Last week my wife gave birth to our second daughter, cementing my status as an official family man. I have the SUV and the house in the suburbs. Now I can just sit back and watch as my goals and ambitions wither away while I grow old, fat, and eternally grouchy. Exciting!
Anyway, this being our second child, I feel like a savvy veteran and am taking a more hands off approach to parenting. So, instead of helping my wife with the kids, I’ve jotted down some deep and philosophical thoughts on birth, fatherhood, and life in general. Here now are 7 confessions from a brand new family man.
The Female Body Is Amazing
My wife went into labor the night of the Minneapolis Miracle, which means a mere 3 hours before her contractions started I was in my buddy’s basement, drunk and shirtless, witnessing the greatest moment in Minnesota sports history and embracing other drunk and shirtless men as we jumped up and down together and screamed OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!
Anyway, at some point during the festivities I ate something that would later give me crippling food poisoning.
My wife woke me up at midnight and was like, “I think I’m having contractions.” And she was!
And then I was like, “I think I’m gonna barf.” And I did! Many times in fact.
Anytime I changed position I’d have to run to the bathroom to dry heave, so from 1AM to 6AM, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, my laboring wife rubbed my back while I moaned in agony.
I finally pulled myself together around 6:30, and we drove to the hospital. When we got there she was 8cm dilated and less than 2 hours later, a 7 pound baby was born.
It was impressive. I could not have done it. I even said to her, “I’m proud of you.” And she was like, “That’s a weird thing to say.” But it’s true. The female body is a machine.
It’s Always Nice When The Umbilical Cord Falls Off
I was very involved in my wife’s first delivery, more so than I ever imagined or desired to be.
So this time I was relieved, especially with the food poisoning, that the doctors let me play a more passive role. I didn’t have to hold a leg or stare into the arena and update my wife on her progress. The only thing I really had to do was cut the umbilical cord, and that was almost too much.
For those who don’t know, the umbilical cord is the literal lifeline that connects the baby to the placenta and ultimately to the mother. It consists of a vein, arteries and a protective substance known as Wharton’s jelly.
It’s tradition for the birth partner to cut the thing and when you do, it feels very much alive. It even squirted a little bit.
Then they leave like 2 inches of the cord attached to the baby and it stays there for a week or two while it dies and shrivels like a worm in the sun.
To me, the crusty cord serves as a nagging reminder of the labor/delivery process and it’s just nice when it finally falls off and you can put that horror show behind you and ceremoniously flush that fucker down the toilet.
[Related reading: Childbirth: The Survival Guide For First Time Fathers]
Go Visit Your Friends’ Babies
And bring dinner, and probably some alcohol. When our first girl was a newborn I’d often wonder, how are we going to do this all again, except with a toddler?
And honestly you don’t. There are things you just don’t have time for anymore: housework, working out, maintaining the minimum amount of alone time required to keep your sanity, etc.
It’s a desperate time. I can’t even go cry in the shower about it without the 2 year old pressing her face against the glass and squealing, “Dada’s pee-pee!”
It’s so nice to have other adults come and grace us with their normalcy, and a meal I don’t have to cook/pay for/clean up.
[Related reading: How To Visit Your Buddy’s Newborn Baby]
What Are We Gonna Do With All These Toys?
Our house is filled with kid’s shit. There are baby swings and play kitchens and trikes and dolls and then the dolls have their own dolly baby swings and play kitchens and trikes and dolls. It’s insane.
I get anxiety whenever I strategize how I will eventually rid all this shit from my possession. I could drop it off at Goodwill, I suppose. But some of this shit is brand new. I want cash.
What is my best bet here? Please don’t say a garage sale. It’s a garage sale, isn’t it? Dammit! My nightmare is a Saturday spent haggling with some deranged garage-saling grandma over a $4 Peppa Pig scooter. Screw it. I’m not doing that. It’s all going to Goodwill. I’ll take the 25 cent tax deduction.
Why Does Everyone Assume Kids Are Named AFTER Someone?
For the rest of my life, whenever I’m told a name of a baby, here’s what I’m going to say:
“That’s a very nice name.”
If I’m feeling chatty and wanting to make further conversation, I will expand my response to:
“That’s a very nice name. How did you come up with it?”
What I’m not going to do is run that name through my memory bank and then verbally hypothesize that its origins are from a piece of pop culture.
Initially, my wife and I decided to name the girl Lennon. Until one day I had this terrible revelation that if we named this kid Lennon, we’d spend the rest of our lives listening to everyone and her mother ask, DURRRRRR DID YA NAME ‘ER AFTER JOHN LENNON?
So we scrapped the name and went with Veda, a more traditional girl’s name, and I swear to God, at least 30 people have said, “Did you get the name from the movie My Girl?”
NO! Have you seen My Girl? That movie is sad as hell. Poor Thomas J. was murdered by bees! FUCKIN MURDERED BY BEES!! Okay? We didn’t name our daughter after some character in a morbid 90s family film. She just happens to have the same name.
We like the name Veda. We like the way it sounds when we say it with our mouths and hear it with our ears. That’s it. If you need more detail, we like the 2 symmetrical syllables and how it plays with the name of our oldest daughter, Mila. Yes, I’ve seen That 70s Show. No! we didn’t name her after Mila Kunis! What is wrong with you people?
[Related reading: How To Pick The Perfect Baby Name]
I Miss Sleeping
I used to be a power sleeper. You could land a jet plane on my nightstand and I wouldn’t so much as twitch. But everyone else in this house? Terrible sleepers. And their bad habits have broken down my 9 hours of marathon sleep like some awful itinerary. Take last night for example…
9:30PM: I fall asleep.
10:00PM: The baby is up. Now, so am I.
10:20PM: I lie awake while the baby audibly suckles at the teet.
10:25PM: Baby audibly shits herself. It sounds like someone squeezed the last of the ketchup from a Heinz bottle.
12:00AM: The dog comes to bed. He immediately gets hot and starts panting.
1:00AM: The 2 year old is up. She claims she has an itchy butt, one of many bold-faced lies she has at the ready to get me to lie down with her.
2:30AM: I wake up in the 2 year old’s bed and return to my own. I hate when this happens.
4:00AM: The baby is up again.
5:00AM: My alarm goes off, and I head downstairs to work on this blog.
5:05AM: Far too tired to write, I instead fall asleep on the couch.
7:00AM: The 2 year old is up, and I am late for work.
They Grow Up Fast
I know this is the biggest cliche ever, but kids really do grow up fast. It’s shocking the rate at which the 2 year old went from newborn to toddler, and it’s just been such a treat to see her mature into this tiny, little person who refuses to listen to a goddamn word I say.
In all seriousness though, with our first girl, I spent a lot of time wishing for that next big milestone — for her to walk, or talk, or develop fine motor skills so I could teach her to ride a Power Wheel — when I should have focused on what was right in front of me. Luckily, this time around, I know how fast it goes. And I’m not going to make that mistake again.
[Related reading: What Nobody Tells You About Fatherhood: 12 Confessions From A Brand New Dad]