Friday, January 25, 2008

Nighttime reading

The odds are good that you'll be up all night with a sick child at some point, so you'd better decide on some way to pass that time now. If you're like me, then you've got a video game or three that you wouldn't mind spending countless hours playing but even the most exciting of these will start to blur at around three in the morning.

So I suggest online comic strips. They're a favorite pastime of mine and are well worth getting into. Unfortunately, a lot of the better ones have been going on for years and contain a billion plot lines. So what better time to catch up on the archives than with eight sleepless hours?

Sluggy Freelance is my all time favorite. It's funny, got decent artwork, and the guy can spin a good yarn. The early strips are a bit rough but things get better pretty quickly. There are a lot of fantasy and sci-fi spoofs sprinkled in between stories of dimensional/time travel, demonic possession, video games, and heavy drinking. With ten years of daily updates it'll keep you amused for hours.

Schlock Mercenary is another good one and should appeal to the sci-fi fans. It's about a team of space mercenaries and has a gallows humor to it. Plus the writer likes to lecture on physics in his blog area.

Funny Farm is a boarding house full of eccentric characters. The humor is consistently funny and the artist is good at actually updating on a daily basis.

Player vs. Player is about a bunch of people who work for a gaming magazine. A fair amount of the content is about computer games but there's plenty of other stuff in there.

Girl Genius is originally a comic book by the brilliant Phil Foglio, and he's posting a page of it at a time online. The artwork is great, the jokes are funny, and it's steampunk!

Order of the Stick is an excellent D&D comic. It should be required reading for anyone who plays. A mere 500+ strips in the archive, but they are much bigger than the standard three or four panels so it should take a fair amount of time to go through them all.

Penny Arcade is mostly about two guys and video games. I'm really out of the loop with the gaming industry so some of the jokes escape me, but it's still a funny strip. (Not appropriate for the young'uns, though, what with the bad language.) This is the comic that got me through three nights of Simon's roseola so I'm forever in its debt. If you're still daunted by the thought of catching up on years of plot hooks then this one is ideal, since it contains very few hooks to plot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roll for initiative

Simon's pretty fussy lately and a lot of Kristin's online mom friends are having the same complaints. It's always a crap shoot trying to determine what the culprit may be, unfortunately. Is he just gassy? Is it an ear infection? Is he allergic to gluten? My god, what if it was the yams?!

So to help myself out I created this handy table. These tables are pretty common in roleplaying games, determining what kind of wandering monster attacks you or what kind of treasure you find in the dragon's cave. I figured if it's good enough for gamers, it's good enough for me!

You need to roll a twenty-sided die (or D20, as we say in the 'biz') and add any relevant bonuses. Then you consult the handy chart.

+1 - Tugs his ear
+1 - Drools a lot
+1 - Has a fever up to 104
+2 - Has a fever of 105 or more
+2 - Has a rash
+5 - Rotates his head 360 degrees
+1 - Cries a lot
+5 - Speaks in an eerie voice, possibly in tongues
+2 - Spits up more frequently
+5 - Vomits pea soup at priests


2 - 5 : Most likely teething. Give him iced food and toys to chew on.
6 - 10 : Gas. Use gripe water and feed bland foods for a while.
10 - 14 : Food allergy. Cut back on his diet and introduce new foods gradually.
15 - 19 : Roseola. A benign childhood disease, should go away after about three days.
20 - 35 : Demonic possession. Call a young priest and an old priest.
36+ : Ear infection.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

table scraps

For dinner I usually make a meal out of whatever Simon won't eat. Last night it was three spoonfuls of oatmeal, the skin of a pear, and the remains of chicken and rice. It depressed me to think that my diet now consists of things my mother throws onto her compost pile.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monsters, Inc.

I wondered if it was possible to raise a child to not know what monsters were. Could someone grow up without believing there was something under the bed or hidden in the closet? Well, the other day I noticed that it took very little effort to convince Simon he was being chased. And I have to admit that, despite my plan to refrain from playing the boogie man, it was impossible to keep myself from growling and shambling after him.

Young predators often use play to practice their hunting skills. Those adorable lion cubs may look so precious as they roll around on the ground, but that just leads to harder stuff, like chasing down gazelles and mauling hikers. Humans, unfortunately, don't fall into the "predator" category. Before we mastered things like clubs, spears, and automatic weapons we were pretty much useless in a fight, so we have millions of years of evolution telling us to get the heck out of the way of anything with teeth as large as our forearms. It's only natural that our young instinctively run from us as we growl and chase after them.

As an intellectual exercise, imagine if lions evolved to the point where they established a movie industry. There would be no horror films. Even though there are bigger animals around, lions have been the meanest things in their neck of the woods for a long time, so they'd have no concept of monsters. There would be no Godzilla, or alien invaders, or an evil clown terrorizing a small Maine town. And their kids wouldn't be afraid of the dark. Tell one of them that there's something under their bed and they'd be crawling under there in a shot with a meat tenderizer.

So I guess I'll let Simon learn about monsters, but I'll also teach him how to exploit their weaknesses. The ones under the bed, for instance, are powerless against blankets. A flashlight beam will scare off the ones in the closet, and I'm already working on rules for playing Zombie Attack. No tool-using son of mine is going to be monster chow.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's in a name?

Okay, new dads, time for a preemptive strike. I'm talking about what the baby's toys are named. You may not care right now, but months later you're going to get sick of calling his stuffed rabbit "Mr. Poopsie Woopsie." And I dare you to use that name in a crowded restaurant in front of your friends and that smirking waitress.

The rules are simple. First, it would be nice if the name had something to do with the toy in question, like "Ursa Major" for a teddy bear or "Ringworld" for a chew ring. Make sure it's catchy enough for your wife to use but be sure it's not too over the top or she'll put her foot down.

Here are a few I made up as we acquired them:

Squeaking duck - Mallard, the foul-mouthed duck
Double-loop chew ring - The Infinity Loop
Stuffed turtle - Great A'Tuin
Complicated toy with connecting dowels and beads - The Toy From the Eighth Dimension (You have to say it like the narrator from a 1950s sci-fi movie.)
Plastic chew ring with large bumps on it - The Nodule Ring (This is when Kristin revoked my naming privileges.)

I suppose if you're into sports or racing or other boring stuff you could use athlete's names. When Simon is old enough to get into teddy bears and action figures I'll probably give them names of scientists and have them fight:

Einstein: "Ach, zere cannot be quantum fluctuations because God does not play dice vit ze universe."
Heisenberg: "You fool, Einstein! I'm going to uze mein wavefunction punch to zmack your quantum head!"
Einstein: "My Macro Universe Gun vill give you a taste of Newton's laws of motion!"

Monday, January 14, 2008

The 'V' word

There's a growing concern out there about vaccinations causing more harm than good. Unfortunately this seems to be a topic that ranks up there with religion and politics when it comes to conversations that you shouldn't have, because there are many impassioned people on both sides who focus more on feelings than facts.

A lot of this is based on fear. Mainstream parents don't want to hear that these magical elixirs may cause some serious damage, nor do they like the thought of their doctors lying to them about it. On the other side of the fence, a growing number concerned parents feel trapped in a system that essentially forces them to inject toxins into their children. The medical profession doesn't help matters by refusing to perform any kind of serious studies on the matter. Vaccinations are remarkably easy to get passed through, and the long-term effects are unfortunately not known.

I really wanted to write up a comprehensive, well-researched posting about this but discovered that Alan Phillips had beaten me to it. I'll do some summing up, not just of him but also a few other sources I've read.

The basic premise of mainstream America is, "Vaccinations keep my child from getting a serious illness."

Well, that's not really true. What happens is that a weakened or dead strain of a virus is injected into your child's bloodstream, where his immune system learns to combat it. Nice in theory, but somewhat lacking in execution.

First, there's no guarantee that it works, with up to a 50% failure rate. Second, there's actually a chance that the vaccination will give your child the disease in question. Third, your immune system eventually forgets how to defend against the weakened strain so you are vulnerable again in six to ten years, and many diseases (like mumps and measles) are much more serious when you get them later in life. Fourth, there's no real evidence that they prevent epidemics. Countries with no vaccination policies have shown similar drops in illnesses, due largely to improvements in sanitation and nutrition. Polio was already on the decline before the vaccine was introduced, and in fact it made a big comeback in the years immediately following the vaccinations.

Okay, so even if they don't do much why not get them? There are some serious reasons.

First is all the stuff that's injected into your child's bloodstream along with that weakened virus. There can be animal and human tissue (including fetal cells) as well as preservatives such as mercury, formaldehyde, and/or aluminum. There has been no serious study about what this can do to a developing brain, especially one that gets subjected to these toxins a dozen times or more over the course of a couple years. (Or even longer, if more states follow New Jersey's lead and make annual flu shots mandatory.)

The second reason was mentioned earlier. Your child only gets a temporary immunity from the vaccine (assuming it works at all or doesn't actually give your child the disease in question). This means they (and we) are vulnerable to exposure later in life and some of these diseases are much more dangerous to adults than children. People like to blame unvaccinated kids for causing epidemics but the odds are good they got it from a vaccinated friend, and passed it along to older kids who have outgrown their immunity. There's a reason people have pox parties.

The third reason is the fact that the pharmaceutical companies often stick more than one virus in a shot, even as many as three, in the belief that your child is scrappy enough to handle it. There has been some question as to whether or not this is a good thing, naturally.

Finally, there is the question of how serious is the threat of these diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a weekly pdf download that shows how many cases have been reported. Last year, for example, saw 31 cases of measles in a population of 300 million.

So there you have it. At best vaccinations are a short-term solution to an immediate problem, like if you're traveling to Africa or there is an actual epidemic, but other than that they're just crippling the population's long-term resistance to diseases and potentially causing neurological damage to infants and children.

What's up, Doc?

I've expressed my concerns about the qualifications and honesty of the medical profession, but that's not to say all doctors are bad. We have an excellent pediatrician for baby Simon, for example, but finding him was slow and painful.

It all started in the spring of ought-seven, when Simon didn't seem to be gaining much weight. We took him to a local pediatrician who was recommended to us and, after waiting 45 minutes past our appointment time, we finally got to see her. She poked and prodded Simon for a while and didn't seem concerned, then consulted her Nestlé growth chart and determined he was dying. (Nestlé makes baby formula, as you probably know, and so is naturally an unbiased judge of how much a baby should eat.)

Now, Simon was small but seemed perfectly healthy. He was active, social, and had a chubby face. He had none of the indications of malnutrition or being underfed, like lethargy or loose skin, and the doctor showed no concern whatsoever until she looked at the chart. She started talking about supplementing with rice milk, which has no nutritional value, and said she wanted to see him again in a few days to make sure he had gained. She blew off our (true) statement that breastfed babies tend to weigh less than formula fed ones, and obviously had no thoughts on alternatives to rice cereal or formula, which are essentially junk food for infants.

We walked out of the office and I glanced at my wife, expecting to see her in tears. She was eerily quiet on the walk to the car, and I finally asked her how she was doing. She just smiled and said she had tuned the doctor out completely after a while.

Obviously we wanted a second opinion. Kristin brought Simon to a lactation expert she knew and, once again, the woman thought Simon was fine until she actually put him on the scale and consulted a chart. Her concerns carried more weight, since it came from someone who strongly advocated breastfeeding, but it still annoyed us that she ignored all the physical indications of a healthy baby as soon as she looked on a chart.

In an act of desperation we decided to visit someone two hours away, who was recommended by someone in the Holistic Moms Network. This guy did the usual poking and prodding of our child, then put him on the scale and said he was fine. He assured us that if Simon was ill then it would be obvious from physical signs, and said that he was just a slow grower. Then, and this was the point when I wanted to hug him, he started rattling off recent case studies of breastfed babies and giving us facts and figures. He had been the only one we'd seen up to this point who seemed to know more than the bare minimum to do their job. He also wasn't as devoted to the "cover your ass" brand of medicine and actually gave us his personal opinions on several medical matters.

We still go to this doctor for wellness visits despite our attempts to find someone closer. I guess the moral of the story is if you don't like your doctor for any reason then keep on looking. Don't be afraid to read up on issues that concern you and ask questions during the physicals. Demand more than cookie-cutter medicine for your child.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Holistic quandary

Recently I mentioned to a friend that Simon got burned on his hand so we brought him to the emergency room. My friend seemed surprised that I'd agree to that, being holistic and all. I'm not sure what his image of my life is like, but apparently it involves sitting in a mud hut and applying leeches to suck out the demons.

To be honest I'm not even sure holism is the best way to describe my philosophy. In my opinion health boils down to one fact; the human body is a complex organism that as been designed by billions of years of evolution to be treated a certain way. This means getting plenty of exercise (hunting and gathering), eating the right foods (vegetables, grains, and whatever you can hunt down with a stick), and getting plenty of rest (sleep when it's dark).

I have a great deal of respect for modern medicine, which strives to understand the body and treat problems when they arise. I don't, unfortunately, have much respect for modern doctors. Most of them learn the bare minimum in order to get their degree, then slack off on keeping up to date with the latest medical knowledge and make deals with multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies. They don't care much for preventative treatments and just jump right into pumping you with drugs. The majority of people don't think twice about this, thinking that any medicine is good medicine, but we don't really know the long-term implications of most of this stuff.

A good analogy, at least for me, would be a programmer dealing with a million line computer program. If you just start tweaking code willy-nilly in order to fix a bug then you're in trouble. If I tried that, instead of putting effort into determining the root cause of the problem and making the minimal amount of change necessary, I wouldn't last long in my job.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Stroller? I don't even know her!

The best investments we made for little Simon were baby carriers. These are slings or packs that hold the baby so you can walk around with him and not kill your arms and back. Simon spent the first year in one and I think it's really helped. The constant contact has helped him become secure in his surroundings and he's very social because he's been up at face level so people talk to him more. My wife and I love carriers so much, in fact, that we opened a store to sell them. You can get them online but it's so much better to see them in person and try them on.

The most basic kind of carrier is a pouch sling. It's quick to slide on and off, and lets newborns get up close and personal. It can also be used to discretely nurse. Another kind of sling is the ring sling, which allows you more freedom in adjusting. If you want to get something online or for a gift then this is a good one to go with, since the pouch sling is a lot more strict with sizing.

The pack carriers, which let you hold the baby on your chest or back, come in two types. The first is a mei tai (pronounced may tie) and is a square of fabric with four straps that you tie around yourself. These are great for carrying the baby for longer periods, since it distributes the weight over both shoulders and the waist. I also like using them during winter, since you can bundle yourself and your baby up in the same coat so you always know how warm he is. The other kind of pack carrier is the soft structured carrier, which replaces the straps with buckles. This allows it to be put on a bit quicker, but makes it a pain to adjust if you share the carrier with someone else.

The Baby Bjorn (pronounced baby byorn) is a popular brand but I don't care for them. They don't have the waist strap, so all the weight is on your shoulders and that can get painful after a while, especially when the kid gets a bit bigger.

There's no ultimate carrier that does everything. I use a ring sling for around the house and quick shopping trips. I use a mei tai for hikes, walks around town, and dancing the baby to sleep. In fact, the mei tai more than paid for itself the other night when Simon got a fever and was fussy for hours. I put him in, and got him to sleep, then quietly sat down at the computer and spent a while online. Without the carrier I would have either had to hold him for hours or continually put him down and pick him up every time he woke up.

Speaking of sleeping...

One of the hardest things for a father is getting the baby to sleep. Moms have a biological advantage going for them (boobs, of course) but men have to get creative. We each develop our own tricks, whether it's dancing around, patting the baby on the back, or making a dark pact with Satan. One advantage we have over the weaker sex are lower voices. If you're lucky enough to get down to the baritone range then you can put that baby on your chest or shoulder and do some crooning. And I'm not talking normal lullabies, either. I mean any song that's slow and methodical, like "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day or "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton. (Actually, there's a pretty cool lullaby album out there of Green Day songs.)

My practice is to hold the baby and dance around while playing my own version of a lullaby album:

The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) - They Might Be Giants
Circles - Soul Coughing
Wait for Me - Stephen Jay
Bouncing Around the Room - Phish
Spiraling Shape - They Might Be Giants
My Man - They Might Be Giants
Certain People I Could Name - They Might Be Giants
Particle Man - They Might Be Giants
Another First Kiss - They Might Be Giants
Famous Blue Raincoat - Jonathan Coulton
You Are Alive - Stephen Jay
Sell Sell Sell - Barenaked Ladies
Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep At the Wheel - Barenaked Ladies

My wife Kristin isn't a fan of this practice, but when she agrees to stop lactating I'll agree to give up my method.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Co-sleeping: Man's best friend

Probably the most controversial topic we encountered was when we told people we were going to co-sleep, i.e. have the baby sleep in the same bed as us. Everyone thought that the baby would either; be crushed by his 300 pound dad, keep us up all night, or become an insecure mother-dependent transvestite.

First of all, unless you make a habit of passing out on your bed after a night of binge-drinking there's no way you'll roll onto your baby. Your brain knows darn well that he's there, and if you even get close to him alarms will go off in your head. It means a few nights of fearful slumber while you adjust to this alien critter sleeping right next to you, but you eventually get used to it.

Second, if you're not a fan of the "cry it out" method of child neglect-- er, child rearing, then having the infant right next to you is great when he starts fussing in the middle of the night. If mama is breastfeeding then that's even better, since she can reach over and stick him on a boob without even waking up and dad can sleep through the whole thing. I shudder to think of how many nights I would have had to get up to comfort the rug rat if he was in his own crib.

Third, co-sleeping doesn't make kids clingy. Some fear that they'll still be bunking with you when they hit puberty but they will reach an age when they're sick of daddy's snoring and mom's night terrors and demand their own room. If you want them to leave before they're ready then by all means wean them out of it, but better to give them some months or years of family closeness than deprive them of it from day one.

This last argument is also heard quite a bit with breastfeeding, which baffles me. I agree that a five year old demanding a boob is creepy, but there's a middle ground between that and using formula from the start.

Support my butt... no, wait

I mentioned in my last post about being supportive with your wife. Well, get used to hearing that statement a lot if you're an expecting father. 99.9% of the books and articles out there think that the man's job after planting his seed is to wait on his woman until the child is born, and then wait on the woman until the child has gone off to college. And kill spiders, of course.

This really bugged me when I tried to read up on what to expect as a future dad. The books would go on about the what the mother should do during pregnancy and the birth, and then casually mention that the man should make himself useful, like feed his wife ice chips and sing inspirational hymns.

A good book I eventually found was The Expectant Father, which was written from a man's point of view and had a lot of interesting things in it. By the end I was confident I could deliver the baby myself if we got snowed in by a blizzard. (An unlikely scenario, since our due date was in August.)

All about the boobs

If you and your wife are waffling about the whole breastfeeding thing, there are many reasons to do it, including fighting off diseases, improving intelligence, preventing obesity, and overall better health. Not to mention breast milk is specifically designed by nature to be all your baby needs. It also burns about 500 calories a day for the mom, so it's a great way to lose some weight.

Unfortunately it can also be remarkably difficult to master, which baffles me considering how easy it seems for other mammals. There a quite a few medical reasons for a woman not to breastfeed, and if your wife is unfortunate enough to fall under one of these categories then by all means be supportive and find alternative feeding solutions. But if it's just a matter of being disturbed by the thought then do some research and consult some specialists, either online or local lactation consultants. If your "expert" gives you advice that sounds odd then definitely get a second opinion.

And avoid the advice of your crazy aunt who claims that the only way to breastfeed is dangling upside down while yodeling.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Diaper time!

Sure, you'll drive your wife to the hospital and provide moral support during the birth, but the most daunting act of your new fatherhood will be changing a diaper. Especially since the odds are good that you'll have many female relatives watching you like hawks as you do it for the first time.

Practice at least once at home, just to ensure you don't do anything stupid. Also remember that your new bundle of joy is not made of glass. You can grab him by the legs and hoist his butt up without breaking anything. Always keep wipes handy and make sure he's completely clean and dry before putting on a new diaper. If the baby's butt starts to get red use some ointment on it, but don't go overboard with it every diaper change.

Something to decide beforehand is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. I will admit that disposables are slightly more convenient, but doing a load of laundry every two or three days isn't that big a deal if you've got a washer and dryer at home. The benefits of cloth diapers, on the other hand, are many. In the long run they're cheaper, since on average you'll go through up to 8,000 diapers before potty training. Disposables are also made of plastic and chemicals that go into landfills, so that's a mountain of 8,000 diapers you can avoid adding to your local dump where they'll be around for a few hundred years. It's fewer chemicals on your baby's nether regions and actually help your child potty train faster.

Diapers are pretty fancy nowadays, too, and the best ones are just as easy to put on as disposables. Personally, we went "old school" with the old-fashioned big rectangles of cloth for the first year to save money, then switched to fancier ones when Simon got bigger and decided to squirm through diaper changes.

Words of wisdom

Okay, enough with the boring personal stuff. This blog is supposed to be about being a dad.

The first rule before the child is born is "pack a bag." You are doomed if you think you can run around the house at the last minute and cram everything you need into a suitcase. You'll forget toiletries, socks, books, cell phone, mysterious feminine products and, most important, a camera. Make a detailed list at least a month before the due date and pack it all up. Even if you plan on a home birth there is always the slim chance that you'll need to make a hospital trip and by that time you'll have been up for over 24 hours and can't think straight. If the wife accuses you of negative thinking then pack a bag in secret, or at least make a list and keep it ready.

August 30, 2007 - What's in a name?

Time for a hospital rant!

I have much more respect for nurses than doctors. For a fraction of the pay they get all the dirty jobs, and spend much more time with the patients. Unfortunately, they're still part of the great American health care system that cares more about pharmacies and malpractice suits than about the individual needs of patients, so it's no surprise that we earned a bit of a reputation at the hospital during our three day stay.

Thankfully in NH it's not mandatory to get the eye drops and vitamin K shot, we just had to sign a form. They were also good about letting us keep Simon in the room instead of alone in the nursery, even though it meant being woken up every couple hours so they could poke him. I was also able to sleep in the room, thanks to a foldout chair. They were also cool with our midwife, Jeanne, going through the medical records and providing us with opinions.

Of the several doctors who visited none stayed more than a couple of minutes and only one of them actually approved of our hippy choices, but she made sure to only mention that when others were out of earshot.

Actually, probably the greatest source of amusement for them was the fact that it took us three days to come up with a name. For some reason we were convinced we were going to have a girl so we were caught unawares. Probably the main reason we expected a girl was because we couldn't agree on a boy's name so put it off too long.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

August 30, 2007 12:58am - The miracle of birth (ick)

The operation went off without a hitch. Kristin got to experience some wondrous drugs and I got to watch a pink wrinkled thing emerge from a gaping wound in her stomach. (Sorry, there's just nothing pleasant about it.) Funny enough, we hadn't known the sex of the baby and it didn't even occur to me to look closely enough to see until Kristin's hazy voice said, "What's the sex? What's the sex?" I got to cut the umbilical cord (which added to the unpleasantness) and our bundle of joy was weighed and measured before being carted off to have his DNA recorded in the secret CIA database and an alien mind control chip implanted in his head (that's standard medical procedure nowadays, I presume).

Soon enough we were all together again in a room, each wondering what the future held.

August 29, 2007 10pm - Defeat has been conceded

After five hours of pushing we had to give up and go to the hospital. Jeanne said that Kristin's cervix was getting in the way of the baby's head and he couldn't move down, despite all the various positions and exercises we tried. The doctor immediately said we had to do a cesarean section, which struck me as another instance of shoving someone through the medical profit machine but it turned out to be for the best. The umbilical cord was getting in the way so there was no way the baby was getting out on his own.

Cesarean sections are unpleasant things, even discounting the ickiness. First, there are the medical risks involved; dangers in the operating room, months of recovery time, complications with future pregnancies. Second, it's an unnatural way for the baby to come into this world. The act of childbirth is programmed into the development of both mother and child. Who knows what medical issues are caused by taking a shortcut past the birth canal.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it's around and that it's fairly safe, but in my opinion it really should be a last resort option.

August 29, 2007 10am - Invasion of the midwives

Around ten in the morning Jeanne arrived with her two assistants and we got ready for a home birth. This is another thing that I wasn't too sure that I wanted, mostly because it meant keeping the house clean enough for company for an extended period of time. I also had fears of something going wrong and the closest hospital being half an hour away but the chances of that happening in real life (as opposed to television) are pretty slim. And if something does go wrong, the chances of it being serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention are even slimmer.

And so our house got filled with an inflatable tub, a giant exercise ball, and all matter of weird birthing paraphernalia. I think we ended up using most of them, unfortunately, in the course of the day.

And what a day is was. Kristin's contractions got stronger and stronger. Jeanne probably thought I was being heartless because I didn't help my wife during these moments, but I knew better. When Kristin's got an unpleasant task ahead of her she likes to focus on it and shut out the world. So whenever a contraction hit Jeanne would say things like "buck up" and "you can do it" and I'd do my best to keep Kristin away from anything that could be used as a weapon.

August 29, 2007 7 am - So how was your night?

I made my way downstairs to find Kristin pacing around and refrained from telling her how refreshed I felt. Instead, we give a call to Jeanne, our midwife, and let her know what's up.

Now is probably a good time to talk about midwives. Personally, I think they rock. At first I was skeptical about employing someone who isn't a "real" doctor but after a couple of visits I was convinced. First off, they do have to go to school and get certified. In Jeanne's case she's been certified nationally by NARM (North American Registry of Midwives) as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), and locally by the New Hampshire Midwifery Council as a New Hampshire Certified Midwife (NHCM). She also has trained as an Emergency Medical Technician, Professional Doula, and worked as Breastfeeding Counselor for NH Health and Human Services. Whenever we talked she was always on the ball and could rattle off medical terms and cases off the top of her head. That's harder than it seems, since Kristin spent way too much time looking up worst-case medical scenarios online before each visit and could often put "real" doctors on the spot.

The second advantage of midwives is how much time they spend with you. Our visits would often go over an hour and would be pretty casual. During that time I could tell that Jeanne gave us her full attention and gave us frank, honest answers. I have yet to have a medical checkup that wasn't ten minutes answering a questionnaire by a nurse and then two minutes with a doctor who glanced at my form and prescribed a pill.

The third advantage of a midwife is how they treat pregnancy. I never gave it much thought before, but childbirth has been reduced to a "condition" and treated just the same as an injury or illness. It's the most natural thing in the world, so why are you strapped to a table and pumped full of drugs? (I'll save my rant on C-sections for another post.)

August 28, 2007 11pm - B Day has arrived

Kristin's water broke, so the big day finally came. For the moment the contractions were too far apart to worry about, so she climbed out of bed and tried to stay comfortable for the night. I could have spent the time marveling at the thought of becoming a father, but instead I wisely decided to go back to bed and get the last good night's sleep I'll ever have.

Yet another blog

Well, I'm finally getting around to making a blog. I've been wanting to make one for a while now, detailing my adventures in fatherhood, but waited for sixteen months after procreating before finding the time to impart my wisdom to all of you foolish enough to continue reading.

I'm going to do something that is probably faux pas in blogging circles and backtrack a bit. My first posts will be reminiscing about the fun-filled twenty-six hours of labor that culminated in my darling baby boy Simon.