bright lights, bold colors and dizzying patterns. Chairs lined the walls and I was humbled by the faint aroma of bleach and flatulence. I must have froze in the doorway as Sarah waved me in just as she was whisked away into one of the rooms, possibly themed in Winnie the Pooh or Dora the Explorer characters.

Sarah was going in to get her teeth cleaned. She walked into the room. The dentist followed.

Dentist: I don't seem to have your resume did you bring an extra one?
Sarah: What? I'm here to get my teeth cleaned.
Dentist: Oh, you're not here for an interview?
Sarah: No, I checked in at the front desk after I called and made an appointment.
Dentist: Oh, my assistant will take care of you.
Assistant: This is Dr. Hykofsky.
Sarah: No, Dr. Hykofsky is my dentist who I made the appointment with.

Blank Stares.

Sarah comes out and escorts Manya and I out of the Romper-Room.

Mind you Sarah was wearing a snowboarding top, yoga pants and cowboy boots. Excellent interview attire.

Five minutes and a phone call later we learned that our Dentist decided to move without telling us (only two miles away on the same road). Cue the Abbot and Costello music as we shoot over.

Fast forward ten minutes as we enter a horribly corporate building with no personality and the unusually vile faint aroma of curry being expressed through the pores of the many employees traversing the austere second floor. Oh look, a dentist office, how quaint. Here fill out this stack of paperwork. There's two of you? Fill it out a second time.

Thoroughly disinterested in the massive quantity of paperwork left to do after diligently scribbling some possibly incorrect semblance of Sarah's insurance, my mind and gaze began to wander. It may have been a case of the ever-so-popular ADHD affliction, or the dull ache in my anemic flanges. Dear god man no one writes with pens anymore, that's what texting and typing is for! Will this indentation on my knuckle cause a callus? Is it ironic that you have a giant poster that says No Cell Phones and then a second poster that says Turn Off All Cell Phones!

Ring Ring Ring

Shit. Sorry. Time to duck out of the office.

Oh god - Curry BO stench - The Horror!

Hello? Oh its just my brother calling to say that someone robbed the neighbors car last night. Like thiefs in Dan Akroyd movie or thugs in the Bronx in the early 80s they stole all four tires off the VW in their driveway. (side note: there were 2 BMWs in the driveway and a BMW next door untouched) They opened my mother's Volvo trunk to borrow her jack and spare tire to prop up the VW's underbelly while they casually lifted the four tires. Some facts. The VW belonged to the new driver of the house, a 17 year old kid. He spent the last 6 months making expensive modifications to the vehicle. Three BMWs within 30 feet. Not touched. In my humble opinion, the young man was the victim of a targeted attack by someone he knows. Bet the police have no idea. Time to call the night watch or Benson and Stabler.

Back to the dentist. Wait, we've been here 40 minutes and nothing? Weren't we 10-15 minutes late to begin with?


The fire alarm literally drops everyone's heart three inches and I slam my hands earmuff style on our poor two month old innocent.


Sarah and I flee to the curry corridor. Sarah - coat and baby - check. David - car seat, bags, coats, blankets, phones, keys, 17 other things - check.

One quick glance, eye contact, a nod, the car was packed and we were gone. And by gone I mean slowly weaving our way through the parking lot ocean of legions of amaurotic daydreaming South Indians. On the way home we saw three fire trucks driving to opposite direction.

Good Note: I still have never had a cavity.

Later that evening we took Manya to her first Halloween Party. Pictures below.

First Halloween!

Nanni Nanni Poo Poo!

Baby sleeping on GrandPa

Too Cute!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Vertigo is at first thought a masterfully crafted film by the genius filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. It's gorgeous cinematography trick which superbly defines the sensation through visual movement has been copied and regurgitated to death in recent years. Seldom is the camera trick used in a unique or stimulating way that doesn't immediately demand an collective audience groan. Although the term Vertigo may hold a preconceived reaction, nothing can prepare you for the unusually unnerving experience of the sensation.

Several nights ago after feasting on a particularly heavy amount of Chinese food I fell into an unusual food coma. I tend to drop into food comas after eating massive quantities of heavy food but rarely am I able to get to that point on Chinese food. Sarah's in laws were in town and the array of food I bought for dinner was borderline obscene. An hour and a half later I was glassy eyed on my swivel chair in front of the Television aimlessly staring at a particularly puerile episode of The Sing Off (a singing competition between groups who sing entirely A Capella) when I realized the whole room was spinning.

I felt unsettled and in a way intoxicated. I couldn't focus on a target or prevent the peripheral world from tipping in and out, rolling center of my consciousness back and forth uncontrollably. At first it was mildly entertaining as it chopped up the monotony of repetitive small talk but as the symptoms lingered my apprehension grew. When Sarah passed me Manya and I wasn't confident in my ability to control myself never mind keep her precious vulnerable bundle safe I became quite alarmed. Two hours and a small pond later my equilibrium returned and hasn't failed me since.

People always fall back on in-law jokes as though it is a universal fact that in-laws are a heinous by product of marriage that generates hours and days of heartache, angina, and water cooler buffoonery. I'm not saying I entirely disagree but by simple arithmetic, if all in-laws are terrible, then 95% of the world must be unbearable when visiting under that guise.

My in-laws just stayed in our home for five straight days.

During my bout with gravity and balance we watched an informative commercial regarding the environment that any of you (all five of you readers) may have seen. The spot is about recycling water bottles and the massive quantities of plastic bottles not recycled each year. Apparently each year there are enough plastic bottles not recycles that if lined up (like anyone would do that) tip to base, the bottles would circle the Earth something like 162 times. That's a lot of bottles, and a strange, strange commercial to watch during A Capella competition. Strange demographic in my humble opinion.

Oddly, this commercial was ideal for us five. See my in-laws drink an ungodly amount of water out of bottles. Sarah uses a Britta, I use the tap, they LOVE bottled water. Its ironic because a majority of bottled water is purified water. Its shit tap water, run through some charcoal to 'purify' it, put in a plastic bottle and sold to you for $1.25. And the public thinks that's cleaner. Pepsi and Coke are selling tap water for more than the price of gasoline. They're geniuses. I should sell people oxygen. Maybe set up an oxygen bar and sell people air... oh, wait, too late.

When I was 16 an in Peru on a family trip I spent an evening on the beach with a bunch of Peruvian kids. They were attempting to make fun of me as an American by joking about recycling. "Oh you American, you going to recycle this?" They'd toss a beer can on the ground and joke about if I was going to have issues with the litter and lack of recycling. I'm not a naked Indian so I'm not going to cry about litter and recycling? You're really trying to make jokes about recycling in 1996? WTF? Also, shouldn't they have been worrying about the ozone back then anyway?

Back to the rant at hand. My in-laws like water. Good for them. It is better for your body than soda or other processed drinks that I tend to guzzle, so who am I to judge. I was a little surprised that they were able to fill a full recycling garbage can with plastic bottles during their trip. Shocked is more like it. I'm guessing there were sixty plastic bottles in the recycling. That's a phenomenal amount of water bottles.

Whats even more amazing is that this trip was the only time they've recycled. Ever. They don't believe in it. Don't do it at all when at home, only when they're here. So of that 162 loops around the world, I'm marking Chicago to Kathmandu on them. Just them.

I promise I'll have Manya stories next time. In the meantime Manya's latest nap song can be found at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Melks

The Melks, how can I compete? Truth be told, I can't. I'm the jungle gym and poopy cleaner, Sarah is the life support. I hold my baby, rock her, keep her dry and comfortable but six to ten times a day Manya cries for something I can't give her; The Melkys.

My whole life I have heard the juvenile sexist taunts and banter between the sexes. The universally cherished argument over the Freudian psychoanalysis, Penis envy and the ability to pee standing up. As a male I have never understood the fascination over the phenomenon. Maybe I have grown desensitized over the daily event and have become ungrateful for the freedom to 'go' where and when I want. (Times Square is not an ideal location) Personally I was simply pleased with the predilection to compose my name in the snow and drown ants. Its not a heroic trait. As if a wall of men could ever save lives and extinguish a fire with a deluge of our 12 second streams. Not to mention how incredibly noxious the fumes would be. But I digress.

A woman's ability to nourish her child HAS to be natures counter to peeing standing up. (reading that sentence aloud is hilarious, I should do stand-up on that line alone) Many women would counter with childbearing and child birth being the ultimate counter to peeing standing up/penis envy. But no! Its a trick! Women like saying they are the only sex that can bear child in an argument and/or discussion because it gives them numerous angles to quibble with. Not only is it beautiful, natural, spiritual and all the wonderful things, but its painful. And that's where they get you, with the pain and discomfort. The pain "you put me through" or "you did this to me", morning sickness, weight gain, ect always overshadows the baby making bliss and newborn when arguing over the blessing of being able to bear child.

I on the other hand I would say nursing is the perfect opposite to penis envy. I'll call it Melky-envy. I'm sure some psychoanalyst has written numerous books on this already so forgive my ignorance but in the weeks before pumping and/or bottle feeding the inability to nourish my child and calm her hunger without her mother is humbling.

The Melks are Manya's favorite. She becomes so content with the entire act of nursing between mother and child. Their bonding time over the Melkys is second to none while I am left to aimlessly browse the Internet or pretend something interesting has caught my attention outside. I'm sure I'll feel a bit of that connection once we start pumping and bottle feeding her but right now I'm quite the third wheel for all feedings. And no, cleaning poop and getting spit up on is nowhere near the equivalent of Melky bonding time.

To be fair nursing isn't all butterflies and sunshine. Babies do bite and I know nipples aren't too keen on being chewed on. To quote a bruised and reeling mother at 3:23 AM in a sleepless haze, "Every time you latch wrong, a little piece of me dies". Of course meant in the most loving way That same mother shortly after catching her breath blissfully followed with "The worst thing about breast feeding is that you can't lean in to kiss them". (Insert your own joke here, sometimes its just too easy)

Manya latches like a Vampire Bat. She attacks the boob with both hands and an eager mouth. Its incredible to watch. After the latch is set and she is off in an enchanted haze of seemingly heroin laced milk, she occasionally pops out of her slumber and strikes the boob with quick left and right hooks of fury and angst. I'm not quite sure if its vindictive in nature, a call for quicker flow of nutrients or a misguided attempt at a loving massage of the breast.

Long Melky feedings are my favorite as they transform my infant child into an old drunken Japanese Man. Half conscious, always stretching, a slight melky grin and a bloated scrunched up face, my drunken baby is the best. She makes cute funny sounds. Cuddles on your chest and in your nook as a small ball of warmth. She has no control over any appendages, her head, eyes, and unfortunately occasionally her gastroesophageal reflux ultimately resulting in a cuter melky grin and me searching for a new shirt and a burp cloth.

The Melks dictate our day. From Sun up to Sun down and anytime you'd assume ordinary people would be sleeping we are slaves to The Melks. Feeding. Pooping. Laundry. FPL. It's like the Jersey Shore but without the alcohol and the STDs.

I'm A Strawberry!

Look at that Punim!

Ready for my bath!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Super Baby!

Who you looking at?

I stick my tongue out at you!


How can something so small be so strong?

Biology teachers like to throw around strange, unusual and irrelevant facts of animals and insects. A flea, if the size of a human (the horror) would be able to jump the equivalent of 110 feet. The dung beetle if it were human size could lift close to 180,000 lbs (that's a lot of poopy). Despite these amazing feats by insects I am still staggered but the Herculean strength of an infant.

My baby can't walk, can't crawl, and sure as heck can't talk. She has trouble keeping her eyes focused on one spot and keeping her head centered for more than five seconds. Her muscles are completely spastic and mostly they're incredibly weak. We cheer when she accidentally rolls over and 'tummy time' for her is tantamount to either Chinese Water Torture or forty five minutes of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the View. Imagine my surprise when this seemingly easily overpowered, soft pink and cooing, innocent babe grabbed a small tuft of my hair.

With the strength of Superglue!

Those little fists are powered by the biceps of Samson (pre-pompadour)! The end result is my embarrassingly girlish shriek and agonizing pain. Her ability and accuracy is sensational. Hair, eyebrows, some random minuscule fold of skin you couldn't pinch with two fingers is suddenly in the grasp of a mini bear claw of a giggling bundle of joy.

Never mind the insanely powerful legs. Its difficult enough to slap a diaper on at 4:30 AM with a shrieking baby and a dog trying to trip you never mind having to wrestle Jackie Chan style roundhouses all the while praying that Manya doesn't decide at that very moment to release a supersonic bowel movement that clears the table. I swear babies are totally weak and vulnerable except their fists close like a Venus fly trap and crocodile hybrid and their legs flail like a drunken morning star.

Manya was born with more head control than other newborns. She was still wobbly but she had some insanely dynamic neck muscles. Think all the strength of a four month old but none of the control. We learned of this unusual trait hours after birth in the wee hours of morning light with a wildly out of control head butt that popped my mouth sideways and almost dropped me to a knee. Her head butts are erratic, determined, forceful and utilize her whole body. The follow through if not quickly smothered could easily flip her out of your arms and two to three feet away from your body. Its terrifying.

We've made the transition to cloth diapers which I will touch upon once we have a few more weeks of experience under our belts. During the initial infant and belly button stump time (she held onto that stump for 3 1/2 weeks!) we used the mini disposable infant diapers. Of course in this short window Manya developed a mild case of diaper rash (one of the reasons we chose to cloth diaper initially). Diaper rash sucks. I personally don't remember wearing diapers but if its anything like any adult rash than I can only imagine the discomfort especially with all the moisture being trapped behind a plastic wall keeping the rash horribly humid and dirty. There is a solution, Desitin.

Desitin is a pure white cream that is spread on the rash to dry it out. Essentially its petroleum jelly and zinc oxide. It keeps the rash dry and 'heals' it. It also smells exactly like it sounds, like hell in chemical form if mixed with a senior citizen home. I swear I could smell my baby exiting the nursery with a fresh smear of Desitin from my parents house on the other side of town.

I LOVE BABY smell. After years of boys bunks, four years of college and god knows how many male roommates, apartment mates and locker rooms I can appreciate a pure, clean genuinely kosher smell. I love it. I smell my baby for hours. (That sentence may sound creepy but if so, you've never smelled a baby) Slap that Desitin on her little butt and it becomes an old person medicated cream smell. Manya totally becomes sweet baby smell on top, old man down below. Its a horrible juxtaposition of smells. And Extra Strength!?!?! A smell developed by the devil himself(and Johnson & Johnson?)

I complained constantly about it and decided I hated it more than the smell of poop. It was explained to me that if I waited until the baby farted it would cancel it out. Lies! Baby poop and fart doesn't smell. I couldn't handle it, the Desitin went into the unused drawer (can't throw anything out in case baby guests stop by). I let the baby booty air dry after every diaper change and immediately switched to cloth diapers (before we were planning on making the move). Eighteen hours later the rash was gone and hasn't returned. Yay cloth!

GMen! Still waiting for someone to send me a Northwestern outfit!!!

Thumb Sucker!

Giggling with Grand Pa! Abuello? What are we calling you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pediatrician Time

Most people don't appreciate the medical profession. Medical professionals make too much money, don't listen to their patients or talk down to them, any number of other bullshit excuses not to get a shot or perhaps doctors and the sickness that could possibly be discovered by their expertise simply scares them. I know several individuals who refuse to go to the doctor (then again these same people don't use banks so take it for what you will). Others love doctors, or at least it seems so, as they often spend their afternoons at a doctors or specialists office battling some uninteresting and most often insignificant ailment. But their ironically pristine or quite ill health doesn't prevent them from discussing at length each procedure and its most intimately disgusting details. Personally I stand in the middle as I don't mind doctors, shots, or coughing to the left as much as my inability to focus for more than 16 seconds as the nurse takes blood and I try not to pass out.

A pediatricians office doesn't seem as large as I remember from my former experience as a wee lad. The fragrance of grubby toys, worn books and weekly magazines remains eerily familiar save for the newly underlying savor of Purell. I shudder to think at all the germs that penetrate the foyer each day, and then there are the unhealthy tykes. I stand corrected, perhaps I should join my black brothers in their stereotypical repulsion of all places of medical practice. I would, if not for my own newborn who needs checkups, and vaccines, and generally has me at a high state of anxiety with each delicate cough or sternutation.

Quick disclosure: I was sick this week which is why this post was delayed and Sarah is now. We spend every five minutes checking the baby to see if she's sick. The miracle continues for now (as I jinx myself) (that was a double reverse jinx) (and this is the reverse triple jinx flipped to counter) (confused yet?)

At the ripe old age of four days Manya's 6lbs 7 oz pooping machine of a newborn was requested at the pediatricians. She had a small eye goo issue and the doctor wished to check on her. Taking a child out of the house for the first time in a car seat is nerve wracking enough but bringing her to a office littered with sick children is quite nerve wracking. We were ushered out of the waiting room into a solo waiting room while I expertly rocked the car seat away from all the curious vertically challenged individuals of viral activity. Of course the infant sanitary rooms were all occupied and we were ensconced to the bowels of a 'regular room'. Simply put, we were less than thrilled.

The room was hygienic and spotless and mostly all tidy except for a baby gnat. I know, how did a minute insect thwart an army of disinfectant sprays and bleach byproduct? How did it survive hundreds of diminutive children hands, mothers' evil eyes, and the nursing staffs scorn? How did I know it was a baby gnat? Well the bastard was microscopic, nimble as hell and a remarkably annoying nuisance. The Gilbert Gottfried of flying insects. For forty five minutes (yes who makes a four day old infant wait forty five minutes in a non-infant room) this brat of a bug covertly bombed, weaved and twirled around our heads until I lost my cool and quietly and discretely berated the receptionist into placing us into a recently unoccupied sanitary, infant room.

While waiting for the doctor to finish with her final patient (she apologized profusely as there apparently was an epidemic of annoying Jewish Baron Von Munchhausen's who brought their Yeshivas in for sick calls) we were fortunate enough to listen to a young child being tortured with the impending doom of a routine vaccination.

Doctor: Look how tall you are. How high can you jump?
D: Very nice. Can you show me your muscles.
Kid: [screaming] No no no!
Mom: But you're a big boy now.
K: I don't want to! No! I DON'T WANT TO!
M: Easy now.
K: You lied! I told you I didn't want to do this. This isn't fun.
M: It will all be over soon.
K: If I would have known I wouldn't have agreed to come today!
M: Hold still.
K: Owww Oww Oww!
D: Who's a brave boy.
K: You said it wasn't going to hurt.
D: Its over now.
K: I don't like you anymore.

Ah children. Oh hey, hi nurse, yes its good to see you too, I almost placed an order for take-out but yes I'll strip my baby and parade her through the hall to the weigh station so she can proceed to poop a combination of meconium and yellow mustard all over your mini-digital scale. Revenge: a dish best served in black tar and mustard diarrhea on a digital instrument sensitive enough to weigh even the smallest stool sample. Now please wash your hands before taking my child's height.

She's healthy, gaining weight and spits up a little if you are a doctor and accidentally push on her right after a feeding.

First trip outside the home. Frightening, check. Lengthy, check. Successful, check.

Baby Manya strikes a pose

Grandpa tries to eat a foot but monkey foot surprises with first attack


Friday, September 23, 2011

Such a Baby

Sorry for the delay between posts I've been a little busy with the research and purchasing of cloth diaper covers. I have now officially completely rounded out my stash (this is the third time I've said this btw). But I'm going to leave you all in suspense as I'll do a whole (or a few) posts on cloth diapering, pros, cons, why I'm doing it, ect. in the future. So that delayed me some, oh, and the baby has decided that after slowly transitioning into a 1 o'clock bedtime which was awesome for us, that the last two nights she wants to scream her bloody head off until 4-4:30 in the morning. Oh, not straight because then Sarah and I could work as a team to calm her down. No, steady unpleasantness would be too straight forward. Manya approaches her parents well being with a more subdued forms of torture; suspense, like an old Hitchcock film.

For the past two days Manya has been cranky. Normally she fusses a little, we walk around, bounce on the yoga ball and then ultimately send her to momma for the Melkys. Dad really has no power except as a large jungle gym who makes noises. Mom's Melkys is the true saving grace. The crankiness has revved up a little into a new discord. A high pitched screech that sounds similar to a Pterodactyl flying full speed into a F-16. There's little warning as such astounding decibels apparently can be generated with little to no air intake. She's a true miracle of science. I have my ears checked three to four times a day for leaking blood.

The screaming more often than not occurs during an important scene of a TV show (thank goodness for DVR it makes me feel bad for past generations) or during meal time (we do shifts in high anxiety, its hard to enjoy a meal when someone is yelling at you). All of this is fine and we take it in stride. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. Come 12:30 the real games begin. Manya fusses and cranks, and after the right combo of babying and rocking and singing she's fast asleep. Into the bassinet or onto my chest for a quick nap to make sure she's sound asleep. The lights drop, music is muted, dog into the corner and the family settles in for some much needed rest. Just as we dip into mindlessness, two kicks, a back bend and the high pitched scream. Repeat over, and over, and over, and over. But I'm awake now and I'm sure tonight will be better [face palm].

Manya is such a baby. She can't speak. Not a word. And she has no idea what I'm saying. At all.
Which is great because I can still curse without feeling too bad about it. I figure I've got a few more months till I really have to watch what I say. I practice around other children who have the ability to comprehend my more colorful vernacular. But don't let this lead you to believe that Manya and I don't talk. We talk constantly. I explain the nuisances of life, music and the arts and she makes some of the most insane hilarious noises of all time.

Manya is a noise machine. She's best after eating and releasing an impossibly gigantic bowel moment (of equal force and volume). This Herculean effort leaves her especially comfortable and lively which in turn enables her to babble a plethora of phenomenal coos, waas, meeps and and array of indescribable sounds. Of course when I attempt to tape them she immediately stops and/or just grunts and breathes loudly.

I spent the last hour trying to get this video to work. It should but it's not. I'm leaving it up hoping Al Gore will come and fix it, if not, disregard the impossibly cute video of a baby girl making noises and wiggling her feet that for some odd reason will not work on 'blogger'.

I think it's amusing that babies are essentially similar to really loud adults who make noises ALL THE TIME. We like the little coos and giggles, are amused by the silly unique noises, and love the special moments. We are so entranced with the cuteness that we totally embrace and forgive the grossness. We cheer when my baby farts louder than I do, especially if she hasn't made a poopy in over 6 hours. This makes no sense! If I were to go to the bathroom at noon , if it turns 7 I know Jeopardy is on TV and I should start thinking about dinner. If Manya hasn't, we wait in heated anticipation, the suspense building with each hour, and when she makes a noise that sounds like a watermelon being crushed inside a trash compactor that's being sucked through Shop Vac I cheer like when Jeter tagged Jeremy Giambi on the ankle as he attempted to cross home.

A couple of days after we brought Manya home she was sleeping in her bassinet next to our bed. It was mostly dark outside, but there was just enough light slipping in through the edges of our black-out shades to see the outline of each piece of furniture in the room. I was half asleep as its impossible to fall into the abyss of a deep sleep after the hospital's nurses have spent the last 72 hours scaring the shit out of you about SIDS. Ever since I've started carrying and rocking a baby multiple hours a day my back hates me. Maybe there's a technique in never learned but I'm in a fair bit of pain a good deal of the day and anytime I stretch, I crack 4-7 vertebrae like its nothing. (That prob shouldn't happen should it) I was rolling around as I tend to do, attempting to make myself comfortable despite a locked lower back, arms that will fall asleep with the slightest pressure, and the slowly increasing quantity of light creeping into the room, when I hear the oddest sounds from the side of the room. It was a low gurgle with raspy undertones. An alien chuckle of an unusual distortion mixed with an airy bubbly oddity of sound.

Me: You hear that?
S: [half asleep] Yea.
Me: What's that sound?
S: [incoherent mumble]
Me: Baby drowning in milk?
S: A Gremlin is getting wet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proverbial Grand Slam Natural Disaster Style

Seldom does an individual experience regular natural disasters unless its the Apocolypse or you're one of the insane who place their residence directly on a fault line (looking at you San Francisco) or in the path of monster storms (Southern Florida), live far enough north that summer is barely a week is it snows forever (Buffalo and above), or just like dirt, college football, obesity and deadly twisters (Texas and Oklahoma). Manya was born in New Jersey a state whose closest natural disaster is Camden, yet despite all odds she had in her first week of life experienced as many natural disasters as I have in my 31 years.

While Manya was in utero, Jersey got slammed with three blizzards dropping upwards of three feet per 24 hours. Three times during the course of the winter New Jersey was blanketed with an excessive amount of wet, heavy and thick snow that shut down highways, ruined upper and lower backs and caused school sessions to continue almost into July. Days after her birth Virginia attempted to film their own Roland Emmerich film which resulted in a massive (for East Coast standards) earthquake that send rumbles up the coast and deep into the country as far as Chicago (or so they say). Days later the first hurricane to make land fall in New Jersey since 1903 created a State of Emergency from North Carolina to Vermont and filled our basement with water (yay newborns and flooded basements). At the same time the swirling winds of the outer storm was dropping tornadoes around us like we were Dorothy and her yippy black dog.

Four different natural disasters! It's amazing for history's sake, but she experienced all this within the first week of her life. She of course slept through each and every one, ignoring the lightning, thunder, gale force winds and crashing branches yet jumped with extreme fright every time I laughed at the array of summer comedy programming, but I digress. This baby's interpretation of fear and danger is entirely convoluted, as is her interpretation of sleep patterns and general common courtesies regarding bowel movements.

I'm beginning to notice that babies are pretty selfish in regards to possibly everything as it all seems to revolve around them. They do say you can't spoil a baby but if they're wrong, I'm sure I am as much to blame as is her mother as she really is quite relentlessly egocentric. For example, her cries if not tended to within moments transform from a quiet, one might say, incredibly cute 'cooing' to a rapidly increasing in frequency and decibel demanding squall. And it's not the stereotypical 'waa', oh no, we've decisively skipped all endearing pleasantries and moved directly onto the obviously egotistical 'meee!' She actually cries out 'ME!' just to make it abundantly clear who it is who a) runs the house and b) needs must be immediately attended to. This is not to say I don't immediately jump to her beck and call within nanoseconds but let me pretend for a moment that I haven't relinquish all my authority so quickly from second to third in the totem pole of power here on Duclos Lane. (at least I'm above the dog 60% of the time)

*And now I must leave my writing for the fifth time since starting this blog post to tend to the princess's needs (or perhaps just act as a throne as she wiggles, coos and cranks for no apparent reason). I'm back! Could have been six hours or fifteen minutes you'll never know.

Babies and sleep are like oil and water when you shake it up. Let me explain. Babies sleep all the time, but they formulate their sleep schedule in the exact opposite manner anyone would care for. Any time guests are over and you have a break, baby is sleeping. Any time you need to eat, shower, brush your teeth, get an important phone call, want to sleep, need to go to the bathroom, want to change your clothes, need to do laundry, check your email, or something interesting is on TV, baby is all eye balls. People always say to sleep when you can, if the baby naps, you should nap. Easier said then done. I'm not a good napper. In fact I fail at napping daily. But I'll watch her sleep and then day dream that it's 2 in the morning. They call it 'sleeping like a baby' for a reason. So peaceful, I couldn't sleep like that again in a thousand years.

1 to 3:30 is the witching hour aka the time I'd love to pass out and quite obviously the time Manya is totally wide awake. It's cute, me dancing around the kitchen in the pitch black, trying 14 agility moves to get her to calm down and after 15-20 minutes of silence due to gymnast style bouncing techniques I assume she's asleep. A quick shot of moon light and her eyes are shut, sweet innocent bliss. Deep breathing and quiet baby coos. Tippy-Toe to the bassinet. Small beam of moon light, wide open dark eye balls. Go to place her down, wait, eye balls? Shit. Repeat. Some would call it 'bonding time', it's also akin to 'workout time' as I do a variety of squats, lunges, leg presses, triceps extensions, shoulder lifts and bench presses with the newborn. My routine is often performed to music as Manya is a big fan of Classical especially Mozart and Beethoven as well as Bon Jovi (she's Jersey).

Going hand in hand with the comfort maneuvers is the old faithfull swaddling. There are 500 different blankets used for swaddling but our favorite is a soft pink swaddle specific blanket with four pieces of Velcro (which tear apart all clothes in the washing machine). The intended effect is to comfort Manya by strapping down her arms and legs ala a womb. Houdini escapes one mini-finger at a time 97% of the time. Personally I love the initial swaddle look as all babies essentially become a Burrito. Our Manya transforms into her alter-ego "Chipotle Mexican Manyaritto".

Relaxing after a diaper change

Best outfit - look at those shoes!

"Chipotle Mexican Manyaritto"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2 1/2 days at St Peters

Manya was born at 12:50 AM. After childbirth, a mother is routinely given a stay of 2 midnights. Thanks to those 50 minutes we were able to stay Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 51 minutes earlier and technically we'd only be able to stay Tuesday and Wednesday. Not that it mattered because we were officially about to enter the land of the zombies that I've been floating in and out of for the past four some odd weeks and couldn't tell you if it were Tuesday, Friday or Bastille Day.

After a baby is born the nurses like to put them under an egg heating lamp to make sure they're ready to survive in the world. I don't think it works very well as most newborns I've seen look subdued to say the least. Their eyes float around in their head moving in opposite directions, the head flops around as though being operated by a drunken puppeteer. Hell, horses stand within minutes of being born, and most amphibians are born fully functional, yet humans just lie there unable to roll over, screaming with frustration.

Apparently my child also wasn't a great fan of these tests. As soon as she was brought over to the heating table she sought out revenge against those who pulled her away from her warm, dark comfort. Three nurses set to work on cleaning her with towels (normally there's one but we had the SWAT team running point on this one) and she promptly projectile pooed across all three creating the most unusual scene as two nurses cleaned the baby while one nurse simultaneously cleaned baby and the other nurses. Clean, weighed, swaddled and fitted with a cute blue and pink gangsta do-rag (Jersey is weird I guess [see last pic from prior post]) there was a solid hour of momma-baby time and then I somehow found myself in the nursery to 'oversee' the baby's first bath and basic exam.

Besides the fact that I just brought my first child into the world, was dreadfully exhausted and my parents and brother were on the other side of a glass partition watching the two of us as if we were a zoo exhibit, some other new father had been wrangled into the nursery with his newborn as well. This 6'4, lanky, slightly awkward and totally alert young man was a talker. Now I have never claimed to be a decent small talker with acquaintances never mind strangers. I'm fine for 20-25 seconds and then my mind drifts into a plethora of strange thoughts, ideas and day dreams. Its difficult for me to focus at times especially when the adrenaline is leaving my blood stream and my vision is blurry from sleep deprivation. My head was probably bobbing like his newborn daughters but that didn't stop him.

One hour I was there. Trapped behind the glass wall with two screaming babies (Manya was perfectly content but his baby was angry at the world and apparently someone forgot their baby or was asking for a refund because there was a lone soul camped out in the corner, and s/he wasn't pleased with the lack of attention) and the talker. This mouthpiece just had his second girl, had wanted a boy, had refused the Vitamin K shot, was entirely against vaccines, drove to Pennsylvania to buy he family special whole milk from specific cows(WHA?!?), blah blah blah... yea I get it, you're all about being all-natural. And his wife is resting and coming down from her epidural because she loves the drugs during childbirth. Normally I wouldn't bat an eye but firstly, I didn't say a word (probably because I was focusing on maintaining my balance as chairs don't exist in the nursery and I would have paid $50 for a seat) and a man who is deathly afraid of vaccines and Vitamin K shots is perfectly okay with injecting his wife's spine with pain meds? (Excuse me?) Maybe I was dreaming but that sounds like a paradox to me.

For all the nonsense we had to deal with from the Labor and Delivery staff, the Nursery ward was phenomenal. They were helpful, considerate, supportive, positive and sensitive. We couldn't have asked for a better experience, just a little more sleep. Between the nurses and techs, specialists and visitors, never mind the newborn, there wasn't a sleep session that lasted longer than and hour and a half straight. Who really needs to take blood at 4:12 AM? All of it was done with the best intentions but the three days were more for observation than actual rest and recovery. My personal joy has been meticulously logging every feeding and bowel movement for the last four weeks with time and duration (no, not mine, I forget about those quickly and decisively).

Breastfeeding is always an adventure. Apparently many women have issues with breastfeeding. Despite thousands of years of women breastfeeding, they never tell/warn young women all the fun that comes with a newborn. Latch issues, soreness issues, injured nipples, consistency, milk supply, leakage, ect. Sarah didn't have many issues with breastfeeding but dear lord is that a lot of possibly extremely stressful variables that could and often do go wrong (to no fault of anyone). The stories, why are they only told AFTER the baby has been born, never mind the horror of the healing process of going from pregnant to birth to normal body again. Ah, life.

Hey lets hear it for newborns, all 6 lbs of them. And by 6 lbs I mean that's how much they poop and pee each day. Holy shit, 'here comes the poop' is right. Not only do they wait until you're changing them to spray (imagine if I was dealing with a boy) but the first 60-80 poops are meconium aka black tar that sticks to skin, cloth and everything else. To make matters worse, when it stops being that evil satanic sticky tar, its simply mustard seedy liquid that apparently has a max speed of 48 mph and can catapult over 6 feet with the strength to shoot off unfastened Size 1 diapers. I was tempted to call the Guinness people (the book not the beer) but for some reason I feel like god's practical joke is to make all baby's sphincters the strongest muscle in their body.

Additionally if you're not on top of the diaper changes every 20-30 seconds a newborn will fill their diaper so rapidly that it'll reach maximum absorbency and literally shoot green/yellow poop out of their diaper in a wave of pure madness. My good friend Josh termed the phrase "Poo-Na-Mi" (trademark pending) to describe the true disastrous implications of said tragic and unruly misfortune for all unfortunate parents. These Poo-Na-Mis are seldom quiet and always heart-stopping. The trepidation I feel when discovering that the latest explosion somehow engulfed my daughters onesie up to her throat and simultaneously filled her socks must be seen to fully comprehend. Simply put, she defeats physics once or twice a week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Birthing Experience Part II


Sarah isn't the biggest fan of my driving. I'd like to think most people think of me as a reliable driver. I get from point A to point B in the time needed with no accidents and minimal road rage. I know she thinks I'm a talented driver with lots of skill, but Sarah hates bumps and despises driving over man holes and pot holes. We have two vehicles. A truck which although it's a beast, bounces a great deal with any bumps, and an Acura which has nice power but is made for short Asians (so we have issues getting in and out of the car) and its sporty so its made even lower to the ground making it not ideal for driving over road imperfections. That said our trip to the OBGYN during the tail end of traffic was not my favorite driving experience of all time.

Apparently Sarah's womb hate bumps more than her, and despite my enhanced sensitivity to locating and avoiding each and every hole, any change in altitude of the car causes our baby to kick and punch Sarah with such force that she transforms into a red faced drunken Irishman unleashing a phenomenal barrage of colorful epithets. (Note: turning on the radio when someone is yelling at you is no longer a smart idea) Additionally I had to track our doula (Jill) who was attempting to follow behind us in her SUV, but had issues maintaining focus on our vehicle in the 'sea of small white cars' that apparently travel down Riders Lane at 7:06 on Mondays.

Dr: Looks good. (bunch of gross details)
Sarah: Doesn't feel too great when I'm having contractions.
Dr: You're able to talk, that's a great sign.
Sarah: So what do you think?
Dr: You're 2-3 cm, contractions of a full minute, every 5 minutes for over an hour.
Me: (literally sitting in a closet half behind a curtain) on the ride over here there were every 3:30-4 minutes.
Dr: Well you could go to the hospital but you want to stay home for as long as possible, so stay there for another 2-3 hours and then I'll meet you at the hospital. Call me when your glasses come off and you are covered in sweat.
Sarah: hahaha, right.
Dr: You'll see.

Nurse: You're having contractions every five minutes and laughing?
Sarah: .....
Nurse: This is where most people are dying for pain meds.
Sarah: [In mid-contraction]
Me: Strong like bull.
Sarah: [Evil Eye]
Me: [Pulls curtain all the way across closet opening]


Back at the house Cojack is in full protective mode circling the house on the lookout for any robbers, mailmen or possible baby snatchers. Sarah, our doula Jill and I play musical chairs from room to room to make Sarah feel more comfortable. She goes from bouncing on yoga balls to walking stairs, sipping water to massage, rubbing rocks and coral, rocking on our glider and receiving counter pressure.

Jill gave Sarah some concoction of aroma therapy and within 10 minutes her contractions jumped in intensity and frequency. It was 8:45 and for the first time in five days Sarah looked like the contractions were actually taking hold of her. For the past 100 so odd hours each contraction was more of a nuisance than a breath stopper. Sarah actually joked several times that she was afraid if the contractions didn't get more intense then she wouldn't know when the baby was coming. At this point I don't think either of us worried about that anymore.

If Jill hadn't been there we would have left for the hospital by 10:00 but thanks to her experience, support, and understanding of the signals of a woman in labor we were able to stay much longer than I could comprehend. Not that I was thinking properly.

Labor takes you places you've never been before. Women talk about the meditative state they fall into, pulling strength from inner regions only tapped during deeply emotional and physical strain. Men up until a few years ago (well decades, but you know what I mean) weren't even allowed in the delivery room. Seeing a loved one in that state of unique discomfort is entirely foreign and surreal. Is there a way to help? To alleviate the pressure, to undo the exhaustion, to remove the initial spike of pain from each contraction. There's nothing. We're helpless. A total waste of space besides a few meager words of encouragement and some feeble lower back rubs which pathetically tire out our wrists and hands after twenty seconds anyway.

The lack of sleep the past few days was creeping on us both and I was a complete deer in headlights. The room was dimly lit and filled with loud breathing, the faint smell of sweat and the odd shadows of an anxious but supportive panting old dog. I took a shower (in 1-2 minutes) in an attempt to clear my head. Nope, everything was just as surreal as it was before.

Jill turns to me a whispers, "Ok David, it's time. Put the bags in the car and lets start moving to the hospital."

And I felt, relief. And then high anxiety.

Butterflies into my throat. A rush of adrenaline. Found myself moving in slow motion in circles. Jill walks Sarah to the car. The house is locked up. What now? Oh right, hospital genius.


I was so jittery, it felt like I was behind the wheel for the first time. It was like watching myself drive from behind my head. 3rd person. Don't crash! There's a pregnant woman in the passenger seat about to give birth. Don't crash! Why's everything blurry? Oh, windshield wipers, right, great invention. Better use those.




We got every single light through town and with two cars on the road we made it to the hospital just in time for Sarah's third contraction. The contractions were solid enough she didn't even mind if I drove over a bump in the road. I probably could have gotten away with a little off-roading and parked half on the curb.

The hospital 'valet service' we were told to expect had long since retired to their beds (I personally was dreading having to deal with a birthing wife and some 15 year old kid trying to park my car, luckily I didn't have to deal with either as Sarah was staring out the front window in meditative silence as we pulled up) and with an empty waiting room, all I had to deal with was the lone security guard. I flipped out of the car reverse Dukes of Hazard style and bounded into the lobby to retrieve one of seven semi-functioning wheelchairs while simultaneously failing to deflect all offers of help from our poorly shaven slug of a security officer.

With my new companion in tow the two of us half heartily attempted to coerce Sarah out of the car and into her new jalopy of a deathtrap/wheelchair only to discover that 70 second contractions occurring every two minutes don't give two fumbling fools very long to assist a pregnant woman into an awaiting two wheeled hoopty. Out of no where Jill appeared and six seconds later Sarah, her and a smoothly running wheelchair were through the glass doors and down the corridor.

At this point I realized despite my earlier shower I was soaked in sweat and had defeated my deodorant.


I parked the car without taking out any ones doors and shot a quick phone call to my parents updating them on the situation. My call awoke what sounded like Marianne Faithfull but claimed to be my mother and explained we arrived at St Peters and the baby would be born in about an hour.


Reception = Filling out all the paperwork I filled out during pre-registration and promptly mailed directly to St. Peters to avoid filling out paperwork at St. Peter's reception. I'm pretty sure they staff St. Peters administrative position with DMV personnel.


Welcome to Labor and Delivery where your room is not really set-up and although you're totally in labor and filled out a ton of forms already, lets ask you 1000 other irrelevant questions.
IE: Are you guys married? (does it matter?) Do you have a history of heart failure? Do you have a living will? ... Seriously? Right now? Wait, did you just ask us for the forth time if we have AIDS? Four times?


"You have a birth plan?" Yep.

The head nurse checked Sarah. "5 to 6 cms. You're no where close. Another 3 to 4 hours. You're still faced posterior. I'm telling your doctor to wait, we have time" We tried to explain that she was progressing and was almost ready and stopped being posterior two weeks prior and Sarah's family has a history of quick progressions and even faster pushing times and that we had already seen the doctor and he knew and that it didn't matter what we said because the nurse was a complete bitch who gave Sarah a nasty, painful, insensitive, obnoxious exam and didn't give a damn what we said because she was the nurse and always right.

Then, even though she knew our birth plan she asks, "Epidural?". Thanks woman but no, are you being serious? So she began setting up the IV. When I explained we weren't going to be using an IV she fled the room questioning our relationship with our doctor due to our birth plan.


So we were, alone.

In a hospital room.



Apparently waiting 3 to 4 hours to dilate to 10 cms.

Dilation as the main barometer for the duration of your labor is a crock of bullshit. Mark my words.

Jill hands me a flat yoga ball to pump. "Lets get her off this bed and moving". Sarah in obvious discomfort and totally besides herself due to the nursing staff rises to her feet. I take a seat on the green plastic sofa chair in the corner that a nice wear pattern informing me of exactly where to place my skinny butt and begin to pump.

Pump, sqwee, pump.

Sarah: Oh god it hurts!
Jill: You're doing great. Screaming won't help you. Low tones, counter the contraction.

Pump, sqwee, pump.

Sarah: I can't do this anymore!
Jill: Sarah, you're yelling.

Pump, pump, sqwee.

Sarah: [Colorful epithet] at an increased tone.
[Jill pushing nurses button]
Jill: Sarah, its not helping.

Pump, pump, [water breaking]

Sarah: Oh my god! Oh my god! Owww! I can't do this anymore!
[Jill pushing Nurses button]
Jill: Sarah you're almost there its almost over. David... get the nurses NOW!


Everything here becomes a bit of a blur.

I open the door to an empty hallway. Behind me Sarah screams FUCK! at the decibel level of an F-16 taking off. Every door on the floor flings open and over 15 nurses fly out and swarm into the room. A passing nurse snidely remarks, "that's what the call button is for". Oh really bitch, cause we weren't pushing that button and being ignored.

Five residents try to join the party excited to see a fully natural birth for the first time but we quickly send them on their way. As if 15 people weren't enough with my wife in the most vulnerable position of her life?

Normally I'd gather it takes 45 minutes to put the room together, get out all the equipment, lights, the egg warmer for the baby, ect. With the SWAT team, the room was fully functional for battle command in 3 minutes.

Sarah was put back up on the bed and was covered in sweat. "I need to push!" The nurses begged her to hold on claiming they had to check her. Jill, holding her hand simply stated, "If you need to push, hon, you push". The room nurse peeks, "10 cms she's ready". The head "3 to 4 hours" nurse pokes her head in, "Dr is on his way, 20 minutes out". The room nurse looks at Sarah, looks back to '3 to 4', "not gonna make it."


The room freezes. Every ones done setting up. Sarah is in position ready. Nurses are watching. I'm holding a leg.

No Doctor?

Now what?

Jill: Ok Sarah, push.

Sarah proceeds to do the most amazing pushing sound of all time, three times in a row, its all noise and face. It's spectacular. Until the nurse tells Sarah, push with your stomach.


Is that hair?


The head is out. The head is out! Wait, the head is out! Where's the doctor? Dr. Patel runs in with two gloves on and half a doctors gown flowing behind her.



Patel pulls out a healthy baby... no one says anything. I yell, "Its a girl!" Sarah looks down, smiles, looks at me and says,

"I just gave birth to your brother."

Well, not really, but Scharf babies do look similar.

The birth of your child is the most amazing personal experience. Its such an awesome joy to experience the birth of my daughter and the incredibly deep awe of watching my wife's will and determination through the process of natural childbirth. What I experienced through all nine/ten months especially the last ten hours was nothing short of astonishing. To have all the pain, all the anxiety, excitement and exhilaration culminate in quiet coos of our 6 lbs 12 oz Manya Lea Scharf is a joy that will never be matched.

To be continued in Part III

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Birthing Experience

Sarah's due date was Friday, August 12th.

No matter how many books and articles you read, classes you take, experiences you hear about, or hours of "TLC presents: random couples giving birth on national TV" you watch, you'll never be prepared for your child being born. So technically this entire blog post will be a complete waste of time to prepare any future parents for the experience. Thankfully I'm not qualified or prepared to teach birth, and none of you are using this blog as your educational preparation class. If you are, well done, you're a more brave soul than I.

Sarah had a very long labor. I have no idea what you're picturing in your head, but that's not what I experienced. Sarah started having contractions on a Thursday afternoon it made sense because she was due the following day. They were light and manageable and occurred every 20-30 minutes or so. Some people would say they were Braxton-Hicks, others contractions, whatever they were they started on Thursday, and remained exactly the same all throughout Friday. They didn't stop us from doing anything as we went to the mall to 'walk it out' but we had to stop often to rest and make sure nothing crazy happened (like a child being born in the back corner of Bat Mitzvah Dress Clearance Section of Nordstroms).

Saturday they picked up pace to 10 minute spacing and triple the intensity. We changed our activities from hiking from Macy's to Footlocker, to circling a four block radius of our house. I was going through the motions, our dog was ecstatic (no different than if we go for a car ride, see a park, eat a treat or go for a walk any other day), and Sarah was totally uncomfortable and frustrated.

Saturday turned into Sunday which turned into Monday. And the rain began. For those of you who don't know, water is my enemy. Our basement can take up to a certain amount of rain before it come in from several evil corners saturating our half finished basement and causing either $1000 worth of damage and/or taking up five days of my time of clean-up. I do not need to explain the anxiety I was feeling while calmly lying "no the basement looks fine. I know we've gotten 5 inches of rain in 48 hours. Yea we should be good". While praying with all my soul for no more rain.

So the contractions shortened to 7 minutes apart and we walked to speed up the process and move the baby even more into position. Everyone told us, walking will help speed up the process. "Speed up the process"? We were 'speeding up the process' since Thursday. That's, one, two, three, four, five days now and the amount of walking we were doing you'd like we were training for a 5k. Over a hundred hours of steadily increasing contractions, definitely never sped up anything. It did make Sarah feel better by taking the pressure away and allowing her body to slowly adjust though so it was worth it. What a sight we must have been wobbling through the rain with our 11 year old, 50 lbs. pit bull-something mix who even at his ripe old age, refuses to walk with us and needs to be pulling his leash and half choking himself at all times to remain 'pack leader' (which he totally is not) all the while stopping at every tree, car and bush to mark his territory with his three bladders of never ending urine.

At 5 o'clock in the afternoon Sarah's contractions reached 5 minutes apart for over an hour at a time. This is the point everyone normally high tails it for the hospital to begin the process of 'making everyone comfortable' for the birth of the child. We hoped to sweat it out in the familiar comfortable confines of our home for as long as possible and the shoot over to the hospital (literally less than two miles from our home) for the birth just as Sarah was transitioning over into the pushing phase. The ideal situation would enable Sarah to be 'comfortable' and in control of her birth process rather than inundated with the unfamiliar sterile and medical environment of the Labor and Delivery room in the hospital for a extended period of time. (again, in an ideal situation)

Our Doula was on the way and we were going to swing by our OBGYN just before he closed for the evening to get his opinion before hunkering down for the night ahead.

Coming soon... Part II

Friday, September 9, 2011

The long awaited first post

I have a lot of catching up to do. The past three odd weeks or so have been a whirlwind of insanity, joy, exhaustion, excitement. Night turns to day, morning to dusk. I have no idea which day is which and whether I'm sleeping or standing, eating or lost in my own house. Needless to say, although there have been a plethora of life altering events to write about, even during my most cognisant of moments, I have failed to begin this blog and opted for what seemed at the time to be the more rewarding choice of staring at the floor or trying to find the ever elusive 'second-wind'. (I also despite what they naysayers said, still watch a lot of bullshit TV) After numerous requests I finally washed my hands of poo for the 7,000 time and put finger to keyboard (side note: pen to paper sounds much more romantic than this technology speak). In all seriousness after procrastinating for no reason at all Sarah told me, "Are you going to start the blog? At this rate she's going to have her first birthday". So here it is. I don't promise poetry, editing, spelling, or skill. I'll try to report parenthood in the most subjective, uncensored, a dare I say, entertaining way I possibly can.

This was our trip to Point Pleasant when there were only two of us. Of course, technically there were three of us but we didn't need a car seat yet. As you can see Sarah never looked incredibly pregnant. At our Lamaze class Sarah was by far the smallest woman there, yes, most of the women in the class could be described in the politically correct terminology of, fat to obese and perhaps that's why they looked mostly like they increased their daily eating to 7000 calories, but we'll just say Sarah held her child high and to the back so she never really 'popped' the same way. We actually joked that she would 'pop' soon deep into the 8th month. We also were only one of two 'white' couples in the class (although according to the US Census Bureau and my college applications we're a white and Latino couple). It was a perfect demographic breakdown of New Jersey from black to Indian, Asian to Puerto Rican, there was even the teenage pregnancy, a single black mom and a random 6'5 Norwegian parents expecting twins. Stereotypical MTV casting crews would be proud. (No, no gay couple)

Life with the fetus was fun. It was an easy pregnancy, no morning sickness, no Braxton-Hicks, no real issues. Heart burn arrived daily and Sarah loved napping from week one to week 41 although her napping may be due to the fact that our fetus liked to kick, punch, headbutt and hiccup each night from 1-3:30 (note the time for future posts). We nicknamed our fetus Francios because only a Frenchmen could be that obnoxious. Actually weeks prior our Zygote was lovingly referred to as Ziggy the Zygote and only matured into Francios once the evening selfishness and daily minor violence began.

As most of you know I'm not a hippie. Sure we all have some hippie tendencies from time to time although now it just makes me anxious and edgy but with a new child on the way my hippie tendencies fell more toward the 'nature and natural' approach with life rather than horticulture (btw I wrote herbiculture first). In this particular example I'm talking about the BIRTH OF A CHILD. Kinda mind blowing. We were totally about doing it natural. Totally natural. No drugs, no help, no nothing. Just like people have been doing it for thousands of years, or if you believe in Adam and Eve, 5772 years, give or take. Our main qualm with the drugs was the negative effect of drugs on the baby. We wanted an alert newborn and as uncomplicated a birth as possible (although we were thoroughly aware complications happen all the time and each birth is different).

The problem is, I've never seen Sarah freak out from the pain of a child inside her and I had no idea how 'strong' I'd be once she had lost her mind from pain. I needed backup. We hired a doula. If you don't know, google it cause they're great and they can explain themselves much better than I can. Long story short, we interviewed several and in the end picked Jill. Cool chick, Jersey through and through with the right bit of Hippie flavor, tons of experience with babies coming out of vaginas rather than through surgery and done drug free. Her plan was to work with us in the comfort of our home for as long as possible in order to spend the least amount of time in the hospital and arrive there to have a professional staff work with us to deliver the baby. Jill used counter pressure, aroma therapy, breathing techniques, massage and support for both Sarah and I throughout the pregnancy, delivery, and post partum.

Next post, birth experience, everything leading up to it and perhaps a few tidbits for the following 24-48 hours.

Side note, if ever traveling for more than 15 minutes with a pregnant woman, make sure to bring, food, water, a plan for a bathroom and ability to exit any and all situations you have planned for said trip. Actually, prep as though you're going camping for three days and for the entire trip prepare as though you're Jack Bauer. Additionally, when in doubt, shut your mouth and accept blame.