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When people asked if we were going to find out the sex of our second child, I would answer with “Sarah decided she wants it to be a surprise, which means I have to let it be a surprise too,” or some other blame-it-on-the-wife variation. I acted spiteful, as if the future of civilization depended on her foolish decision to not utilize everything that modern sci-medicine has to offer. I would have loved to have little sound-waves bouncing off the life form within Sarah’s belly, then to be represented in a digital image on the monitor. I wanted to know if the baby would have an inny or an outie, and it should have been my right to find out.

The complete truth, however, was that I was content with the decision. At the end of the day, the mantra was “healthy baby, healthy baby, healthy baby.

Three months ago, Sarah and I went to the hospital to have a baby, via scheduled c-section. It was a surreal experience when compared to the mood of Tyler’s birth. We were relaxed and ready. We filled out paperwork, we joked, we spoke with the nurses. They told us what to expect, when to expect it, and the general plan for the morning. Tyler was asleep at home in the care of his Aunt, while we calmly prepared for the next major chapter of our lives.

Now, this is the part where a person would say that they were freaking the f*** out inside. That they were acting strong for their spouse. That they were in a near panic at the impending financial strains, the journey into the unknown, and everything else in life that comes with having another poop-machine.

But your friendly neighborhood Irrational Dad was content with it all. I’ll admit that my fingernails were all chewed to a mutilated mess, but that could have been for any number of reasons.

Soon, they took my wife away to be prepped for surgery. I took the time to update my Facebook status.

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After I put the mask, gloves, and gown on, they let me in the room. I sat next to Sarah as she lie on the table, and grasped her hand. I asked her if she was ready to have a baby, and she started crying.

“Are you okay?”

“This just isn’t how I wanted to do this. On a surgery table. I just wish I could have tried to have this baby naturally.”

We talked for a few minutes about the circumstances while the doctors finished their prep. I told her to that we will control what we can control, and deal with everything else. I reminded her that we were finally going to meet our new little one in just a few more minutes. We smiled and kissed each other.

The anesthesiologist tapped my shoulder and asked if I wanted to see what the doctors were doing. With Tyler’s birth, I was so petrified at the thought of my wife being bifurcated that I didn’t dare look. Curiosity cured my fear on this day. I looked to see them placing rubber rings, or gaskets, or something in the incision to hold her open. She explained what they were doing, and was a conduit of information for this strange world my brain was processing. Somewhere, I heard someone say something. I’m fairly certain it was our mid-wife.

“Remember, they do not know the sex of the baby.”

A few voices quietly spoke at once.

“They don’t know the sex?”

“It’s a surprise?”

“They didn’t find out?”

Suddenly, I felt proud of Sarah’s decision to not find out. Although I protested, I was a part of the unique few that laugh in the face of modern sci-medicine. I flipped the bird to the ultrasound machine. I stuck it to the medicine man!

The anesthesiologist asked, “Are you ready? They put the last ring (maybe she said gasket) in; just a couple more seconds.”

Just a moment later, I saw my baby’s head. It was time. Right in front of my face was a new life. A beautiful precious little life. An instant later, the body was free and the doctor held my baby up.

The doctor proudly, loudly, and confidently said “Call it, dad.”

My eyes exploded in a flood of tears. I looked to Sarah and told her, “It’s a girl. She’s beautiful.”

“A girl?? We have a girl?”

Sarah cried… a lot.

So did I.

I cut the cord, more as a symbolic gesture than of an actual life saving measure, and held my baby girl. As we waited for mom to recover, I told her about all the people that will love her. I told her about her amazing big brother, and I warned her against “making eyes” at any of her big brother’s friends. We talked for an hour or so, just dad and daughter, about anything I could think of. She didn’t understand a damned thing, of course, and was likely wondering where the nearest boob was for her to suck on. Nonetheless, it was during this time that I discovered that my love didn’t divide between her and Tyler, it multiplied.

So here I am, preparing to raise a girl in the most perfect way possible. I have to find a balance between naive and someone that boys say “has daddy issues”. And I wonder… will I be that dad? The one who is conveniently cleaning his guns when his daughter brings a boy home? The dad that gives the uncomfortably strong handshake to her prom date and talks about respect? Will I be the “you are out of your MIND if you think you’re going out dressed up like that, now get your hind end upstairs and put some clothes on” dad?

Check, check, and check.

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In seven days, a new life will be brought into the world. The little tyrant in Sarah’s belly has been pushing and prodding around, rearranging organs, desperate to make more room in there. Version 2.0 has taken Sarah’s belly button, and turned it inside out. There simply is just no room left in there.

On the morning of February 8, a C-section will be performed on my wife. Our care provider doesn’t support natural birth after a previous C-section (VBAC), so instead of searching out a different hospital and a different midwife, we’ve opted to “play ball,” as they say.

We’ve also decided that we are not going to find out the sex of the baby until his or her arrival. Rather, Sarah has decided, and I’ve opted to “play ball”. Many of our friends, family, and loved ones have made guesses, accusations, and threats of what the sex of Version 2.0 will be. I’ve decided to make a contest out of it.

For the next seven days, I will be collecting comments here (don’t let me down, dear readers. Stop lurking, and post a comment!) of what you believe the sex of Version 2.0 to be. You have a 50/50 chance, so let’s add a couple modifiers. Along with the sex of the baby, you may also guess weight, length, and even take a stab at a name. There is a chance that my dear wife – who simply cannot keep a secret (seriously, don’t trust her with nuke codes. The terrorists would have them in no time) – may have let slip a couple names we are thinking of to her sisters. If that’s the case, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GUESS THE NAME!!!

Your only assistance will be a picture – above – of Sarah’s belly, one week before delivery (taken Monday, January 31, 2001 @ 10:31p EST). Also, you can reference Tyler’s stats as well (10 pounds, 2 ounces and 22 inches long at birth).

The winner gets…. wait for it… bragging rights!!! Seriously folks, I have to start paying for diapers again. You think I can afford to spend my money frivolously on a gift to send to you for making a guess? If you win, go play the lotto.

And… GO!

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It just doesn’t seem right that I’d do a Useless Items post without balancing the see-saw with a Useful Items post. From diaper bags to car seats, there are myriad (I just discovered the proper use of this word and feel the need to use it a couple times so I can make myself feel more educated than I actually am) items that are essential when you are responsible for a baby.

The Useful Item for today isn’t exactly an “item”, but I consider it to be very important. And since this is my blog and my rules, I’m using it.

Classes

I don’t presume to know how things worked hundreds of years ago when it came to pregnancy. For all I know, the cartoons I watched where right, and babies were delivered to your porch by a stork. What I can tell you is that without pregnancy classes, I’d either be dead (by Sarah’s hands, of course) or in a mental institution. The act of labor and birth is very challenging, both mentally and physically. You must prepare your mind to handle the chaos of labor. Had I not prepared my mind for such rigors, my brain quite likely would have shut down, rendering me catatonic. Being in such a state would have infuriated Sarah. If she was too busy to murder me herself – you know, with the whole “labor” thing – she would have ordered our midwife to inject Sodium Thiopental into my veins. Seeing, first-hand, what a woman in labor is capable of while in labor, I know that our midwife would have done as she was told, if for no other reason than to just keep Sarah happy.

I assumed that Sarah and I would take Lamaze classes to prepare us for labor and birth, if we took any classes at all. To be honest, I never knew there were any other options. To be even more honest, I thought classes would be a waste of time. All Sarah would have to do is say “Hee hee ho” and breathe funny, right? “Classes”, I thought, “pish-posh!” All I needed to do was sit next to Sarah, say “just breathe” over and over again, and let her squeeze my hand. Ten minutes later, a baby would come shooting out of her nether regions, the doc would smack his butt, and he’d start crying. Ding, dang, done.

My ignorance astounds me. It’s not my fault that TV and movies lied about labor. According to everything I’d ever seen, the woman goes to the hospital, pushes for a few minutes, screams once or twice, and pops out a baby. The father is either pacing around in the waiting room, or standing next to his wife while she tells him that she hates him because “you did this to me”. Listen to me; classes are absolutely necessary. And Lamaze isn’t the only option.

I made it a priority to go to every OB appointment while Sarah was pregnant. I didn’t want to miss a thing. All told, I only missed one appointment. And that was because of my own idiocy. Anyway, at one of our appointments, Michelle (our midwife) told us that she thought we would be a great couple for Bradley Classes.

I couldn’t tell you Sarah’s reasons for deciding on the Bradley Method. I could give you a laundry list of reasons why I felt that Bradley was the way to go, but there is one that stands out in my head. And it is, by far, the number one reason – for me, at least – that we went with Bradley.

Simply put, humans are animals. Although we place ourselves as being rulers of the world, superior to all other forms of life, we are still animals. If you were to observe a dog (or another animal) in labor, they go to a den, a private area, and relax. They let their bodies do the work. It’s very peaceful, and very beautiful. The Bradley Method is based on that principle.

The best thing about these classes isn’t what you LEARN, but what you GAIN. I learned to help Sarah relax, through visualizations, breathing exercises, and touch. I learned how to react to situations, both normal and unexpected. But what I gained was a greater closeness to Sarah. Had it not been for the classes, not only would I have been unprepared, but Sarah wouldn’t have been able to focus on only me and my voice and relax as easily as she did. In the heat of labor, when Sarah was desperate and tired, I wouldn’t have known what to do when she said that she didn’t care about the effects of drugs on our baby.

We didn’t have the labor of our dreams, but taking Bradley classes made everything manageable. I knew it was all worth it when Sarah said afterward, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

So, men… you owe it to the mother, the baby, and to yourself to know what the heck you’re doing in there. Take some classes, and be a part of the birthing process.

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Tyler, with our Bradley instructor, Erin
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As a sidenote, I’m not at all trying to “put down” Lamaze. I have no experience with it. We went with the Bradley method, and it worked wonderfully for us. I highly recommend it, but at the end of the day, you have to make the decision that works best for you. I just hope that it’s the Bradley method, because it is that awesome. Like I said in the Useless Items post, I’m pretty much the smartest guy I know, so you should listen to me on this one.

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Today finds me posting from DeKalb Memorial Hospital, with Sarah sleeping about 3 foot away from me. Luckily, I’ve calmed enough from this rollercoaster of a day to post a blog.

We had an appointment with our midwife today. We’re 7 days overdue. After an exam, we’re told that we’re (I say “we’re” but I mean “Sarah’s”) still only dilated by about a finger-tip width. What the heck is this boy waiting for, exactly?

Also, with being 7 days past our EDD, Sarah needed to take a non-stress test. With a non-stress test, a stretchy belt is wrapped around Sarah’s belly. Right on the belly is the fetal monitor (think of this as the belt buckle). It’s only purpose is to measure the baby’s heart rate. Within a 20 minute period, they need to see baby’s heart rate go up by at least 15 beats per minute (BPM), for at least 15 seconds. And they need this to happen 2 times.

After forty minutes, there were no times where his heart rate went up by 15bpm, let alone for 15 seconds.

Now, before I go any further, I have to jump off on a tangent… See, Delilah (my female boxer-mix pup), had a vet appointment today at 10am. She has had a pretty bad ear infection for a while, and I’ve been unsuccessful in eradicating it. As Sarah was getting hooked up to the fetal monitor, I ran home, grabbed Delilah, and took her to the vet. I’ve never felt so bad for her like I did today. She was scared, but still very happy, if that makes sense. She needed my comfort/protection. As the vet was examining her, she scooted up right against me and wouldn’t really relax until I held her in a hug. Poor girl.

Well, he looks at her ears and confirms that the infection (which smells horrible) goes all the way down into her inner ears. To clean it out, she has to go under anesthesia. She also had what I thought to be pimples on her face. I researched online, and they’re very common in pups her age, because they’re going through puberty. No lie. Doc says that they were papules (at least I believe that’s what he called them), and that they were infected… staph!!! Naturally, I’m worried. This is my baby girl!!! Then, to top it all off…. she’s got a heart murmur. WTF? I immediately flash to a thought of not having my Baby Delilah anymore. So sad. If you have a dog, you’ll understand. If not, you’ll probably just think I’m being all girly. But it scared the crap out of me.

Doc says not to worry unless she’s coughing, which she isn’t. He says to just keep an eye on her. What’s that even mean? I’m not a vet. What exactly am I supposed to be looking for?

So, I have to leave Baby D with the doc and shoot back over to our midwive’s office (Michelle).

Ok, we’re back to where I left off earlier…

40 minutes on the monitor, and baby’s heart isn’t doing what it’s supposed to. Michelle told Sarah (my wife) to get some food (since we both hadn’t eaten yet today), and come back at 1pm for another test.

Off to Bob Evans we go. We eat. And we talk. We’re both scared half to death, but we talked through things. Baby’s heart rate is good, but it’s just not jumping up as much as it should. After the initial shock of “OMG, Everything isn’t perfect” wore off, we weren’t worried at all. We then came up with a gameplan. Go home, pack up as if it’s time to have a baby, but don’t load it in the car, go back for the test, if it’s not good, Joe goes home to get all the crap and comes back.

But we weren’t really worried. Even Michelle wasn’t worried. This was just a safe measure we were taking. After we get food in Sarah’s belly, everything should be fine, right?

At 1pm, we head back and Sarah gets put back on the “machine”. After 20 minutes there was about 3 seconds that his heart rate went up to where it should have. So, we stayed on for another 20 minutes. In this last 20 minutes, I started talking to the baby, and his heart rate went up really good… and passed the test.

BUT, did he really pass the test? I mean, the truth is he had two instances of a passing heart rate over the course of about an hour and a half total. It just so happened that those two instances fell within a 20 minute period.

Sarah and I had another private discussion. We’re 7 days overdue, she’s barely dilated. Odds are that we’re going to have to be induced no matter what, because baby just isn’t dropping his head onto the cervix (which causes dilation and effacement). Do we wait and do more tests, knowing that we’re going to need to be induced at some point anyway, or do we just do the inevitable? It was a no-brainer for us. As much as we want a natural birth, baby has other plans, and we need to give him a kickstart.

So, Sarah was admitted to the hospital, and given a very low dose of Cytotec. This pill will soften the cervix, hasten dilation, and start weak contractions. She’s had two doses thus far, and will get her third in about another 30 minutes. She’s had quite a few (very weak) contractions. About half an hour ago, they got a little stronger. She’s actually starting to feel them now.

I’ve already gone home to get the car packed with all the stuff we need. Now we wait. Here’s the recap of our day:

9 – 11:30a : Appointment with midwife at hospital
11:30 – 12:30 : Breakfast at Bob Evans
12:30 – 1p : Pack up the stuff (just in case)
1 – 2p : Another test with midwife at hospital
2:30 – Present (11:13p) : Admitted to hospital

Naturally, I’m getting very stircrazy right now.

Once labor gets kickstarted with the Cytotec, we’re stopping all medical interventions (drugs) and going back to our birth plan, which is having a natural birth.

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