What to Expect During the Last Month of Your Pregnancy and More

So you’re expecting a baby?  I’ve taken the same phone call several times over the past months.  “Hey Frank, great news, Stephanie’s pregnant, we’re having a baby.”  I flashed back to when I was the excited dad-to be making the same call.   After wishing them well, and hanging up I thought, those poor bastards, have no clue what’s waiting for them. 

Whether you got here tracking your ovulation cycles on an iPhone, used the test tube and turkey baster method, or maybe something more traditional, like Netflix and chill, your life will change drastically in the next month or so.  If you’re somewhere between a little nervous and terrified I’ve written this guide so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

I love my son but parenthood is not all sunsets and rainbows.  Here are a few things to expect.

The Baby Shower – Whether it’s planned by a group of old women who’ve forgotten the day isn’t about them, or a group of hipsters sipping Cosmos while noticing how good the Filipino surrogate looks for eight months along, this is an important part of the parenting process.   Baby showers are the best way of filling your home with tons of free stuff, but it comes at a price, you will be sitting through hours of cheesy games like Baby Bingo, watching drunken women comparing C-Section scars, and navigating through enough estrogen to fill a swimming pool.  

Helpful Hint –Remarking how fat your wife has gotten should be avoided at all costs.

Baby Showers are a great way of filling your home with lots of free stuff.

You Have to Agree on a Name– I’ve mentioned this before but cannot stress the importance too many times.   Pick a wimpy name and you’ve pissed off the person caring for you when you’re old and feeble.  Let your wife make the decision without any input and the results can be disastrous.

Here are a few examples.   Name your daughter Brandy, Ginger or Destiny and she might be swinging from a pole and bitching about you to Dr. Phil when she’s 19.  Name your son Cody, Tucker, or Rene and risk a future of wedgies by the bigger kids in gym class.  Most important name your child Bryce, Colt, or Tripp and risk him being the douchy kid who becomes the douchy adult.

Helpful Hint-Pick a name you’ll be comfortable yelling about 5000 times before your child’s fifth birthday.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid – My cousin Leslie gave me the best piece of advice when my son was born.  She said, “Congratulations you just experienced the best moment of your life.  Your first night alone with the baby will the worst.”  We didn’t get much sleep during our first night at the hospital, but we had a charming Caribbean Baby Whisperer doing most of the heavy lifting.

Our first night at home reminded me of a Steven King novel.  We had no system in place, camped out in the living room because our bedroom was too cold for a newborn, and struggled with a cranky baby who hadn’t gotten the hang of breast feeding but still managed to keep loading up diaper after diaper.

Helpful Hint-Remove the diaper too quickly and you will be cleaning more than the baby’s butt.

Friends Will Want to See the Baby—After you’ve been home a few days your friends will want to come over to see the baby.  I thought I’d dread this but being locked up like a sequestered juror on a high-profile trial has a way of changing things.  Don’t be shy when your friends ask, “What can I bring.”  Think decadent, like lobster mac and cheese, or ravioli lasagna, it’s also helps you line up a pool of potential baby sitters.

Helpful Hint – Remember friends offering to bring dinner and baby sit only last a few weeks, so think big.

Buy Buy Baby is to Women what Home Depot is to Men— If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll notice I keep coming back to this, because it’s important.  You are going need all sorts of things for your child as they grow so you’ll be visiting places like Baby’s R Us, The Children’s Place and Buy Buy Baby a lot.  I’ve found if I spend too much time shopping there with my wife, I start craving chocolate and bitching about the outfit she’s wearing.

Helpful Hint- Bring snacks and a fully charged tablet and grab a seat with the other Dads where they sell baby furniture , this is going to take awhile.

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Time Waits For No Baby

Oct Baby NapI haven’t posted much, only five times in the past four months since I recapped Cristian’s first six months.  Since then his sleep patterns are all over the place, he still draws attractive women like a magnet, and trips to Carter’s or Buy Buy Baby have me wishing for my next prostate exam.

Cristian bears little resemblance to the baby we brought home from the hospital.  Back then he spent most of the day napping in his Moses Basket while we took turns feeding and changing him and watching lots of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

Time stands still for no baby, our bedroom is full of bins of clothes he’s grown out of and although I haven’t posted Cristian’s been hitting his developmental milestones.    We’ve gone from tummy time and mini pushups to babbling and rolling.   Now he’s crawling and figuring out that walking thing.  Crawling was a game changer.

At this moment, I knew things were going to change quickly
At this moment, I knew things were going to change quickly

Crawling led to baby proofing and reconfiguring our living room.  This time it served a purpose, instead of Esther saying—let’s try the couch over there.   The couch covered electric sockets and cords and moving the recliner and placing a storage ottoman on the other side created the Cristian Zone.

FullSizeRender (57)Chico enters the Cristian Zone at his own risk.   While the baby crawls, plays and grabs furniture he also keeps an eye out for an active baby looking to grab his tail or an ear.  Chico and I both agree it was easier to watch the baby when he was younger.  Those were the days—he sat in his chair or played in his swing watching Sid the Science Kid or Sesame Street.  Elmo rocks!

Crawling Cristian requires more attention.  His natural curiosity gets him into all sorts of mischief, crawling under tables, pulling up on the furniture and grabbing anything within reach.  He’s found things I haven’t seen in months.  I’m convinced if you let a team of babies loose in the Meadowlands parking lot, they will find Jimmy Hoffa.

My son is growing fast, and although it’s brought new challenges, I’ve enjoyed watching his personality develop, even if it means new levels of childproofing.  I knew it would be challenging when I signed up for this and will have it no other way.

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With A Little Help From My Friends

troubleFirst-time parents try doing everything for their baby—so they don’t miss any firsts.  Just a head’s up, rolling and crawling is cute, diaper changes are overrated.  Leaving Cristian with someone else was difficult, we started by taking—pardon the pun, baby steps.

We started small.  First each godparent watched him while we ran errands or went to Buy Buy Baby to stock up on supplies.  Both times we knew the baby was fine because we left him with a Baby Whisperer.

In February we had a Valentine’s Dayish date night—we went out for dinner and a movie.  We saw American Sniper—I know what you’re thinking, he’s a romantic.  After seeing the movie we brought dinner home with us.  Although Esther’s sister watched the baby, cutting the chord was difficult.

smiley

In late April my Dad was hospitalized, diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  Managing his healthcare and Mom’s (she has her own health issues) while caring for a baby and juggling a freelance consulting gig is challenging, like juggling three balls, a kitten and a chainsaw.

Cristian has an excellent babysitter who watched him when I visited Dad at the hospital or took mom to doctors’ appointments, but she wasn’t always available. Paying the babysitter got expensive fast, forcing us to expand the babysitting pool.

Esther and I are lucky–Cristian has a big personality—he loves performing for anyone who smiles at him.  We’ve had many offers to watch him, most having no idea of what that entails–not from the baby—but from his parents.

You're dropping me off where?
You’re dropping me off where?

Potential babysitters were screened, kind of like the way the CIA screens new employees. Fingerprints were checked, references verified and they must first handle a blowout, an overflowing diaper that spilled over up his back and down his legs, usually after Cristian ate a high-fiber meal.  Prunes work really well for blowouts.

Dropping the baby off with friends produced new anxiety. Esther kept asking if we should scrub their apartment first with industrial cleaning products like we did at the hospital.  I had to keep reassuring her, they both graduated from Ivy League Schools, and I’m pretty sure their building isn’t a meth lab.

As time passed, things got easier, still not easy but we are getting there.  It reminds me of a piece of advice given to me by a friend years ago.  When someone offers to help you, don’t be too proud to take it.  It’s still good advice, but thinking back, this friend wasn’t a parent.

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Parenthood – The First Six Months

In his bassinet in the hospital
In his bassinet in the hospital
One Month Old visting Grandma
One Month Old visting Grandma

Has it been six months already?  I can’t believe it went by so quickly.  It was only yesterday that Cristian was born or if you want the complete story start here.

I’ve enjoyed being a parent but I’m still learning—I’ve only been on the job six months.  I thought about filling out a self-evaluation form like you do at work, but Cristian’s reading and writing skills are still non-existent so that will have to wait.  Esther hasn’t gotten him back with any new dings or dents so I guess that’s something.

I’ve learned a lot since Cristian came home from the hospital, some things were common sense and others were on the job training.  Through it all Esther and I still look at each other in amazement unable to believe this adorable baby is ours.

Two Months Old - Cristian about to find out what happens when an old man tells you to "Pull My FInger."
Two Months Old – Cristian about to find out what happens when an old man tells you to “Pull My FInger.”

Here are a few highlights of what I’ve learned:

  • My Son The Diva-Cristian chose his first pediatrician appointment to get the hang of breastfeeding, making the doctor wait while he gave Esther privacy. He then peed on the doctor during the examination.  The doctor, an old pro, avoided most of the spray impressing me with how fast he could move.  I’ll say this for the kid, you gotta admire his spunk.
Three Months - Quality Time with Mommy
Three Months – Quality Time with Mommy
  • Don’t Ask Me How He’s Sleeping-Cristian sleeps well, but it took him a few months to get the hang of it.  He usually sleeps from 10pm until about 5am except when someone asks how’s he sleeping? That phrase usually upsets the balance as well as his and our sleep patterns, for about three or four days.  I know your curious but please don’t ask anymore, a good night sleep depends on it.
  • There Is Never A Quick Trip to Pick Up Something For The Baby-I quickly learned when Esther said let’s make a quick trip to Buy Buy Baby or Carters to pick up something for the baby, we were going be there awhile.  I have a bag for those trips packed with water, snacks and my tablet in it.  Esther knows she can find me sitting in a chair in the baby furniture area while she shops.
Four Months - Smiling at Daddy before his baptism - Photo Rose Marie Santiago
Four Months – Smiling at Daddy before his baptism – Photo Rose Marie Santiago
  • My Son The Chic Magnet-I always knew babies drew attention, just not how much.  Cristian is magnet puling in good looking women within a five-mile radius towards him.  Of course I’m a happily-married man who doesn’t notice these things.  I thought Chico was good but this is unreal.
  • My Son The Peacemaker-Since Cristian was born we’ve see relatives we haven’t seen in years. He’s also helped us bridge the gap with the strange neighbor down the hall.  The one who never speaks but gives you the odd look when you pass her in the hallway.  She now says hello and sings to Cristian in two languages.  Go figure.
Five Months - Dressed for St. Patrick's Day
Five Months – Dressed for St. Patrick’s Day
  • My Son Likes Busty Blondes-Who can blame him? I got a kick out of watching it when friends stopped by the see the baby, when he was breast-feeding.  Cristian zoned in on their boobs.  His eyes lit up when a very well-endowed blonde friend visited.  He made his father proud.

I’ve learned a lot watching my son grow from a fragile newborn to a cute chubby-cheeked baby he is now.  His smiling face every morning makes me forget the sacrifices and the sleep deprivation.  Going forward I’m excited and a little scared of what lays ahead, but that’s okay, I’ve been a little afraid of every important decision I’ve made and more often than not, they turned out fine.

Six Months Old Today!
Six Months Old Today!
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Tag Team Parents

1Our first days as parents are a blur.  In the hospital we had a non-stop parade of nurses, family and friends. Everyone was greeted the same way—with bloodshot eyes and a goofy grin.   The first night we had the option of keeping him our room or putting him in the nursery overnight so we could sleep.  It was a no brainer—he stayed with us.   It was our baby boot camp.

We got a lot of advice those first days, one piece stayed with me, a phone call with my cousin Leslie.  After congratulating me she said, “You just experienced the best day of your life, enjoy it.  Your first night at home with the baby will be your worst. “

The training wheels came off when Cristian came home.   Tired and with no system in place that first night was rough.  Camping out in the living room, because our bedroom was too cold, rushing out for formula after Baby’s R Us and Buy Buy Baby closed (Cristian had not gotten the hang of breast feeding yet), not sleeping as we changed and fed our crying baby.  Walking him around at 3am Chico gave me a look that said “Can you keep him quiet—I’m trying to sleep here.”

Esther prepping Cristian to come home
Esther prepping Cristian to come home

Walking Chico the next morning, I checked with the neighbors as they headed off to work, making sure we were the only ones Cristian kept awake.  They assured me of it, but staggering along like a punch-drunk boxer with a coffee cup in one hand and a dog leash in the other made me wonder if they were just being polite.

Cristian napping upon coming home from the hospital
Cristian napping upon coming home from the hospital

early Cristian (2)That next morning Esther and I became tag-team parents taking turns napping while the other watched the baby.  “You sleep, I got this one.”  One changed him while the other kept family members updated.  “Mom remember how Dad said, he wanted to take the baby home with him? You can pick him up anytime.”

For me it was on the job training. We spent time watching the baby in his Moses basket and Jeopardy on TV, “Diaper Change for 200 Alex”.  Patterns developed.  “He’s due for a feeding, or time for a diaper change.”

I quickly learned diaper changes required undivided attention—you could get peed on or worse could be cleaning the carpet afterwards because you took the diaper off too soon.  The first week seemed like a juror being sequestered during a high-profile trial but the perks were pretty good too.  My crankiness and sleep deprivation was rough, but they were forgotten every time Cristian flashed me a smile.

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