The race of my child

I wish this topic was a lot less complicated. Race relations in the US are already a multi-layer mess full of landmines. Add to that the fact that I have a hard time trying to fit into that complicated structure of labels and you have yourself a very difficult conversation that I will someday have to have with my child.

Daddy, what am I?

Start by the fact that I had to be told I was not white as soon as I moved to the US. That said (and it is probably a good idea for you to read that post) I don’t have identity problems. I have problems fitting into American society labels, but I am very proud of my heritage. Not just as Colombian but every day I learn more and more about what it is to be Latino in the US.

If I had to have the conversation with my daughter today I would probably start by saying, you are half American and Half Colombian. I think nationality is a good way to start the conversation. It will continue with, you were born in Kansas City but your Mom was born in Denver and I was born in Cali, Colombia. I will eventually get to the ugly labeling of human beings part, but I want her to first think of people as a complex set of experiences and not just the color of their skin.

Race has been on the news a lot lately. Ferguson is now something cemented in our brains as a negative from both points of view. You can’t win that argument with people that are polarized by it. Then you have an NAACP advocate identifying as black when she was really white. I feel she has been treated unfairly because she should be judged more for the work she does rather than what she identifies as. Eminem did not get rejected by Dr Dre when he found out he was white.

Today another incident is being labeled as a “hate crime.” 9 people are dead supposedly because of the color of their skin. We call it a tragedy, but in reality it is something that should simply not happen anymore in a modern society. We watch Game of Thrones and at times think of that world as barbaric. In reality we are really not that far away from that world where people kill in the name of an affiliation.

I have no clue how much discrimination my daughter will have to face. I don’t want to make her afraid of other people or think of the “race card” as something real. I am curious as to what other parents of mixed background or with mixed children think.

Here she comes

The pain of childbirth is not something I ever want to experience. I know what you want to say, there is no way a guy could experience that… but leave it to the Chinese and they have a way to let you experience it. No thanks I saw my wife going through this and it was a horrible experience.

Before we get into that, and I will do my best to leave out any gore, I had a huge issue with the whole childbirth experience. I know, once again I have no right as a father to have an opinion since I technically did not “push the kid out.” But I was there and I get to be pissed off if I want to.

From previous visits and knowing the OB-GYN I knew most of the people coming in and out of the room. My wife being a nurse has introduced me to little nuances about hospitals and how to be a good family member of a patient. I am polite, I don’t ask for much and try to stay out of the way. The staff at the hospital was absolutely fantastic up to this point.

We were at a teaching hospital, which means tons of short coats (yeap, easiest way to recognize a resident.) Which overall does not bother me, but I will get more into that on the last post in the series. We did however say that during the birth we did not want a parade of people in the room. This is supposed to be a magical moment and we wanted it to be just about the birth and not about teaching people how to be a Dr.

I cannot even imagine what would have happened if we had not said this. Up until this point we had 3 people in the room, sometimes 4 at most. Fast forward to the birth and there were at least 12 people in the room and I was less than pleased about it. I will explain why soon.

I like to get to know the staff that will be handling my wife and future child. Mostly to be thankful for what they do. I know how hard all of it is. Things started to go fast and furious because the contractions were coming pretty quickly and dilatation even quicker. The first order of business was to get that epidural done. Not an easy task when contractions are really close together.

Even though we got to the hospital with still plenty of time having 10 births made it that we did not get into the actual birthing room until it was pretty advanced and the pain was horrible to look at. I cannot even imagine what my wife was going through because she has a high pain threshold and she was basically a mess after every contraction. There was basically nothing I could do for her. No breathing would help, no change of position, pretty much nothing could really alleviate the pain once a contraction came.

Not enough can be said about trying to get that epidural in early. After the epidural was in it was night and day. She did not look like she was being ripped in half by an invisible magician. She could actually concentrate on what was being asked of her rather than just try to stay conscious through pain that seemed to almost make her want to pass out. I find it almost barbaric that some people think that woman that don’t experience the pain of child birth without an epidural did not do it right.

Stress level at this point start to get to a good place and concentrating on the actual birth is what comes next. I really thought that the anesthesiologist taking too long to put the epidural was going to be the end of my rage inducing events. It was only the beginning.

This post is part of a series!
Hurry Up and WaitHere she comes – And who the F@ck are you? – Talk to ME Dr!

Exceptional Fictional Fathers

Trevor from our DadBlogger group asks

When you look at film, literature, or television, who are the fathers who stand out to you as exceptional (for legitimate or dumb reasons)?

The first fictional father that came to mind was Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. While the HBO series did paint him in a positive light, in the books I felt he was the ultimate man of honor. I think most of his deeds and who he was still sends waves of repercussion through the series. I want to aspire to be that kind of father, one that leads by example and is ever-present in my kid’s life because of who I am.

Overall I think fathers in fiction are often misrepresented as figures that don’t do much beyond being the providers or at times enablers. Homer Simpson is probably the worst offender at being an exceptionally bad father, loving and caring but just the quintessential bad father.

Harry Potter has a parade of father figures from Dumbledore to Hagrid but the one that stands out is Sirius and he is quickly taken out of the series just as he is going to establish a relationship with Harry and actually become a father. His own father being dead is definitely a presence and shows up but not in the way that Ned Stark does in the Game of Thrones series. In a way there are glimpses of what a good father could be, but not quite a full picture in the series. I do think that Sirius could have been exceptional and different as a guardian.

Come to think of it a lot of the literature I have written has a lot of matriarchal themes where the male really take a secondary role to parenting and making decisions about child rearing.

Hurry up and wait

The role of a father during a birth is kind of difficult to prepare for. Entertainment has always wrapped childbirth around the fact that the Dad either faints or is yelled at expletives during the “pushing” process. Other times they show the father pacing around outside until the baby cries. So I really had no clue about what to do or how to act. My wife kept telling me that it was a possibility that she might go into I hate you mode in the middle of it. I did not have an ounce of anxiety about my role, more about the birth in general. I did have a goal in my mind, lets wait at home as long as possible.

My wife works at a hospital. We had visited the “birthing” rooms and even visited the mother/baby triage area before a couple of times. I got used to the weird protocols of basically being non existent in most situations. “Wait here, they’ll call you when you can come in.” became pretty routine. The last visit before the birth was a “OMG my water broke.” which was met with me being extremely skeptic about the whole process. We went, we waited, they did not attempt to make my 8+ month pregnant wife any more comfortable at all. They sent us home and said, it was just the mucus plug. Yea, you learn about weird crap during this whole process and overproduction of something call mucus plug is part of the deal.

She was to be induced that week, we knew it was getting close, I knew she wanted the baby out but I told myself she will be miserable in the if she goes to early. My sister had spent 30 hours in “labor” and it was not a good experience at all. I knew that if they sent us home with what seemed like pre-labor pains it was not a big deal.

We spent that night home and during the night my wife did experience some contractions but they seemed to be hours apart still. I worked from home the next day just in case and during the morning the contractions seem to be happening closer but not every 15 minutes yet. After lunch things got fast and furious. We hopped in the car and headed to the hospital. At first it seemed like we had plenty of time, got some fast food quickly and headed there. I was even having a work call on the car when she said “DRIVE FASTER.” Then I knew things were going to happen and I probably made her wait a little too long.

I was wrong though, there were still hours until the actual birth happen but she was was getting ready for the pain to be controlled. Some friends had told us ask for the epidural as early as you can, and we did, and you know what it still took forever to get her from triage, to the room to actually get the epidural. It was a busy day for births, I think 10 people had come in before us. That said, we were in the hospital and the baby was coming that day.

This post is part of a series!
Hurry Up and WaitHere she comes – And who the F@ck are you? – Talk to ME Dr!

Constant Fear

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone

My wife finds it hilarious, I find it a little disturbing. The first words out of my mouth when the test came back positive were “I’ve never got anyone pregnant before.” You would think something more eloquent might have come to mind, but nope, that is what came out. I had been in long term relationships before that could have produced a child, even tried to have a baby. It really never worked, not even a little bit.

I had seen friends and acquaintances go through the horrible miscarriage roller-coaster. I had even accepted the reality that my only way to parenting was going to be adoption. I respect adoption and in many ways admire it, in fact it might be something that we still do some day. I never felt any level of failure because of not having a kid before, but I knew for the other person in the relationship it was at times devastating.

I always tried to not only stay positive but encourage the other person. I still to this day believe that procreation should not be the only reason to enter a relationship. To me that is silly and it basically diminishes the many reasons to have a life long partner.

Still, I never got anyone else pregnant before.

Then the fear started to set in. I overthink things and have become very good at rationalizing fears and casting them out, this one was a new one though and one that does not go away with a good night of sleep. The viability of a fetus is measured in percentages. The genetic testing also gives you percentages. Numbers, number and more numbers. The thing that normally give me solace provided little or no comfort.

Things started to calm down as some milestones came and went. Ultrasounds help! as a Dad try not to miss them. They bring a level of reality and calm you down a bit. Information is always a double edge sword that can work against you but try your best to just take it for what it is. I did lean towards the side of wanting to know more to be prepared.

I say fear is the new thing in my life, constant fear that something can go wrong. Funny enough it was one of the feelings that I was less familiar with because growing up the way I did I had experienced things that had made me not fear much in life. Now the health and well being of our child is a constant fear that I am starting to get used to and channel in a positive way.