Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Thanksgiving Road Trip


My transition to fatherhood has mostly been a gradual evolution. But sometimes change strikes like lightning. Traveling to New Jersey for Thanksgiving, our car overflowing with Michael's stuff, was one of those moments.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Earning the Title of Dad


I still can't believe I'm a Dad. Yes, there's a tiny human in my house, and I'm entrusted to care for him. But the title feels unfamiliar. Dads give advice and play baseball in the park. I run to Rite Aid to pick up butt paste and gripe water. Yet, each day is full of small moments that bring me one step closer to Dad.

Before we had Michael, I'd often see Dads in their natural environment: grocery stores, parks, or the mall. They all looked confident and capable. Pushing strollers, giving piggyback rides, or holding tiny hands. I was equally impressed by close friends who seemed to transition overnight from bars and booze to bottles and birthday parties. I'm now learning that it's a slow evolution. Each day is a tapestry of small moments that contribute to my transformation.

I want to document these moments, in no particular order, so I can reflect on this time of change.

Baby Smiles

I live for Michael's smiles. On some mornings I will be sleep deprived and stressed out. I'm in no mood for elephant noises or itsy-bitsy spiders. And then, Michael's eyes will sparkle like diamonds and his face will crack into a goofy grin. I cannot resist his joy. Like the Grinch, my heart grows three sizes, and I find myself singing and dancing in spite of myself. Each smile is like witnessing a glorious sunrise. Sometimes, after slurping a large bottle, he'll fall asleep in my arms with a satisfied smirk plastered on his face. He's dreaming about anteaters, aardvarks, and other animals that start with "A".


Music

Michael has started to play the piano. Unlike your typical concert grand, Michael's piano is covered in cloth and plays frog noises. Hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere. On a typical Saturday morning you can find him banging away in his swing. Each key press ignites a pair of flashing lights and a short pre-programmed song. "Ding", we hear, as he flails at the cloth-covered keys. "Ding, ding, ding" come the notes in rapid succession. He winds up before each key press like a Major League baseball pitcher about to chuck a fastball. "Ding" his tiny fist comes slamming down. As the recital winds down, he becomes cranky. The concert pianist is ready for a nap.



Bath Time

Bath time is a sacred hour of the day where I get to spend some one-on-one time with Michael. It starts with his favorite rap song "Purple Stuff" by Big Moe. He dances enthusiastically while the tiny tub fills with water. "Throw your hands high", go the lyrics, "and shake them side to side". I gently wave his arms back and forth, pump his legs to the beat, and flash dopey smiles like a circus clown. He's beside himself with glee. Soon, I'm hoping, this effort will coax out his first baby giggle.

Once the tub is ready, I lower him into the water. It is a wonderfully warm, freeing, pee-inducing sensation. It happens every time, even if he just had a wet diaper. He looks at me quizzically while the tiny stream shoots into the air. Melody, our long hair dachshund, flits around the bathroom nervously, supervising the action. I splash his tiny fists. He wriggles, kicks his legs, and slouches deeper into the water. I soap his body, hose him down with the shower head attachment, and then wrap him up in a towel like a baby burrito.



Bottles

At our house, baby meals are constantly evolving. It's a never ending endeavor to get things just right. He's been breastfed, bottle-fed, formula-fed, and now we're mixing in baby cereal. This was a recommendation by our pediatrician to combat acid reflux. It has been helping but makes meal preparation surprisingly complex. Luckily, Jenna has helped me out by taping instructions to the fridge. The ratio of cereal-to-milk must be finely tuned so that the consistency is just right.

And don't worry, Michael will let you know when he's ready to eat. His smile slowly inverts into a frown and he becomes a very unhappy camper. My circus clown routine ceases to entertain. No amount of bouncing, rocking, or singing stems the flood of tears. But the bottle is like a mute button. As soon as it goes in his mouth all becomes quiet except for his greedy gulps.

The milk gone, I lift him to my shoulder and slowly pat out the air bubbles. His eyes droop with satisfaction. He lets out a satisfying burp and drifts into a peaceful sleep.



Mom and Dad

Last night, Jenna and I put on our grown up clothes and drove into Portland for a date night at Blue Spoon on Munjoy Hill. I had flash backs to our former lives when this used to be an every-weekend routine. Last year, we dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. This year, we're having a relaxing evening with Grandma and Grandpa. There's no denying that we're in the midst of major change. Just as I'm becoming Dad, Jenna is becoming Mom, and it's been wonderful to observe her transformation.

All around us, life continues to move forward at a rapid clip. Soon I'll have a wobbly toddler and I'll wonder how I got there. I'm looking forward to hiking with my son, camping in the back yard, and building tree forts in the woods. That's when I will truly have earned the title of Dad.

For now, I'm enjoying every moment of change.




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My new career as a stay-at-home mom


As of last week I am officially a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I submitted my letter of resignation to a company I had been with for more than eight years. From the moment I became pregnant I knew I wanted to be a SAHM and am very fortunate that it was an option for me; however, it was a daunting decision to leave my company. Many insecurities overwhelmed me. Would I become irrelevant within the industry? Would my fellow coworkers lose respect for me as a professional? Will any company ever hire me when I decide to reenter the workforce? My parents made sure I had a good education and I worked very hard to gain the respect and trust of my coworkers and clients. By choosing to stay at home full time, have I just thrown that all away?

While those concerns are present in my mind, I know in my heart that I have made the right decision for my family. I have a new career now – Vice President of Marion Household, LLC. I report to the President of the company. His name is Mr. Michael Robert Marion and he is 13 pounds of deliciousness. Like my previous supervisors, he has high expectations of me, challenges me on a daily basis and rewards me when I do a good job. Only now the rewards come in the form of sweet baby smiles instead of money. I’ll take his smiles any day.

This mom thing is not for the faint of heart. In the throws of a recent lovers’ quarrel I said to Jeff, "What do you think I do all day?"

"I don't know...be bored!" he replied.

My head nearly exploded with anger and rage. My new job has me working harder than ever before and I don’t get any vacation or sick days. Those DayQuil commercials really do hit the mark.

Eventually things calmed down at home, and I know Jeff fully appreciates me and what I do for our family, just as I appreciate everything he does for our family.

While my routine may be very different than what it used to be, there are still some things that are reminiscent of my days pre-baby.

Dressing up

A year ago, I was shopping at White House Black Market for the perfect outfit to wear at that very important meeting or big conference. Now I’m combing through the racks at Kohl’s for key pieces to fit my new mom uniform – comfortable yoga pants and easy to remove shirts fit for pumping sessions every three hours. 

Meetings

Meetings at my previous job were to discuss the execution and implementation of the next big project with executive management, marketing and IT. Now I’m meeting with doctors, sleep specialists and lactation consultants. I work late after the boss has gone to bed researching the symptoms of acid reflux, sleep training and developmental milestones.

To-do lists

I’m a big fan of a to-do list. My to-dos used to look something like “schedule strategic planning meeting,” “QA new website,” “build out project timeline”. Now, my to-dos are more like “shower,” “eat,” “fold laundry,” “vacuum,” “prep dinner,” “wash bottles,” “schedule doctor appointments (for the baby and the dogs)” and “raise smart, well-adjusted, kind young man”. Sounds easy, right? Well, except for that last bit. Between feedings, pumping sessions, diaper changes and playtime it’s not always easy to cross things off the list. Every task is a race against the clock during nap times, which are always an undetermined length of time. At any minute he might turn his “do not disturb” button off and call me into his office.

Creative thinking

It’s always important to think of ways to keep the boss happy. Part of my SAHM job description requires entertaining and stimulating my new chubby boss on a daily basis – including weekends. But how in the world do you entertain a two month old?? Well, I’ve found that making faces, singing songs and dancing does the trick almost every time. I’ve become a court jester making a mockery of myself while his highness sits in his throne (ahem…high chair) laughing at me. “Dance for me, you fool!!” he says. “Okay, I’m bored. Now feed me!”

While my new job may not be bringing in the bacon or be the most mentally stimulating at all times, I am having fun being the VP of Marion Household, LLC. I get up every morning excited for the day, even if I’ve only had a few hours sleep. I can’t wait to see the boss’s face when I walk into his office and I can only hope I am meeting his expectations. And with the good comes the bad like any other job. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and clean up someone else’s shit.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Break Me Down to Build Me Up


Much has changed over the past few weeks. Michael has transformed into a chubby Buddha. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ain't got nothing on his rolls. But for each joy, there's been an equal challenge. Like Michael, we're also under going transformation. Here are some ways our lives have changed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Things I Love About Being a Dad


Just a few months ago I was mentally preparing myself for life after baby. I scared myself silly with worry. It would be no sleep, no free time, and no fun. I tortured myself with books and articles about worst case scenarios. Everyone says it's worth it. But I never heard specifics. Here are 10 things I love about being a Dad.

1. Witnessing Jenna's Joy

Yesterday I paused before heading out the door for work. I stood quietly, holding my coffee and laptop bag. I watched Jenna on the couch with Michael. She rattled a toy near his face. He broke out in a goofy grin. "Shake, shake, shake" giggled Jenna. Michael beamed. A bliss bomb exploded in my chest and traveled through my body. Watching Jenna's motherly instincts emerge has been like watching a long-dormant volcano erupt with fiery lava. She has undergone metamorphosis. From this day forward she shall be known as Mom.

2. Sense of Accomplishment

A few months ago I was afraid to hold a baby. Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon out with the baby. On my own. I dressed him, buckled him into into his carseat, drove him to my friend's apartment, and played boardgames while he napped, ate, and pooped. I prepared his bottle and used his changing pad. I gave Jenna some time off. I know this sounds like a picnic to the grizzled veteran parents but it was a milestone for me. The realization has begun to dawn on me. Hey, I can do this. Thanks Michael for that little confidence boost.

3. Feeding and Pooping

We all have our interests and hobbies. Some like to read, hike, or ski. Michael's pursuits are more basic and generally involve things entering and leaving his body. Often at the same time. When I feed him his bottle I get a front row seat to the human digestion system at work. The only noise louder than his greedy sucking is the byproduct escaping out the other end. I've learned to distinguish between a fart and a poop. The former is about what you'd expect. The latter sounds like someone hucking a water balloon at a brick wall. Or squishing a giant watermelon. If I ever meet someone at Pampers, I'd like to shake their hand. That thin layer of fabric has protected me from countless nuclear bombs.

4. Baby Smiles

Everyone knows about unicorns and rainbows. I'd like to add baby smiles to that list. After weeks of brow-furrowing, tongue-quivering crying, it has been incredibly refreshing to bask in his joyous smiles. It's like a bright sun breaking through the clouds and burning up the haze. His entire face lights up and his blue eyes sparkle with glee. I'd like to think it's due to my comic observations and situational humor. But after a big grin it's always worth double-checking the diaper.


5. Story Time

It's 7PM on a Monday evening. I wrap Michael in his light blue baby blanket and whisk him up the stairs. I turn on the white noise machine and sit in the oversized rocking chair. I hold Michael in one arm and Dr. Seuss in the other. Last night, we read about Bartholomew Cubbins and his 500 hats. At first, I was embarrassed about doing the voices. But now I go all in. Occasionally, he looks disinterested. If he had a watch, he might look down and check the time. But I've heard it's good for babies so I muster through. It's a welcome opportunity for us to bond.

6. Swaddled Bean

Here's a tip for all new parents: velcro swaddle. No more origami folding skills required. Just pull and stick. When wrapped up, Michael becomes docile and sleepy. His head protrudes comically like a human egg cup. He is a tiny blue kidney bean. His chubby chins spill over the soft fabric. He is the definition of "bundle of joy".

7. Late Night Feeding

After Jenna heads to bed, I hang out with Michael. We read, do some tummy time, and talk about girls. Then it's time for his bottle. I whip up an ounce of formula and mix it with a few ounces of milk. No sooner has the plastic nipple brushed his lips than his mouth opens wide and the chugging contest begins. He soon goes comatose. His eyelids droop. A tiny trickle of milk runs down his chin. He gets a far away stare. He is the picture of contentedness. If Michael can appreciate a small bottle of milk, surely we can all find joy in the little things as well.

8. Daily Developments

Michael has become a wiggly worm. No longer content to simply sit and stare, he now kicks his legs and flails his arms. He turns his head to look at the dogs. When I wake him up from a nap he gives a cavernous yawn, arches his back like a cat, and stretches his tiny arms above his head. He is like a cartoon character waking up from a long slumber. He acts more like a real person every day. Soon he will come out of his baby coma and begin communicating his needs and dislikes. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.


9. Diaper Changing

Maybe this is a new Dad thing and I'll grow to hate it. But right now, I enjoy the interaction. During the course of a diaper change Michael transitions from fussy, to confused, to skeptical, to happy. I have become quick and efficient with my diaper changes. Pop open the tabs, wipe, spritz of rash spray, pat dry, and done. There is an added sense of tension and danger knowing that he could explode like a geyser at any moment. So far I have only been on the receiving end once or twice. However, Jenna has been peed on, pooped on, and thrown up on, often at the same time. Sometimes, just as the new diaper goes on, Michael's face scrunches up, there is a hideous splat, and I have to do it all over again.

10. Family Bond

The day after Michael was born, my parents came to visit us at Maine Medical Center. They were no longer Mom and Dad. They were now Grandma and Grandpa. I have a picture of my Mom holding Michael. Her eyes radiate pure joy. Michael has strengthened our bonds and opened a new chapter in our relationship. They've been through everything I'm experiencing now. I see them in a new light. I have a newfound curiosity about their lives as parents.

Don't get me wrong. There are certainly challenges and stresses. My schedule is now dictated by this tiny human. The lack of sleep amplifies minor annoyances and creates tension in my relationships. But I'm trying to savor these first few months. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. OK… maybe twice. We'll see about that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mom shaming is a thing. But what about mom support?


Mom shaming is a real thing. I’ve only been a mom for a month, but I’m guessing that moms have been judging and gossiping about each other since the beginning of time. And I’m sure it’s part of human nature. We’ve all done it whether we want to admit it or not. However, in today’s social media crazed world moms are judged under a microscope like never before - #momshaming. 

Thousands of articles exist on this very topic. There is even a “Mom Shaming” topic tag on The Huffington Post website with articles such as “5 Mom-Shaming Trends That Need to Stop Now,” “Is Motherhood Where Sexy Goes to Die?” “Mom Shaming Reaches New Low in Wake of Gorilla Incident,” and the list goes on.

But what about #momsupport? Obviously, mom support is also a real thing, but unfortunately I think we are more apt to hearing and reading about mom shaming.

The day I shared my pregnancy on Facebook, a friend invited me to a new mom Facebook group, which has been one of the best educational tools I’ve had throughout this journey. I don’t post or ask questions very frequently, but it’s been amazing to watch how these fellow moms interact with and support each other. Many of whom I assume don’t even know each other. I’ve even experienced a level of support from these women after posting some of these blogs in the group.

And since becoming a mom myself all those weeks ago fellow moms have been coming out of the woodwork to show their support. It’s been truly amazing and awe-inspiring to receive this level of support during these “100 days of darkness.” Here’s just a small glimpse into the kind of support I have received from old friends and new friends, from people I haven’t heard from since high school and even women I’ve never met before!!

I won’t name names, but you know who you are. I hope by sharing this it encourages other moms to start and even continue offering support to moms in need whether that’s offering to babysit, bring a meal, or even just sit on your couch and watch Food Network with you.

“I'd love to drop a meal or two off to you in a week or so and check in and see how you're doing.”

“I wanted to let you know that [we] would be more than happy to help out anytime Jeff and you need a night out or a couple hours to yourselves.”

“We are still exclusively breastfeeding so feel free to ask me any questions about that as well. Or if you just want to get together and talk to another adult! I know being alone all day with a babe isn't always the easiest.”

“You are a really good mom. Michael is lucky to have you and Jeff as parents who care so much.”

“Just wanted to reach out and let you know that if you ever need someone to bounce questions off of (no matter how ridiculous) I'm happy to help. I am by no means a parenting expert but have been in your shoes and I've found thus far that like-minded mom friends have been my best resource for questions.”

“Please know that if you ever need a hand...a nap, laundry done, a meal made, a BREAK...I'm not too far away and always willing. I remember those days like it were yesterday, and I couldn't have done it without help.”

“YOU'RE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT! I'm not too far away and would be happy to help out so that you can take a break, a shower, a nap...whatever! I'll even cook you up some yummy food. I know exactly what you're going through and couldn't have managed without the support of my friends and family.”


I have been blown away by all those who have reached out to me in the spirit of motherhood. THANK YOU!!! It really is inspiring…and please know that I’m also here to offer a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on any time. #momsupport

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

10 ways my life has changed since giving birth


While I was pregnant, I knew my life would change with the birth of my son. I knew I would be tired. I knew Jeff and I would face new hardships in our relationship. I knew I would love the new little human being living in our house. But I didn’t REALLY know.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Living Life One Day at a Time



Yesterday was not one for the record books. It started off shaky and ended with an absurd flourish of comical misfortune. But that's what being a parent is all about. You have good days. You have bad days. But you get back on the horse of life and give it a swift kick in the you-know-what.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What Goes Up Must Come Down


Last night, on our first post-child date, Jenna and I cried over our Proscuitto and Arugula Pizza at the Corner Room in Portland. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the lack of sleep, but we agreed things have gotten harder over the past few days.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Breastfeeding: A Love Hate Relationship


I'm breastfeeding my baby right now. I was breastfeeding him an hour ago. And I'll be breastfeeding him again in another hour, or maybe even 20 minutes. Feeding him seems absolutely endless, but I love breastfeeding.. and I hate it.

I knew babies needed to eat every two hours or so but I don't think I really realized how much time it actually takes. It's all I do. It's all I think about. It's what I plan my day around. And that every two hours thing - that clock starts from the beginning of a feeding! So I feed the baby for at least 20 minutes per side. That's 40 minutes, which means I have an hour and 20 minutes of "free time" until the next feeding. By the time I clean everything up, change a diaper and put him down for a nap it's time to start the process all over again. Oh, and I think my right breast might be clogged so I'm pumping in between feedings too. But I love breastfeeding...and I hate it.

Breastfeeding hurts. Another thing to add to my list of "what hurts today." My boobs hurt, my nipples hurt, my back hurts, my vagina hurts. Labor and delivery is only the very beginning of what seems like an endless pain of parenting. But I love breastfeeding...and I hate it.

It's only been two weeks since my son was born and already I can't help but think "Will this be my life for the next 6+ months?" "How many more reality TV shows can I watch while I feed before I go insane?" "Will I forget who I am by the time I'm done breastfeeding?" "Did I ever really know who I was anyway?" Well, at least I have a lot of time to think about all this while I breastfeed.

I know that breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby for a variety of reasons so of course I will continue on this breastfeeding journey for him but boy is it hard. P.S. I have absolutely no judgement towards those moms who choose not to or are unable to breastfeed. To each their own. A happy baby is a fed baby.

And as much as this post seems like a rant, I really do love breastfeeding. I love the time my son and I get to be belly to belly. I love the look on his face when he is milk drunk. I love to kiss his little swollen lips when he's done eating. I love to listen to his grunts and squeaks as he's eating. I love that I can make him happy and calm by putting him on my breast. To me, all this makes all the pain and frustration well worth it. I love breastfeeding...and I hate it.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Birth Story Video


In between the excitement, pain, and sleeplessness, we tried to capture Michael's birth story on video. My time at the hospital with Jenna and her mother was a mix of nervousness and joy punctuated by moments of hilarity. This video documents our hospital adventure including the first precious moments of Michael's life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Birth Story



This is my birth story.

Monday, August 8th 2016. I open my eyes from a not-so-restful slumber and think, "ugh. Still pregnant." I was 5 days past my due date and each day postdate felt like torture. I said goodbye to Jeff as he left for work and sat out on the deck with my mom, who had flown in from NJ for the big occasion, with a cup of half-caff coffee and a bowl of cereal. I complained about how tired and uncomfortable I was and figured I might as well get one last manicure to try to keep my mind off still being pregnant. At 8am I went upstairs to get ready, sat on the toilet and heard a "pop" within me as Niagara falls came pouring out of me. "Mom!" I yelled. "My water just broke!" She came upstairs and looked at me as I sat on the toilet crying. "What's wrong?" she asked.  "I'm scared," I replied.

I had always wondered how the show would go down. Would my water break at the grocery store? Would I start feeling contractions in the middle of the night? How would I know if it was a real contraction? Would I labor at home for a few hours or go straight to the hospital? After 40 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy today was the big day.  I was excited, but also terrified. This was going to hurt.

The first call I made was to my doctor who wanted me to go to Maine Med Labor and Delivery triage right away. Then, of course, I called Jeff. "Hey babe. My water just broke. It's time to come home. The doctor wants us to go to the hospital right away."

I took a quick shower and the contractions started coming on, albeit mildly at first. By the time Jeff got home my Mom and I were finishing packing up the bags. Jeff looked excited and ready to go.  I pulled on a pair of Depends adult diapers and by 8:30am we were heading out the door as Jeff took a few pictures to document the beginning of this journey. The contractions continued in the car, about 10 minutes apart. I could still smile and talk through them.

Jeff dropped us off at the door and we headed up to triage. The elevator door opened and there were eight women in training at the desk to greet me. "Hi," I said, looking at the crowd. "I'm here to have a baby." They checked me in and all congratulated me as I was escorted to my room.

The contractions were coming on a bit stronger now and they determined I was in fact in labor and moved me to my labor and delivery room with a view of Hadlock Field. This is where we would spend the next 12 hours before meeting our son.

I tried finding a comfortable position during my contractions. I started by leaning over the bed with my head and arms on a stack of pillows. This worked for a while, but after a couple of hours my legs were getting weak. I tried sitting and rocking on the exercise ball, but it wasn't for me. Jess, our L&D nurse, recommended I get in the tub. Good thing I had bought that neon orange bikini top at Target a couple days before. I spent a majority of the day laboring in the tub. By noon, the contractions were coming on faster and stronger. I would put my chin to my chest, close my eyes and moan in a low, basey voice like we were taught to do in our Birth Roots class. Thank God for those classes. I don't know what I would have done without them.

Jeff supported me by sitting next to the tub holding my hand and offering me water. He took a few pictures, interviewed me on camera and made the occasional joke between contractions to keep my spirits up. My mom paced around the room nervously. I could hear her crying around the corner telling the nurse how strong she thought I was. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to watch me in so much pain, but hearing that made me power through even stronger. I could do this...right?

Around 3:00pm, and a loose 4 cm dilated, I could barely take the pain any longer. I asked what my options were for pain management. I still wasn't set on getting the epidural. In the world of labor and delivery the epidural is a controversial subject. Who knew! Some say that once you get the epidural you are bound to the bed and no longer able to use gravity to get the baby down. It's also said the epidural can slow down labor increasing the chances of needing pitocin to speed labor back up, which can then increase the chances of needing a C-section if the baby is in distress. I wanted to avoid all of this. I also wanted to see if I could in fact do this without the epidural. Was I strong enough? I knew that several of my Birth Roots classmates did it without the epi. I admired them for that. Would it be a sign of weakness if I got the epidural?

I opted for a shot of Nubain to ease the pain. I HATED it. I still felt every ounce of pain with each contraction, which were now coming on so strong and fast. I barely had a break in between. The Nubain only made me feel really high. I could barely open my eyes. I didn't feel like myself. Luckily it would only last a couple of hours.

Just before 5:00 I was 6cm dilated and in agony. No break between contractions. I remember being in the bed with Jeff standing next to me. My face was buried in his chest and I grabbed the sleeves of his shirt. "Call the anesthesiologist," I begged. I had had enough and I could feel the anxiety in the room rising. Not what I wanted for my delivery.

The anesthesiologists came rather quickly. I barely felt anything (other than the pain I was already in) as they administered the needle in my spine. I immediately felt better. I could breathe again. And surprisingly I could still wiggle my toes, feel my legs and get in different positions in the bed. The fact that I was hooked up to monitors, IVs and a catheter didn't phase me one bit. I was quite comfortable. I immediately asked for my hairbrush.

I took a quick nap to rest up for the final act - pushing.

During my nap the contractions were still coming strong and steady. I quickly progressed to 10 cm and the doctors could feel his head. It was 7:30 pm - time to get this show on the road. I looked out the window and saw the most beautiful sunset. The delivery room was lit up with golden sunshine. I will never forget that moment, and I'll always think of the day my son was born whenever I see the sunset.

The room was calm, but fear set in again as the doctors told me it was time to push. I was scared. Would I tear? Would I poop? Would Jeff faint? Pushing a baby out of your vagina must be the most vulnerable position a woman could be in, but also the most powerful.

I began pushing on my side. The doctors were impressed at how easily I could still move around in the bed. I must have only pushed on my side for about 30 minutes before they recommended I turn on my back in order to open up my pelvis more.

I switched over to my back and pushed with all my might during each contraction. I'd push twice during each one. "Do you have one more in you?" the nurse asked. "Sure, why not," I said trying to keep the mood light. The nurses laughed.

At some point one of the nurses disconnected the epidural by accident. Just in time for the baby's head to start crowning. Throughout the pushing I could still feel contractions, but it was more pressure than pain. As his head was crowning the epi began the wear off a little but I think it actually helped me to push stronger. We were about an hour and fifteen minutes into pushing. I was exhausted. Jeff held my left leg the entire time encouraging me with each push. My mom fed me ice chips between each push to keep me hydrated.

Just a few more big pushes and my son would be in my arms. At one point I glanced down and saw the top of his head, full of hair. When I saw that I knew it was go time. It was so motivating. I pushed with all my might knowing he was almost here. 9:04pm his head was out. 9:05pm his shoulders and the rest of his body were born. The relief was great and the nurses put him on my chest - 8lbs 4oz, 20.5" long. He was wet, slippery and so soft. Oh, and he immediately peed in my hand.

My mom and I were crying tears of joy. I looked up at Jeff and said "Look, it's your son," and all I can remember was the look of amazement and wonder on his face. We kissed and said "I love you " to each other.

I finally looked at my son on my chest and his eyes were wide open looking around as if to say "where am I?" His thumb went right in his mouth. A self-soother from the get go.

For the next hour I lay there holding Michael in disbelief as the doctor worked to deliver my placenta. No one ever really talks about afterbirth. That also hurt as it was taking some time for the placenta to detach from my uterus. The doctor kneaded my stomach as I pushed. Finally the organ that I had grown inside of me, which provided Michael all the oxygen and nutrients he needed was delivered. Jeff and I checked it out for a little while. No, we didn't take it home with us and no, I didn't eat it. It had served its purpose.

Afterwards the doctor stitched up my second degree tear (they said that's normal...probably just so I wouldn't worry) and helped to clean me up before moving us to the mother and baby care floor. All four of us were in the room by 11pm, but how could I sleep?? I just gave birth to a human being! Yes, I was utterly exhausted but I couldn't stop replaying the whole day over and over in my mind. I couldn't believe I actually did it. I was so proud of myself, even though I got the epidural. Maybe I was even more proud of myself BECAUSE I got the epidural. It allowed me to remain myself and to experience the birth with joy and excitement rather than suffering and pain. It's what worked for me and Jeff. And that's how we plan on raising our son. We'll do what works for us even though it may not always be by the book. The most important thing is that Michael is safe, happy, clean, fed and loved.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Establishing My New Normal


Before the baby, I'd often lament my anticipated loss of free time. My friends, humoring my sour disposition, tried to convince me that I'd still be able to do whatever activity I happened to be whining about at the time. I just needed to establish my "new normal".

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life with Baby: You're Still You


While waiting for Michael's arrival, Jenna and I took a course for new parents. We watched birth videos, learned about oxytocin, and shared our fears with other apprehensive couples. I was particularly concerned about how my life would change. One of the other expectant fathers shared sage advice. "After you have a baby, you're still you". Now that Michael's a week old, I want to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Please welcome Michael Robert Marion


My son, Michael Robert Marion, was born on August 8th at 9:05PM. He weighed in at 8lb 4oz and was 20.5 inches long. His birth was both a finish line and starting line: the end of months of pregnancy and the beginning of our lives together. This is his story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Journey into the mind of an expectant father



How’s the kid? Are you getting enough sleep? How many diapers are you changing a day? In a few short months I’ll have the answers to all of these questions. For now it’s waiting, planning, and mentally preparing myself for the unknown.

Saturday, June 11, 2016