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.

Fatherhood

So it finally happened, the thing I had pretty much thought was out of the question after my 20s went by without having a child. My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Funny enough, back in those days I would have been trying to come up with a cool name to talk about her on the blog and keep some semblance of “privacy.” Now most of that is gone. If you want to know who I am, you can find that pretty quickly and by proxy you could find my who my wife and child are. That said, we did take some precautions and decided to not blast baby pictures all over the place and just keep something up that we can “control” who has access to them.

I did not think I would feel this different after becoming a parent. The buildup to the day was somewhat interesting with people that barely knew me telling me how I was going to be a great father. I think I will be, I know I will try my best. It still feels odd when someone says it. Even in her tender age of a week old I can already tell she seems to be comforted by the sound of my voice. I also cannot really take credit for that since it was my wife who diligently reminded me to sing to her belly every night.

There are many things that are still unknown, but the most amazing part is how much of it really comes naturally if you let it. Fear is something I am not used to. I am not an anxious person by nature, a little paranoid and someone that loves to plan is more my thing… but with a kid that is not how it works. There is really no control over the outcome of a lot of things now. It does feel amazing though. It is magical to see how the world changes when you start to look at it through a child’s eyes. I know soon she will go from differentiating some shapes and sounds to actually recognizing faces and voices.

Happy is not a word that can accurately describes how I really feel. Full of love is probably a lot closer.

Positive thinking is not foolish

I piss people off all the time. I wrestled with it for quite some time trying to change things about me so that others would not be put off in some strange way by me. I explored the “advice” I would give angle. I explore the way I “communicated.” I have done a lot of introspection on why is it that I end up pissing people off in ways that seem mysterious to me. I have started to conclude that it has to do with me being a happy person.

The first thing people do when they encounter my positive attitude is to dismiss it as foolish. People think that someone that is striving to be happy all the time is more than likely faking it. They sometimes also assume that I really have not had any struggles in life to have a positive outlook. My favorite is to call it luck.

I do feel lucky because there is no other word to describe some of the opportunities that have crossed my path. That said I did take plenty leaps of faith and have failed my fair share. Probably more than my fair share… but I don’t like to keep score, my brain does.

The cliche would be to say that I get to be positive because of hard work. It does require a fair share of that, trust me. One of my biggest struggle has been fitness for quite some time, I have tried many things in the past and I am excellent at justifying being lazy when I know I should be active. It is hard to stay positive about those things as well. Over time I have made changes though, little changes, changes that stick. Those make me happy. Those move me forward. Those keep me smiling. And they are not all about staying fit.

So back to pissing people off. Someone last night in one of my social groups said something that makes a lot of sense. Overall I am not the nicest person around, but I do surround myself with nice people. The angry and mischievous me does like to hang out with people that are mellow and happy. That seems to always rub people the wrong way because in their heads I am just lucky to have what I have (friends, career, family, etc).

Public speaking is terrifying to me for example, most people think I am a “natural” at it. In small groups, sure I don’t have a problem starting conversations. A big room though it is still something that gives me pause. I do it, I work at it, I try to get better. I have been part of toast masters and loved my speech class in college. I am better now at it because I just did it. That is just one example of the many things that people think come easy to me, but I got to them through just being stubborn and saying I will do it.

I never thought of pissing people off as a good thing. I never saw it as a measurement of success in any level. It seems that in this competitive society it is just the nature of the beast. The more you accomplish the more people are going to begrudge your success. I do enjoy my accomplishments, they make me happy. I cherish the relationships I have, but it does not mean that I have not had plenty of failed ones. The key is not to be good at anything from the start, the key is to keep trying until you get good at it. So don’t get pissed at someone for enjoying their life and being positive, write your own story.

Journey

Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.

Zerodean

That quote resonated with me. My journey might not make sense to many, maybe not to anyone besides me; but in the end it really only has to make sense to me. For some time now I have thought about my life in terms of a book, and while I go through it some people that used to seem to be chapters of the book have merely become footnotes. For the longest time I used to think that making others understand me or my journey was important only to realize that those really interested would not care to get what my journey is about, simply just be a part of it.

We are all in some way marked by our pasts, but do they really define us? are we really in control of the outcome? Living in the present is sometimes a lot harder than it seems on paper. A new year gets here and we are faced with evaluating what was and what is to come. Do we dwell, do we move forward, do we refocus?

Initially I wanted to start the year (or end it) with a post about the new year resolutions I had in mind. Health both mind and body are top of the list, but experiences are also sprinkled there for good measure. I had found a list that made a lot of sense, and as I get older it makes even more sense. With age we gain perspective. What used to matter, really does not matter in the long run. What are we left with then? Regret?

I regret little by simple force of will. I am stubborn enough to try to squeeze juice out of every lemon life sends my way. I do hate the word, but it seems to at times always catch my attention. What will I regret when I get old?

Here is the subset from the list of “37 Things You’ll Regret When You Are Old” that I want to keep just to look back on.

Not travelling when you had the chance
I’ve had to turn a couple of trips down simply because of work schedule, but this year it seems that I will actually make it to South America a couple of times in business, maybe even more.

Not learning another language
My goal is still 5 some day, I will revisit French some day but I have started on Portuguese, Rosetta Stone and all.

Failing to make physical fitness a priority
Gym membership is still active, but this year will see me not only using my bike more but getting back into P90X.

Refusing to let friendships run its course
I’m really bad at this one, but I think this year I will be able to just let things go and not try so hard with friendships that are just not what they used to be.

Worrying too much
Not sure what changed this exactly but I have become better and better at it. This is truly a skill that comes in handy.

Not spending enough time with loved ones
This one is challenged by geography but I want to see my best friend this year as well as visit Chicago more often.

Never performing in front of others
A while back I was all into doing an amateur stand up show, I think this year I might actually start working towards that again.

So there you have it. Those are the ones that I will be concentrating on this year. While this is more for me, I hope that maybe this makes you think about something positive to accomplish this year. To a very prosperous 2014 my friends.