Baby, This is Happening!

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This post was published on that site:

Holy night this is finally happening!

A few weeks ago I got fooled by false labor and almost every day since! First it was the night when the contractions were 40 minutes apart for 5 hours straight. Then it was the night they were 20 minutes apart. Then it was the night I got impatient and coaxed Dani (against her better judgement) to drink two ounces of castor oil.

That night was a disaster. She started puking like a banshee, pooping like a sinking ship, and I, still fervent to get that baby out of her, suggested that we have sex to speed things along. (The sad truth is that we tried and failed and it wasn’t her fault that we failed.)

This morning I got the call. It was Dani- mid contraction. Her nursing unit had collectively sent her home from work. (Thank God for them!) She drove home and immediately started clenching the sides of the bathtub like the bathtub was to blame.

We called the doctor. The doctor asked us in. We spent the 30 minute ride lamenting the fact that it was probably another false alarm. But they rushed us to a room, rushed the doctor in, and with one professional hand and one latex glove and one minute of invasive inspection, the doctor removed her hand and announced, “75% effaced. 1.5cm dialated. This is early labor!”

I flipped out. I AM flipping out! This is happening!!!

Now we’re at Dani’s mom’s house, per the doctor’s orders, waiting.

Ironically, 33 years ago on this very day, Dani’s mom was at her own mom’s house, waiting for Dani to arrive.

If everything breaks right, our little guy will be born on his mom’s 33rd birthday!

We’ll keep ya posted!

To read What Happened When My Son Was Born, which was originally published on Christianity for the Rest of Us, click on the title.

Top 8 Things I Can’t Wait to Teach My Kid

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This post was published on that site:

I get to teach my kid stuff. How cool is that?

There’s this ignorant little person and I get to fill up his head with my ideas. I’ve always wanted to fill up someone’s head with my ideas. I’ve been trying to fill up your head with my ideas but you’ve already got ideas of your own. What I need is an empty head and I’m finally getting one.

Anyway, last night I couldn’t sleep cause I was thinking about it. This kid doesn’t know anything! So I made a list of the most important things I’ve gotta explain.Here’s a preview so you can see how the curriculum is shaping up.

8. How to Eat Eggs

You gotta stab the yolk and mop it up with toast. Dad showed me when I was 4. It was awesome. He said it’s how real men eat eggs and he had a beard at the time so I knew it was true.

7. How To Watch Football

You can’t sit on the couch like a turd. You gotta cheer like a crazed chimpanzee. You work yourself into a lather, you eat chicken wings till the sauce dribbles down your neck, you lean forward at the waist like the TV is a magnet, and you jump and scream whenever the refs call a penalty against the Buffalo Bills! Throw bananas if you have them; if not, chicken wings will suffice. Every year you have to believe the Bills can make the playoffs until they don’t. Then you can pick a team with a good quarterback to root for during the Superbowl. MiniMoob and I need Sammy Watkins jerseys.

6. How To Sing In the Car

First you gotta pretend the steering-wheel is a drum. You thump on it til the horn makes soft little chirps. (Dad showed me this trick!) Anyway, you rat-a-tat your thumbs on the steering wheel while the volume is  up and the windows are down and the heat is blasting cause the snowflakes are flying in the windows but you’re singing and drumming so loud it doesn’t matter. Dad showed me that trick too. And whenever a new oldie plays dad shouts out the title, the band, and what he was doing the summer it first came out. I loved ridin’ shotgun with dad and MiniMoob will too!

5.How to catch a baseball

You can’t hold your glove like you’re asking for candy. The ball shimmies up your arm and knocks you in the chin. Trust me. I know. What you do is, you hold it palm out like a high five. Thank you Coach Stonemetz. MiniMoob thanks you too.

4. How to be a friend

You pick for character, not flash. Mom taught me this. And once you pick you hang in there even if it’s tough. In other words, my kid might not be the most popular kid for a while. Until he and friends win the science fair and get their pictures in the paper. He’s still not gonna get a date out of it or anything.

3. How to Fight

You have to be passionate without being mean; you have to present without being defensive. Absolutely no sarcasm. It’s very tricky. Dani and I figured it out. You hold hands. You pace. But you never raise your voice in anger and you never leave the room. MiniMoob will probably need some patience. This kind of stuff takes hard work. Ya gotta learn how to feel your feelings before you learn how to express them well. He’ll probably have it figured out by like, 25, cause he’s gonna be way ahead of schedule.

2. How to Love People

You always look them right in the eye. You remember how they’re just like you when you get down to the bottom of it. You find something about them to relate to, or to be curious about. You dig after it as far as they’ll invite you in. And when you’ve gotten somewhere, you marvel at how unique they are and you try to help them see it too.

1. How to follow God

First, you gotta realize how amazing this whole world is. And then, you gotta realize how amazing you are. After that you gotta really believe it. And then you gotta wonder about it for a while. Finally, when you’ve done all that, you gotta realize how huge everything is, and how small you are inside of it, yet how spectacular. Once you figure out everything that implies it’s pretty easy to worship God, even if you don’t have everything else nailed down.

Gonnorhea: Our Immaculate Infection

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This series was called Moob & Boob, where we each wrote our own perspective on the same topic:

Dani’s Take:

I got the call last Thursday. The voice on the other line was tentative but compassionate. “Is this Danielle? Are you in a place where we can talk freely?” The doctor then proceeded to inform me that my recent gonorrhea test came back positive/indeterminate and I would need to come back in for additional testing.  She went on to say a bunch of other things which I completely ignored. All I could hear was the word positive echoing over and over in the vast space of my completely stunned brain.

How? Who? Matt? Me? Oh God, the baby! I immediately texted Matt and both our moms. In retrospect it sounds a little weird to want to tell your spouse, mother, and mother-in-law that you might have an STD (or STI as they are now properly termed) but I guess when you’re in complete shock you go to those who will love and understand you most.

Matt called me from work. I picked up the phone and said, “You didn’t, right?” and he was all, “No! I promise! Did you?” I emphatically replied “No, you know me!  I would totally tell you before I cheated so I could enjoy it and not feel guilty.” I believed him. He believed me. The only logical answer was a false positive.

The next five days were torture. I spent way too much time reading ridiculous forums without any credibility in hopes of finding another explanation. One person said that you could get it from a toilet seat, another said that you could catch it like a cold. Not my finest moment as a nurse.

Matt’s way to cope was to process with people. I about punched him in the face. “You can only tell our families! No one else will believe I’m not a slut.” I was starting to feel like the virgin Mary only a bad girl version. I bet no one believed her when she was all like, “Hey! I’m pregnant but I’ve never had sex before.” If I lived back then I would have recommended she seek psychiatric help.

Finally the long awaited second doctor’s appointment arrived. We went together and learned that apparently they ran my test twice, the first positive, the second negative, resulting in an indeterminate result. The doctor had said this on the phone but it was the part my brain left behind. I got her second call yesterday. “Everything is negative, your initial test was just a false positive.” What a relief!

The whole experience seemed like a test of our trust. I tried to remain positive (no pun intended) but it was hard. Trust is much bigger than just a word. It’s so much harder to trust someone when the facts suggest that one of you is lying. It was scary and eye opening for both of us to feel doubt creeping in and to have science support that doubt. I suppose the moral of the story is, if you want to test the level of trust in your relationship, test positive for an STD and wait a week to figure out the truth… or something like that.

*********

Matt’s Take:

You know how it is when your wife gets gonorrhea.

It’s like, “Aw, geez. Not that again!”

And then you have to buy that cream and wear those diapers and get the word “infected” tattooed across your pubic bone.

OK, I made that up. I forget if there’s cream involved. It’s been a while… Blast you, Monogamy!

But you know how it goes. Sometimes you find yourself at a public restroom and you see some fluid on the toilet seat you simply have to mop it up with an open wound. Well, most people mop it up, but not us. See, Dani and I promised in our vows not to use our open wounds to mop up unfamiliar fluid. I’ve been abstaining for six years at least. I’d forgotten everything I knew about gonorrhea.

That’s why it confused me when Dani sent me this text last week:

“Omg my gonorrhea test came back positive so they sent it back and it came back indeterminate…i have to get retested. Its an STD!!!! I’m so freaked out, I know its probably a lab error because its impossible but its scary and weird!!”

That’s a direct quote from my IPhone. I read it at work and I had to do that weird thing where you furrow your eyebrows and glance all around to make sure nobody is looking; then you cup your hand over the phone and you read it again.

Notice how in her second sentence she takes time to explain that gonorrhea is an STD. She knew I’d need the refresher. But how did SHE remember? Ah? Ahhh?

You’ll also notice she called it an STD, so pay no attention to her medical mumbo-jumbo about how it’s an STI these days. We know the truth.

Anyway, I called her right away. She was flustered. I was cool. “Gonorrhea could kill MiniMoob,” she said, “or blind him during birth.” But I stayed calm. I asked the right questions. We decided it was a mistake and I got back to work.

After that I didn’t think about it for awhile. I KNOW Dani so it had to be a mistake. She’s way more monogamous than I am. If she was gonna cheat I know exactly what she’d do. She’d say, “Matt, I’d like to stop having sex with you. Frankly, you suck at sex. Let’s get divorced and let’s hurry cause I’m not having sex with anybody until this paperwork issue is resolved.”

(I bet you think I’m kidding.)

The next day when I started telling my friends I realized there was a problem. Their faces went white. They touched my forearm. One of them kept staring at the floor. That’s when Dani advised me to back off the publicity campaign… or else.

But I kept seeing those faces. Skeptical and afraid. They wouldn’t disappear when I closed my eyes. And that’s how the anxiety began to pry open my chest. “Could MiniMoob die?” “Could Dani cheat?” “No way! …Right?”

After that it was a long crappy week. A visceral war. I knew the truth but it seemed like the facts contradicted the truth. What do you do when that happens?

It’s a question of faith. What can you believe? Can you ever really trust? What about logic and the minuscule percentage of false positives?

For a few days I had to remind myself of everything I already knew: Dani’s character, her love, her obsessive honesty. And when the test finally came back negative there was a part of me that wanted to scold myself for ever having questions in my head. But Dani promised me that we were normal and that we did just fine. And I think I believe her too.

Mrs. Dadfire

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This post was published on that site:

True confession: I might become a stay-at-home dad.

Who would have thunk it? Me. The man with a pink apron and curlers in his hair.

At least I’ll be the envy of the Cobb’s Hill basketball courts. They’ll gawk between slam dunks while I stand yards away among the wood chips, beside the monkey bars, in an un-cinched bathrobe with a juice box in hand.

Is that image too vivid for you? A full bodied man in such matronly estate? Well, deal with it. I’m sexy and I know it.

(*Alert*: You have just read four sentences of false bravado. The author is in fact terrified that he will lose his Man Card.)

See, I wanna be a great dad, but I wanna be a great husband too! And I know Dani wouldn’t mind if I made six or seven figures annually. As much as she loves nursing, she’d love philanthropy even more. She’d give away all the money I made to anybody who needed deodorant or wanted an X-box. She’d take MiniMoob to the park and the dudes would stare at her in a whole ‘nother way. But she’d give them all X-boxes and everybody would be happy.

The trouble is I don’t make enough cash with my writing (read: any) for Dani to give out X-boxes. That dilemma has forced us into alternative mapping about how to fund our future. Based on our recent projections – the fact that she has an actual career while I have a pipe dream career – we’ll be riding her train to Sugar Mountain.

And that leaves me with two big problems.

First, what am I supposed to do with a kid everyday? Like… cook and crap? That’s ridiculous. I mean, I’m very enthusiastic about cooking… but have I ever told you about the time I tried to make a casserole for Dani? We were newlyweds. I gave it my best shot. A real sincere effort to impress her. I won’t get into my gory efforts in the kitchen; I’ll just tell you the recipe I created and where it ended up:

1 jar of breadcrumbs, 1 brick of cream cheese, 1 topless shaker of salt, 3 pounds of ground beef, 2 cans of cream-of-mushroom soup, 2 jars of spaghetti sauce, 2 pounds of tater-tots, 1 jar of queso drizzled on top…. The garbage.

And second, will this mean that I never make it in the real world? Seriously! How has it come to this? I don’t even like the real world. The point was always to change it. To say something that mattered. To say it well enough that people would be inspired to reconsider everything. (With a dash of existential hope. And practical legs. Of course.) But what if this is just the next footfall on the long slow death of my bright-eyed ambition?

Can I be OK with that?

And can somebody please teach me how to properly heat a can of Gerber’s mushed carrots?

Do We Find Out His Sex?

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This series was called Moob & Boob, where we each wrote our own perspective on the same topic:

Dani’s Take:

I don’t want to find out the gender of our baby early. It feels like opening a Christmas present in July. Why would I do that? Yes I’m a control freak and a planner but some things seem too good to plan. Everyone I talk to that has waited has this little extra sparkle in their eyes as they recall the excitement of hearing the doctor proclaim for the first time, “Its a BOY!” or “Its’ a GIRL!” I want that bonus excitement too and somehow I don’t feel like I can get it from an ultrasound tech on a random Tuesday in my 2oth week.

I’ve also talked to people who found out early and most of them are glad they found. I think that’s great! It seems like personal preference to me. And if my preference is to wait it seems like I should go with that gut feeling right? I mean, Matt can find out if he wants, I don’t care if he knows and I don’t. Be he’s all weirded out by that idea. Dramatic mumbo-jumbo like “OMG I’ll die if I have to keep a secret that long!” I told him he’s a drama queen and our child better get’s his acting skills.

In case you didn’t know, Matt really wants to find out early. But his reasons suck. Maybe he could persuade me if he was like “I just want to be able to call our baby by name.” Or “it will be helpful with planning,” but those aren’t his reasons. He just goes on theoretical rants about how it’s inconsistent to utilize technology tools for health screenings while refusing that same technology to find out the gender. Capital L-A-M-E, LAME.

I’m fine with yellow and green bedding at the baby shower. And I’m fine when my baby girl is all decked out in Yankees apparel. Besides, I’m just starting to bond with this tiny blob in my belly and it’s just starting to feel like a little human. I’m not ready to give it a gender and a name. It seems like those bonding moments will be like icing on the cake for me – a sweet treat that comes at the end of the baking process, after the bun is out of the oven and cooled off for a little while.

Either way, this dilemma of whether or not to find out early is really not a big deal (#firstworldproblems). The baby will be the same gender at 20 weeks as it will be at 40 weeks. The most important thing is that it continues to grow and be healthy. So if someone wants to help Matt out and give him better reasons why we should find out early I’ll definitely entertain the idea. In the meantime I’m sticking to my guns and waiting it out with the confidence that for me, the wait will be worth it.

*********

Matt’s Take:

Why in the world would you not find out the sex of your baby!

This is is 2014. The technology is available!

I can’t imagine watching a doctor scope out MiniMoob’s genitals, learn such RELEVANT INFORMATION TO THE REST OF OUR LIVES, while I say, “hey buddy, can you go ahead and keep that a secret from me for no good reason at all?”

He’d be like, “Umm… OK… you weirdo.” Cause in his head he’d be thinking, “Why do I have to arbitrarily hide this information while I inform you of everything else. Like, ‘hey, turns out your baby has a genetic disorder,’ or ‘hey wow, your baby has three eyeballs and green metallic scales growing along his-or-her ribcage.’ Do you want my help or not?” See, he’s annoyed because he knows it’s a disingenuous, overly sentimentalized attempt to live in the 1970’s.

Or maybe that’s just me. Probably just me. But I think it’s silly not to find out.

And lemme tell ya, it has nothing to do with planning for the baby’s arrival. I don’t care about the room color and I don’t think MiniMoob does either. Not for the first year anyway. You can launch me and my boy into Wegmans wearing pink wool sweaters and everybody can say, “Aww, she’s so adorable! What’s her name?” And I can say, “Charles.” And they can say, “Aww, Charlie is such a cute name for a girl!” And then Charles and I will go buy some gender neutral Gerber food and a large, manly, bone for me to gnaw on.

But I’ll tell you why I wanna find out. I wanna find out cause then I can actually KNOW if it’s my SON or my DAUGHTER!

And that changes everything.

It sets the tone for my relationship with them. I’ll know right then if they want to be like me someday; or if they want to BE me someday. Am I their hero or their role model? Do I protect them or unleash them on the world? And if I can begin bonding with them now, if I can meditate on what kinds of things they’re gonna need from me as they grow, why wouldn’t I do that?

But Dani doesn’t see it that way. Can you believe the nerve of that girl? I NEVER saw this coming. I thought for sure she’d care about the the pink sweaters and all. But that’s where she agrees with me.

I don’t even really understand her reason for waiting yet. All I know is that there’s this little glint in her eye. I saw it once while we ate lunch at Magnolia’s last month. She said, “So Babe, are we gonna find out?” And I said, “You mean some people don’t? You mean that still happens?”

And then she told me a story about how her parents waited. And she somehow tied in another story about when she was a little girl and she got a surprise puppy for Christmas.

Naturally, I reminded her that she hates surprises.

Our Trojan Horse

The Father Moobs blogs were originally posted in 2014 and 2015 on fathermoobs.com, a now defunct website where Dani (my wife) and I processed the upcoming arrival of our first baby. This series was called Moob & Boob, where we each wrote our own perspective on the same topic:

Dani’s take:

The day started out full of energy with the excitement of my best friend’s upcoming wedding in full force. Unfortunately, my PMS was putting a damper on my desire to buzz about the city with Matt to buy wedding supplies.

I always whine to Matt when I’m cramping and tell him how awful it is to be a woman. He usually buys me chocolate or cleans the house which magically makes me feel better. This time Matt wasn’t buying it though. “You told me you were gonna get your period last week,” he said.

I pulled up my phone calendar to prove him wrong which backfired. For once he was right, I was supposed to get it last week. I told him it must be a fluke and reminded him how we’d been too busy to “do like they do on the discovery channel.” Plus we decided to wait until the fall to start trying.

A spark of hope flickered in his eyes as he announced shopping was over and that we needed to get home and take a pregnancy test. I told him it was a waste of money and I was positive I was getting my period any minute.

We got home and I humored him by peeing on a stick. I was so sure I wasn’t pregnant that I left him in the bathroom tenderly holding my pee stick. Two minutes of intense silence were shattered as he erupted out of the bathroom yelling “we’re pregnant, babe we’re pregnant!”

I’m tempted to tell you how I began to jump up and down and see visions of rainbows and fluffy kittens but that would be a lie. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has had this initial reaction: First, my face distorted in horror and then I fell to my knees as I grabbed the pee stick out of his hands. I looked at it in disbelief. How could this happen? The plan was September at the earliest. I am a planner. I always stick to the plan!

It may seem like a few months shouldn’t make much difference but if you think like that than you’re not a planner. Despite my initial despair, Matt’s excitement was contagious and after about 20 minutes I had composed myself and was warming up to the idea. By the time we got into the car to tell our families I was pretty excited as well.

I looked over at Matt and laughed. I told him that his glowing face made it look like he was the one carrying our child, and I said I was pretty sure he was going to gain lots of sympathy weight and be very emotional the whole pregnancy. He happily agreed. But his goofy expression somehow gave me the assurance that no matter what kind of crazy adventure was to come we were definitely in it together.

*********

Matt’s take:

First off, don’t listen to Dani.

She’ll tell you we got pregnant by surprise.

Well, maybe, but only cause I’m a wizard at psychology.

See, here’s how it happened:

We went shopping one Monday afternoon for bow-ties and suspenders and scrapbook stickers for my lil’ sister’s impending wedding. I was moaning about it because my sister was getting all the attention. I pointed that out to Dani over lunch and she stroked my hand and told me I was being a turd.

So we kept on shopping for bow-ties and we ended up finding them. After that we went to one of those girly craft stores, Michael’s or Jo-Anne’s or someplace awful. Real men probably don’t know this but those fabric stores only have one checkout line! It’s absolutely diabolical – the way that line winds back and forth for miles and miles, like an international airport terminal. I think it’s just so they can show you extra packets of stickers you might want to buy.

Finally a plain faced girl rang us through but she insisted on taking our email address for coupons. Dani gave her mine so I pinched her.

Anyway, this is where the story gets good. We loaded the car with crappy things and drove away. At the first red light Dani says: “I should get my period any day now.” She tells me stuff like that. But here’s something you should know about my wife: she only has a 48 hour window of memory (which is great three days after I do something dumb). But in this situation it was better than great. It was a moment where you slam on the brakes even though you’re already stopped!

“Babe,” I said, “You told me that LAST week!”

She cocked her head at me. “I did?”

“Yeah! You did!”

“Noooo,” she pulled out her phone and started scrolling.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m checking the dates.”

“What dates? What do you mean, dates?”

“I wrote down the day when my last period started.”

“You DO that?”

“Yeah. I always do that.”

“Weird.”

“Oh hey… you’re right,” she said, “Look. Here. I was supposed to get my period last Wednesday.”

I slammed the brakes even harder. We lurched forward at the stoplight. I remember right where we were, still in view of that lame old craft store. I felt the adrenaline shooting down my arms and I started saying a bunch of nonsense phrases like: “But you’re never late…,” “…you mean we could be…,” “…but wasn’t I out of town then?”

I started speeding toward the apartment. I knew there was a pregnancy test beneath the bathroom sink. We bought it a month earlier when we were “trying” but we never used it because “trying” only lasted one week. After that Dani decided she didn’t want to get pregnant yet. I found this out when she brought home a box of condoms.

I said, “NEVER!”

She said, “ALWAYS.”

Well. This is where my psychological wizardry came in handy. First we had long talk. We agreed we both still wanted a baby. But Dani wanted to wait till after my sister’s wedding. “Wedding, schmedding.” I told her. Which was a good point, but she didn’t see it that way.

So I challenged her to a duel of wits. And she accepted.

We made a deal that anytime we were about to have sex we would play Paper/Rock/Scissors, best out of three. If I won we’d have sex my way; if she won we’d use a condom.

Dear friends, that game was my crowning life achievement. I never lost. Not once. That’s why I knew right there at that stoplight, still escaping that blasted craft store, that MiniMoob was on the way!