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 Birth | Future Shlock Skip to content


Tag: Birth

It’s been almost two months since my last post, and, my god, what a couple of months they were.  Babies are quite something – It’s quite incomprehensible how much of a change having this little bundle of joy can have on your life. Looking at this scientifically, their effect is clearly inversely proportional to their size – massive disruption to normal life when they’re tiny (viz – now), and increasing “normal” function as time goes on and as baby gets all nice, chubby and big. Or am I being optimistic??

Now, considering my pre-birth blog was titled “contemplating diapers”, I can confidently state that I clearly did not contemplate hard enough!  Your child’s birth is a watershed event, even beyond what people keep telling you (“it will change your life”!) – at this point this is manifest much more in a practical sense than a mental one. One aspect of this is that having a two month old baby does not necessarily “register” – we don’t really feel as “parents” yet – rather you find yourself subdued to the whims of a simplified hybrid of you and your partner (“she has your eyes”; “she has your feet”; “she has your gas” – the latter being said to me , of course), and your whole life is suddenly taken over by the requirements of taking care of her. So it just happens. You get sucked along – I guess the realization comes afterwards.

While things for me have continued in some part unchanged – I still go to work every day, though come back earlier, for Anna life has completely been paused – a never-ending groundhog day cycle of sleep-feed-nappy-sleep which goes on and on. While we have tried to go out, have friends over, and are planning to go to Paris for the new year tomorrow, I do feel that it’s very hard for her. On a positive note, we have been interviewing nannies and it looks like we will be able to find someone, so Anna will be able to go back to work with reasonable confidence in February.

Of course, we had both grandmothers over for two week-stints – which was really helpful for us as the first month was  real boot camp experience. Let’s see: you don’t sleep much, run around a lot because someone is screaming at you, are lucky to have time to go to the loo, have to obey the needs of someone with the brain capacity of a baby (my sergeant major was a doozy) At least the food is better here!. I mean, who knew there were so many different forms of baby cries? The long nights, the steep learning curve, the support within such a new, demanding situation would be so much tougher had the grannies not been here! Of course, they got some quality granddaughter time and so a positive overall cost/benefit ratio 😎

Another aspect worth mentioning is the time factor – it suddenly goes by so quickly….days and weeks fly by, each one centered around what the baby has done, how has she slept/ate/smiled today…it’s quite amazing when you think of it. The days are packed, always a lot to do around her little highness, but as a whole you suddenly catch yourself and she’s already one month…six weeks…two months old…heck, we’ll be sending her off to college in no time.

The good news is the little lady is growing well, already almost 5 kgs of cuteness. Apparently her head is quite big (90th percentile), but what do you expect with two geeks as parents. She’s definitely eating well – she gets that from me, of course.

Following are 10 off-hand tips: please add any more you have in comments.

10.  You spend the first 24 hours worried about whether the baby is ok when she’s sleeping. You spend months afterwards worrying that she’s going to wake up.

9. The phrase “quiet, you’ll wake the baby” is, as much as you don’t want to be using or hearing it, one that you’re going to use and hear a lot.

8. Sleep. Eat. Poop. Cry. Eat. Cry. Sleep. Poop. Cry. Sleep. Eat. Poop. That is the schedule for your baby’s life in the first few months, and by proxy yours as well. If the sleeping durations aren’t long, well, buddy, you’re royally screwed.

7. Breastfeeding is far from being a simple thing. Very important, complicated and can cause total anguish till the mother and baby get it.

6. Grandparents call. A lot. That’s what they do.

5. The system shock and lifestyle change after birth is huge: support your wife or you’ll both have a horrible time.

4. Quiet moments, taken for granted before, are suddenly immensely prized assets.

3. If you’ve not had it for a while, you’re going to have to get used to frozen food. If that’s all you’ve been eating beforehand, well, you’re a slob but will suffer less.

2. Babies may look dumb, but they require a huge repertoire of movements, songs, shakes, positions and sounds to calm them down. Like some hoighty-toighty connoisseur, if you don’t get it exactly right – forget it, you’ll be screamed at.

1. Sleep is a luxury. Forget all luxuries.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Heavy times

So, two weeks to go, give or take a week. That’s some standard deviation, and some cause for keeping a phone handy in case I need to cut short a meeting and belt it back home because labour has started.
That’s a bit stressful. But then again, we’ve been reading, hearing and involving ourselves so much in the upcoming birth that you almost want it to get over with. I’m sure Anna does!
She is getting very big, walking around a lot is getting difficult, so I’m driving her to work and picking her up every day. Foot massages and back rubs are increasing in frequency as well…
She has been keeping up with prenatal yoga classes and has also added pregnant massage, which seems to help a lot and is thus encouraged. Any help or means to make things feel better which she can get these days are welcome.

We’re pretty much sorted for baby stuff – went out to buy a walkie-talkie type thing (funnily enough they call it “talkie-walkie” here – we always knew they were a bit backwards) so we can hear her behind a closed door (intuition tells me that, somehow, they’ll hear her three floors down, but that’s another matter).
Also got a big birthing ball (like the ones in the gym), a couple of rubber duckies for the bath and a radiator for the room, which can get a bit chilly. Of course we already have all the rest, so what’s missing is the extras, which everyone is encouraged to send us! (read: night light, mobile for bed and pram, living room playmats etc. etc.) – knudge-knudge-wink-wink.
So what’s left? I guess deciding not to worry about things and to let nature do its stuff. As I don’t smoke I’m not going to do the “worried dad pacing outside and chain-smoking”, especially as I’ll be inside the delivery room being a “slave to her whims” as they so elegantly put it during the prenatal course…

So, perhaps the next update will be the big one! It’s been nine months coming 🙂

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pre-natal classroom

Times existed when in order to ensure your kid’s success you had to list him or her in a good school and start saving up for Harvard medical or law school 20 years in advance. No longer. Today investment in a child’s intelligence starts before they are born – the “prenatal classroom”.
Sounds very formal and pedagogical, doesn’t it? You imagine schoolteachers parading in front of a pregnant woman and loudly reciting Shakespeare, or discussing differential equations? Reality is much more mundane, and ridiculous. Picture a mom- and dad- to-be sitting on the couch, the mom with her hand on her pregnant tummy, the dad leaning forward ever so slightly, placing his head near the big bump.
The mother rubs her tummy and says “rub” several times as she carries on the movement over and over. Wait for several seconds. Repeat. Wait again.
The dad takes a flashlight, places it on the tummy surface and loudly proclaims “light” when turning it on; “dark” when turning it off. Repeat.
Exciting, isn’t it? Not least when the baby kicks. The buzz reaches new heights, despite neither of the couple really knowing whether the response has anything at all to do with their antics, or whether baby was just annoyed at being disturbed and wanted to tell everyone to shut the heck up and let her sleep.
Further fun involves making noise on a drum, playing Mozart via prehistoric earphones and, of course, the riveting alternatives to rubbing: patting and squeezing. If this doesn’t ensure a PhD nothing will.
So, either we will end up with a very intelligent girl whose neural development was indeed stimulated by repeated interactive stimuli during prenatal growth…or with a disturbed little child who should have been left alone to rest before being thrust into the big bright world. Time will tell.
Tune in next time when we teach her who Tzipi Livni is with a pair of chopsticks, a bottle of ketchup and some vintage Tony Bennet recordings.

Till then, adieu.

P.S. Following a short trip this afternoon, my version of hell has crystalized as being trapped in the Ikea loop (you know, the upstairs portion with all the “already designed” rooms) on a Saturday afternoon, having to go around again…and again…and again…

Monday, September 15, 2008

Time for class

Into the final straight now, last 6 weeks of pregnancy, and high time for a childbirth course!
And thus I went down to the premises of the local expat-based childbirth class. Note the “I” and not “we” – indeed Anna was away at another conference (these scientists and their jet-setting ways, pah!), and the other participants did indeed chuckle at the sight of a guy attending on his lonesome.
Beyond this anecdote, there were almost 5 hours of discussions, demonstrations and explanations of all things birth-related, including but not limited to: anatomy, baby shopping, the experience and process of birth, the positives and negatives of pregnancy, the different ways of lessening and dealing with pain, and of course much tea and coffee in order not to fall asleep on a sunday morning.
Mind you, the next lesson is two and a half hours on a weeknight – mental note – bring adrenaline drip.
Naturally, I exaggerate in the last sentence: seeing vivid schematics regarding how the same watermelon which I mentioned several posts ago seems to somehow come out a 12 cm opening suddenly propped everyone awake alright. And then some.
Interestingly, the crowd attending is quite varied: eight couples, some from a single country but the others heterogeneous, none Belgian of course. People from India, the states, eastern and western Europe, and of course us middle-easterners. Four Cambridge graduates. Nice.
The american couple (Bob and Marcy – how cliche), have only been in the country a week – talk about culture shock!
Join us next time (next wednesday), when we discuss pain relief: breathing, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, and for the men: how to keep on smiling when your previously loving wife looks at you with fiery, she-devil eyes and you wonder what happened.

A bientot.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

T-2 months and counting

So, day after day the due date comes closer, and we’re now at two months from the big moment. Practicalities start creeping into thought – how do we get to the hospital? Have we got all the required equipment/furniture/nappies/smelling salts to wake me when I faint in the delivery room? No doubt most of these will be stricken off the list with time, with new and exciting things to worry about popping up in larger numbers!
We are starting a prenatal course on the 14th of September. Notably, my wife will be absent for the first meeting (conference, you see), so will be attending the meeting alone. Should be a larf.

Now, it seems that with the increase in the little one’s size she is developing more and more potent karate chops. We have not yet decided whether she is actually practicing a prenatal martial art, perfecting her chicken dance or developing inter-placental mime skills – what is clear is that Anna’s innards are suffering from increasingly strong, painful hacks. A small blessing that she seems to cycle between the spleen, liver, bladder and small intestine, the little angel. Well, at least she hasn’t been playing guitar hero with the umbilical cord.
Oh, and regarding pregnant women’s appetite – all you have heard is true!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The pinnacle of the pregnant tummy

Qeue dramatic BBC documentary music…

It can be likened to a cherry sitting on top of a mound of ice cream. the snowcap atop mount fuji.
or perhaps a banner flying high above a castle’s turret.

So lies the pinnacle of the pregnant belly.
You all know it: the “outie” bellybutton.

This post will not, of course, touch upon those deviants, indeed these epitomes of nature’s manufacturing errors, who are inflicted with a naturally “outie” bellybutton. It will rather shortly discuss on those kind, respectful, law-abiding folks (particularly females of course) who are begat with a normal “innie” bellybutton.

Most women start pregnancy with just such a nice, commonplace dip in their lower stomach, nothing out of the ordinary. However, as time passes by, much dismay is experienced as the growing belly slowly pushes out the hidden vestiges of a birth long past. The final months witness all laid bare, folds of flesh that were in shadow for long years now exposed to the sunlight. Perhaps this is nature’s way of “compensating” pregnant women for no longer being able to see their private parts due to a burgeoning belly: showing them a body part they have never seen!

Needless to say this little tummy bump garners much attention, only time will tell if it returns to its lair once the little angel enters the world…

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tummy tremors

There is not one moment where the realization that fatherhood is upon you strikes more plainly than that day where your wife lets out a little yelp and shows you a little hand or foot striking the inside of her tummy.
It’s called “The Alien Moment”.
While it is frankly hard for the soon to be dad to tell if this is a benign little child which will come out in several months’ time, or actually a little monster which will devour you both very quickly, the end result is similar – two people who realize clearly that things will never be the same again.
Of course, the baby doing the chicken dance inside the womb can be an uncomfortable, sometimes painful feeling for the mother. On the other hand, she comes to expect these movements and is happy to see that the child is alive and kicking, a very apt saying in this instance.
So while our little one continues to wiggle and squirm inside at a seemingly random frequency, we do try on occasion(being modern parents) to interact with her. Until now only a certain female singer has elicited any response (let’s see you guess who) – classical, rock, heavy metal and country have had little effect. We’ll bring out the bigger guns out soon (read: heavy mizrahi, all the way up to Avi Biter – that’s certain to get her moving, or banging begging us to stop).
We’ll keep you updated regarding the little one’s top ten hits.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is it my experience?

I’ll start with my version of a “safe harbor clause”. Pregnancy can be a terrible period for women: it begins with three months of perpetual nausea combined with occasional or constant vomiting; continues with cramps, pains during the night and day, bloating limbs, increased hunger contrasted by a digestive system can accommodate less and less food due to the ‘watermelon’ growing in the woman’s stomach, and culminates with difficult mobility and dexterity due to the weight and size of the same watermelon. And all this in a pregnancy which goes well. And if it is not enough, there is the small issue of getting the watermelon out of a hole into which a 2.5 cm-diameter tube-like appendage was the only thing which was until now inserted.
And so, it is clear that the woman’s experience of pregnancy can be very difficult. However, there is a plus side: the woman feels so much more of the baby during these important months and forms an amazing connection with the baby, even before birth, one which no man can comprehend or, of course, experience.

What does the man go through? Besides watching his wife suffer, trying to help as much as possible (doing more of the housework and chores, massages, anything else she asks for), perhaps participating in a lamaz or prenatal course and worrying about the future, unfortunately not much. Which leads to the question: what can be done to share the experience with the husband?


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