The Dad Post, Part III
Nobody tells you this, but being a father is mostly about being a coach. You’re not only a coach for your kid, but for mom too. I definitely felt like an assistant coach during the whole birth process. You may even call me an offensive coordinator, mostly because half the stuff I did was offensive to my pregnant wife. Sometimes though, the head coach looks to the offensive coordinator to call the play. This definitely came into effect when our whole natural birth didn’t go as planned, but also when we got home.
I took a week off to help with our transition to parenthood. We had a tough ordeal with the emergency C-section, and I was home to help make sure momma was getting enough rest. Kelli and I made a pact when we got married that we would do everything 50-50, so I was just trying to hold up my part of the deal. Our game plan was to breast feed. Kelli had a breast reduction years before, so we were both happy to see her milk come in after the birth. We went home with a confident latch and a good pump. Everything was going fine so we thought, but something didn’t seem right. Our little nugget was getting fussier and fussier on the tit and we were still seeing meconium after a week. We made an appointment with the lactation consultant at Oschner and went to see her on a Sunday morning. We talked and it seemed to her that we were doing everything like we should. However, when she weighed Keegan out of curiosity, he had lost almost 15% of his birth weight. The pediatrician on call asked us to check him back into the NICU.
This was one of those opportunities when the assistant coach is asked to make the motivational speech. Kelli was devastated and she felt like she was letting “the team” down. I had to be there for her and help formulate a new game plan with the doctor. We started our little tough man on formula while Kelli kept pumping to see if we could get her milk production up to where it was needed. Sometimes you just have to scrap a plan if it isn’t working, and eventually that was the decision we made. Keegan made a comeback victory after all and we went home after a day and a new expense we weren’t planning to spend.
Dang formula’s expensive! Diapers too! It’s a good thing that we were given a bunch of diapers at our baby shower, so don’t knock that as a good gift instead of a tutu. The other thing we found out is that all diapers are not equal. We quickly had to figure out which brand of disposables didn’t leak or had the fewest blowouts. It’s bad news when you’re sitting on the couch goo-goo’ing your little angel when a big fart and a squirt of poo shoots out of his bloomers onto your shirt. My poor old father-in-law had that exact thing happen to him. None of my friends ever warned me about that kind of nonsense. Or how to remove onesies full of crap over the head of your baby without smearing it all upside the head. They need to put that kind of stuff on the label. Kelli would get upset with me when I would change Nugget’s clothes because they weren’t cute enough. I wasn’t going for cute. I was going for quickness. I’d set a stopwatch when I started changing a diaper and would put it up against any NASCAR pit crew.
We were blessed with a great sleeper of a son. We ran into the problem of him sleeping too long if there’s such a thing. He would wet through his diaper every night. One of Kelli’s mommy friends suggested trying cloth diapers, which I thought was going to work opposite of what we were trying to accomplish. She borrowed a couple for us to try and bought a shower head bidet that I attached to our toilet. To my amazement they worked wonderfully. My skepticism about having to shake out a turd wasn’t near as bad as I thought either with the help of the bidet and some liner sheets. Next thing you know, we were full cloth diaper converts. I would get weird looks when I’d tell people we cloth diapered, but I would sell it so well that you would have thought I was a lobbyist for the cloth diaper industry. Kelli even talked our daycare into cloth diapering for us too. Away went all the extra change of clothes and the wet sheets.
I also became the baby whisperer. I would come home from work and Kelli would almost be in tears after spending the whole day with a cranky gassy baby. She would hand over the baby to the swaddle master, and Keegan would just melt away in my arms. I think I’ll call that my special teams play. I got that move down pat by practicing on our poor dog Murfy. Keeping with our 50-50 philosophy, I took turns with Kelli on diapers, feedings, baths, and everything. The assistant coach is supposed to support the head coach after all. I had a knack for calming down old Tuffy. Not always though. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to do it during a midnight feeding, or when we were sleep-training him, and I would have to call momma in from the bench. She would show me her tricks that she in her bag too.
One of the best gifts we got from our baby shower was a monitor with video. Kelli was anxious to say the least when we decided to move Tuff into his big baby bed in his own room. I’m not a psychologist, but I’d say it was separation anxiety. She loves him so much that she just wants to see him all the time. It helped with the monitor though. That first week she just about kept it in her pocket everywhere she went, and every little whimper she would turn on the screen to see if he was ok. This was a lot better than going into the room and checking on him every few minutes and possibly waking up. You’d be amazed how long a baby will sleep if: 1. you leave them alone, 2. they don’t wet through the diaper, and 3. you invest in a good sound machine. Kelli got this book from the Sleep Lady, and we were able to coach him to sleep all night… which meant we were able to sleep all night. People are amazed when we tell them that after 3 months, Keegan slept from 10pm to 5:30am, and after 6 months from 7:30pm to 6am.
I don’t know if it was all the free time I didn’t expect from taking off work, but that first week we were home from the hospital, I decided to make a garden. Tuff was born in March so the timing worked out just right too. I planted a garden of tomatoes, squash, zucchini and snap beans. It worked out just right that when we started trying solids out on Tuff, we just pureed what was ready from the garden. We started pureeing fresh fruits and vegetables for and he loved it. He’s definitely a chow hound. We only tried cereal once, and that was a huge mistake. He loved all of the foods that I would have never have eaten as a kid, and he has yet to have a jar of store bought baby food to this day. He became a foodie chow hound and would eat anything you put in front of him, except white potatoes. How could our kid not eat mashed potatoes. No matter, better that he doesn’t actually. We would make and freeze all of his food in ice trays and thaw out what we needed for each day. Once again, Kelli talked our daycare into our hippie ways, and we would show up Mondays with gallon zip lock bags of assorted frozen fruits and vegetables.
This is the majority of year one. I don’t have enough time or paper to describe every single giggle, fart, or crawl that our little man made, but it’s definitely been fun. There’s not enough film or memory in your camera or phone to capture everything. I even get accused by my wife for not taking enough pictures of her with our son. I don’t think that a camera truly does my memories justice, nor could I properly explain the feelings that I have when my son smiles at me with those big eyelashes and dimples. I just hope that my recall will hold up on me through the years.
There were ups and downs throughout the year, but to all you coaches out there, make sure your assistant coaches are using the same game-plan. You may second guess your decisions sometimes, but parents need to support each other. Try to make a good plan, but remember to be flexible. You only learn how to be a good parent from others, but adjust if someone else’s parenting style doesn’t work for you. You know what’s best for your own child, even if you don’t know it yet.
Everybody is winner in life if you’re looking down at the flowers instead of up at the roots, but if you’re not enjoying your life, are you really winning? Do your best to teach your children how to live right, have fun, and enjoy everything. Every day is not going to seem fun, but you can smile and find enjoyment in any situation, even blowout diapers. Some people would rather have your blowout diaper than no diaper at all. Hold your babies close and tell them you love them every day. Same thing goes for your coach.
If you like, I’ll check in with a random post every now and then to give you the dad’s point of view. Let me see your comments to know how many fans I have out there.