The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” 🙏😂

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

Dear Me From One Year Ago

Dear Me from One Year Ago,

 

If you are reading this your life will change in a week. I know by now both you and your wife have been trying to conceive without success. I want to tell you both to not lose hope. By now both of you have learned that getting knocked up is not as easy as it seems like on TV and in movies, and both of you probably feel pretty down on yourselves.

Don’t worry.

In one week when your wife goes to the doctor to check up on pelvic pain, you’ll both realize that she did not pull or strain anything, and that it’s really her lady parts doing some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a new inhabitant.

 

Yep that's your kid
Yep, that’s you holding a photo of your kid

Sorry to spoil the surprise a little but hear me out: Your life is about to change as things will never be the same, but the funny thing is, things will also feel so right.

Let me get some things out of the way. Your hometown Raptors will get swept in the playoffs, so don’t waste time there. I mean still cheer, but just know that it’s not the end of the world when the Wizards dismantle your team. The only significant thing about the playoffs is that you’ll find out she’s pregnant in at the doctor’s office while you stream the game with headphones on. The wife will come out, and give you a look that you’ll never forget.

Remember and savour that moment as I still do.

From the moment you find out, you’ll go through a lot of changes. Not nearly the same as your wife, but enough for you to realize that pregnancy is truly a shared experience.

For starters you will become the food police. Seriously, everything your wife puts in her mouth you’ll do a quick google search to see if it’s poisonous for her and the baby. My advice is to be reasonable but firm.

You’ll also learn that your wife will have crazy food swings, and get this: she’ll hate eating chicken. WTF right? How can she hate chicken? That’s your favourite animal!!! It’s just the hormones man. So stop reading and get an order of Popeyes in your system while you still can, cause the next nine months you can put a hold on eating poultry.

You’ll also buy a lot of crap. I mean a lot. Some stuff you didn’t even know existed. But don’t fret, most of the junk you buy is actually useful, so just smile and nod when she asks you if it’s okay to buy whatever. When you are shopping just don’t forget to have fun along the way. I know you will…I mean check this out:

Dad-to-be testing...oh geez.
You’ll make shopping fun…and embarrassing

Yep, you’ll still pull crap like this…And even though I’m warning you not to be an idiot, I know you’ll make it a goal to definitely do it.

Oh one final thing about buying stuff: your baby will be a little bit bigger, so just ease off on the newborn stuff.

So far, things sound okay, right? Well, here’s where you need to pay a little closer attention as I’m warning you now, not everything is as light-hearted and peachy.

You yourself will grow up more. I know you may think that you already know everything there is to know and that you are already mature. But something inside you will change, and you will somehow become more appreciative of life. You will appreciate your wife more, and definitely appreciate mom and dad more than ever. This is because you will begin to think like a parent and understand what they went through.

You're going to want to get comfortable searching on your phone on your back
You’re going to want to get comfortable searching for stuff on your back

What does “thinking like a parent” mean? Basically you’ll begin to worry about things. A lot of things. You’ll have some insecurities about your role as a husband and father. You’ll have many nights of waking up and googling answers. You will dig though forums and message boards to see whether what your wife is experience is common. Let me tell you this, the more you read into it, the worse it becomes. But you have a big role in all of this. The thing is you need to keep your wife sane and calm during those moments, so be the strong, calm, optimistic husband that you are.

Weeks 6, 8, 20, and 25 will be scary and both you and your wife will go through some heavy stuff. But just know that after each of these episodes, your bond with your wife will become even stronger, and both of you will be able to talk and laugh about these moments eventually. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ll quickly learn that pregnancy is f*cking scary.

You’ll also figure out that most people who share great news about pregnancy on social media are not trying to brag about their happiness, but rather they are simply celebrating all of the little triumphs after facing the scary moments.

 

Your perspective will change and you’ll never fear and doubt so much in your life, but that’s just the process of it all. Just protect your wife and yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

This was me in NYC, ditching the wife to do a photo shoot. I will never live this down.
That’s you, and the last cool thing you’ll do in a while. Thank your wife for letting your ditch her for this.

You know how you think you’re so cool in taking street photos? Well that part of your life will draw to an end. Bummer right? Well not quite, you’ll quickly find a new photography outlet, and trust me: it’s wonderful. And if you’re not convinced, let me tell you this: you’ll have a last hurrah so to speak with taking pictures. In fact, you’ll ditch your pregnant wife to go to New York for something photography related, and it will be one of your best moments but also one of your tougher moments. You know what I said about appreciating your wife? You will really appreciate her after this, so never forget it even if she eventually does.

One thing I want to warn you about is to go to the movies while you still can. I can tell you that the last movie you’ll watch before becoming a dad will totally be worth it, and your wife will make it through the entire movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Han Solo. (Oops spoiler). Just relax and try to watch the movie without worrying that her water will break. It’ll still be a few days until it really happens.

Here’s a warning though, it might be a good idea to stock up on spicy Korean noodles around the time she’s due. Just saying.

At this point you are probably wondering about the finish line. Well, let me just tell you that your wife will have a smooth labour and delivery. However, both of you will be faced with some complications after the delivery. It’ll be scary, and both of you will be tested. Just know that you’ll both tough it through. Simply trust in your love for your wife, and trust in your strength as a husband. I know you hate asking for help, but you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help. So just face it now: your family and friends will pull through, huge.

I know what I told you sounds frightening, but I am not trying to scare you or warn you to change course.

As a matter of fact the journey you are about to embark on is totally worth it.  As I type this now both your wife and baby are sound asleep and everything just feels right. There’s no better feeling than what I am feeling right now, and I’m damn excited for what you are about to face in the coming year.

Enjoy every moment you are about to experience, because in one year’s time you would want to remind yourself all the awesome you just went through.

Sincerely,

You From One Year Later Today

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P.S. For whatever reason you’ll deciding that “growing” a “beard”  is a great idea. Well this photo might convince you otherwise:

Don't kid your self
Don’t kid yourself Wolverine, use that razor.

 

Four Reasons Why Prenatal Classes are Useless

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.”

Some things are just ridiculous. I see you Sophie. I see you.
Some things are just ridiculous. I see you Sophie. I see you.

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?

20150917_064651
Yep, pretty much the same

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.

Selfie at the hospital while the wife is having contractions. Good to see our priorities were straight right?
Seriously, her contractions were 5 minutes apart at this point. Always remember to have fun!

 

 

Prenatal Class 2: Shoving Things Into a Pregnant Lady

 

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.

 

hmmmm….

 

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.

Well, that's ruined.
Well, that’s ruined.

 

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.

Prenatal Class 1: Piledrive That Baby

What is one sure-fire way to freak out a pregnant woman?

Put a bunch of pregnant women in a room and have them watch videos on how painful and excruciating labour is going to be.  Adding to the freaking out would be to have the already freaked out pregnant ladies witness the looks of shock and incompetence on their husbands faces (present company included.)

Yeah that sounds about right.

Yes, as a commitment to becoming awesome parents and more importantly getting my Dad Mode On, we’ve agreed to participate in four, three hour prenatal sessions for the next month to prepare for the decisive moment.

With the intention of educating new moms and dads, they are really going about it wrong with this class.  Near the end of the first class, my wife was already feeling nausea from the discussion topics and discomfort from sitting on plastic chairs.  This was more like a “Scared Straight” session for soon-to-be parents.  But instead of having hardened criminals lecture troubled teens, we have seasoned and hysterical new-moms sharing their birthing experiences.

To be fair, I did learn quite from this first session and so did my wife.

For instance, I had committed to memory the ideal baby position your baby needs to take inside of the womb in preparation for labour.  The way for me to remember it is to think Haggar from Final Fight pile-driving the crap out of someone.   Replace someone with baby and there you will see the ideal baby birthing position.

piledriver
Seriously this is the ideal birthing position

This piledriving position is actually the ideal position to reduce back pain on the mom, which is kind of cool if you ask me.

I also learned an assortment of massage positions and stances to take shape in.  My favourite one is called the “Slow Dance” where the birth partner is basically petting the backside like a junior high kid trying to get to first base.

I suppose the main purpose is to get your wife as comfortable as possible, but as I said to my wife after the session, the husband can basically be replaced by a door-frame and still service the same purpose.

Fine to be fair we do wish to be helpful in massaging different areas, but we would only become useful is we Sharpie’d the body parts to push or massage.

I kid you not we just might sharpie in my wife’s hip bones so that I can push upwards to provide back support.

With session 1 out of the way, I guess it can only get better right?