Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas with Baby Max

He is just a month old and already has his first Christmas under his belt. For the most part it was a typical Minninger holiday weekend. Very low key. I don’t think our family will ever be compared to the Griswold’s at Christmas. Not that we don’t have our traditions.

Shannon and I always begin the Christmas holiday by taking a drive to look at houses all decorated with Christmas lights. We get into the car and load the cd player with all of our seasonal favorites. I like the Elvis Christmas cd the best. Depending on the weather we will get coffee and hot chocolate. Then we drive all over Chattanooga neighborhoods looking for festive displays.

This year we took our son. He got all bundled up in his favorite jammies and then we put him in his car seat. I could see the anticipation in his eyes as we loaded him into the backseat of the car. In fact, Max was so overcome with excitement that he fell asleep before we left the driveway. I’m sure he’ll appreciate more in the next few years.

Christmas Eve is always spent at Shannon’s Mom’s house. Shannon’s brother, sisters and their families meet at Granny Alice’s for nachos, chili, hotdogs and presents. It is always a good time. Max got dressed up in his best Christmas outfit. He wanted to make a good first impression on the family members he hadn’t met yet. Plus, he has a reputation to uphold as the adorable new grandbaby.

He was very well behaved. Max fell asleep on the ride over and then didn’t wake up for two hours. (Shannon and I even had to open his presents for him.) He wasn’t very social when he first woke up either, because he was very hungry. Shannon took him in the other room and “topped him off” and changed his diaper. When they emerged from the bedroom he was ready to visit with relatives. We laid him on a quilt in the middle of the floor. Max smiled and babbled and kicked his little legs while his Granny, Auntie Jill and Momma hovered over him. “What a ham,” I thought. Before long it was time for everybody to head home.

Later that night Max had trouble going to sleep. I think he was too excited about Santa Claus coming to town. That’s okay. He and I sat on the couch together and watched the movie “Elf” starring Will Ferrell. It’s one of Max’s favorites. Mine too.

On Christmas morning it is tradition for Shannon and I to get up early, make some coffee and start a fire. (I actually just flip a switch on the gas logs.) Then we open our Christmas stockings and presents. This year was an exception. There were very few presents under the tree. Shannon and I decided that having a happy, healthy baby boy was enough of a gift. We spent most of the morning talking about what it will be like when Max is old enough to get excited about Santa and toys. I can’t wait. For the record I bought Shannon “the clapper” as a present.

Because my parents are out of town, Shannon, Max and I spent the rest of Christmas day in “comfy” clothes watching movies. I made French toast and bacon for breakfast. We had pigs in a blanket for a snack. That night I grilled steaks and made twice baked potatoes. (Max had boobs for all three meals.) It was the perfect way to spend a day as a new family.

Generally, after opening presents in the morning, Shannon and I would relax a couple of hours and then head to GiGi and Grampie’s for a big Christmas dinner. (by relax I mean eat breakfast and go back to bed) “Uncle” Dick and “Aunt” Nancy are always there. It is fun to have a big meal and then sit around and play games or talk over coffee. This year Grampie and GiGi went to Florida to visit Carole and the boys. We are going to celebrate when they get back. I can taste the standing rib roast already. (My mouth is watering.) I know Max is eager to see his grandparents. I would be willing to bet there are some hugs, kisses and gifts in his immediate future.

Next week is New Years Eve! I’ll bet we get crazy and party ‘till the wee hours of 10 PM.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Max's First Bath!

We gave Max his first “real” bath on Sunday afternoon. His mother had wiped him down a couple of times, but this was the first time he would get the full treatment. Shannon was worried how he would react. I may have mentioned before that Max doesn’t seem to like being naked. (He gets that from his mother.) Like any new mom, she doesn’t want to see her baby upset. I, on the other hand, have been dying to give the kid a bath since I watched him being born. Sure he looks and smells clean, but I saw how dirty his apartment was before he moved in with us. Of course, we had to wait until his umbilical “stump” fell off and healed. With that accomplished, it was time for a proper scrub.

First thing I had to do was decide where this delicate dance would take place. My options were the kitchen sink, the bathtub or the sink in the bathroom next to the nursery. I hadn’t finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, so I ruled that out. (Of course, I briefly considered how I could wash the baby and the skillet at the same time.) I settled on the bathroom sink.

Like the child care books recommend, I got out everything we would need and put it in arms reach of the sink. I put a couple of towels on the counter next to the sink. I didn’t know how much water we were going to have to wipe up. I could easily see this thing getting out of hand. All I need now was a baby and a video camera.

I filled up the sink and put in some Johnson's baby shampoo while Shannon took off Max’s clothes. When she was ready to lower him into the water, I grabbed the video camera. I wanted to make sure and record his first bath for posterity. That and so I can embarrass him as a teenager.

As we predicted, he was not very happy about being naked and wet. He began to squirm and fuss. Shannon tenderly let me know that she was having trouble holding our slippery son, and that I should put down the camera and help her. I took Max’s head and neck in my left hand and hooked my thumb under his arm. It was like trying to hold a catfish one handed. I gently washed his head and body with a washcloth. I thought I was doing a great job because his cry dulled to a whimper. It was then I noticed the stream of pee shooting out of the water. It had to be a foot higher than the counter. I cupped my right hand and attempted to block the spray from getting everywhere. All I could think was “This is the kind of stuff that should be on the video.” Shannon wrapped him in a towel while I drained and refilled the sink. I put him back in the water and rinsed him off. To my surprise he didn’t fuss when I slowly poured warm water over his head.

When I was done, we dried him off and then greased him up like a bodybuilder. I put a fresh diaper on him and then some tiny, footie jammies with a puppy on them. He smelled and looked fresh and clean. I swear he was smiling at me. I held him in my arms and declared, “First bath complete.”

It was at that moment I felt him poop his diaper.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Touchdown!


Living with a new baby in the house is definitely different. For months our friends and family (even total strangers) have been warning us how much our life would change. “Oh, just wait” they would say. They were right about it changing. It’s great! In the morning I don’t want to leave and at night I can’t wait to get home from work. I am amazed at my feelings for little Max.

I love to hold him at night while we watch TV. Last night we watched some mixed martial arts. We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of various fighters as they entered the octagon. I explained how it really helps when they have a strong wrestling background. He just stared at me blankly. (Funny, that’s the same thing his mother does when I watch Ultimate Fighting with her.)

I love they way he can sit there quietly with a diaper full of poop and then scream his head off while I change him. Apparently messy and stinky is better than clean and naked. That’s okay because I am super fast at changing a diaper. I look like a rodeo cowboy in the calf rope competition. I should get Shannon to start timing me.

I love the way he smells. The kid hasn’t taken a bath since we brought him home from the hospital and he still smells sweet and cuddly. I go a day without a shower and I smell like an old shoe.

I love the way he looks while he is sleeping in his crib. At first he is kind of “squirmy” but then he settles down. You can tell when he is asleep because he puts his arms over his head like he is signaling for a touchdown. I hope that is a sign that he will be a great football player and not that he is planning on being a referee.




I love to watch him fall asleep in his mother’s arms while he is nursing. He looks so peaceful with his tiny arms and legs dangling. He is warm and safe. Shannon looks pretty content herself. I’m sure glad we outgrow the ability to eat and nap at the same time.

I’m crazy about this kid and eager to see what the future brings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Two Week Birthday!

We had our check up today and our Little Charmer is up to just over 9 pounds. Even the pediatrician says he's perfect!
Look at that face! It's all we can do to put him down for even a second. He's sooo sweet!















Thursday, December 6, 2007

Max and his paternal grandparents ...


Max is very lucky to have his Gigi and Grampie living close by! And with four male cousins, he should have lots of playmates when this side of the family gets together. He's counting on Meier, Aaron, Nate and Cole to teach him all their favorite games. And his Autie Carole, Auntie Suz and Uncle Rob may not have met him in person yet, but they're sending their love in heaps. And Max is hoping they can all come to visit from their various locations as soon as possible.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Life as a new Mom ...


I know, I know, I never write! I’m sorry but if you had a husband who wrote like Dan, you’d hesitate to write to. Isn’t he wonderful? Many of you have commented about how great his entries are and I completely agree. I love reading them and am so thankful for his ability to appropriately share much of what we are going through. I seem to become little more than a sobbing mess when I even try to put my feelings into words these days.

However, sometimes a mother’s perspective is required.


First of all, Max was born on November 28 at 6:07 by cesarean section. He weighed in a 8 pounds 5 ounces and was 21.3 inches long. His head evidently was a little larger than most at 14 centimeters, as the nurses taking all the vitals double checked their measurements a couple of times before committing them to fact.

Max and I both are doing great. I feel wonderful (all things considered) and have really had minimal discomfort. The IV was the worst of the entire delivery process and while I’m moving a little slower than usual, I’m pretty much up and about as usual. The nighttime routine hasn’t bothered me too much. I’m not a great sleeper to begin with so getting up for an hour or two a couple of times a night, hasn’t left me feeling all that tired. It’s kind of normal for me to do that anyway. The nursing thing is going surprisingly well, too. I just can’t do it without getting naked. So, until I figure that one out, I guess I’ll be confined to Max’s room. Dan has said that it just won’t do for me to take my shirt off in the Outback or any other restaurant that we would frequent. Oh, well, I guess Dan will just keep getting some good practice sessions in the kitchen to pass along to Max someday.

Max has a very agreeable disposition so far. The only time he cries is when we’re changing his diaper. He HATES that. Otherwise, he sleeps peacefully, and patiently waits on me to feed him, then lies awake and alert for a short time usually filled with some meaningful conversation with his Daddy who is promising to teach him to play all kinds of sports, to learn all sorts of useless trivia (that came up during Jeopardy) and to cook because chicks dig it. (And when Dan says “chicks” he really means moms since we all know that my son is not going to be worried about impressing any silly girls for a long, long time!)

Now, let the faucets run as I write how truly overwhelmed with joy and happiness I am. I knew that having a child would be unlike anything else I had ever experienced. And I know the adage that you’re never given anything more than you can handle, but honestly, I always thought about that phrase in terms of dealing with negative things. I never dreamed I’d have to worry about being dealt more of a good thing than I can handle. I feel like I’m close to the edge, though. As if the birth of a completely healthy baby boy wasn’t enough, the sweetness and love of my husband for both him and me has completely taken me aback. Dan is just amazing and I cannot begin to express how this experience has strengthened what I already believed was a pretty strong relationship. Then, there’s all the love and support of our families as we have entered this new phase of our lives. They’ve all been so kind and helpful and we all know that sometimes family dynamics can be a little challenging in the face of stressful situations but everyone has made such an effort to be non-intrusive while we have tried to include them as much as possible in this joyous occasion. And of course, we have been shown incredible generosity by our friends in their desire to be encouraging and supportive. We honestly could not have made it through this experience nearly so well adjusted without all of you. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

Enough of my babbling for now. Trust that I will be making sure that Dan keeps up the good work on the blog and I’ll post occasionally, too. Maybe after some of the hormones return to more normal levels, I’ll even be able to do so without going through an entire box of Kleenex!




Life as a new Dad ...

We brought Max home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. Shannon and I were excited and scared at the same time. For three days nurses and doctors hovered over our new baby like hawks. The checked vital signs and monitored him. They made sure all his needs were met. They would one by one remind us of the cardinal rules of child care. “Don’t ever shake the baby,” one nurse would say. An hour later another nurse would be in the room for something and she would say, “Don’t ever sleep in the bed with the baby and do NOT leave him alone for any reason”. At shift change, another batch of nurses would continue to point out things that I considered obvious. “They have already mentioned not shaking the baby, right?”. I would just nod my head. “What about fireworks?” I always wanted to ask. “Is it okay if he holds the roman candles while I light them?” (I’m not sure they would have appreciated my sarcasm.) I find it ironic that none of them ever mention useful tips like preparing for the stream of pee that comes flying out just as you reach for a clean diaper. Then, before you can really grasp the concept of having this little person who is solely dependent on you, they send you away.

So, anxious and eager we bring little Max to his new home.

The last four days have been terrifying and wonderful. I can’t believe how much you can love someone you have known for less than a week. I don’t want to put him down or leave him alone. At night, I just stand there looking in his crib, watching him sleep. I want very badly to take him to bed with us but I remember what all of those nurses said.

Max is eating well and his digestive system is working perfect. Trust me. My favorite part of the day is holding him right after he has eaten and had his diaper changed. He is awake and alert. His eyes looking up at me. It is this father/ son time we use to discuss his future. “Grampie would like you to play football at Notre Dame but I was hoping for rugby at the Naval Academy,” I say. He just stares at me. I don’t think he has settled on a college yet.

I love being a dad.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Max and his maternal family!

His Granny Alice...


His Aunt Donna ...
His Aunt Kerrie ...
His Uncle Brian and Aunt Jill ...



His proud Dad with his cousins, Allison and Daniel ...












Friday, November 30, 2007

More Max
















You and me and the baby makes three

I have officially been a Dad for about 42 hours. I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Yesterday was a good day. I didn't sleep all night after the birth. I had to keep looking at Max to see if he was okay. I can't help. He is just so darn quiet when he sleeps.

Anyway, even though I had been awake for more than 24 hours, I wasn't tired. It was an adventure I didn't want to miss a minute of. I've changed diapers (even the ones that looked like roofing tar in the beginning), been peed on and spit up on. You know what? I don't care.

Last night Shannon sent me home to get some rest. I wasn't crazy about leaving but one of us needs to be alert when we get to take him home. Her sister Donna volunteered to stay the night and keep an eye on them. She even gave me an Ambien pill to help me fall asleep. It is a good thing I waited until I got home to take it. Within a minute or two, I was stumbling around the house like a bear shot with a tranquilizer dart. I flopped on the bed and didn't move for 10 hours. I don't think I want to take any more of those. (Next time I'll just have the game warden shoot me in the neck.)

This morning I woke up a little loopy but couldn't wait to get back to my family.

Shannon and Max are doing great. It won't be long before I can take them home.

Thanks to everyone who has come by to visit us at the hospital and/or left nice messages. We are lucky to have such great friends and family.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

3 AM

It is 3 AM. Max, Shannon and I are all awake. It is cool, dark and quiet. We are content to just sit here as a family.

I know we should get some rest. It will be another long day.

I figure I might as well get used to staying up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The main attraction














D-Day (the invasion)

2:50PM

Shannon and I got to the hospital a few minutes ago. We are in the room already. It is just the two of us. The lights are off so it is kind of dim. We didn’t turn the TV on so we could relax and talk. It is cool, quiet and peaceful. This is a nice way to start the event. I am glad we have this alone time.

4:45PM

So much for alone time. I wouldn’t say it has been a beehive of activity but there are a couple of nurses hovering. A few minor hiccups with the IV, but nothing too scary. The doctor called to say he was running a little behind. We are looking at 5:30 for the procedure. Shannon is handling the whole situation very well. I can’t say the same for our Moms. I was handling things pretty well until they brought me my “gear” for surgery. Now I am a little dizzy.

5:30PM

The doctor comes in to check on Shannon and briefly goes over the plan. I am instructed to “suit up” and follow the nurses as they wheel Shannon down the hall towards the operating room. We meet the anesthesiologist as we walk. He explains the procedure for giving my wife her “spinal”. They make clear that I will have to wait outside as Shannon is prepared for the c-section. When the procedure is ready to start they will come out and get me.

5:50PM

I am sitting alone in the hallway outside OR 6. This area of the hospital is dark and deserted. Only a few fluorescent bulbs shed light on the shiny sterile floor. It is very quiet. I don’t think I have ever felt so isolated. I take this moment to say a silent prayer.

5:55 PM

The door opens and the nurse sticks her head out. We are ready for you now. The OR is very bright in stark contrast to the dim hallway. I am quickly ushered to a small chair by my wife’s left shoulder. A white drape blocks my view of anything but Shannon’s face. She smiles at me peacefully. I ask her if she feels okay. “Fine,” she says. “No problem at all”. I think she looks beautiful.





6:07

Dr. Ellison, the anesthesiologist, looks at me and says “stand up!...quick”. I stand and look at him. He just points over the sheet draped across my wife’s shoulders. I turn just in time to see the doctor pull my son from Shannon’s abdomen. It was fascinating.

In a blur of activity he is flipped and flopped, suctioned and cleaned. All the while I am trying to look at him. He is blue in color. “two arms, two legs…” I am surveying in my head. Two women sweep him up and take him to the warming table. He starts to cry. They tell me to come over and see my new son.

As I look down I see this chubby, pink little baby. He is shivering and wailing. I must have gotten something in my eyes when I walked over because tears were rolling down my cheeks.

I looked over to smile at my wife. I could see her blue eyes looking at me as the surgical staff worked feverously to sew her up. “You make a pretty baby,” I say to her.

6:30PM

We are in the recovery room.

Welcome to the world Max Daniel Minninger.

D-Day (pre-planning)

Today is the day!! I can't believe it. I don't think I have ever been this anxious. Shannon and I are finishing up a few things around the house before we head to the hospital. (Sure is nice to have the birth of your child scheduled)

We went to the hospital yesterday afternoon to get pre-registered for the cesarean section. It was an interesting experience. The pre-registration mainly consists of Shannon givng blood, having her blood pressure checked and then hooking her belly up to a moniter to listen to the baby's heartbeat. Everything checked out.

While Shannon laid there getting "monitored" the nurse was asking her questions. The questions started out innocent enough. "Name?" "Date of birth?" etc. After about twenty minutes the questions became more and more personal. "Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?" said the nurse. My ears perked up. "Wow, she is asking questions I would never have the nerve to ask," I thought. Then the questions got better. "Have you ever had an abusive relationship?" "Have you ever been in a Girls Gone Wild video?" and on and on. After almost fourteen years of marriage I learned a lot about my wife in one thirty minute hospital interrogation. (I'm just glad they weren't asking me questions)

The question and answer session was followed by a meeting with the anesthesiologist and then a run down of the procedures by a nurse. It was all very informative. Of course it has not kept me from doing my own research into the c-section. The etymology of Cesarean is Latin. Cesar meaning "salad" and Arean meaning "Oh my gosh! What are you doing to my wife?".

So now we are all set to go to the hospital and have a baby. Shannon has been a real trooper through this whole process. She seems cool and collected. I, on the other hand, am wringing my hands.

For my wife's sake I will stay strong.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

No More Silent Night(s)

It is the beginning of the holiday season. Thanksgiving was a couple of days ago and Christmas is right around the corner. Our early Christmas present is scheduled to be here at 5pm on Wednesday, November 28th. How convenient it is to know when and where your baby will be delivered. (Those of you who know Shannon wouldn't have expected anything less!)

Because of the imminent addition to our family, I broke my own rule and put up our Christmas decorations before the Thanksgiving weekend. (I figured we might be short on time after this week.) Normally I would not waver on this. I am firm believer that the holiday does not officially begin until after Thanksgiving. In turn, Thanksgiving does not begin until after Halloween. Anyway, putting up the tree and lights started the conversation about holiday traditions. Over the last week and a half, Shannon and I have been discussing what yearly customs we had as kids and which ones we would like to carry over to our new family. We both have had a great time reminiscing.

Shannon and I have been married for almost fourteen years now and we have established some of our own rituals. As I said before, we don’t put up our decorations until after Thanksgiving. We spend Christmas Eve at Shannon’s Mom’s house. We spend Christmas morning together at our house and then drive up to my parent’s house. Those are the biggies. Some lesser events have been piling in the car with coffee and hot chocolate and driving around big neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights or going to downtown Chattanooga for the Christmas on the River celebration.

Christmas on the River is a free event put on by the city. There is a live nativity scene, music, food and a parade of boats all decorated for Christmas. At the end of the evening Santa shows up and there are fireworks. These things always help me get into the Christmas spirit. My favorite part has to be watching all of the people who come into the city for the affair. I love to sit among the crowd and take in the sights and smells.

Over the years I have learned a few things. Rednecks will drive a long way for a free event like this. That is because rednecks love Baby Jesus, funnel cakes, Christmas lights and cigarettes. On more than one occasion I have seen a young mother, Marlboro Red dangling from her lip, tell her children to sit their “GD” butts down while a Christmas carol plays in the background. Almost brings a tear to my eye. (There is a country music song in there somewhere).

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of the crowd is made up of smiling, joyful families. There are moms, dads, grandparents and friends. They sit arm and arm happily listening to the seasonal songs. People smile to say “Merry Christmas” to each other. No one is fighting over their place in line or wrestling over the latest toy. It is a great way to spend an evening.

The bottom line is that I love this time of year. I can’t wait to share some memories and traditions with my son, my wife, my family and my friends.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Countdown to Baby

Shannon had a doctor’s appointment yesterday to check the progress of the boy. He is getting bigger and more active by the minute. We have all been wondering when he would decide his “apartment” is too small and move to his new place. The boy is approaching, if not past, the nine pound mark. Shannon’s belly has grown larger than a basketball. From the side, it looks as if she is shoplifting a beach ball. In fact, the doctor said during her checkup, “You either need to have this baby or I need to buy a bigger tape measure.” The problem is Shannon is showing no signs of approaching labor. The baby is still riding high and her cervix is tighter than a submarine hatch.

Because of the baby’s size, the doctor has some concerns about labor. (So does Shannon!) He does not want the pregnancy to progress too far and the boy to get precariously big. If she goes all the way to her original due date the boy could weigh well over ten pounds. More if she goes past, this is common for first time mothers.

Dr. Mills decided the best course of action might be to schedule a cesarean delivery for Wednesday, November 28th. I think this is best. Although, I have to admit, part of me would like Shannon to go for the world record of “Biggest Baby”. She could make the cover of The Enquirer or get on Maury Povich. Who knows, maybe even a Lifetime made for TV movie starring Tori Spelling or Meredith Baxter Birney. (Painful Record: The Shannon Minninger Story)

So, unless anything happens between now and then, we will be having a baby on Wednesday, November 28th.

How nice to have something scheduled.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Things that don't fit into another post.

I have a couple of funny instances to tell that don't quite fit into another post.

Yesterday my wife and I stopped at a Chik-fil-a resturant for lunch. She ordered a box of chicken nuggets. When she was eating them she accidentally dropped one on the floor and started to cry. It wasn't until just a minute ago that I learned she really was crying about the nugget. I thought she was kidding. Hormones are crazy!

Last Friday while we were at the doctors office for her checkup the nurse led us to the exam room. Before closing the door, she said "undress from the waist down so the Doctor can examine you". I told Shannon it would be funny if I took my pants off, too. When Doctor Mills opened the door I could have said "Oh...you meant her?"

We decided against it.

Party Time!

Many of the people who read this blog have been to at least one social event at our house. Maybe it was one of the “legendary” Cinco de Mayo parties Shannon and I hosted over the years. Frozen margarita machines flowing, gallons of tequila consumed, house and yard full of friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

Or, maybe you were at our last New Years Eve “Martini party”. You know, the one that went until 4 am. We went through about 12 large bottles of vodka. The next morning Shannon was upset that we didn’t sing “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. (That is until she got the party photos back and realized we did.) Following these events, that is after partying most of the night and then cleaning the house the next day, I would have categorized myself as tired.

That has nothing on a wild weekend of baby showers.

I was not fortunate enough to actually attend the shower on Saturday. It was held at my Mother’s house. The guest list included female family members and close female family friends. I was not on that guest list. My primary duty was “pack mule”. I was instructed to show up near the very end of the festivities to load the shower gifts into my car. Judging by the “wild” look in everybody’s eyes when I arrived, I missed quite a blowout. (It could be that they were just hopped up on pastel colored icing). I spent the next 45 minutes or so carrying armfuls of little bags decorated with babies, storks, balloons and curly ribbon out to my car.

Sunday, on the other hand, was my day to shine. We had a couples shower at a downtown bookstore! I could hardly sleep the night before in anticipation. I felt like an eight year old on Christmas Eve. “Somebody pinch me,” I was thinking.

The couples shower started at 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon. Shannon and I arrived about 12:50. It was a very neat place. I had driven by several times but, I had never been inside before.(I know what you’re thinking… “Dan, never been in this bookstore? I don’t believe it!”). The store was inside one of the old brick buildings in downtown Chattanooga. I am sure it had been a factory or warehouse at some point in the last 100 years.

There was a nice little area set up in the back for the baby shower. I walked over and looked around. Some chairs, and a cake. Finger food and decorations. All of it with a children’s book theme. Then I noticed the best part - a stage with a bench and spotlight, several shower gifts surrounding it. All I could think was “Awesome, this will be just like dinner theater!” I beamed with excitement. We all know how much I love dinner theater.

As friends trickled in, Shannon and I answered many baby questions. Some people asked about our level of preparedness. Others wanted to know about a name for the baby or daycare plans. I was mostly just happy that the focus of the conversations was on how big Shannon’s belly had gotten rather than how big mine had grown. Before long, my wife and I were ushered to the bench on the small stage. It was time to open gifts.

I sat on the small wooden bench smiling out at our dear friends. At least I think I was looking at our friends. The white hot spot lights had burned out my retinas. Plus, I was sweating like a thief in a police line up. “Stay focused,” I told myself. Shannon would read the card and announce who had given the gift. I had the very important job of digging through the mountains of tissue paper and holding up the present for all to see. When I had given the appropriate amount of “ooohs” or “aaaahs”, I moved on to the next package. Before long, we were done. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking with the diverse shower guests. It was easy to relax once the pressure of sitting center stage was off. All in all, it was a pretty pleasant day.

On Monday I took the day off of work. I thought I would take a day to recuperate before heading back to the office. I was wrong. It turns out the real reason I wanted the day off was to go shopping. Because I make most of the decisions in the house, I decided not to waste this time “lollygagging” around the house. I should first make a list of the things we still needed for the baby and then create a plan for acquiring those items quickly. Once the items were purchased I should get home and organize, assemble and/or install them.

It is now Monday evening and I am exhausted.

I would sincerely like to thank everybody involved in the planning and preparation of these baby showers. Mom, Alice, Carole, Jill, Amanda and Allison on Saturday. Nathalie, Becky, Beth, Jessica on Sunday. We are very lucky to have such great family and friends. You have helped make this exciting time in our lives more enjoyable.

I am also glad that I had the chance to see so many close friends over the weekend. Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful gifts. As a token of my appreciation, you will all get a chance to baby sit in the near future.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fixin'

As they say in the south, my wife is fixin’ to pop.

Shannon had another doctor’s appointment and ultrasound yesterday. I took a late lunch and went with her to the doctor’s office. I have not been to the last couple of appointments and thought it was time I got an update on my progeny.

The appointment was at 2:00 PM. We arrived in the waiting room around 1:50. The place was empty except for a teenage girl and her mom. The mom had big, bleached hair and was wearing skin tight jeans. The shoes she had on were the kind designed to be worn while twirling around a pole. “I wonder which one is pregnant,” was my first thought.

Shannon signed in and I headed towards an uncomfortable chair. No sooner had I begun to thumb through a stack of old parenting magazines, when the door opened. “Shannon,” the nurse said. Wow, that was fast. I didn’t even have time to read an article about making your own organic baby food. (I always find it funny that the same magazines that promote a “greener” lifestyle also advertise $150 jeans for a two year old.)

So I follow my wife down the hallway towards the ultrasound room. “Is it okay if I give my urine sample first?” Shannon says. “I really need to go”. The ultrastenographer says that would be fine. “Just bring the cup in the ultrasound room when you are done so it won’t get mixed up with someone else’s sample,” she says. So, Shannon goes into the bathroom and I follow the young woman into the ultrasound room.

I am just sitting there patiently waiting for Shannon to finish in the bathroom. There is an uncomfortable silence. I am tempted to hop up on the table and ask her to scan my belly and see what’s in there. I make my way over to the “husband” chair. It is a small, hard folding chair, crammed in the corner. (Similar to the “husband” chairs found outside of department store women’s dressing rooms.) In a minute in two, Shannon walks in and promptly places a Dixie cup full of her urine on the counter just inches in front of me. “Hello, I’m sitting right here!” I think to myself.

My pregnant wife wrestles herself up on the exam table, lays back and pulls up her shirt to reveal her tummy. The ultrastenographer squirts a big wad of jelly on the summit of Mount Minninger. As she moves the wand back and forth across my wife’s midsection we all stare at the flickering screen. “There is the face and a leg and the heart” says the woman. “Oh, and he is definitely still a boy”. Exactly like the last two ultrasounds, I don’t recognize any of those fuzzy, grey shapes as actual body parts. “Look, you can see hair on his head!” she says. She is just making stuff up to torment me now.

We finish the ultrasound and the results are recorded in Shannon’s file. The nice lady shows us to another exam room to wait on Doctor Mills. When we are alone, Shannon remarks about looking at the baby on ultrasound. (So now even my wife is mocking the fact that I can’t make “heads or tails” of the image). When the doctor comes in he is relaxed and smiling. He casually flips through the chart and asks how Shannon is feeling. “Great,” she blurts out. He says that everything looks good and the baby is healthy and growing. “He is six and a half pounds right now." “If you go full term he would probably be nine pounds or better.”

Shannon expresses some concern over the size of the boy. The doctor responds by saying, “You should have taken that into consideration when you chose such a big man as the father of your baby.” (Touché Dr. Mills.) He then says not to worry. In a week or so he will be fully developed. There is no reason to go all the way to your original due date. “You could go into labor at any time.” In fact, he says we will be lucky to make it past Thanksgiving without him inducing labor. No reason to wait longer than we have to.

So, in just a few short weeks we will have a bouncing baby boy.

I need a nap.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

Shannon and I attended our Labor and Delivery Class at the hospital last Saturday morning. Because she is planning on having an epidural at the first sign of discomfort, Shannon and I elected to take the one day overview, as opposed to the five weeks' worth of Lamaze classes. The brief (seven hour) course is designed to let couples know what to expect during labor and delivery. We covered topics such as: how to tell when you are really in labor, where to go when you get to the hospital, and what will happen once you are there.

The class was scheduled from 8:30AM to 3:30PM. (Of course the Tennessee vs. Alabama football game kicked off at 12:30PM) We arrived right at 8:30 AM and the class promptly began at 8:45(ish). There were five other couples in class with us. One couple and one woman had been in our last class. They were Dagwood and Blondie and Single Mom. Single Mom’s husband, Absent Man was now wearing the disguise of his alter ego, Redneck Guy. The new couples were Rosie Perez and Baby Daddy, Young Girl and Sensitive Boy and Average Couple.

The instructor began by asking all of the couples to introduce themselves. Then we should tell how far along we are in the pregnancy and why we took the class. Baby Daddy, Redneck Guy, Dagwood and Average all said that their wives made them come. Sensitive Boy (with a tear in his eye and lip quivering) said he was there to show his wife love and support. I said that Shannon and I had spent so many years avoiding pregnancy that now that it has happened, we might as well know what we were in for.

The next question by the instructor was “How many of you planned your pregnancy?” We all raised our hands except Baby Daddy (big shocker). This was followed with a small lecture on staying healthy while pregnant. At some point all of the husbands were required to wear an empathy belly. For those of you who don’t know, an empathy belly is a weighted vest that men can put on to give them the “sense” of being pregnant. Because I am not a small man, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I was already familiar with the concepts of breathlessness, and discomfort sitting, standing or bending over. Redneck Man said that he could understand how this condition could make it more difficult to mop or vacuum. How lucky is his wife?

I won’t bore you with all of the humdrum details of the class. I will only hit the highlights. The main attraction had to be the video tapes we watched. There was one of a natural birth, one of a woman who had an epidural and finally a film of a C-section. I had seen a version of these at least once before in school and on the Discovery Channel. My wife, on the other hand, had not.

The first video was of a natural childbirth. The film opens by introducing us to the couple who are having a baby. They are so happy about a natural childbirth. They even went for a hike in the woods before going to the hospital. Ahhhhhh how pleasant it must be. I think Sensitive Boy was already starting to cry.

Shannon is sitting to my left, almost behind me. She is holding my hand loosely and resting her head gently on my shoulder. The room is quiet except for the video. As the documentary progresses we see the woman experiencing labor. Hours of labor. Hours of moaning and groaning and pacing. My wife is no longer a casual observer. She is engrossed in the tape. Her head isn’t resting on my shoulder anymore... it's completely behind me. Her eyes wide, barely peeking over me. I know she doesn’t want to see what comes next, but she can’t turn away. None of us can.

What follows next is straight out of a horror movie. There is screaming. There is blood. We watch as the baby begins to crown and appear. “There is no way that baby will fit through there,” is what all the husbands were thinking. We were wrong. The mother screeches and strains. The pain and discomfort are obvious in her face. Just a few minutes later the tiny baby emerges followed by what looks like the woman’s internal organs. The umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is examined for damage. Our instructor mentions how we should also be aware of the unpleasant smells that will accompany delivery before she promptly turns off the VCR.

Stunned Silence.

Shannon whispers in my ear, “You had better be glad I didn’t see this before I got pregnant.”

Right after that the class took a break. I was standing in line for the Men’s Room pondering what our own labor and delivery would be like. “I hope Shannon is not too traumatized,” I was thinking. I realize that Redneck Guy is standing beside me. I look over and see that he is looking at me. “What did you think of the movie?” I say without thinking. “I figur it cayn’t be no worse than cleanin’ a gutshot deer,” he says back. “Good point” I reply. Then I turn back around.

We watched another movie where the woman had an epidural. Much smoother delivery and not as much painful drama. The only major concern during this video was that Shannon hates needles. This one was a pretty big one. (Good thing it will be in her back so she won’t have to look at it.) “So far, I’m not crazy about my choices for getting this baby out of me,” Shannon whispered in my ear. I didn’t know how to respond. I feel awful that she will have to experience such distress. By the time we got to the C-Section movie I was completely zoned out. The majority of the afternoon was taken up with relaxation and breathing exercises. (I admit that I took a little nap while we were lying on the floor.)

It was a very informative class. I am glad we attended. It’s good to be aware.

I think.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Watch Out Spielberg

I have never wanted to own a video camera, at least not since I have been an adult. I have had friends with camcorders who would tape anything and everything and I always wondered when they would get around to actually watching those tapes. I figured that the majority of my life was boring enough the first time around. Why would I want to see it again? Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of exciting moments too, but for legal reasons, it is probably best there isn’t a video record of them.

Now that I am going to be a dad my views are changing. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of “home movie night”. My dad would hang a sheet on the wall and get out the movie projector. Mom would make a big bowl of popcorn. Carole, Suzanne and I would dig through the box of super 8 movie reels in the closet, each one of us picking out the film we wanted to see first. Even though we had watched the movies before we would always laugh at the sight of ourselves on camera. (If we ever wanted to feel like we were on a roller coaster we could always watch one of Grandma’s movies of a 4th of July parade.)

What really pushed me over the edge was when I was flipping channels on TV the other night. The remote quit working while I was mid flip and stopped on some channel. I don’t know if the battery was low or what, but I couldn’t move up or down using the remote. (What do you mean, “Get up and change the channel?”) Anyway, the show on the screen was America’s Funniest Home Videos. I’m not typically one for watching dumb people get whacked in the groin, but unless I moved from my reclined position, I was stuck.

Over the next several minutes I watched clip after clip of small children getting tripped, dunked and squirted. All to the delight of the studio audience. I thought to myself , “Man, those kids will be so embarrassed when they get older.” Just then a light bulb went off. I was thinking “my son deserves to be humiliated as much as any other boy.”

So, last weekend I found myself at Best Buy. Like most men I am drawn to electronic gadgets. I like the latest and greatest in thingamajigs. I don’t know much about video cameras so I did a very “unmanly” thing and asked for help from the sales girl. Her name was Sara. The conversation went like this.

“Hi, I am Sara” she said. “Do you have questions about video cameras?” I replied “yes.”
“Blah, blah, blah digital blah, blah battery life blah, blah,” said Sara. I just nodded. “Then there is blah, blah high definition blah, blah surround sound, blah, blah top of the line Sony” she spouted. “Wait…she said HD Sony?” “I’ll take it” were the next words that came out of my mouth. “Oh, and I have a coupon.” (My mom would have been proud.)

I am now the owner of a Sony camcorder. An expensive one. This kid better do some funny stuff.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baby Training 101

We went to our first baby preparedness class last night. It was taught at a local hospital.
The class started at 6:30 in one of the hospital classrooms located on the labor and delivery floor.

Shannon and I arrived right at 6:30 and were greeted by the instructor. She was a nurse with many years of experience. I suspect her first delivery was assisting “Ol’ Doc Watson” in a log cabin by candlelight. (I could just picture her telling the “Paw” to boil some water and find clean sheets.)

Besides Shannon and I, there were just a few other people in the class. I don’t know their real names so I will refer to them by nicknames. There was K-Fed and Britney, Dagwood and Blondie and Single Mom. Single Mom wasn’t really single, she is just married to the super hero known as Absent Man. I was more than a little disappointed that we didn’t stand up and do introductions. I was hoping for a little insight into what they were thinking about having kids. Especially K-Fed with his facial piercings.

The class began with the instructor telling us how labor and delivery had changed so much since she began nursing. “In the old days,” she said, “the husband would drop the mother off in front of the hospital, park the car, and then wait in the lounge for one of the nurses to come out and tell him what was happening.” “Sounds reasonable,” I thought. I raised my hand and asked her why that had changed. She explained that during the 70’s and early 80’s some husbands “demanded” to be more involved. (Thanks gentlemen)

The next two hours were filled with helpful tips about caring for your newborn when you bring them home. Most of them were obvious. I took notes to make sure I did not forget the real important ones. For instance, :don’t shake the baby". It may seem like a good idea, but you shouldn’t do it. "Don’t let the baby use power tools." They are careless and waste a lot of lumber. "Don’t let the baby cook." They never follow the recipe and you end up eating bad food just to be polite.

I know this is an exaggeration, and most of the lecture was common sense, but I really did learn some useful information. I didn’t know that you shouldn’t give a baby a bath until their umbilical cord stump falls off. Even then, they don’t really need much of a scrubbing. I also had some concerns about trimming the babies nails. (Shannon says this will be my responsibility). I learned you can just bite them off while the baby is asleep. “Sweet Idea” I thought. I’ve had lots of practice biting my own nails. If nothing else, the class taught me that I am more prepared than I thought to care for a baby.

Monday, October 1, 2007

40 weeks sure seems like a long time...

And I'm not even the one who is pregnant. I know Shannon is getting frustrated with being tired and uncomfortable. Just the other day I was laying on the couch watching baseball when I noticed her mopping the floor and taking out the garbage. I thought to myself, "Boy, she sure looks worn out." (Just kidding Donna...I am taking good care of your baby sister.)

Lately Shannon has wanted to spend most evenings and weekends relaxing. Being the devoted husband I am, I plop down right beside her on the couch. The nice thing is that the time has allowed us to have some long discussions about the baby and our plans for the future. I really feel that we have become closer as a couple. Before the pregnancy we would have been running in oposite directions all week, just to re-group on Sunday evening. Now, we actually make it a point to sit down at the kitchen table for supper.

One of the reasons for her fatigue is that the baby is getting bigger and more active. He is making it increasingly difficult for his mother to get comfortable and relax. The other night I was sitting next to Shannon watching the Cubs game. (I wanted to watch HGTV, but she insited we see if the Cubbies would make the post season.) All of the sudden I noticed my wife;s t-shirt moving. The little fella just couldn't relax while Alfonso Soriano was up to bat. We sat there for a minute smiling and feeling the boy kick and move. At first, it is a little disturbing to see things poking out and moving around inside your wife's abdomen, but then it's exciting.

Speaking of disturbing, there are some other changes in our household that haven't been super positive. You know how when you come home from work and there is a package on the front steps? Whenever you notice it you think"Hey! A package...I wonder what we got?" Well, that is not the case at our house. Not for me anyway. Now I see a box on the front steps I just say "Great...another shipment of tiny clothes or big panties. Whoopie!"

Interesting how the size of my wife's underwear is directly proportionate to the number of Victoria's Secret ads I get in my e-mail box. They are an evil empire!

Just eight or ten more weeks and we are home free, right?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Strange Territory

The longer this month drags on, the stranger it gets. I find myself dealing with emotions and situations I have not experienced before. I am referring to, of course, the Cubs being in first place in the Central Division this late in September. Just kidding. As exciting as it is watching my beloved Chicago Cubs have a shot at the post season, I am pre-occupied with the baby growing rapidly inside my wife.

I thought that by this point in the pregnancy I would have settled down. Not true. I have become a worrier. I worry about the health of the baby. I worry about Shannon feeling okay. I worry about labor and delivery. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about things that could go wrong and wonder how I would handle the situation.

(Watching season three of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD probably wasn’t the wisest choice.)

Last week Shannon had a doctor’s appointment. It included another ultrasound and the results of her Glucose Tolerance Test. I took the afternoon off from work and went with her.

Driving in to the hospital parking garage I was wondering where I needed to go when the big day (or D-Day as I am now referring to it) happens. “Do I go to the Emergency Room when you are in labor?” I said. I can just picture myself flying into the drop off area on two wheels, tires squealing. “No” Shannon said. “I am pretty sure we just go to the hospital admissions desk.” I am thinking to myself “What?...I would think having a baby would surely qualify as an emergency!”. (It does in my book.)

So we are sitting in the waiting room before the doctor's appt and I am feeling a little nervous about the test results and ultrasound. I’m always afraid we will get bad news. To take my mind off of things I begin reading an article in Super Parent Quarterly or whatever the magazine was called. The article was about negotiating with your child about who is boss. It basically says that children become discouraged when parents make all of the household decisions. Occasionally you should let children be the boss. My response to that is the same as my father’s response to me. “You don’t like it? Well, when you get to be the Dad…you can make the rules” he would say. Now that I am going to be the Dad, I am not passing up my opportunity to make the rules.

Anyway, the article worked. I was distracted. Soon enough we get called back to the ultrasound room. I am excited. Maybe this time I can see what they are talking about. No such luck. The images on this ultrasound were just larger and fuzzier than the first. “The doctor will be in to see you shortly” the ultrasonographer would say.

She lied. The doctor was trying to deliver a couple of babies that day. It was back to the waiting room for us. “I hope he says nothing is wrong” was all I could think. Not even the parenting magazines could distract me this time.

After 45 minutes of watching As the World Turns on the tiny waiting room TV, we were called back again. Straight from delivering a baby, the doctor flew into the room with Shannon’s chart. (I half expected him to be covered in blood and gore like a zombie in a horror movie.) He flipped a few pages, looked at the ultrasound pictures and measured her belly. He said Shannon’s blood sugar was a borderline high in two of the four samples and suggested she meet with a gestational diabetes specialist for some diet and exercise advice. The boy is also about ½ a pound bigger than he would expect him to be at this stage. He weighs about 3 ½ pounds. Both mother and baby have good heartbeats. Shannon’s blood pressure is great. “Everything looks good,” the doctor said, “you are right on track”.

I could relax.

Of course, last night I watched In The Womb on the National Geographic Channel in High Def. Here we go again…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ready for Baby
















Daddy's Day Out

Let me tell you about registering for the baby shower. I know that on the surface it sounds like it would be really, really fun but it wasn't. It was scarry. It was yet another glaring reminder that I don't know very much about babies.

Shannon and I have talked about doing it for weeks. I begged her to take me to Babies -R-Us, but we kept putting it off. Finally I just put my foot down. Saturday morning was it. We put on comfortable clothes and headed to the store.

We walked up to the registration counter and announced our intent. A very helpful young girl named Christi (with an i) gave us the forms to fill out and pamphlet to read. (funny isn't it?...you don't have to do anything to make a baby, but if you want somebody to buy him a tube of Beaudrous Butt Paste you have to fill out a form.)

Christi (with an i) went over the forms, pamphlet and program at rapid fire speed. "You neeed to do this" or "Don't do that unless" she said several times. Myself, I was distracted by a tiny monkey suit hanging on a rack next to me. "I can't wait until this kid is older so I can dress him up in crazy outfits" I was thinking. Finally she handed us a scanner, a store map and a list of suggested items.

The very first aisle set the tone for the rest of the morning. Imagine me standing there, scanner in my hand, facing a giant wall of breast pumps and breast pump accessories. Shannon is standing behind me with the list of recommendations. "Okay" she said "We need a breast pump. Which one do you think would be good?" she asked. I know that between the two of us I am the one who has devoted more time to the study of womens' breasts, but my knowledge ends with practical application. I have always just been concerned with aesthetic value. "I have no idea" was my reply to that and to many questions to follow.

We meandered through the aisles talking, reading and scanning. Eventually we made our way back to Christi (with an i) and gave her our scanner back. Feeling successful I said to Shannon, "Let's get some lunch."

On the way to the restaurant Shannon noticed in the Babies-R-Us pamphlet all of the things that the store "automatically" puts into your registry. You know, just to be helpful. Needless to say, this morning we will be going over our selections on-line. So much for being done with registering.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hooray for modern times!

I am glad that we live in such modern times. Today’s forward thinking society has allowed us to blur the lines of traditional gender roles.

I say this because growing up I learned that Dad's are never included in the time honored tradition of the “baby shower”. I was sad knowing I would miss out on the finger sandwiches, baby bottles filled with jelly beans, in-depth discussions about breast feeding and remedies for diaper rash. Oh sure, I get to accompany my wife to my new favorite stores as we register for the shower. My opinion is necessary when deciding what color the “whatchamacallit” or the “thingamajig” should be, or how may wipey things we need. I didn’t think that I would rate an invitation the actual "party".

Imagine my excitement when I learned that our joyous event would now include couples. How great is it that all of my close male friends can join me in the frivolity? I hope that I don’t cry. That would just be embarrassing.

Anyway, I am not only new to the idea of parenthood, I am also still relatively unfamiliar with the idea of men going to a baby shower. I decided to do some internet research.

It's worse than I thought. Website after website offers suggestions on how to make the men feel more included in the shower. "Make sure the father-to-be has a seat next to the expectant mother when opening the gifts", "have the men race to change the diaper on a doll" or "have the guys try to drink juice from a baby bottle as fast as they can". One webpage had a message/suggestion board with some frequently asked questions on it. I saw one headline that read "How can I throw my husband an all boys baby shower?" (I couldn't bring myself to look.) Two words lady...you don't.

I have a co-ed baby shower game...have all of the ladies put their purses in a pile and see if the men can guess which one their testecles are in.

Allright, enough of my inner caveman. In all honesty I am glad that men are more involved in the pregnancy now. I want to be a part of every aspect of my wifes pregnancy and son's birth. (Even the ones that aren't my cup of tea.)

If our friends and family want to help us celebrate our first baby...then I am glad to have them as friends and family.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Who is writing this nonsense anyway?



Because they only know my wife or don't know either of us, several people have asked for a picture of the author of this blog. Well, here you go....




Things are starting to get interesting....

Shannon went to the doctor's office last week for her glucose screening test and checkup.

The glucose screening did not go well. In fact, it did not happen. Shannon had sugar in her urine sample even before the screening. And a sugar level of 171 after a quick finger prick. (We're told it should be between 80-120.) Because of that, the doctor decided to skip it all together. ( I'm sure it's because she is sooooo sweet.)

He has scheduled her for a three hour glucose tolerance test. She will stand around for three hours drinking syrupy, sweet drinks and see how it affects her blood and body.(In other words, it is like going to a night club without the smoke and loud music.) All of this is designed to test for gestational diabetes. If it turns out to be more serious than just eating too many cookies, he will talk to us about managing the problem. That could involve anything from a more restricted diet to insulin. The doctor was not alarmed and assured her that we will cross that bridge when we come to it. He said that the rest of the checkup was good. The baby has a good heartbeat and is growing bigger. Possibly too big.

The doctor made another comment on the size of Shannon's belly and took measurements. He wants to do another ultrasound on September 20th to see if he is farther along than we first thought. I just think he is going to be a big boy like his father. I hope he sets a new world record! (If he does...I will never hear the end of it.)

The only other issue Shannon is having is with her wrists and hands. Over the last few weeks she has started to suffer from what most people refer to as carpel tunnel syndrome (however you say it or spell it.) Basically she has pain in her thumbs and wrists accompanied by some numbness in her fingertips. Like most things associated with pregnancy symptoms there isn't anything I can do to help her be more comfortable. (Stop asking it just pisses them off.)

I'm going to go into the kitchen and finish doing dishes...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Caring for Baby

The other night Shannon and I were putting some finishing touches on the nursery and admiring the nice little room we have put together. We stood there for a minute looking at our handy work. “It looks really good,” Shannon said. I nodded in agreement. We were both facing the crib. It is completely empty except for the tiny plastic covered mattress and the little Pottery Barn patchwork quilt. Almost as if on cue, we looked at each other and the weight of the situation became evident.

Shannon was still smiling but her tone became more serious and her eyes teared up. “What are we going to do, Dan?” she said. I pretended I didn’t know what she was referring to, but I knew where this conversation was heading. “I don’t know ANYTHING about taking care of babies” she said. Always being the rock for Shannon to lean on I responded in the most logical way. “Well, don’t look at me” I shot back. “Uh oh, did I just say that out loud?” I thought to myself. Sure enough. I could tell by the look on her face.

“Don’t worry honey” I whispered as I slowly moved closer to her. “We are mature, intelligent, adults in a committed, loving relationship and we can do this…together” In an effort to bolster my argument, I named off some couples we know with children. “If they can do it…we sure as hell can do it” (DISCLAIMER: I am in no way referring to anyone who might be reading this blog. I am clearly referring to those other people. Come on, we all know who they are.)

With my arm around her I said the three words all pregnant women want to hear from their husbands. “Are you hungry?” I thought that distracting her with food would get me off the hook. It would only work for a few days.

Last night during the Cubs game (They are in 1st place by the way!) she presented me with a list of parenting classes offered by our local hospital. We discussed classes about Lamaze, Labor and Delivery for couples not practicing Lamaze, Infant First Aid and CPR, Boot Camp for New Dads, etc. Now when I say discussed, I mean she talked and I listened intently. (blah, blah, Lamaze, blah, blah, childbirth) When Matt Murton and Alfonso Soriano hit back to back home runs to put the Cubs in the lead, I think I agreed to attend any class the hospital offers.

In all seriousness, I eagerly await the arrival of my son. I want to be as involved as I can. I am not intimidated by diaper changing, bathing or feeding. If I get in a pinch…I will just call my Mom.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bedtime at our house


Where will the baby sleep? Wait!...where will I sleep?

These are dangerous times we live in…

The baby’s room has been painted and the furniture has been arranged. (for now)

With the nursery all but settled, I began to wonder what happens if the boy gets out. We have been so focused on his room that I hadn’t given much thought to what to do when he isn’t actually in there. I know what you’re thinking. “Why would he need to be outside of the nursery?” Well, according to several books and articles I have read, they are eligible for parole almost immediately. So, I do what most people getting ready for a baby do. I start reading and researching about child safety. Things like car seats, playpens and generally making the house safe for a child.

My head literally hurts now. Our baby will be lucky to make it to 2 without losing a limb. I had never given much thought to what children might get into. Yeah sure, I had considered the easy stuff like putting my pistol on a higher shelf, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. (just kidding Mom…I’ll take the bullets out, too.) The book I was reading last night suggested that I get down on the floor and crawl around looking for safety hazards. You know...from the baby's perspective. How about banging my pumkin size head on the coffee table while crawling around like a moron? Would that be a safety hazard?

So, I guess I will spend the next 12 weeks getting my house sterilized and covered in bubble wrap. Then I'll only have to concern myself with the rest of the planet.

I’m not kidding. While I was out of town a couple of weeks ago I was watching Good Morning America in a hotel lobby. They were doing a story about the possible lead contamination of paint on toys made in China. Diane Sawyer or somebody was interviewing some child safety expert. The person honestly said that if your child has touched any of these small toys you should make an appointment with a doctor right away. I thought “How much lead is in that paint?” The person went on to say that exposure to lead could cause developmental problems and brain damage.

I remember when I was a kid my Dad had lots of duck decoys in the basement. Around the neck of every one of these big plastic ducks was a bar of lead used to weight them down. I would spend hours twisting those lead weights into shapes and toys like guns and brass knuckles. (sweet kid right?) I would pretend that it was steel and I was superhuman and could bend it.

Between that and using my teeth to clamp lead sinkers on my fishing line, I would say I was exposed to a million times more lead than one lousy Chinese toy.

Hmmmmmm. That could explain a few things.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Oh, no! My wife has swallowed a basketball!

Let me start off by premising this post by saying my wife looks beautiful while pregnant.

That being said, I had my first “Holy Moly!” moment.

I was getting ready to go to the gym this morning. Shannon was in the shower getting ready for an early appointment. I was packing a change of clothes into a bag when out of the corner of my eye…there it was. Right out in the open. My little wife’s swollen, pregnant belly. I had caught glimpses of the elusive bulge before, but never a full on, totally naked, side view. “Don’t stare at it,” I kept repeating to myself. Too late. Shannon saw me. “What are you looking at?” she said. “My beautiful wife” I immediately spouted. “It’s really big, huh?” said my wife. Trying not to appear shocked I mumbled “it is barely noticeable”.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been paying attention all along. I see her in the mornings getting dressed. I see her in the evenings in her jammies. It is just that I have been traveling, off and on, for the better part of a month and have not spent so much time with her. All of the sudden BAM! there it is. Pregnant belly. No doubt about it now. What on earth is it going to look like in 14 weeks when the timer goes off? (I’ll see if I can get a picture.)

She had been complaining lately about bumping into things because she was not used to having her stomach poking out so far. (tell me about it) I assured her that it is something she will get used to. On the bright side, it is helpful for catching things like salsa and cashews.

Sorry honey. That’s what you get for marrying a big man.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Little League World Series

This is the week when 12 year olds from all over the planet invade Williamsport, PA to play in the Little League World Series. Shannon thinks I am crazy, but I watch as many games as I can on ESPN. I love the stuff. As a baseball fan, it is refreshing to see these little athletes play for nothing more than pure love of the game. No million dollar contracts at stake there.

One of my favorite parts of LLWS is the things we learn about the boys when they are up to bat. Unlike Major League Baseball stats, we learn things like the second baseman's favorite food, the catchers favorite school subject or the left fielder's nickname.

This year I have been especially interested. As I learn about the young men I can't help but think about my own son. What will his favorite movie be? (Happy Gilmore, Dodge Ball or Blazing Saddles) What about his favorite food? (BBQ Ribs) Will he like baseball?(Go Cubbies!) Will he have a nickname? How tall will he be when he is 12? Will he look more like Shannon or me?

I can't wait to find out.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

He'll make a fine rugby player...

We went to the doctor’s office yesterday for a routine check-up. I say WE because I like to tag along and stand silently in support of my wife. It’s not that I want to act like a scared deer caught in the headlights. In fact, each month I prepare a list of questions in my head that I plan to ask the nurse or doctor during the exam. You know, to show that I am caring and involved. Sure enough, the second I walk into the OB/GYN office, all rational thought escapes me. I can’t think of a single question. (must be all of the estrogen floating around) I just stand there grinning while the doctor measures, pokes, prods and examines the mother of my unborn child.

Anyway, Shannon’s blood pressure is great. She feels fine. The baby’s heartbeat is strong and fast. He is growing at a rapid pace. All in all a very uneventful checkup.

The only highlight coming when the doctor measured Shannon’s belly yesterday and said “Well, he is going to be a big boy”. I thought to myself “no duh”. “Have you seen the father? He is the gorilla in the corner not saying anything”

“A big boy” was the last thing my tiny, five foot nothing wife wanted to hear. I may have to rethink my position on "push presents".

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Cruisin right along...

I am happy to report that Shannon is doing fine and the pregnancy is flying by. We have been very lucky. Apart from a few days here and there, the "mom to be" has felt really good.

Shannon was in south Georgia on business this week. We talked on the phone every night about her day and how she was feeling. She told me Monday that she could feel the boy moving. Shannon said that her belly is bigger, her back hurts and that her feet and ankles had started to swell. All week long she would mention her feet and ankles. So much for not really feeling pregnant.

I took a few days off from work and drove down to Augusta to pick her up. We thought it would be nice to drive down to Jacksonville and spend a day or two relaxing with our friends Kim and Jim. I was excited to see my wife after a week apart. I wanted to check on the progress of my boy.

When Shannon got in the car she threw her feet up on the dash and again complained of her sore, swollen feet. Being the sypathetic husband I am, I simply said, "They look fine, now just sit back and relax. You can soak them in the pool when we get to Florida." Of course in my mind I was thinking, "OH MY GOSH! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF HER ANKLES. WHERE DOES HER CALF END AND HER FEET BEGIN?"

Anyway, I am happy to report that a couple of days relaxing, shopping and eating have helped her. We have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday. I will give you the update afterward.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Making the transition...

So, not only are we having a baby boy, now he will officially live at our house.

This week marked the transition of "spare room" to "nursery". No longer will that room house unwanted furniture and suitcases. It has been called up to the big leagues. It has passed the recliner and flat screen TV as the most important area of the house.

We started the room makeover by having my childhood furniture refinished. I know, can you believe my parents held on to it for all these years? How unlike them. It was in pretty good shape to start with, but the finish was dull and had a few areas that needed attention. (I might have left a coke can or two sitting on the dresser.) We came to this conclusion after looking at NEW children's furniture. Have you priced this lately? Who knew particle board and spray paint could be so expensive? Anyway, my old furniture was solid maple and could be redone for just a few hundred dollars. Add some new hardware (plus a few nervously drilled holes) and you have an HGTV calibur bargain. Not that I watch HGTV or anything. Sometimes Shannon has it on while I'm cleaning my guns or reading Playboy.

The next piece of furniture to get was the ever important crib. When reading articles about choosing a crib one thing is clear. If your child sleeps in a crib they will be lucky if they survive the first year.

Armed with the latest in safety ratings Shannon and I did the most logical thing.
We bought a crib on clearance. Yep, pretty much the cheapest thing we could find. On the brightside...it matches the furniture very well.

Just kidding. We found a great deal on a good crib. My Dad and I put it together yesterday with out a hitch. No cuss words. No missing parts. I did not want to smash anything. (If any of you have ever worked on a project with my Dad and I you would appreciate how remarkable this is.) I guess we were too focused on the boy's safety and putting the bed together correctly. No time to worry about how I wasn't watching what I was doing. I love you Dad!

I am so excited about having a son.

Next comes paint colors, curtains and bedding. Stay tuned...

Nursery in progress...





Saturday, July 21, 2007

Getting used to the idea of a boy...

We are getting used to the idea of having a boy. It sure has made some things easier. Now we can settle on decorating the nursery and stuff. It has also allowed me to purchase a few baby outfits. Of course they have things like "slugger" or "all star" on them. Not that everything I buy has to do with sports. I am comfortable with anything "boyish". (Except soccer. Sorry, I just can't make that leap.)

The last couple of weeks we have been refering to the baby as Max. We both kind of like the idea of Max for a first name. As my buddy Aaron says "Max sounds like the kind of guy you can have a beer with". How can you argue with that logic?

The question of the moment is "What is Max short for?" It might be we name him just Max. My boss thinks it should be Maximus. I don't know. Maximus Danger Minninger? (so he can say "Danger is my middle name"...Get it?)

Maybe I should discuss this with Shannon before I settle on anything.

Using the name Maximus was not the only words of wisdom my boss had. Jeff also said "Take it from the father of a teenage girl, with a son you only have to worry about one boy. With a daughter, you have to worry about ALL boys"

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ultrasound picture


Even at only 20 weeks the boy resembles his father.

Friday, July 6, 2007

What's in a name?

Now the task of naming the boy. It needs to be something good. I like the idea of a Daniel Arthur Minninger Jr. It has always been a good name for me. I just don’t like the idea of calling him Daniel, DJ, Jr or J.R. I could use some suggestions.

Shannon likes the name Shakespeare and her brother likes the name Amadeus. “Good idea”. While we are at it, why don’t we just take his lunch money and give him a wedgie before he leaves the house every morning.

This is gonna’ take some thought.

It's a what?

Shannon had another doctor’s appointment yesterday. It was a very big day at the Minninger household. She had an ultrasound to check the baby’s progress and to see if we could tell the sex of the baby. We also got the results back from her “quad screen” blood work.

I hadn’t slept very well the night before. I couldn’t stop worrying about the test results and the ultrasound. Up until this point, it was all still new and exciting. Shannon was pregnant, but it was too early to worry about major problems. That all changed when they drew blood last week to test for birth defects. I had done a pretty good job avoiding websites, articles and discussions about issues that can occur during pregnancy.

I remember when Shannon first told me she was going to have a baby. I scoured the internet looking for information about pregnancy. Within 30 minutes I was practically paralyzed with fear. “Does anyone ever have a healthy baby with no complications?” I asked myself. The statistics and facts are too much. 1 in 5 babies this. 1in 200 babies that. 1 out of every 2 babies explode when the father holds them for the first time.

Now fast forward to Thursday morning…

Shannon is on the exam table and her belly is greased up like a baby pig at the county fair. The ultra-stenographer (yet another word I have learned in this journey) is running the ultrasound wand back and forth across my wife’s abdomen. Shannon, Shannon’s Mom, Shannon’s sister Donna, my Mom, my Dad and I are all looking intently at this flickering black and white screen.

The ultra-stenographer is politely pointing out body parts and taking measurements. “This is this…this is that…this would be the whatever” she says. Everyone but me is oohing and aaahing. “Alright, I’ll give you the head, but I don’t make out anything else” I think to myself. “Just say that it looks fine and healthy”

“It’s a boy” she says pointing to a little spot on the screen. (I mean HUGE spot on the screen) “Wait! What!” did she say boy? I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell anything from that screen, but I didn’t want to be the only one. It’s like those trick paintings they sell at the mall. You know the ones with the picture inside of a picture. I can’t ever see those either.

A few minutes later we met with the doctor. He said that everything was fine. So far there are no indications we are having anything other than a healthy baby boy. He did move the due date up a little to December 4th.

Now all we need to do is come up with a name…

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heaven help us...

So we are laying in bed last night talking about how we will raise our child. The conversation began because Shannon is reading some kind of pregnancy magazine. She keeps firing questions at me depending on what article she is reading. "What are my views on breastfeeding?" "Do I think the baby needs to spend the first few months sleeping in our room?"

I'm not sure if I ever really answered any of her first several questions. I just kept thinking to myself "Wow! Yet another set of things I haven't even considered". "I have never felt so unprepared for anything". One time in high school, I was running for class vice-president. I had to give a speech in front of the entire student body. I had gotten the dates wrong and showed up for the assembly without having written a speech. In fact, I had not really thought about what I was going to say when I did write it. (shocker...I lost the election)

I was less anxious about that.

Anyway, Shannon is flipping through this magazine and sees an ad for baby earrings. "How do you feel about piercing the babies ears?" she says. Before I can answer she states, "I think it is more special if we wait until she is old enough to ask for pierced ears." "Then we know she really, really wants it" says my wife. "Like a tattoo or belly ring" I say.

Heaven help me if I have a daughter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dealing with the present and planning for the future..

Mother and baby are doing well. Shannon is starting to show more. Her lttle belly is poking out. I would take a picture and post it but it would probably mean my death.

She says she still feels more fat than pregnant. I think she looks great. She talks about feeling heavy and sluggish. She talks about it being harder to breathe. She talks about the difficulty bending over and how she feels hot and tired.

I say...welcome to my world.

We went to visit a day care center last Friday. It was an eye opening experience.

Apparently they will teach the child sign language, Spanish, colors, letters and quantum physics before they turn 5 years old. And all for only a million dollars!

As a Dad, I will be responsible for the more valuable life lessons like don't eat your boogers, the infield fly rule and the difference between rugby and football.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mother to be update

Shannon went to the doctor last week for a checkup. Mother to be and tiny Minninger are doing great. Shannons blood pressure is good. 110/70. (mine is higher than that laying on the couch)
The fetus heartbeat is strong and fast. 170 BPM. (again, mine is higher than that laying on the couch)

Still no nausea.

Next doctor visit she will get some more bloodwork done to check for markers that could indicate something like Downs Syndrome or more serious problems. The doctor doesn't seem to be concerned. I like his laid back, positive attitude.

Sometime in July we should be able to find out the sex of the baby. I feel pretty strongly it will be a girl. I also feel pretty strongly that in High School she will want to date some spikey haired, earing wearing punk who needs a smack. Call it Karma.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Shopping for baby stuff

Well, we made our first venture into Babies R US over the weekend. It was very overwhelming. There are so many things we just don't have. I felt a little unprepared before we went in but WOW! We are sooo not ready. It looks like we have a lot of work to do.

One thing is very clear. Once people know you are having a baby, everyone has advice for you. Not just friends and family...everyone. Strange women were stopping us in the baby store. "How far along are you?" "Is this your first?" "You know what you need to do is...."

I am going to have to start carrying a notebook.

-Dan

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Natures way of helping...

Neither one of us seems to be sleeping very well lately. I know I am tired. I just can't seem to fall asleep. For starters, my wife, who is normally quiet as a church mouse, has begun to snore at night. (I know honey "payback is a b@#$")

Then, of course, there is all of the thinking that comes with being the husband of a pregnant woman. I know it is early in the pregnancy but I keep getting the feeling I should be doing more. As a "Dad to be" shouldn't I be building something or fixing something? Don't I need to be learning how to properly pack the trunk of a car? I know that as a kid whenever my family went on a trip, my Dad was the only person who new where all the bags and suitcases went. Is there a manual I need to read?

I guess this staying awake at night is just natures way of getting me ready for a newborn baby in the house.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A little history

I know that my first several posts have been lighthearted and sometimes a little crude (sorry Mom). It may be that I have used a little humor as a way to deal with the anxiety of becoming a father for the first time. The truth is, years of calm, careful discussion have led to this decision.

Shannon and I have been together for a long time and have a great relationship. She is the love of my life and my very best friend. We have a nice house, good jobs and are healthy. Having a baby seemed like a logical next step.

For years we didn't want kids at all. However, the thought of growing old together and not sharing our good fortune with a child made me a little sad.

Now that we are having a baby I am scared, anxious and excited but not sad. I am ready for whatever comes our way as long as Shannon is by my side.

-Dan

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Facts

It just occured to me that some people might actually want to know about the pregnancy. So here are the facts in no particular order.

  • Shannon is almost 12 weeks pregnant (11 1/2)
  • Shannon is due the first week of December
  • I AM the father (seriously Clint...I am)
  • Only one baby (damn, no twins)
  • No morning sickness so far (for Shannon)
  • No names picked out yet
  • We DO want to find out the sex of the baby before it's born
  • Shannon's clothes are getting snug, but not really showing yet
  • Dan's clothes are tight too (I'm just fat)

- Dan

Last one to know.

The word is out and we are getting plenty of phone calls and e-mails. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. I would like to send a special thanks to my buddies for their horror stories.

Anyway, it seems that many of you suspected my wife was pregnant before she even told me. How about a little heads up next time?

While I am on the subject of pregnancy advice for men. Are there any pregnacy books for men that aren't written by a total "candy ass"? Man, there is so much touchy feely crap out there. I don't want to get in touch with my inner "oprah". I just want to be a stand up guy and a good husband and father. GIVE ME INFORMATION I CAN USE! I want lists. Always do, never do, what the hell were you thinking... you know, lists.
-Dan

Monday, May 14, 2007



So where exactly does the babyseat go?

Starting to sink in...

Now that we are actually telling people it is starting to sink in. This is real. To be perfectly honest, I still get a little queasy when I say the words "we are having a baby" out loud. Is that normal? I mean, I feel so unprepared for a baby. When I sit back and really think about it I am overwhelmed with questions. How do you put on a daiper? When do you know if they are hungry? What should you feed them? How early should they start taking Brazilian Jui Jitsu so they can be The Ulimate Fighting Champion? Would the babyseat fit on the handlebars of the Harley?

See, I'm doing it again...