Thursday, April 7, 2011

Abandon All Hope...

Before we had our first child, I did what most first time parents do: I completely freaked out.  Once that step was completed, I took an equally common second step: I began reading books about parenting.  The sections on changing diapers always intrigued me.  First, they often described changing a diaper as a “bonding” experience.  I liken this to the way a bullet “bonds” with a deer during hunting season, or the way most Americans “bond” with the Internal Revenue Service every fifteenth of April.  While I don’t want my children to read this someday and think that I did not adore every moment of their childhood, it would be dishonest of me to say that I relish every moment of the typical diaper change.  One of the biggest problems is high velocity poop.  I’m not sure precisely which equation from high school physics covers this phenomenon, but it never ceases to amaze me that a human infant barely one month out of the womb can release poop in such a manner that it escapes the bounds of a “leak-proof” diaper and completely covers the legs and the back of the child in question.  Once the offending diaper has been removed, there is the question of disposal.  There are really two classes of people when it comes to disposing dirty diapers.   (Three if you count those who wash and reuse their child's diapers.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire them greatly, but the store down the street sells clean diapers)   The first group are those who believe in removing the dirty diaper from the premises as quickly as possible.  These individuals will step out the door barefoot in the middle of a snowstorm just to make sure a diaper makes it outside to a trash can.  Pneumonia and Hypothermia are a small price to pay to rid the house of day-old diapers.  The second group are those who store the diapers in the home, usually in one of those magic diaper holders.  These contraptions store several days’ worth of diapers in one compact assault on the sense of smell.   When the lid can no longer be held closed by wedging it in, the bag can be removed in one voluminous diapery mass.   The biggest danger here is having one of the bags break open.  Which is pretty much like saying the biggest danger in being a specialist in bomb disarming is having the bomb go off.  The bonding experience you may have had with your child will be nothing like the bond you will then share with several cans of carpet cleaner and some industrial strength air freshener. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the Beginning...

I had just finished one of the busiest weeks of my life and needed a break.  My unborn son, however, demonstrating early his propensity for being strong willed, decided I needed some more excitement in my life.   I arrived home from work and opened the door to find my wife waiting inside, presumably to congratulate me on another work week completed.  The first words out of her mouth were possibly the most significant spoken since December 8th 1941.  “Would you like to go meet your son?” she said.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, maybe some variation on, “But that’s impossible, he’s not due for two weeks.”  In any case, we went to the hospital to check in.   Oddly enough, my most vivid memory of the next few hours was the color of the hospital room.  Now, I don’t know what most people expect from a hospital room in terms of color.  I have been in five in my life and they have all been a similar shade of white.   The hospital employees, maybe because of overactive creativity, maybe because of too many episodes of Teletubbies, or maybe just because of a sale at Menards, had decided to paint our room orange.  Certainly I can see their line of thinking…
Hospital Employee 1:  “How can we have our birthing rooms say, ‘Come in and relax and enjoy this peaceful time?’”
Hospital Employee 2:  “Paint them bright orange!”
At any rate, we got our orange room and settled in to have the baby.  Now I know you can’t believe everything you see on TV, but I had certain impressions of the birthing process from the videos that were shown in our birthing class.  Most strong among those impressions was that the birthing process lasted 30 minutes from the time you left your house to the time they held the baby up and yelled, “It’s a (insert gender here).  Apparently they cut a few things out in the making of those videos.   The child who had been so eager to get us into the hospital suddenly decided to slow things down.  Maybe he didn’t like orange.  My wife, meanwhile, had to put up with people coming in and poking and prodding her with all manner of needles and vital sign reading equipment.  I’m pretty sure I would have saved a butter knife from dinner and fought back. 
The long awaited moment came early the next morning.  Very early.  I’ve stayed up late for a lot of things: games of world conquest, famous trilogies, and occasionally even work.  But no land war in Asia can equal the thrill of watching the birth of a child.  My son entered the world at 3:59, crying.  (Definitely not a fan of orange.)  It was the most amazing, exhilarating thing I have seen.  Maybe next time it will be more like the video.