Dave Is The One Who Irons

Both Dave and I have been rather surprised at the extremely gendered and old school point of view of magazines and books we’ve reviewed on pregnancy and child rearing. I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now. This is from a book I received from my doctor’s office: Pregnancy Book by William G. Birch, MD, LLD (Budlong Press). The first time it was published was 1963, and by reading it, you begin to think that we’re living in some kind of time warp.

Here are my favorite parts:

“When you’re at the ironing board or the kitchen counter bend your knees every little while and lean forward at the hips for a few minutes. This simple exercise is excellent for relieving backaches.”

Ummm…not, say, while you’re standing over your drafting table? Or perhaps doing research in the library? Oh yes! I’ll do that while I’m ironing or making dinner, as any good woman should! The funniest part about that is how I never iron anything…ever…as anyone as my workplace can attest to.

This one is good too:

(From Chapter 9: Your Appearance)

“This is a good time to experiment with new hair styles…perhaps your face is fuller and your pre-pregnancy style can be redesigned to be more flattering. Long hair becomes thin and straggly may look better worn shorter and higher on the head.”

Could this book talk down to me any more? Fashion advice? Now really, Dr. Birch! I say…women have way too much self-esteem these days! Let’s take ‘em down a notch when they’re already feeling fat and uncomfortable. Let’s tell them their hair is ugly and needs to be changed. Grrrrr….

And of course: “The Fatherhood” Chapter is four pages long. The chapter on “Your Appearance” with such wonderful advice on hairstyles? That gets at least eight pages!
And the chapter focuses mostly on how the sexual relationship may change. Because that’s really the most important factor of all!


Am I As Cool As Those Sex And The City Gals?

I went to register for some baby items this weekend at Babies R’ Us. The amount of STUFF they sell is phenomenal. There is an entire wall of nipples. Since I was alone and everyone else there was a couple, I got a lot of, “Pity the single mom” looks. Anyway, afterwards, I saw a Sex And The City rerun – the one where Miranda meets the other single Mom in their building and she learns about the vibrating chair to keep Brady quiet. Miranda has the same exact Baby Einstein play thingie that I picked out. Do I have impeccable taste? Or did my brain somehow relate the two together subconsciously and force me pick it. If it’s the latter, I am scared.


Jelly Beans and Chocolate Bunny Ears

While I was at the Highland Mall today (and let's not get all self righteous with me here, ok? None of my clothes fit me and I can't spend very much $$$ on replacements...so I gotta do what I gotta do...) in the shoe department, someone came over the loudspeaker to page The Easter Bunny. "The Easter Bunny is needed in the Juniors Department."

Don't know if anyone else in Austin got to experience the golf ball sized hail and tornado-like storm last night that scared the crap out of me (and Polly). Our brand new garden was thoroughly smooshed and the yard is a huge mess. The power was out from about 10pm to 4am. Usually I am pretty good in situations like that, but at one point, it was just so loud, I was fairly terrified. Trees in our backyard have a habit or dropping giantic limbs on a frequent basis and I was sure one was going to come crashing through the bedroom. Alas, nothing of the sort occured. I just like to play out worse case scenarios and develop a plan. Kinda like how I would predict all the questions in my Rolling Stone interview and how I'd answer them...

Still no sign of the baby...oh, it's in there all right...but I can't feel it yet. This is supposed to be the point at which you can feel it start to poke and kick you. I'm sure I will have had my fill after a while, but I am anxious for it now.


Dave's New Fashion!

Originally uploaded by silverzephyr.
Check out the new fashion Dave will be wearing a lot this fall!
(via http://www.daddytypes.com)

Introducing Your New Editor...

Dave is out of town for a week, so I have been relegated to Meet The Breeders duties. My posts are less wordy and not as beautifully written, but more frequent. This reflects a personality difference that should be clearly evident to anyone who knows the two of us. I like to get things done RIGHTAWAY, whereas Dave…mmm…not so rushed. Unless, of course, it involves spending lots of money. He’s disturbingly comfortable with impulse purchasing. So I am left with no one to rub my feet or listen to me complain.

According to my baby readin’, today the baby’s bones are beginning to harden and tomorrow, if it’s a boy (we both think so), the male prostate gland will have finished developing and the baby now measures 5 ½ inches long. If it’s that small, why do I weigh ten more pounds than when I started?

I’ve been doing some research on baby items on Consumer Reports…car seats, high chairs…they even rate the diapers, for chrissakes. Any recs are appreciated. Kristin (Dave’s sister) is giving us tons of info on baby communication, which she is an expert in, and doctor recommendations.


once again

taking up the slack, Anna writes:

This Friday marks the beginning of Month 5 and none of my pants fit anymore. You see, I had this mistaken belief that all weight gained would be in my stomach alone. That essentially, I'd look the same but with a gigantic basketball-like protrusion attached. The thing is, everything else gets a little bigger too. Namely, my ass.

I managed to make it through South By Southwest this weekend...though I confess that I never went to a
1 am show. There were some good times and some real low points and I certainly have plenty to write about. Obviously, I would have taken the assignment had I known at the time what my situation was. But it really wasn't that bad except for my feet hurting and the fact that it was cold and, as stated before, I have no pants.

We have a doctor's appointment next week, then we are supposed to find out the sex of the baby on April 13th (not a Friday, thank you).

I am still very thankful that I do not feel sick or seem to have any other problems. The extra weight is a little uncomfortable but nothing to complain about certainly. Now that SXSW is over, the race is on the research baby items like high chairs and car seats and register.


Daddy's first OB-GYN appointment

On Wednesday morning, I had my first OB-GYN appointment. I met Anna at the doctor’s office, in the hospital where our baby will be born. It’s less than a ten-minute drive from our house. The building is divided into two towers: the east tower, housing Seton Northwest Hospital, and the west tower, a well-manicured professional building called the Seton Northwest Health Plaza. The quickest route to the Health Plaza from the east parking lot, where I ended up in spite of Anna’s painstakingly accurate directions, is through the main entrance to the hospital. I followed hieroglyphic directions down labyrinthine corridors, past the nurses’ station, through the waiting room, to the information desk, where a befuddled octogenarian in a red smock tried to decipher my nervous query.

“The what?”

“The doctors. Where are the doctors…(voice trails off, confused pause, stammer)…o-o-offices?” Is that the word I want? A second red-smocked woman arrives just as I manage this semi-coherent question. She is younger, rounder, and looking at me sympathetically, as if apologizing for my having to deal with this sweet-but-incompetent lady.

“You want the Health Plaza, sir. It’s right through there.” She gestures over her shoulder at the large and obvious sign, maybe twenty feet from my face.

“Of course it is.” Thoroughly embarrassed, I duck my head and quickly walk away. I feel the older woman glaring at me, and we both know that I am the idiot of this encounter, no matter what that fat airhead thinks.

I gather myself in the elevator, hoping at least to muster the appearance of calm. I’ve dressed up for the occasion. I’m wearing slacks, a starched dress shirt, and wingtips, an outfit I usually reserve for teaching or dinners at restaurants I can’t really afford. I’m trying to look parental. We have a battery of questions for the doctor, and for some reason I’ve decided we’re more likely to get straight answers if I’m dressed like this. I suppose this reasoning is a byproduct of my deep-seated aversion to doctors. They are bearers of bad news, harbingers of ill fate, and I’ve generally found them to be smug, condescending bastards. Of course, this is a totally irrational assessment, utterly divorced from personal history. Except for that last part. But in all fairness, doctors have saved my father’s life, and my grandfather’s, many times over, and my uncle’s. The list goes on. I should be fucking grateful, but instead, I have this unshakeable feeling that someday one of them is going to lower the boom on my otherwise-blessed life. Any armchair psychoanalyst will tell you I’m projecting here, a defense mechanism triggered by the irreconcilable contradiction between my desire to live and the many bad habits that mark desires that run contrary to longevity. If I’m ever diagnosed with lung cancer or liver disease, I’ll have a goddamn doctor to blame in the glorious pre-acceptance phase of denial. And so, I’m not a big fan of doctors to begin with.

The elevator delivers me to the fourth floor, and I locate the office at the end of a winding hallway. I step into the waiting room, and a dozen sets of eyes turn on me. I am the lone man in room full of women, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve stumbled onto sacred, forbidden ground. I scan the room nervously, but there’s no sign of Anna. I file past a row of unblinking eyes that follow me to the reception window. I stand in line behind a woman whose belly appears ready to burst. She arcs her back, bracing her left arm against her outthrust hip for support. All eyes remain locked on the intruder until a door opens to my left and Anna waves me inside.

A nurse leads us into a small examination room, takes Anna’s blood pressure, and tells us the doctor will be with us in a moment. She closes the door behind her.

“You’re awfully dressed up.”

“Yeah, uh, I wasn’t sure what to wear.”

“It’s a doctor’s office.”

“I know, but…” I searched for the logic. “I want to be taken seriously.”

“I know, but don’t worry, she’s nice.” Anna likes her gynecologist. She’s known her for a while, and she trusts her. What right have I to act like there’s cause for suspicion? I am suddenly embarrassed by my apprehension, and quickly drop my adversarial posture. And of course, Anna is right. The doctor is nice. She is young, friendly, and straightforward. She answers all of our questions without the slightest hint of condescension. Talking to her, I feel slightly more at ease. My general anxiety about doctors is compounded by my concerns for Anna’s health and the health of our baby, but even this fear evaporates when I hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Amplified, it is a tiny, thudding jackhammer, beating deep inside her belly. And in this moment, I am certain that everything will be okay.



How do I get credit for coining a term? It's not in the dictionary, and it gets zero hits on Google. I think I've found the title for a novel.

em-ba-bied (m-b-bd) adj. - characterized by having gone through the panic of pregnancy, the miracle of birth, and the trauma of the first six months of parenthood.

Reasons to be grateful

This pregnancy-and-looming-parenthood thing would be a whole lot scarier if we didn'’t have our parents here to walk us through it. My folks spent the weekend in Austin, and their brief visit left me feeling a lot less nervous. We celebrated with Kristin and Joe, shopped for nursery furniture, and resolved various home entertainment/home computing issues. Our embabied friends have warned us that we will be under house arrest for the last month of the pregnancy (and most of the first year thereafter), so I’'m furiously working to make our cell as comfortable as possible. The living room, nursery and bathroom have been painted, and the office is next. Also on the home improvement list: install glass door in the living room (I’ve been talked out of installing a window); tear out corner cabinets in the kitchen; baby-proof the house; create a cramped-but-tolerable home office Anna and I can share. And finish my dissertation (not really a home improvement, but this will be a happier place when I'm done). Yet, I have a hard time feeling overwhelmed, not only because our folks have been so helpful, but also because Anna's doing so damn much that I'm in no position to complain.

For those of you who don’t know, Anna is a force of nature. She works a full-time job, is a music writer for feminist 'zines Venus and Bitch (record and live show reviews, band interviews, etc.), just launched her own music & activism website (GirlstownProductions.com, along with Austin’s other uber-gal, Kim - and don't miss the launch party), and she's on the Board of Directors of NARAL ProChoice Texas. Her résumé includes a master’s degree in English, two European tours and multiple albums as lead guitarist in an all-girl rock band (two bands, actually), and indispensable service to the Ladyfest Texas Collective that went well above and beyond the call of duty. Next week, she’s taking on the dreaded SXSW monster, armed with a press badge, photo privileges, and an armload of writing assignments. If it sounds like I’m in awe of her it’s because I am. She makes this shit look easy, and keeping up with her is whipping me into shape. So, no matter how hectic it gets, I have a hard time letting myself feel overwhelmed. And for that I'm grateful.


And what's the deal with breastfeeding?

Last night, Anna told me we need to get a "breastfeeding coach." Quit laughing, boys. She was serious. Apparently, breastfeeding is often a difficult, unpleasant experience. I'd assumed that most women choose not to breastfeed because it's incredibly inconvenient, possibly even embarrassing. Anna informed me that high rate of attrition is just as likely due to the enormous difficulty of breastfeeding. Thus, the coach. So, as long as we're sharing stories, anyone got one about a breastfeeding coach?

The Accumulated Wisdom of the Masses

They say experience is the best teacher, and no experience offers more lessons than parenthood. Here's your opportunity to share your wisdom with a most receptive audience. Here' s what we've got so far:

1. You will never sleep again.

2. You won't believe how much they shit.

3. Give up anything else, but not Pampers.

Diapers v. Pampers: A Survey of Popular Opinion

I heard the diapers v. Pampers diatribe this weekend, and didn't even mind that I was eating ribs at the time. I am quickly becoming acclimated to fatherhood. I call it a diatribe because Joel and Martin considered the pro-diaper advocates either to be utterly insane or endowed with super-human patience and vinyl furniture. In either case, Joel and Martin are convinced that the pro-diaper advocates don't share our universe.

"You won't believe how much they shit." Joel's daughter was born in October. She'll turn one shortly after our baby is born. Joel lured me to Texas from Loyola, and I've worked for him in some capacity or other for most of the last fifteen years. I'd call him my boss, but that would imply that I'm an employee, and Joel would probably have an argument against my having earned that title. Joel's my friend and confidant, and I'm going to be looking to him for advice now more than ever. And this is his Second Major Pronouncement, the First being the equally chilling You will never sleep again. His eyes are wide, and he is shaking his head, chewing a piece of brisket, grasping for the words to describe it. There are none. "They shit so much, David."

Martin concurs. "For the first year they pretty much shit and scream."

Then, in unison, "But they're incredible." This refrain inevitably follows each stanza of parenting advice. Folks want to prepare you for the enormity of the task, but everyone knows that this realization can be overwhelming. The worst is always balanced against the best. Parenthood is invariably described in the most extreme terms. Long before we decided (shut up) to have a baby, a friend described the experience of fatherhood as the amplification of pleasure and pain; the highs are higher and the lows are lower, much more so than he'd ever thought possible. And so the infinite potential for heartache is counter-balanced by the possibility of infinite joy. This is how they keep our spirits up as they try and help us brace ourselves for the shock of parenthood.

And I am grateful for the advice. I have a thousand questions, and find myself grasping for as many informed opinions as possible. I have no use for theory anymore; I want hard, empirical data. For example, and as long as we're on (or near) the subject: diapers or pampers? I'm familiar with the environmental critique of disposable diapers - the amount of space they take up in landfills, the amount of time it takes for them to decompose, the wastefulness of convenience and the righteousness of the relatively pollution-free cloth diaper alternative. Anna and I had even discussed signing up for a diaper service. I decided to pose the question to Joel and Martin. Again, in unison, "God no!" Both offered testimonials (loosely recollected here).

Martin, father of two (9, 3): We tried cloth diapers and they were a disaster. First of all, they leak. You'll have shit all over your house. You'll be walking around with the baby, trailing shit and piss and you won't even know it because you'll be numb to the smell and half asleep. It'll be days before you figure out that you've ruined the sofa. Then there's the diaper rash. They don't absorb anything - it just sits there. And babies with diaper rash can scream non-stop for eighteen or nineteen hours a day. Diaper rash is your mortal enemy. No matter what else you have to cut out of your life, do not try to save money by going with cloth diapers. Give up anything else, but not Pampers.

Joel, father of one (5 mos.): Martin's right, diapers are a nightmare. They shit so much, David. Even with pampers, you'll have shit everywhere. There is so much shit. But I don't know about getting used to the smell. To me, the worst part is the smell. Oh God, David, the smell. It's awful. And no matter where you put the receptacle or how "air-tight" they claim it is, the smell of diapers is unbearable.

I'm sympathetic to the environmentalists on this one, but Joel and Martin make a pretty goddamn persuasive case against cloth diapers. If I don't hear something really good from the anti-pampers camp, I think the decision is fairly clear.