I know I might have just jinxed it, but lately things have been pretty great. I love being a dad, and we love being parents.
I mean, just look how happy I look here:
Prior to having a kid, we were warned that once you have a kid, your life changes. Your world will revolve around them and your every free moment will belong to them. I really do see this point, and I think this is the part that takes the most getting used to for new parents.
For my wife and I however, this is not something that we haven’t faced before even prior to being married. In fact, for us adjusting to a baby came pretty natural, and it could be because had a little more practice compared to other new parents.
Practice in the form of a dog.
Yes, I know how taboo (and annoying) it can be when dog owners who don’t have kids compare having a dog to having kids.
I mean essentially you pick up their poop, bathe them, feed them, teach them to roll over, pretty much the same right?
But before I get put on a stake by an angry mob for my outrageous statement, please hear me out. As well, please allow me to dedicate this post to my dog, Owen.
So let me start by going back a few years, where my pants were too baggy, and my hair was too long, and we were unknowingly put to the test for parenthood…
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We were playing fetch on a field with our dog Owen when suddenly he stumbles and somersaults while chasing after a tennis ball.
Dogs do not somersault. Their bodies just don’t bend that way. It’s almost as weird as us humans walking on all fours; it just doesn’t seem right.
I slowly walk towards him, thinking it was just another silly spill from our silly dog. I mean, this our three year old super puppy; who runs faster than the other dogs, jumps higher than an eight foot fence. He’ll just get back up and forget he even tumbled.
But something was wrong. He wasn’t getting up.
My mind went numb, and the slow walk towards him became a sprint. You know those moments when the volume in your head tunes out, and things go in slow motion? I was in one of those moments.
Our puppy looked up at me with two of his front legs holding himself up, and gave me this “What’s going on?” expression.
As I picked him up to rush him back to the house, I remember thinking, “Shit it’s a holiday, what do we do? Where do we take him?”
36 hours and two emergency veterinary clinics later, we learned that our dog had lost function from the hip down. It could be for just a few days, a month, or longer.
What. The. Hell.
Prior to our dog getting hurt, our stresses consisted of silly arguments and disputes that normal young couples fight over. Silly things like where should we go eat, what do you want to watch, etc.
As abrupt as he got injured, we were now talking about the cost of x-rays, MRIs, slings, wheelchairs, rehab, etc. To quote a popular phrase during that era: “Shit just got real.”
Our daily lives and schedules were now devoted to our dog: carefully walking him, doing physio/exercise, making sure he ate quality food, taking him to frequent vet visits, etc. In a sense, he really embodied a baby.
My then girlfriend (now wife) and I suddenly became more than just a couple. We now were now responsible for a dog with special needs. We were caregivers, but above all else, that was when we learned that we could count on one another to make things work no matter how tough things get. Dare I say, that was when I realized that one day, I know I can count on her to look out for me and our family.
Because he was injured, it not only brought us closer to each other, but also learn to split love and responsibility onto something else. And this is the practice that I was talking about.
I wrote this in a journal soon after the endeavour:
I am very fortunate not to be going through such an experience alone, as I am very grateful to have Jenn along the way. Every fear, every setback, every direction to go has been shared and experienced with Jenn, and I feel very lucky to have her through all of this. Even though she is Owen’s main owner, as he lives with her, I deeply feel that we’re in this together equally and wholeheartedly.
The past few days have allowed me to fully be confident of dark situations because I’m with Jenn. I’m so glad to be with her.
First off, I was a much better writer then compared to than I am now. Second, I think this was the turning point for me for a lot of things in life as it allowed me to understand what it means to share a responsibility, and share a life with someone. ☺️
Slowly he was able to recover and after two years he ended up recovering most of his movement, only requiring to wear one boot on one of his hind leg. And through countless Tony Stark-like boot prototypes (I think we had seven variations in total) he was a healthy happy dog who got to enjoy a full life as a dog.
We were lucky to have him for another seven health years, and it’s been almost two years since he left us. I sincerely think because of his injury, we were better prepared for our journey into parenthood, which eventually lead to this:
So there you have it, I hope you’re not angry with my sentinent about dogs and babies, but our dog certainly helped us become who we are as parents. If there is a doggy heaven and he somehow managed to learn to read, I want to say thank you pup, you taught us to become parents before we even knew it.
One final takeaway from this is that I now believe that every stage of life or situation prepares you for the next in some serendipitous way, I know the struggle of taking care of our disabled dog certainly helped us as new parents. At least that’s a better way to think about things when life gives you a ruff situation.
It’s been three months since the birth of Charlie and I’m starting to build a list of things that were not as important as I thought they would be prior to the baby coming. I have to say that one example of money better spent elsewhere would be those damn prenatal classes. Now I’ve chronicled my misadventures (part 1 and part 2) of attending prenatal classes with my wife when she was still pregnant, but in further hindsight and talking to my wife about it today, I can confidently say that it was pretty useless.
Just as a warning, this was true for me and my wife. Everyone’s situation is different and it may not be necessary true for you. So if you are a mommy-daddy-to-be considering signing up for a class, here are four reasons why you shouldn’t waste money on prenatal courses. Of course, there’s no reason for you to listen to some random guy on the internet about it, but I highly encourage you to at least consider it.
I am in no way affiliated with the Anti-Prenatal Class Group (I don’t think there’s one that exists.. lol), so no hidden agenda against the perinatal education field. I’m just an oblivious husband of a former prego who thought we needed everything to prepare for the big day.
1. Put Your Money to Better Use
Babies cost money. Cribs, car seats, strollers, clothes, formula, seriously it doesn’t end! There’s so many things that cost so much, as new parents you’re caught off guard with knowing whether or not something is worth it.
Worst is that the baby merchandising industry knows this and uses it to their advantage. Take that stupid Sophie the Giraffe for example. You take a doggy chew toy and market it it for kids and you can charge it three times more. It’s madness! But we jump at the opportunity to buy on when it was on “sale.”
The class that we signed up for was a private class through the hospital, and I believe we paid $200 for it! That two bills could be spent on diapers, wipes, massage, or a 2-3 months worth of internet. Some municipalities do offer free classes, so check those out. But truthfully, your time is probably more valuable than attending this class so you are better off saving that as well and putting it to good use to like say…installing your car seat, or putting together the crib, or finding deals on a Sophie ;).
Spend your time and money wisely.
2. All Information Can Be Found on the Inter-webs
As I alluded to it previously, much of the information from the class can be found online. Honestly, a quick YouTube search can go a long way. If you ever had any questions on labour massages, just watch something on YouTube and you’ll get to watch it in the comforts of your own home and not some grainy cringe-worthy VHS tape that you are forced to watch with other new parents.
As for those labour exercises they teach the husbands to comfort their wives during labour, my wife didn’t want me to lay a finger on her at that point in time.
So really, just do a quick google search and you can find prenatal class lesson plans that you can simply research and figure out on your end. Here’s a particularly useful one from a Public Health Department that lists all of the topics that you “need” to know.
3. Knowledge is Power – But Not In This Case
One of the biggest regrets for my wife and I was learning too much. Did you know that the epidural needle has another needle inside?? Did you know about the crochet hook that pops your wife’s bag of water? Or how your baby can get a conehead from the suction that they use?
I think I’ve already said too much. When your wife is ready to pop at any moment, you really don’t need to know all of this information in your head. It’ll just psyche you guys out, trust me. My wife chose to go with the epidural and I remember having conversations prior to labour with her about how horrific it was going to be.
“What if something screws ups?”
“What if the needle inside gets stuck?”
These were some of the unwarranted questions that we asked each other, and I can honestly say that ignorance is definitely a bliss when it comes to this subject.
Both of you are already in an emotional roller-coaster near the end, the last thing you need to know is how messed up things can be if something were to go wrong. I know some of you are thinking, “Well, shouldn’t I know to prepare myself?” The answer is no. Regardless of the outcome, your doctor or midwife will provide you with your options at that point in time, there’s no use in worrying now.
4. You’ll Forget Everything Anyways, and That’s Okay
Have you ever been certified for first aid training? I have, twice even. But if someone where down and out on a sidewalk I’ll be the last person to know what to do, despite being “certified.”
The same can be said when mom is ready to blow and you’re scurrying to the hospital. All that preparation and “training” from those 8 hours of sitting in the classroom means nothing when it’s show-time. Part of the fun and experience of labour is the freaking out and panicking part.
Between contractions, my wife and I had time to take a selfie, as well as take one final photo of her final prego-form.
The spontaneity is what makes things memorable and great.
Besides, the nights leading up to the actually trip to the hospital you’ll be googling “how far apart do contractions need to be before going to the hospital” 20 times. So you digging for your class notes is likely the last thing you want to do.
So there you have it, four reasons to not sign up for prenatal classes. If you are considering it, just save your time and money for something else cause I really believe you can get more value elsewhere.
Before I finish, I feel like I can’t be all down on prenatal classes and I do have something positive to say about it. So here it goes:
The one thing that is good about prenatal class is that there’s always another couple who is less prepared and further behind than you are. That couple makes you feel pretty good about your situation – that is, unless you are that couple.
As I progress through the journey of becoming a dad, I’ve been coming up with realizations of what “being a parent means (BAPM).” These BAPM moments are usually the seemingly everyday moments that on the surface may not mean much, but slowly manifest itself into something I think is worth considering.
I remember back in grade four when I was a new kid at a new school. When the bell rang, everyone seemed to know which classroom they were all heading to. I remember standing in the hallway feeling uneasy. My stomach started to knot up and I felt like I needed to go to the washroom.
To be completely honest, I was a cry baby. I hated the feeling of not knowing stuff, and especially hated the feeling of being alone in a new situation. Watery eyes and getting that stinging sensation in my nose was what I normally did when faced with a difficult situation.
Learning to become a dad kind of feels like that every time I venture into something baby related.
Just yesterday we went to CanaBee Baby to purchase a baby carrier. Let me be clear, I know how to use a back pack. Heck, I’ve worn a back pack since I can remember. The design of a baby carrier is really not much different from a back pack.
So why did it take two store representatives to help a grown ass man put on what appears to be a fancy adult back pack?
When they finally managed to get it on me, they gave me a fake baby to try it on for size. The first “successful” attempt I realized I had grabbed the fake baby by the head as if I were “the claw.” Second attempt I realized the fake baby’s leg was coming out of one side. (That’s one flexible baby!)
With this fake baby, I am grateful for the fact that the limbs bent from all angles, I’m pretty sure I won’t have this luxury once real baby arrives.
So what did I learn from this experience?
I learned that being a parent means to question and rethink how smart you really are, cause the reality of it all is, I’m pretty dumb and being a parent means you’re starting from level 1.
But you know what? I believe it is okay.
If I knew everything then I wouldn’t have the enjoyment of actually succeeding. Right?
Plus how would I learn to have humility and be humble when I am able to look back and laugh at all of this?
So I guess admitting to not know is important as a parent because parents don’t have all the answers. And if we’re not humbled by experiences we will not be able to properly teach our kids.
The funny thing about my first day of grade four was the fact that my classroom was actually in a portable class room, outside in the damp September weather. Though the other kids knew where they were going, they ended up waiting outside for the teacher to arrive.
Eventually the feeling of not knowing the intricacies of a new school wore off and I ended up making lifelong friends. So from what appeared to be a crybaby moment actually became something very rewarding and worthwhile and I hope this will translate the same when I becoming a dad.
Back in my public school days I would remember how we as kids felt about Sex Ed when we were learning about contraceptives. It was awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing, but all the kids would hide their discomfort by playing it cool and laughing things off. Most of us would just joke around and not pay too much attention.
Well according to stats can, in 2005 from ages 15-19 the rate of pregnancy was 29.2 per 1000 women.
That’s actually quite high, and I suppose kids should’ve paid more attention. Or maybe they should’ve been provide with a stronger deterent. I mean one-third is nothing to laugh at.
I think I might have a solution to drastically reduce that number.
How about we…
TAKE THEM TO A FLIPPING PRENATAL CLASS!!!
Forget the science centre or the zoo, they should load up the kids tricking them into thinking they going on a field trip and just drop them off at the hospital for a prenatal class. Better yet, just let them roam the maternity ward and watch a live birth.
The things you see at these classes you cannot unsee.
Now I understand as a father I will see all the goods when my wife eventually delivers but man, the instructional videos and information they provide about vacuums, forceps, vaginal slicing procedures go beyond one’s capacity.
I’m all for knowledge is power, but truthfully, ignorance is a bliss.
To be fair, we did pick up on useful tips, such as when do we know we should go to the hospital (five minute interval contractions that are one minute long), or which areas f the body to massage whe she’s in labour. But that’s what Google is for. And at least Google gives the option of only showing safe-search on images.
At one point the instructor was showing us the hook that punctures the bag of water. She even joked, “for you ladies that crochet, it is actually quite similar to the hook that the doctor would use.”
Great. Just great.
Not only did this class ruin conceiving, it’s ruined crocheting. I will never look at a crochet hook the same way! It’s purpose is no longer to make awesome knitted dolls, it’s now used to poke into my wife’s you-know-what to open the flood gates of Ewww.
And to my wife’s credit she tried her best to tough through the class. I mean it must suck to know in advance what the possible scenarios are. Like I said, not knowing might be better.
It’s almost like sitting down at a restaurant only to be told by the waiter that you’ll get explosive D after this meal, and you don’t have the option of not eating the food.
At least if you don’t know you’ll get food poisoning, you’ll unknowingly enjoy your meal, only to find out later on.
Suffice to say, my advice would to be to steer clear of the prenatal classes, especially if your wife is already stressed about the process. But we still have two more to go. So we’ll see what terror next week brings.
In any case, if there was a saving grace to this class, it would really be the fact that we were able to tour the maternity ward and hear the sounds of babies. To think that in roughly three months we’ll be in that environment with our own baby is quite…special.
Maybe it was a good thing we got the sex ed we got, cause at the end of the day, despite all the scary details about the birthing process, it should be worth it.