Dad’s do things differently and it’s ok

20151117_070837

I’m a bit OCD and I used to be a toddler teacher so I really have a particular way of doing things when it comes to our son. As a result, I have failed miserably at being a supportive partner multiple times.

The baby hardy slept one day (or so it seemed…maybe I was just extra tired). I finally calmed him down enough that he was holding still and quiet while lying on my tummy, which was nice since I could lie down as well. Tommy came home from work shortly after and essentially woke up the baby so he could play with him. I got really mad at him for doing this, but regretted it almost instantly when Tommy said that he had been looking forward to spending time with the baby all day. 20151114_172638While I do wish the baby hadn’t been woken up, I shouldn’t have gotten angry. I see the baby when I’m both energetic and tired. Tommy only gets to spend a few hours each evening with the baby, and he is already worn out from his job.

I often hear Tommy tell the baby that he misses him and he can’t wait until the weekend so they can spend more time together. It makes me happy that Tommy cares so much about the baby and yet sad at the same time. I don’t want him to feel left out or jealous that I spend more time with the baby than he does. This experience made me realize just how important Tommy’s relationship with the baby is, and that I need to be supportive as much as possible.

I also feel bad when I criticize Tommy on the way he handles the baby because it isn’t always the way that I would do things. Tommy has never done anything unsafe with the baby, he is just louder and engages in more rough and tumble type play than I do. My criticizing is completely counterproductive. I waste my energy saying things that don’t need to be said, Tommy might feel that I don’t trust his parenting skills, and frankly, children benefit from rough and tumble play. Often Tommy will ask me if I think the baby loves him. I hope my comments have never made him doubt how important he is to our son. Maybe I’m the one who is jealous.

I think if I can stop being so set in my ways and accept the way that Tommy chooses to parent, then I will be a lot less stressed and more well rested. We agree on the important things and the end results, we just differ on our approaches to getting there sometimes. I’m glad that Tommy has turned out to be a wonderful dad to our son. Or maybe I married him because I knew he would be a great dad. In any case, my baby and I are very lucky!

I didn’t bond immediately with our son

I always hear people say that once the baby is out, you immediately forget the pain and fall madly in love with your new addition. That wasn’t the case for me. I remember being so thankful that I was done pushing, but I was a bit indifferent about the baby. Maybe it’s because he passed meconium on his way out so the nurses had to examine him before I could hold him. Maybe it was because I was disappointed in myself for getting an epidural when I swore I wouldn’t. Or maybe it’s because I wasn’t mentally prepared to have a baby. Whatever the reason, I was definitely more focused on myself during labor and delivery.

It wasn’t until my second night in the hospital that I began to bond with our son. He woke up crying and I tried to feed and soothe him. I put on some music and just laid him on my chest so we could have skin-to-skin contact and frankly, so I could lie down without hearing his pterodactyl cry. He quickly settled down and eventually fell asleep. I became relaxed as well, though very much alert as I watched him for at least an hour.

20151125_075348

Our baby boy is now almost one month old. Adjusting to a newborn has been quite a challenge in ways that my husband and I didn’t expect, but it has also been easier in other ways. Bash has really helped Tommy and I become a team. We have to rely on each other to make sure we can get some sleep. We have almost managed to keep our humor, talking about how far Bash’s pee traveled or laughing at his variety of facial expressions.

I love our baby so much, and it’s a different sort of love from what I have previously experienced. I even cried when he had to get his bilirubin checked at the pediatrician’s office, and I’m not a mushy person. The nurse poked the bottom of his foot and scooped up the blood that came out. He cried hysterically as I held him, and I would have given anything to take away some of his pain.

I definitely felt like a terrible parent when I didn’t immediately fall in love with my baby. I’m sure many new parents experience this and just don’t want to admit it…at least I hope so! But that’s ok. Those feelings still came, even if they were a bit delayed.

An atheist marries a Catholic

1024px-Agony_in_the_Garden
Me, sleeping in church.

Mary is a Catholic. I’m not. I’m not anything. Actually I consider myself a strident atheist. I say “consider”, because for some of my fundamentalist atheist friends, I have strayed from the true faith, and no longer deserve the title.

The Credit system

When Mary and I first started dating, I was still in a generous mood. I offered her four annual credits to take me to church – expiring every New Year with no rollover. But after the third day of church in a row (Fri, Sat, and Easter Sun), I profoundly regretted this system.

The Easter services were double in length, yet still only counted for one credit. I’ve since revised my offer to two credits per year, though there’s still some dispute about if I can alter the deal. Pray I do not alter it further.

Going to Church

For some of my more fundamentalist friends, it’s against the doctrine for an atheist to even go to church in the first place. But in my view, the church is just a building, and a Mass just a cultural thing I attend to appease the wife.

Yes I eat the bread, because for an atheist it should just be free food. But no I do not drink the wine. Like a thousand people drank from that cup, and they don’t wipe it off that well.

Christian Doctrine

Nothing the priest says is particularly objectionable or backwards. This might just be because Mary’s church is very liberal. There’s no real talk about going to hell. Most of it is about charity, turning the other cheek, and the golden rule.

The priest discusses parables in the Bible, and everyone sings some songs. They have their own subculture basically, and it’s not bad to learn, since the Bible is the foundation of a lot of English-language literature.

The weirdest part is when the bread and wine is literally transubstantiated into flesh and blood. It tastes okay to me though.

None of this threatens me – nor should it threaten anyone. As an adult, I’m pretty sure that’s all just metaphor and myth. I guess if I sent my child into that environment I’d want to explain some things to him first.

The Sacrament of Marriage

Mary and I have a Catholic marriage – as in, we took the Sacrament of Marriage.

No, I did not have to convert or get baptized even. We had to get a dispensation from the Bishop of LA, but it was just a form we filled out along with the other forms.

The Catholic marriage must take place within a church, so we did a small private ceremony in the same church Mary’s parents got married in X years ago. The next day the same priest came to our “big” public wedding. Technically it was a one-day-later renewal of vows. It was pretty cool.

One more thing – on the form to get married within the church, I had to check a box that basically said:

Will you let the Catholic Church provide your children with the teachings of Jesus? Yes.

I checked Yes, as I wanted to get married. I will probably be okay with that assuming they can opt-out once they reach the age of reason. In any case, what could they do to me if I didn’t comply? Excommunicate me?

Catholic Engaged Encounter

One more thing to get married in the Church: You have to go on this weekend retreat with other Catholic couples. It’s 90% relationship / marriage skills, 10% religion. It’s not that bad, and I thought it was pretty useful.

The most useful part of the whole weekend was the 100%-100% principle they discussed. The idea is that the idea of 50%-50% give-and-take of marriage is silly, and a not a recipe for success. Instead, each party should strive to give 100% of themselves – as much as possible, to their partner.

I’m not saying I live up to that – it’s just a good idea.

Why I still need date nights during pregnancy

All of my pregnancy phone apps say that a woman’s sex drive tends to increase when she is pregnant. Somehow my body missed that memo. As I’ve put on more weight, gotten aches and pains, and just want to sleep every chance I get, it’s become more challenging to spend quality time with my hubby. Not only that, but everyone else wants to hang out with us because they feel that it’s their last opportunity before the baby comes. Every week I check my calendar and it’s booked with activities. While a younger, more fit me would have been thrilled by this, I now find myself getting exhausted just trying to keep track of everything.

Since living together, Tommy and I have made an effort to have one date a week. Most of the time it has happened in the past. However, it has become more of a rarity now that I’m pregnant. I feel tired and he feels overwhelmed by baby preparations. The focus has shifted off of us and onto the baby boy we are going to meet in three months. While we haven’t been arguing more than usual, I noticed that our lack of quality time together was negatively affecting our relationship.

20150814_194725

This past Friday, we made it a point to have a date night. I wasn’t feeling up for it at first, but I knew that I would regret not putting in the effort. Our date nights aren’t anything fancy. We usually walk to a local (non-pricey!) restaurant, stuff our faces, walk home, and play some computer games together or watch a movie. While I’m sure that bores other people, we find it relaxing. For this date, we went to dinner at a small Japanese place about three blocks from us. We hadn’t been in a while, particularly because we always seem to want to go there when it’s closed. Luckily they were open this time. I don’t think I have seen Tommy that happy in a long time! I had him choose 2 dishes for us to eat (since we like to swap our food) and he gobbled up his portions so fast! If there’s one thing that will put Tommy in a good mood, it’s filling his stomach with tasty food that he didn’t have to cook. As we walked home, there was a bounce in his step. We then played some computer games, cuddled, and went to bed.

The next couple of days his brother was in town and Tommy and I were busy doing separate things. However, in the short times that we were together, we seemed much happier and more grateful for each other. I personally was able to enjoy spending time with others because I was happier. It no longer felt like a chore that was taking me away from my own relationship.

I’m sure date nights will become even more challenging to accomplish once we have a new baby, but they will also become more important. We need to remain a team, and spending a few hours each week go a long way to ensure that happens.
20150814_194739

Why you should take an infant CPR/safety class

The repetition helps you learn

20150808_103247
an infant dummy

As a toddler teacher, I had to maintain certification in infant and child CPR. Although each re-certification class was 95% the same (every once in a while there would be a minor change due to some new research) the repetitiveness really helped me to remember what to do. Does that mean in an actual emergency I will be calm enough to think rationally and perform CPR properly? Probably not. But I honestly don’t know how else to prepare for such a situation. Additionally, being able to practice on a dummy is very helpful. Doing 30 quick chest compressions on an infant dummy with two fingers is tougher than you might think!

I’m sure you can easily find a free CPR class online or in a book if you don’t need to be certified and just want the information. I’ve also heard that there are phone apps that walk you step by step through the CPR process if ever you need to perform it on someone. I would say the only downside of these compared with an in-person class is that you can’t get your questions answered easily (if you have any). It’s a personal preference.

Your partner will finally take your concerns seriously!

My husband and I took a class to prep for the arrival of our baby. The infant CPR/safety class was an in-person class offered by our hospital, UCLA Santa Monica. It cost us $75 to participate (that fee covered both of us), and it was not for a certification. Honestly, the biggest benefit of us taking this class was that Tommy finally took baby proofing before the baby arrives seriously! I’ve been nesting like crazy these past couple of months, and I felt that Tommy never believed me when I said we need to start baby proofing now. “Oh but the baby isn’t here yet” and “It won’t be able to open the cabinets for a long time” were common things he would say to me. Our CPR teacher, who also happened to be a volunteer firefighter, told us the complete opposite. Baby proof now! Especially while you still have the time and energy to do so. Sure your baby may not be able to open the cabinet under the sink right away, but he will be studying your every move and mentally understand how it is done. You always need to plan for the future and be a few steps ahead of your child. Children are so incredibly smart and yet easily underestimated. If your partner is dismissing your desire to baby proof before baby comes, make him or her go with you to a class!

On a side note, a similar incident happened to us a few months ago. Southern California means earthquakes. We had experienced a couple of minor earthquakes, so I wanted to assemble an emergency kit especially since Los Angeles is overdue for a large earthquake. Anyway, I was in the 99 cent store with Tommy and my sister. She and I were looking for supplies and of course Tommy didn’t feel like it was necessary. One of the other shoppers commented that my sis and I were being smart and recommended some items for us to get. It turns out he was a former firefighter for Los Angeles. Tommy quickly changed his tune and started to help us assemble a stash! He even asked the former firefighter a few questions as well! I’m not sure if this is more of a guy thing or what. Maybe they need someone more macho to give them the information. I’m sure saying, “a buff firefighter told me to do this” sounds a lot more impressive to his male friends than “yeah…my wife made me.”

20150817_104047[1]
My face shield is in the little red pouch.
*It may be a tad overkill, but I have a face shield that I carry around on my key chain in case I ever need to perform CPR on a stranger. The face shield has a one way valve on it so you can breathe air into the victim, but any of their bodily fluids can’t come into contact with you. I got my for free when I participated in a certification class through work, but they sell them on Amazon for a relatively low price. Just make sure you ordered a real face shield with a one way valve and not the practice ones they distribute during a CPR class. Often in a real emergency the person may vomit or have blood by his or her mouth. Seriously think about whether a stranger’s blood or vomit would deter you from performing CPR. If it might, consider getting a face shield. Odds are you will never need it. But in the rare event you do, you will feel better knowing that you protected yourself while trying to save someone else’s life, rather than compromising your own safety or choosing not to perform CPR when someone needed it.