This is War: A Dad’s Guide to Surviving Labor

It is not pretty, it is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not your battle. Hate to break it to you, pops, but labor has nothing to do with you whatsoever. When it’s time to welcome your little one into the world, you have two jobs – provide encouragement, and stay out of the way. Here are eight ways to support your partner on delivery day… (see more at Scary Mommy here.)

5 Things to do With 5 Weeks to Due Date

A coworker of mine is about five weeks from her due date, and it is making me think back on those days. I remember those final preparations, how it simultaneously felt like the baby would never arrive yet also felt as though parenthood was just around the corner. Looking back, there are things I wish I had prepared more thoroughly, or things I wish I could have done for my wife at the time. So gentlemen, buckle up. Fatherhood is upon you. Here are five things to do with five weeks to due date.

1. Get your go bags ready. With only five weeks remaining, you never know what could happen. It’s not exactly like your baby is on a schedule; he or she could decide to come early, or something may come up where they decide inducing early is the safest course of action. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to put your bag together on your way to the hospital. Feel free to check out a suggested list at The Bump here.

2. Cook some freezer meals. This is something I wish my wife and I did more leading up to bringing our girl home, because trust me, once baby is home, the very last thing you want to do is cook. We spent far too much money getting takeout. Making big batches of easy food that you can freeze and reheat will be a life saver in the moment. Whether it’s a big vat of stew, soups, tamales, lasagna – whatever it is that works for you. Make a bunch, pop it in your freezer, and when the time comes, you’ll have dinner in minutes.

3. Organize your diapers and changing station(s). If you have been fortunate enough to be barraged with diapers from friends, family, coworkers, etc., get them organized. There is no need to have a box of size 4 diapers anywhere close to handy for a long, long time; get those NB and size 1 diapers on the top and easy to access. You will be using lots of them, and it’s a waste of time to go digging around for one when your new love bug just blew out his/her diaper.

4. Make sure you have your car seat, and preferably, install it. You can’t really take your little one home without a car seat, can you? In fact, the hospital will require you to have it properly installed before they will let you leave. Why not get this done ahead of time? Make sure you have your car seat, get it installed, and check to make sure it’s done correctly. Fire departments and police stations will often times check it for you for free.

5. Take time to slow down with your spouse. It’s entirely too easy at this stage in the pregnancy to have your head down, focused on the goal and all the last minute prep work. Lift your head, connect with your spouse, go on a date, do something low key but enjoyable. Remember, this isn’t just some huge chore and responsibility, it is the single greatest thing the two of you will ever do together. You are embarking on the journey of parenthood – enjoy it!

The last five weeks before you become a dad are full of emotions, stress  and unexpected twists and turns, but it is nothing compared to those first few weeks home with your baby. Invest the time now to set yourself up for success, and do it all while connecting with your spouse. You’ve got this, big guy. Show your partner how awesomely responsible you are by checking these things off your list in advance.

They Don’t Joke About Pregnancy Blood Pressure

My wife and I had an appointment with our OB yesterday. 34 1/2 weeks and super excited to hear nothing but amazing news of how great our daughter sounds and how healthy mom is doing. I didn’t consider any option other than that. In typical fashion, with the doctor’s appointment scheduled for 3:15 PM and I not getting off work until 2:45, I was rushing to get there on time. Pulling in, jogging down a few flights of stairs and into the office, they said she had already been taken back. “Through those doors, and the nurse will meet you,” the receptionist told me. I smiled, said thank you, and headed back.

The nurse directed me to the room where my wife was sitting. I walked through the door and said “hey babe,” but I could see concern on her face. “So, my blood pressure’s a little high…” she said. It was somewhere in the ballpark of 150 / 90. Too high. This hasn’t been an issue at all throughout the pregnancy – actually, her blood pressure has improved with being pregnant. Typically she has been running at about 120 / 80. Just about that time, our OB came into the room. She started asking a couple questions, then reached for the blood pressure thingy (super technical term, I know) so she could take her own reading. She didn’t like hers any better than the first one.

They sent us across the street to the hospital to get my wife and baby hooked up to monitors and to do some blood tests. After a couple hours, the blood work came back fine, but our doctor still wasn’t liking my wife’s blood pressure.

So, here’s the plan – bed rest until the baby comes, and coming back into the hospital this Saturday to do another blood panel and check her blood pressure. If it doesn’t come down, we could be looking at a C-Section to get baby out of there. My wife will be 35 weeks pregnant as of Saturday.

My mind and my heart both wouldn’t keep quiet in that moment. “IT’S TOO EARLY” my mind screamed at me. She can’t be ready yet. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Our little angel isn’t supposed to be here yet. She’s going to be so small!

It’s moments like these where I feel God working through my heart, telling me to rest in Him and find comfort in Him. He tells us “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) like a father putting his arm around your shoulder to comfort you and guide you. So, I look to Him. This is completely out of my hands, but rests entirely in His. I will trust Him.

 

10 Things to do with 10 Weeks to Due Date

10 weeks left. That’s all that separates my wife and I from meeting our sweet daughter. And that 10 week timeline is really just a best guest, because if she is anything like her mother, she’ll make her grande debut whenever she dang well pleases.

We’re in the final stretch, and along with this portion of the pregnancy comes other responsibilities and to-do list items. So dads, listen up – there’s plenty to do and not too much time to do it.

1) Get that nursery done. The nursery is an awesome opportunity to do something, to create something, for your soon to be child, and it also serves as a great moment of bonding between you and your partner. Painting, decorating and getting the crib put together are some a few examples of how you will be determing the environment that your little angel will grow up in.

2) Rub your partner’s feet. For some women, swelling hardly happens. For others, it sucks, a lot, and causes a tremendous amount of discomfort. Be the sweet man she needs you to be and give her a good foot rub to try to relieve some of that pressure.

3) Cook more. Time to learn how NOT to burn everything you touch. Look up some easy recipes, or just throw together a good salad and grill some chicken. Little things really add up, and especially if your partner just got home from a hard day of work, let her relax and put her (potentially swollen) feet up and make her dinner.

4) Clean. Dishes. Laundry. Tidy things up. I don’t care how much you hate dishes – and lets face it, nobody really likes doing dishes – it’s time to suck it up and get it done. Make sure things are clean. Make sure she has clean clothes to wear. And just pick up around the house so she doesn’t have to stress about the clutter. (Still working on that one…. sorry baby.)

5) Register for birthing classes. Are you ready for child birth? Because I’m definitely not. Lets face it, it’s terrifying for us men and we aren’t even the ones doing the work. For you and your partner both, it’s an excellent idea to take a class that will help you both learn what it’s going to be like and help you mentally prepare. Check with your OB or the hospital where you will be delivering to get a handle on your options.

6) Start checking off big ticket items. Crib. Car seat. Stroller. You know, the BIG stuff. If you feel you don’t have enough blankets or “oh he/she would look so cute in that” pop into your head, make sure you have those big ticket items in place. Babies aren’t cheap.

7) Put away those baby shower gifts. If you’re having a baby shower, you’re going to end up with stuff. Some of the stuff you will love. Some of it you will absolutely need. And then, sometimes, you’ll get something that quite frankly you just don’t want. Go through those gifts with your partner, decide what’s going where (and what’s getting returned).

8) Time to find a pediatrician. So, your baby is going to need a pediatrician. Save yourself some stress and find one now. Ask friends or family for suggestions of good pediatricians in the area and feel free to interview them. It’s a great idea to know where they stand on certain issues, how they approach things and what you could expect from them.

9) Start thinking about childcare. I know guys, that word is scary enough to make your skin crawl, but you have to tackle it. Talk it out with your partner. What’s the plan? Is your partner working? Will she be returning to work? Will you hire a nanny or go public child care? There are a lot of options, and quite frankly, hardly any of them are cheap. It’s an expensive process. Start talking about it now so you and your partner know exactly what to budget for.

10) Validate your partner’s fears. Fellas, you need to understand that as overwhelmed as you may be, your partner is going to be giving birth. And I have no idea how they do it. Your woman is stronger than she even knows, but she’s likely absolutely terrified right now at the prospect of giving birth. You need to validate those concerns. Talk it out with her. Come up with solutions. Figure out a plan. But don’t tell her just to “get over it.” In no way am I perfect – I’m definitely guilty of saying things of this nature at times. But I have to remind myself how big of a deal this is and how daunting the delivery is on my wife. It’s crucial to support her and be there for her, calming her nerves while still validating that her fears are very real.

So, there you are. 10 weeks left and a bunch of stuff to think about. Things are really starting to ramp up to D-Day now….

Week 29, and the Nursery is Taking Shape

Sometimes during the course of a pregnancy, it can feel like there isn’t much for the man to do. We did our job, and then it become’s the woman’s burden to grow and nourish your baby while you sit on the sideline, twiddling your thumbs and trying to be active and supportive and helpful to your ever-more uncomfortable partner.

But this, this is something I’ve been so excited to do, because it feels like I get to contribute and really, tangibly do something for my daughter. My wife and I came up with the idea of a woodland creature themed room, and she encouraged me to paint a mural on one of the walls. I’ll be honest, I was definitely a bit nervous before starting the project. If I were to tackle something of this nature for my daughter, I would want it to be perfect. But, my wife is awesome, and she told me she had faith in me. So, I decided to go for it.

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Would ya look at that? It looks like a tree. And not even a bad tree, but a pretty good one, too. It’s just the start, and there’s plenty of cleaning up to do with it, adding in a couple more branches and some woodland creatures, but so far, I’d say it’s looking pretty dang good. I’ll keep you updated as it continues to improve.

I love being able to do this for my daughter. It’s special to me, being able to give her this. To be able to create something especially for her and do what I can to make her happy and comfortable is something very near and dear to me, and something that I take a great deal of pride in.

I hope my little girl likes it. I hope it makes her happy. I hope someday she sees that, since before she was even born, all I wanted was to do what I could to make her happy.

5 Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

My beautiful and no-doubt-about-it-pregnant wife is 28 weeks along now, and she looks absolutely incredible. I adore her pregnancy waddle, I love when she rubs her belly subconsciously, and she really is absolutely glowing. Pregnancy looks great on her.

With that said, some people just don’t think before they speak. I’m sure their little comments are well-intentioned, but they really aren’t helping anyone. Instead of calling my wife cute, you basically made her feel huge. So thanks for that.

So, without further adieu, here are 5 things to NEVER say to a pregnant woman.

1) Wow! You look like you’re about ready to pop!” Oh really, sir? She does? She still has 12 weeks to go, she looks wonderful, and all you accomplished was making her feel huge. So shut up. Please.

2) “Are you sure there aren’t twins in there?!” Nope, just one. Promise. And by the way, you’re absolutely hilarious. In your head I’m sure you saw that joke going marvelously, but it didn’t. It doesn’t. And it never will.

3) “Should you be eating that?” Danger. Ohhh danger. Unless you want a fork to be thrust into your eyeball, I highly suggest you make exactly zero comments about what a pregnant woman eats. I don’t care if she is knee deep in a kiddy pool of chocolate, let her do whatever she wants. And, call this tip 3.1 – when she declines to eat something because modern medicine has determined it’s probably better that she doesn’t, don’t try saying “OH IT’LL BE FINE! Back in my day we used to…” Just stop it. Medicine has progressed significantly and new information shows that certain things aren’t stellar for the baby. So stop.

4) “My parenting style is the best and here’s why…” Listen up hot shot, nobody is a perfect parent. Do my wife and I know what we’re doing in the parenting department? Absolutely not. Are we going to have some rude awakenings, both literally and figuratively? Without a question. It’s a learning process, one that we are going to have to go through, but one thing is absolutely unequivocally without question, and that is the fact that our little daughter will be tremendously loved. Unless we asked for your input, please, keep your mouth shut. I don’t want or need to hear about why your baby yoga 10 times a week makes you a better parent than someone else.

5) “Are you going back to work after the baby comes?” This question is so absurdly loaded, it’s ridiculous. I know that it seems perfectly harmless on the surface, but what this question can imply, depending on who’s asking, is a sense of judgment. Either you’re a terrible mom for wanting to leave your baby and go back to work or you’re “outdated and old fashioned” for wanting to stay home. Sure, the question might be harmless and the conversation might be smooth and a-okay, but if you ask that question and follow up with any sort of judgement whatsoever, you could cause quite a bit of damage.

So, long story short, just don’t with these questions or comments. They’re typically loaded or full of ignorance, and don’t really accomplish much more than added stress and frustration to a woman already doing the hardest job out there – pregnancy.

Third Trimester Already? Time Goes Way Too Fast.

All of a sudden, we’re starting the third trimester. I have absolutely no idea how that is possible, or how time has gone so fast. I feel like it was mere weeks ago that we were sitting in bed, excitedly talking about the fact that we were pregnant.

I’ve been really feeling the stress now, thinking about how much needs to be accomplished before our little girl gets here. The house has to be cleaned, crib put together, nursery painted, and lets now even talk about the nightmare that is negotiating with an HOA on installing new windows. (Seriously people, they’re white, vinyl, high efficiency windows…. I don’t understand why this is so difficult.) That clock is ticking down fast, and don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to meet her, but knowing that there is so much to be done in such a short period of time is giving me a little anxiety.

Going by averages for this time in the pregnancy, our beautiful little girl is about 16 inches long and 2.5 pounds, and only about 12 weeks away from making her grande debut. Her eyes are open and perceiving light, her taste buds are developing, and if (heaven forbid) we had to have her in an emergency situation, her lungs are developed enough for her prognosis to be good. Her kicks are getting stronger, and she’s putting on weight. It’s the final leg of the journey now.

So, my point is this – pregnancy is an absolutely incredible and miraculous thing, and it flies by before you know what’s happening. Embrace every moment, and every step, throughout the pregnancy. They go by in the blink of an eye. Love and cherish every single milestone, and do your best to be present and not get ahead of yourself.