Big Boys & Little Joy: What’s Up, Doc?

With the arrival of our first child looming over the horizon, Jess and I found ourselves wondering aloud how our lives would be transformed once we brought Seby home. I will say that there were a lot of naive fantasies being shared between the two of us. I, for example, kept picturing for myself all these images of us having an idyllic  family life, not unlike the kinds you see in commercials, where everybody is smiling,  sharing lots of laughs, and hugging at all times as if their lives where dependent on it. You can’t blame a cynic for wanting his life to be a bit more picturesque; I just wanted something different that I had experienced as a kid. We foresaw frequent  trips to the Brookfield zoo, long walks parading our son and his his two fuzzy sisters, Pixie and Dory, through the neighborhood, and stops at the local ice cream shop for a shared tasty treat or two. We imagined big family gatherings, vacations to Disney World, and birthday parties filled with more presents for our son than we would know what do with. Jess especially enjoyed teasing me with the idea of her Mexican family buying our son a few Tex-Mex cowboy suits, with matching boots and cowboy hat. Naturally, the thought of Seby dressed like a miniature member of a Mexican Banda horrified me. So I would counter her terrifying scenario by painting a picture of her nightmare, which was that of our son wearing some ghetto fab outfit , with matching sideways New York Knicks cap and do-rag.  Off course we were both being silly about it. Imagining your life with your unborn kid is one of the few things that is fun when you and your partner are expecting. And yes I know we where being a bit too idealistic for our own good, but we were excited, and we were already madly in love with our unborn child, so we just couldn’t help ourselves. However our excitement was blinding us to the actual realities that came with raising a child, how it would alter the life that we had grown quite accustomed too, and more importantly, how Jess and I would view each other.

I won out. i got Seby living the thug-life.
I won out. I got Seby living the Thug-Life.

Let’s flash forward two two weeks after our son Sebastian was born. My wife and I  had brought in Seby for his first initial checkup post his release from the hospital. Jess was holding our son in her arms as   we sat patiently in the pediatricians office, waiting for the Doc to make an overdue appearance. Jess took  this rare moment of relative downtime to play with our son. She cooed and hugged him and gave him the occasional tender kiss on his chubby cheeks. She was going on and on about how cute she thought Seby was and she repeatedly told him how much she loved him. I sat back quietly and took in the site of their shared interaction. It was a tender moment between mother and son. It was probably the happiest I had seen Jess since she was released from the Hospital a week earlier. Things around the house where different since we brought our little man home, which was something that we had naturally expected; but the reality had turned out  different that what I had envisioned. There wasn’t that overwhelming sense of Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy  flowing through the house as we had fantasized in conversation. Not that we weren’t overjoyed about having our son home, mind you, but there was a certain level of stress that made it difficult for us to just appreciate the moment for all that it was worth. There was the financial crunch that we were feeling from all the medical bills. Jessies was frustrated over still being limited to what she could do physically as her abdomen healed from the performed C-section.  Emotionally, Jess was working through some issues too. She hadn’t quite been herself since getting back home from the hospital. Looking back now I see that there was this underlying sadness that spilled into everything she did during those first few week that Seby was home. And I had failed to see all the signs because I had my head to far up my own ass dealing with my own emotional hangups.

 

Jess and I heard a gentle knocked before  a smiling face peeked through the door. The face belonged to Seby’s Pediatrician, a very pleasant, middle aged Filipino gentleman with a naturally jovial demeanor. He apologized for the unusually long wait while giving us this look that simply said “Oh well, what can you do”.  The doc wore a bleach white lab coat with the customary stethoscope that hung loosely around his neck. The darkly tanned gentleman had a not so recently shaved head that kinda reminded me of a fuzzy kiwi. As our baby’s pediatrician  went through the usual introductory spiel that I’m sure he gave all his new patient’s parents I couldn’t help but notice that his mannerisms, and manner of speaking, was what I best would describe as slightly effeminate. I suddenly couldn’t help picture John Leguizamo in “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar”.

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After exchanging pleasantries with the Doc, he asked us to bring the baby over to the examining table. I stood up and took little Seby from Jesse’s arms and brought our little man over to him. The pediatrician  took a quick look at Seby’s face, placed both hands on his own cheeks and said “Well hello my little Gerber baby.” We were all in agreement, Seby is a remarkably cute child. Ever since he was born, it seemed to us, that all that the nurses in the Labor and Delivery ward could do was compliment us on how cute our little runt was. And they weren’t saying it in a patronizing manner either. The compliments always felt genuine and heartfelt. I looked over to Jess and we exchanged smiles.

The doc proceeded to run our son through your typical run of the mill check up. He shone a light in my sons eyes, then he took a peek at both his ears, and then he takes a good listen to little Seby’s lungs with his stethoscope. This is when things took a twist for the odd.  The doc says “ lets remove his diaper to check his little parts.” I unstrapped the diaper and remove it off my son, and then, and I shit you not, I see a goofy smile come across the mans face as he looks over to me and proclaims, “Oh my goodness papa, your boy here is very blessed.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little. That was not exactly what I was expecting to hear hear from our pediatrician. The doc then apparently felt the need to direct the complement directly at little Seby, “Why look at you. My little Gerber baby. Arent you a blessed little boy. You will be impressing someone when you are grown up.” I look down at my little naked son who was blissfully unaware that he was, or at least his member was, being complimented so thoroughly. The doc then walk over to the cabinet, pulls out one of those little tape measures that all newborn parents seem to have laying around the house, and proceeded to measure my sons penis. I looked over at Jess again and gave her a half smiling, have confused look that basically was asking if this was all copacetic. Jess smiles and shrugs her shoulders as if to say “don’t ask me.” The doc looks up at me after measuring the family jewels and tells me “He is well above the average Papa, you should be proud.” I nodded yes, but what I was really thinking was why should I feel proud, it wasn’t like it was my Johnson that we were all marveling at here.

Once the doc got tired of praising my sons manhood, he gave me to the ok to put Seby’s clothe back on, and then had me sit down next to the wifey. He wanted to take a moment to see how we were handling having Seby home, and give us a quick run through of what we might come to expect during the coming weeks. He looked over at Jess and in his best, concerned doctor voice, asked her how she was feeling. Jess naturally lied. She told him that she was a little pained, but overall she was in good spirits. I off course was in no place to call her on her bullshit because I hadn’t yet noticed that she wasn’t in a good frame of mind. He flashed another, genuinely friendly, smile and simply said how happy he was to hear it. But he still felt compelled to add “just remember your body went through a lot. Sometimes mom’s get down after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is perfectly normal, so its important that you and Papa here keep an eye out for the signs.”

If Jess had been inclined to be a bit more open about her feeling she might have chosen to use that opportunity to voice how overwhelmed she had been feeling since she had left the hospital. She might have, with tears streaming down from her eyes, confessed how the the 51 hours of delivery and the nearly one week in the hospital had taken a physical toll on her body that no amount of reading material and motherly advice could have prepared her for. It’s funny that I’ve never had to much of a problem getting my friends, and even strangers to open up to me about stuff that they wouldn’t normally talk about with anyone else, and yet with my own wife that had never really come easy. We’ve been together 12 years now and yet there are times that I feel I am totally clueless about what is going on in her head. She will smile and joke, and she can be short and moody, but I find it increasingly difficult to decipher what exactly is driving her moods, because she has never been particularly open about her feeling; not with her family, not her friends, and not even with me. This is partially why I couldn’t read how guilty she was feeling about being unable to get herself to feel utterly happy about giving  birth to the perfectly healthy and beautiful baby boy that she was now holding in her arms. So Jess, being her typical self, simply looked at the doc, nodded her head in agreement, returned his friendly smiled, and said simply, “ok”.

postpartum-depression

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I don’t remember the doc asking me how I was feeling. Not that I expected him too. It’s rare when someone actually bothers to asked me about my emotional state, beside the customary, and mostly patronizing, “well how are ya?” But the doc did make a point to bring up the topic of my physical needs, which was not at all expected…but totally appreciated.

The doc dove into the unsuspected sex talk by giving us a bit of marital advice. “Parents often dedicate all their energy on their children, because of course they love them…” , but he delivered that in a way that made me know that a big “but” was going to follow, “but they forget that kids grow up—they leave. And when that’s happened, it will be just you’s two. Then what? You just spent the last 20 years focusing on your kids and now you realize you no longer even know each other.” He paused for a moment, I’m sure for dramatic effect, and he concluded his thought with “So always put each other first.”

That wasn’t exactly the type of counsel that I was expecting to hear from our son’s pediatrician. Because out all the welcomed, and at other times, unwelcomed advice that we got during the 9 months leading to Seby’s birth, not a single one was in regards to how Jess and I were to maintain a healthy, loving relationship post pregnancy. And I gotta admit that up to that moment I hadn’t put any real thought into it, and I highly suspect that Jess hadn’t really either. I’ve thought about it a lot recently, now that Seby is demanding more and more of our time. But our son is such a good, funny, goofy, and oddly patient child that all we want to do is spend every possible minute we can with him; especially since we both have full time jobs and long commutes that eat into our bonding time with our son. So we pretty much have fallen into the trap that the doc warned us about. Seby has become the center of our universe and at times is does feel like we forget that our significant other is also a part of it. In our attempts to become the best parents possible, we have, in a way, regressed at being a good husband and wife.

“Mama”, the doc said while addressing Jess, “We know that YOU are restricted from having sex right now. I’m sure your doctor already told you that”. The doc once again emphasised and stretched out the word “but” in order to hammer the next point home. “Buuuuuuuuut Papa here doesn’t have the same restrictions.” For a split second there I thought the doc was going to be foolish enough to recommend that my wife should allow me to sow my wild oats with another woman while she recovered. Thankfully, for both his sake and mine, his recommendation was much more rational, and a lot less sleazy than my male brain had pictured. “Don’t forget Papa, here. There are things that you can do for him that don’t involve intercourse. ” Once again my male brain jumped the gun and immediately took the doc’s vague, yet purely monogamous suggestion, to mean oral sex. I was immediately sold on the idea.

Things in the coming weeks would get worse for us before they would get better. There would be no oral in my future, which trust me, was a pretty big let down. Jess and I would, increasingly, have a harder time seeing eye to eye; which only served to make Jessie’s postpartum depression gradually grow worse. And finally I would be setting myself for a rather rude awakening on the day  that Jessie’s maternity leave ended and it was left to me, and me alone to, to watch over our son.

End of Part I


Next Week: Big Boy’s and Little Joy Part II: Motherhood

A Change is Gonna Come: The Baby Edition

A Change is Gonna Come: The Baby Edition

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“I’m going to be a father.” That’s the thought that keeps running through my head over and over again,  ever since I stumbled upon the news during Labor Day weekend. There isn’t a spot on my arm that I haven’t pinched just to reassure myself that I’m not experiencing some elaborate dream. Me, a super sized dork that loves comic books, and playing video games, among a multitude of other things that probably are best left to pimply faced weed smoking teenagers, is going to now be responsible for a little life. It all feels a little freaky, a little surreal, and at the same time, oddly reassuring.

I was almost convinced that I was going to have the luxury of several months to mentally prepare myself to the idea of me being someone’s father, before Jess and I actually managed to conceive. I figured that since we were both over 30, I wore tighty whities, and tended to stand way too close to the microwave, that it would have taken us several month of charting solar cycles, taking countless body temperature measurements, and a series of unromantic, clinical, love making sessions, before we managed to  archive maximum baby making conditions. Funny thing is that life, or destiny, or probability, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t care one bit about our plans. Life does what it feels it must, regardless whether we are ready for it. I guess that is why after about a handful of tries my little soldiers manage to hit the bulls-eye. Which, I would like to take this moment to add, is an accomplishment that I am rather proud of. It made me feel like quite the alpha male.

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Since I’m a sucker for symbolism I will take the speed in which we managed to conceive as a good omen. I like to think that the little soul that is shacking up inside the wifey’s belly was probably in a big hurry to get here. Maybe our kid is in a rush to do some good in this world. Then again the child could be the Antichrist. Although I kinda doubt that. I don’t think we have too many anti-Christ running around in our family history.

As I mentioned before, I feel oddly calm about this pregnancy. Which is totally unlike me. I don’t really do calm. I’m a stressful, anxious, worry about a billion things that are beyond my control kinda guy. Calm was never a part of my skills sets. What makes my Zen like tranquility more puzzling is the fact that I am well aware that there are a whole slew of things that can go horribly wrong over the course of the next few months and years. I understand all too well that our kid could develop any of what I am sure are any hundreds of defects or disorders. And that the birth, as safe as they are today, with all the advances in medical science,  still reserve an unspecified amount of danger for both my wife and our little baby. But I’m not worried. There is no sense of fear. I’m feeling pretty chill about the whole situation. Everything that is happening right now just seems right to me. I can’t explain it.

I keep getting flashes. Little images. Snippets of moments frozen in time. I’m holding my kid in my arms. Holding this small, defenseless baby, close to my chest. The kid’s almost lost upon the canvas of my oversized frame. I see another image of me walking along side the wifey, with the little one between us; we’re holding hands as we walk on the tree lined side walk. I’m saying something, looking down at this little one, but I can’t hear what I’m saying to her. Yeah that’s the other thing. I keep thinking it’s a her. I don’t know why I think that. It’s not like I have a preference. Boy, girl it is all the same. But for whatever reason, in my head, I keep seeing a girl. I see her, and the wifey and myself laying on the bed, watching as our two, none human girls, Pixie and Dory, peek over the bed with great curiosity. I know that all this is nothing more that figments of my imagination. Images of a desired tomorrow. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. After spending what feels like my entire youth just picturing the worse case scenario, after years of hearing my inner monologue speak so many dark and depressing thoughts, I find it refreshing and rewarding to finally be thinking about something that is hopeful and reassuring for once. This baby is granting me the opportunity to recalibrate my thought processes. I feel like I’m granting myself permission to come out of the shadows. Maybe now I’ll just linger under a shade.

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I do feel real bad for the Jess. I see how her morning sickness last all day. How sleepy and lethargic she is all the time. I remember how in the beginning she couldn’t help but worry about the pregnancy. She didn’t even want to say she was pregnant until the doctor verified it. And she was adamant that I didn’t say anything about the pregnancy except to our immediate family, until we passed the first trimester. Which was really hard for me to do, because I wanted to announce the news to the world from on top of the Willis (Formerly known as the Sears) tower. And all though I was risking suffering grave bodily harm at the hands of Jess, I did leak the news to a few close friends. But it wasn’t until we both heard the babies heart beat that I saw a sense of relief come over the Jessie’s face. Which only served to give me even more encouragement.

I’m doing everything in my power to make things as comfortable and stress free for my wife as possible. I don’t want her feeling any crappier than what I’m sure she already feels. It’s important to me that she has a nice smooth pregnancy. I’ve heard the horror stories about what my mom had to endure while she was pregnant with me. I want to make sure that Jess doesn’t experience anything remotely close to that. That’s why I’m trying to be mindful of her feelings at all times, and doing my damnedest to let things slides, when she’s feeling a bit moody. I want her to feel as much at ease as is humanly possible under her present circumstances.

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I find myself praying. Something that I don’t do with much regularity. I pray to whomever is up there, whether it be Jesus, or Allah, or a conscious universe, that they keep Jess and the baby safe. That they keep both of them strong. That they keep me in mind while they are at it.

All of this is all so new to me. To us. I’m sure that in the coming weeks, and months, we will be confronted with things that we never quite imagined. I know for better or worse my life has changed in a way that I cannot predict. I got a feeling I will have plenty of material to keep me writing consistently for the foreseeable future. But I can say with great confidence that whatever is coming our way, it couldn’t have come at any other time except now. This was the time. I find comfort in that, as hokey as that may sound. I’m as ready as I was ever going to be for this. The next few months and years will be the most exciting and probably frightening period of our lives. I don’t ever use this word, but for this instance I feel it is rather appropriate, it all feels like quite the blessing.

Them Babies Gonna Kill My Swag

Them Babies Gonna Kill My Swag
Bertie wants to be a jockey and kim waits for ...
Bertie wants to be a jockey and kim waits for the off! (Photo credit: mark lorch)

So I am finally 35 years old. There was no total eclipse of the sun to mark the occasion. No plague of locust materialized. The earth failed to tremble. The dead did not rise from their place of rest. So much dread leading up to that day, just for it to be just like any other Saturday.  I did run a bunch of errands that day. Had a small cookout in my yard with the wifey and some of her family. And I got to witness the sister-in-laws dog repeatedly sexually harass one of my friend’s dog. So all in all pretty uneventful day.

English: An anxious person
English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That got me thinking. So what am I supposed to spend my times worrying about now? I know that 25 year old’s get the quarter-life crisis. And 45 year old’s get the midlife crisis. So what do us 35 year old’s get to fret about? How come we don’t get a crisis geared toward us? How am I supposed to know what I am supposed to be afraid off, and anxious about, if it isn’t yet “a thing!”

jubesbebbeh_zps53f0d117I guess it is up to me to find the next great fear that will take up my valuable time, and I think I found just the thing. Cute, chubby, drooly, projectile vomiting, always pooping, babies. Babies, and what they represent scare the living bejeezus out of me. They also seem to be everywhere. All my friend seem to have one, if not two or three. A day does not go by in which the wifey comes home talking about some co worker getting pregnant, or having a baby. The never-ending, baby factory that is the wifey’s extended family, seems to be always be welcoming a new addition into the world. Even Jubilee, best known for being Wolverine’s quasi kid sidekick back in the 1990’s, just returned to the X-men family with a newborn baby in tow. The world has caught baby fever, and it scares me that maybe I am immune.

English: Gov. Schwarzenegger visits Old Town E...
English: Gov. Schwarzenegger visits Old Town Eureka to survey earthquake damage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There hasn’t been too many positive male role models in my life. As I mentioned in some of my previous post, my father and I didn’t exactly win father and son duo of the year. My grandfather was a kind man when sober, but when he was drunk, he enjoyed slapping my grandmother around a bit too much. My great-grandfather was some kind of orchestra leader back on the island. He was pretty well know for what I had been told. He had a wife and a family. He also had “a thing” for the help. Guess you can say he had Arnold Schwarzenegger problems. That is how my grandfather came about. I come from 3 generations of men with some serious father son issues. Men who at one point or another gave an oath and believed wholeheartedly that they were going to be nothing like their fathers. Each man failed in spectacular fashion.

Cover of "Robin Harris' Bebe's Kids"
Cover of Robin Harris’ Bebe’s Kids

I can’t help but wonder what kind of father I will turn out to be. I would like to think that I could be the open minded, nurturing father that sparks his kids imagination. Perhaps instill a love for sports, movies, comic books, and all the other geeky stuff that I gravitate too. Yet I also understand that each child is his or her own person. There is a chance that no matter how much I try, the kid would never love or care about any of the things I like. There is a chance that the kid could be born an asshole. Hey, hey, don’t judge me too harshly for saying that now. C’mon let’s be realistic here. We have all come across some bad ass Bebe’s kids before. Kid’s that have kind, nurturing parents, that provide them with all the food and shelter that a kid needs, and yet they still turn into tiny terrors. Kids that torture furry creatures, and hit everything and everyone without impunity. Kids whose sole purpose is to gestate enough criminal knowledge until they are old enough to partake in the american penal system.

stressed out parentsI’ve seen the bewildered, desperate faces of parents, who have had the life sucked out of them by their kids. I’ve had good friends with children, who have looked me in the eye, and have told me in no uncertain terms how miserable being a parent has made them. Sometimes I get the sense that folks romanticize the notion of having kids. Probably like poets, writers, filmmakers, and others romanticize war. The ideal falls way short of the brutal and soul crushing reality.

There is so much about being a parent that seems to be out of your hands. I don’t understand how parents don’t just spend their nights just looking up at the ceiling fretting about all the potential catastrophes that could potentially befall on their kids. I guess all you can do is go to your local witch doctor, sacrifice a chicken, light a candle to Ochún, the Santeria goddess of love,  pop those kids out, and hope that  the universe chooses not to screw you over.

Despite all that. I will confess that there is a part of me that would like to have a kid or two. For 35 years now I lived only to make me happy. I have had a very selfish life. A life that has been devoid of a lot of responsibility. I’ve done stupid things, and not really worried about the consequences because in the end, it would only affect me. Maybe it would affect the wifey too, but she is an adult. She has a strong and loving family to fall back on. She has a good safety net. But with a kid or two, I would be more mindful of the consequences. They are defenseless, and have no safety net to speak off. I would have to be more cautious on how I spend my money, I would be more motivated to strive in the workplace, I would have more incentive to be a better, and more grounded human being. Above all else, I just want to be a good father to my future kids. A loving father. A kind father. The kind of father that does not provide his kids with shit-loads of material to talk about with their future psychiatrist.

Video games for all
Video games for all (Photo credit: AnaleaGwendolyn)

My time of relative freedom is at the end. The baby making process has begun, and I expect to have the wifey knocked up in the next few months. It is making me super nervous and giving me plenty to be anxious about. But I also know that it is time to leave my childish ways behind, and be an adult for once. If anything having a kid in the house could at least mean that I might have someone there to play NBA 2K with me more often. That is if he or she isn’t born an asshole. Well I can hope right?