Making babies in the kitchen

Since announcing the arrival of our newest son, we have been fielding some questions concerning his dramatic entrance.

Quite a few people have inquired about the details of the delivery of our new baby and I would like to spell it out here for those that are curious!

As scary as this experience was, we got lucky three times for every one bad thing that happened. I am not trying to one-up anyone else’s experience or complain about ours. Almost every pregnancy and delivery borders on impossibly difficult. Our baby and his Mama were and are perfectly healthy and it is not lost on us that so many people are not so fortunate.

Our Saturday morning began at Table Rock Lake, sipping coffee and eating breakfast outside my in-law’s camper where we stayed the night before. Our son Luke did not sleep well, but we eventually found out that his lack of sleep would mean he’d later become tired at the perfect time.

Emily text me and said that she did not feel perfect and was ready to leave whenever to drive back home. She made it known that she was having contractions, but the timing and duration were not in a range that meant we needed to hustle.

She began to feel better and we picked up lunch and went home. After lunch, I put our tired boyo down for a nap and mowed the yard while Emily took a shower. After I was finished, I came in and did the same, so we could both be ready for our planned date night.

Luke was still sleeping and my parents were getting ready to come up from Miller to watch him. Emily had begun to feel contractions more strongly, but they were still a bit less than a minute long and just over five minutes apart, so we knew the hospital may turn us away.

Still, we would probably need a hospital visit to check and see, so I began loading our pre-made bags (Emily is a big planner – we were only at 37 weeks) while she put on a dress and got ready.

Her contractions quickly turned near-constant, and she was struggling to get her hair curled. I asked my parents to hurry so that we could see Luke before we left to explain to him where we would be going.

It was quickly becoming apparent that it was hospital time. Emily text my parents to tell them that she was doing okay and that they did not need to hurry (2:49 pm). I simultaneously text them in a separate chain to tell them to please continue speeding.

Suddenly, things changed for Emily. She started feeling pain and began heading downstairs to the car. She almost made it, stopping at the kitchen sink, screaming in pain as her water broke (3:09 pm). Apparently, that was the last line of defense holding this naughty baby back.

I snipped away her undergarments and called 911. My parents had just pulled in and were getting out of the car and I told them to run. Emily, now quite exposed, told my Mom to not look at her. That ship had sorta sailed. I told Mom to check on Luke, who it turns out, was miraculously sleeping through the screams. That was about the biggest win of the whole fiasco.

The man on the phone said that we had to get her lying down. I had Mom grab some towels and a pillow, but Emily wasn’t feeling it. We convinced her that the baby probably shouldn’t drop to the hardwood, so my Mom and I were able to get her down.

I won’t go into detail about how close this rascally baby was to coming right then. Instead, I’ll tell you a sad side-story:

I was instructed to remove the bright white shoelace from my immaculately kept LeBron 15s – the operator said I would have to use it to tie off the umbilical cord. Devastating, right? Anyway…

We had heard the sirens outside once, but apparently, they missed our house the first time. Unbelievable. Luckily my Dad was flailing like a mad man in the middle of the road when they circled back around.

The Cox EMTs, Greene County deputies, and Battlefield firemen all barged in, and just in time. I (happily) relinquished my spot of honor to an EMT to scoot up by Emily’s head. Emily asked how many babies he had delivered and he gave just the answer you would expect at this point, “None in the field, ma’am.” I then stepped in and lied, telling her somebody else in the room said eight. #HusbandLife

Having replaced me maybe 15 seconds prior, the inexperienced EMT told her to push, and by the time I looked back down, our son was out in one incredible jolt, face down and successfully caught (3:22 pm).

The little guy cried a couple of times before going pretty quiet, looking a little purple. He was fine though, despite my fatherly fears. Another EMT ripped Emily’s shirt open for some quick skin-to-skin time with the baby. In retrospect, I’m quite jealous of the steamy maneuver, but I have decided to let it slide.

There were maybe a dozen people in our kitchen by that time and once we determined the baby was fine, Emily was feeling a tad exposed as you can imagine. I took the baby in a beach towel, and they helped Emily stand and walk (this lady is wild) to a gurney.

Emily then went through an awkward receiving line of “congratulations” through our living room from all of our new best friends. I will add that the firefighters cleaned our kitchen and threw everything in the washing machine. We are planning to spot them some donuts for that.

I couldn’t ride in the ambulance, so I got my keys and tailgated them all the way to Cox. I tried to inconspicuously park in the ambulance area, but was told I’d have to move. I told them (maybe demanded) to open the door so I could see my wife and son. They did, and I told them I was there and would see them in a minute.

Everything on the Cox campus is jacked up thanks to covid, so I wound up doing a lot of running. I parked, went in one door, was directed to the ER, told she wasn’t in the system, directed to a locked door, and finally to the correct door to get to labor and delivery.

I was sweating, swearing, missing a shoelace, and may have been lucky to have not been escorted out. Also lucky to have had an appropriate forehead temperature to get in the building.

We were reunited in labor and delivery and had a pretty normal hospital stay from there. Emily was great and had a nice recovery since she did not get any medication. Carter Daniel Harrington was 7lbs 1oz and 19 inches of good-looking baby.

Luke slept through the entire thing somehow and was unfazed. My parents stayed with him and he got to stay with his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins the next day. He is the best big brother.

Like I said, every pregnancy and delivery has its own ups and downs, but this was our experience. For being traumatic and untimely, it also could have gone so much differently. We were very lucky.

The luckiest part of all? My Mom found my shoelace perched, untouched on top of the other garbage in the trashcan, completely salvageable. You have to love a happy ending.

Dirty secret: Men have been able to change diapers this whole time

Men have had a good run but the secret is out; they can change diapers too.

I hate to be the narc here, but it only seems fair that everyone knows the dirty secret about dads and men in general; men can change diapers. This is obvious to many of you, but somehow a completely foreign concept to others.

When we first had our son, I was spooked because I had never changed a diaper in my life. The first few times I saw my wife change my son, I was prepared to study very closely and take mental notes on this intimidating process. Then, I remember asking, “That’s it?”

Changing diapers is easy. Remove diaper, wipe up any waste, apply new diaper, crack a cold one (optional).

Sure, there is the occasional stray urine stream, a bad smell, or intense squirming sometimes when they get older, but overall, the most daunting aspect is frequency. The frequency becomes a non-issue if the duty is split instead of being unnecessarily forced on just one person/gender.

I understand generally how society arrived here, but not so much why it would continue in 2020. Fellas, you’re not so worn out from hunting and gathering that you can’t take the time to be a 50/50 partner in parenting. That especially goes if you and your partner both work.

As a stay-at-home writer and dad, I am aware that my circumstance may be unique (less so all the time though). During the week, I probably change five diapers to every one my wife changes. On the weekends, however, those figures swap. Not because she is home and it defaults to her womanly duty, but because she wants to give me a break.

Our household dynamic may be a bit unconventional, but it isn’t because we full-on deny gender roles. I open doors, kill spiders, and investigate noises at night. I don’t mind those things. She does most of the cooking – I don’t like to cook and she doesn’t mind.

I will even grant you that there is a bond between a mother and child that is intangible and unique. It is a subtle difference between a man and a woman that I cannot deny. However, I went into this parenthood thing as a willing participant and as an equal partner with my wife regardless.

Changing a diaper is simple, but being a parent isn’t always easy. Even if you stick with a designated diaper changer in your house, make sure that everyone wants it that way and that you are balancing parent duties as much as possible.

Sorry to rat you out guys, but I’m just saying, men can change diapers too.

A real spectacle

I’ve only been a dad for 10 months or so, but I’m afraid I already have the look.

I wasn’t sure what fatherhood would look like for me, but that’s probably because I needed glasses. Yes, after 27 years of seeing scenic Missouri and beyond unaided by a lens, I now have specs.

It turns out I am near-sighted – something I have been slowly realizing over the past six months or so. After struggling to see street signs while trying to Uber people back to their homes, I realized that it was time to get checked out.

The “aha” moment had already happened when I tried on a near-sighted friend’s pair of glasses and could suddenly read the digital clock on the microwave. The true final straw was getting tucked in a corner table at Buffalo Wild Wings and not being able to read the score of an NBA playoff game.

As a basic white boy, no one messes with my beer/wings/sports trifecta at BWWs; not even my own eyes.

I opted to forgo the frames and lenses at the optometrist’s office and was glad I did, nabbing a pair for a third the price at Sam’s Club. I’m still getting used to them, but it is certainly a marked quality of life improvement.

The dad look

Glasses are really just the icing on the cake as I continue to round out my classic dad look. My dad bod is in full form, with a beer belly that hangs over the waist of my pants and a tan line that screams “I mow and grill, but that’s about it.”

I feel like I still look college age, though that gets thrown in my face often when I see college-age adults. They look like wee babies.

My wife and I have a guilty pleasure of watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette every Monday. The participants usually cap in age around their low 30’s. The ones my age look like old people and the ones that are younger than me look like they aren’t ready for marriage.

Most of the viewership of that show probably say things like: “UGH I hate her – she is SO skinny.” In my case, it is: “How TF does he still have so much hair?? Screw that guy.”

Aging happens to everyone and I acknowledge that I am super lucky that I got 27 glasses-free years under my belt. Still, it is an interesting thing to change into a full-fledged adult and father. Now all I need are some nice white New Balances to mow that yard in. Then I can completely become a fatherly spectacle.

Returning to the grind

I have been back at work for a while now, but hey, I don’t post very often if you hadn’t noticed.

I am so, so sorry. You are my most loyal reader (yes you) and I have deprived you of new content for almost a month and a half. You may already know this, but time slips away like crazy in the early weeks of becoming a parent. Which day of the week it is, if it’s morning or evening, and how long it’s been since you’ve blogged all begins to blur.

I took off three full weeks following the birth of my nugget of a human. That figure seemed to really surprise some people, which is a shame. Babies obviously need their mothers for various reasons. However, bonding during the earliest stages seems just as important for the father as much as the mother in my opinion.

I understand that not all dads desire that much time either, and that is perfectly alright. There is no set way to bond with or care for your child. To me, three weeks went by in the blink of an eye (ironically, a blink of an eye is how much sleep I got for the first week or so too). Work is good and being paid is fun, but being home helping my wife and son made for some of the most fulfilling times of my life to date.

I joke about sleep, but honestly, Luke has been a great sleeper. Newborns have to be fed so often that the sleepless nights are not even their fault (most of the time). We have almost always had to wake him to eat, not the other way around. Now, he sleeps in large blocks at night and is even more generous to Mom and Dad – nice fellow.

From the start, I have gotten up every time he is up at night. This isn’t entirely necessary of course as again, it’s his Mom that he needs. I just want to help my wife for one, but also being there for my son as much as possible just. feels. good.

Emily is still home with him – she is taking 12 weeks off, though it is not all paid. She is pretty big on soaking up time with Mr. Handsome as well, so we are willing to take the hit to stretch this time as much as possible.

What I’m up to

Working, changing diapers, and checking my fantasy team are still the names of the game. This personal blog has obviously slowed down, but I haven’t missed a beat writing for The Basketball Movement multiple times per week. Tonight, I am interviewing some top high school talent for them at their invitational camp. My write-up on that and more: here.

The writing I do for other outlets such as Thunderous Intentions is on a volunteer basis, so I am still on an “OMG I have a baby” hiatus for the time being. I will likely start that back up when the season begins. I am still squeezing in Uber trips here and there as well, which you are sure to hear more about eventually.

Aside from all the working and portfolio building, I am pumped that the NFL and K.C. Chiefs are back. I am in two fantasy leagues. One is going well, and one is not. The one that is going well is made up of members of my wife’s family – it is hilarious. Emily is having the most enjoyable string of bad luck already and it is a beautiful disaster.

Thanks for reading and catching up on my life. It is cute that you care and I love you for it. I have also been stepping up my Twitter game recently, so remember to follow me over there. UNTIL NEXT TIME.

The universe has a new center

Some labor, some learning, and several dollars later- our son Luke is already over a week old!

I just did not have it in me to write anything about the birth of our son. The fatigue, emotion, and time that go into the birth of your first child is overwhelming as many of you know. So here I am, with a son over a week old and I am just now starting to find a few moments for things besides feeding, changing, dishes, laundry, and runs to Target and Walgreens.

Going over your due date by five 97 degree days is pretty tough on a mother. Who knew? Apparently not my wife, because we stayed in her parent’s camper at the lake Friday, went out to shop and have Buffalo Wild Wings Saturday, and had friends and family over for grilling and yard games Sunday for my birthday – all her idea.

She took it all in stride, though I did have to kick her off of grilling duty because that’s just ridiculous. She was scheduled to be induced the following Tuesday morning, but this kid recognized all the fun we were having and wanted in.

She worked from home Monday but was having a tough time by the end of her day at 4:00. I got home with roses around 4:30 to thank her for the weekend (and putting up with a stubborn rascal) and knew something was different.

She walked around the house all evening because no seated or lying position felt good. By about 11:00 that night, we knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep, so we decided we might as well go to the hospital to see where we were. Hey, we were already going to hit our out-of-pocket insurance max anyway, yah?

She was worried that we would get there only for them to tell us that it was common pre-labor pain, making her “a weenie” (her words). Luckily, once we got there, they double-checked and confirmed that she was dilated to an 8.

Things happened quickly from there. Fortunately, she was still able to get an epidural and I was able to get the word out to our squad. After handling labor like a champ at home, she eventually progressed at the hospital and had our son at 5:43 Tuesday morning.

Risking losing out on a very masculine father moment, I opted to not cut the cord a.k.a. slice through a nerveless, fleshy rope that connected my son to his life-support sack. Sorry, traditionalists.

Luke William Harrington was and is a very healthy boy. Outside of a spooky moment when my wife passed out during her first time walking since the event, things went swimmingly for her also. I did not even throw up, pass out, or flee for my life once. Victory.

Life at home has been a tad different than what we are used to. He is an excellent sleeper as well as a curious and adorable observer of his surroundings. His eating habits leave a bit to be desired, as he tends to fall into a coma right when dinner is served. We are still trudging through this, but his weight is good and we are getting the hang of things.

Eating every two hours starting from the second you start the feeding is admittedly exhausting. Takes an hour to fill him up? Be ready to start again in 50 minutes… at midnight, two, four, six, and eight a.m… KIDS AMIRIGHT?

Our lives have been focused on survival for the past week. Eating, sleeping, and excreting waste have been all we have had time for. Things are already normalizing though and the intense joy Luke brings us is going to continue to propel our already great family dynamic for the rest of our lives.

In summary:

We survived the hospital.

We survived some intense diaper (or mid-changing) situations.

Our son is healthy despite his non-hereditary dislike of food.

Life continues to improve every day.

That is it for now, but I hope that you will stay tuned for more updates and experiences as we navigate the most intense and wonderful chapter of our lives yet!

Bun in the oven likely getting crispy

Hello. If you’re reading this, my wife is still with child despite passing the “due date”.

Why is there a due date? Why can’t we just say due range or something like that? 40 weeks have come and gone and overall they have gone really well. For all the horror stories you hear about pregnancy, either Emily has been very lucky or she is not much of a complainer, comparatively. I’d say it’s both.

But now going over 40 weeks, experiencing August heat, having gestational carpal tunnel (apparently a thing) for months, etc. we are ready to have this tiny man.

They gave us an induction date in case we do not have Luke sooner than later. That means we are at least operating under a known window at this point. After craving labor pains and birth, it is now actually a little spooky to have a looming date somehow. Life is funny.

Our son appears to be a bit of a procrastinator, so I have reason to believe that he has more in common with me than his Mother to this point. Poor fellow.

Just the two of us is coming to an end

We are well aware of the joys of parenting and how we won’t understand how we could have been so happy before Luke was born. That said, savoring our last days as just a couple has been a really nice way of feeling okay about how long these last few weeks have been.

Being a couple since we were 15, we have already spent nearly 12 years together, five of them married. Being together for so many formative years as such a strong couple has been an incredible experience. We have grown alike in many ways, yet stayed true to ourselves and enjoyed each other through hundreds of incredible experiences.

Soon, we’ll get to share thousands more with our self-inflicted third wheel. That sounds pretty nice too.

We are excited to share him with family and friends as well as have him all to ourselves. He still could have had the decency to show up on time. Not very thoughtful, son. We will do our best to love him anyway.

For shorter, more accessible thoughts of mine, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @WilHarrington

Update: My birthday is Sunday, which could easily have been overlooked in all this. My wife just gave me some early presents and filled me in on plans for Buffalo Wild Wings, cake, yard games, and more presents. Whether or not we squeeze all of these things in over the next few days, this lady is nuts. I have no excuse for not providing the ultimate birthdays for her in the future – GREAT.

Not prepared, but practiced

Less than four weeks until I will be a full-on, real life Dad. Am I prepared? YOU KNOW I’M NOT. But, I do have some practice.

As I’ve been told, not much can fully prepare you for parenthood. Poo poo explosions, various forms of destruction, and overwhelming feelings of love all lie in wait. I may have never dealt with a feces catastrophe, but I have experienced a degree of overwhelming love.

Marrying my wife has come with some great benefits #wifewithbenefits

Her two sisters have raised three incredible little girls. They are seven, four, and one-and-a-halfish. There for a while, I (and many others) thought that this branch of the family was only capable of producing girls. It appears that I have finally injected the appropriate amount of testosterone to go against the grain. Anyone who knows me could probably have guessed that… right?

Anyway, these nieces of mine have brought a ridiculous amount of joy to my life. Technically I was still just dating my wife when the first was born, but I’ve still been lucky enough to be “Uncle Wil” for their whole lives. The middle niece kind of attended our wedding, though she was still in her Mom’s belly.

I was hesitant to hold the first when she was born since I’d never been around babies. I held the middle one immediately. The first time I saw the youngest, I tossed her up on my shoulder and burped her on the spot – all the doctors clapped.

They all have distinct personalities, ways of displaying affection, and other delightfully unique qualities. Watching them grow up and be raised so magnificently has been an excellent window into parenthood for me into life’s highest points, challenges, and hilarious moments.

As you may know, I haven’t known how to ride a bike for very long. We went camping recently and had some bikes for a few terrifying laps around the campground.

I was begged to go on a few rides, so I obliged even though I didn’t have the bike I was used to. I used my sister-in-law’s instead even though she may or may not be taller than me (I make up for my height with the aforementioned ample testosterone).

Long story short, I was on a foreign bike stopped in the road with a vehicle behind us closing in at 5 mph about 200 yards away. As I tried to scootch to the side, I stumbled and did a full roll backward on the pavement. What did my niece/riding partner do? Help me up? Offer Band-Aids or refreshments?

She rode away laughing to tell everyone.

Riding gingerly back, I couldn’t stop smiling. Kids are the best people to share life with. Sometimes they ride their bikes a little too fast or slow, laugh at you, get laughed at, cry in sadness or joy, and everything in between. Every experience that I’ve had with each of my nieces has been positive no matter what.

My own son will be a 24/7 gig, so every feeling will be amplified. I am excited about that. The highs, lows, and everything else will be an amazing experience that I can’t wait to share with him.

First (unofficial) Father’s Day

Does your kid have to actually be born before you can celebrate Father’s Day? Oh my, no.

I’ll celebrate anything, really. A good quinceanera, your kid getting a 1 on his trombone solo, Friday, Father’s Day despite my son still incubating for a while… I’m there.

I got a few gifts, including a sweet new dad hat this Father’s Day. I also got a kind card signed with two names that filled my heart to the brim (though at the brim, nothing spilled over -don’t worry). Getting something from my wife and son (kinda) already made for a fond memory of my first Father’s Day.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I am very pumped about being a daddy-o. I am confident in my ability to only screw up a few times a day.

A good dad, like mine, was/is, seems pretty perfect most of the time. Growing up, they are some of the strongest, smartest, and fun people that you experience. Despite the probable, daily screw-ups, Dad’s don’t have to try hard to stay golden in a kid’s eyes.

Father’s Day serves as little more than a reminder to give a shout-out to your pops. Much more necessary than many may think. Not everyone has had a great dad or even a dad at all. Those of us that have a good one, need to take this time (and other times) to thank them profusely.

My Dad was also my coach, protector, and friend. I am supremely thankful for him. If I can be half the dad that mine was for me, then my son is in an enviable position.

Dads (or whoever fills that role for you) are special people, certainly deserving of their own day. I look forward to joining their ranks.

 

 

Terrors of Fatherhood

Am I terrified of becoming a Father? No. Do I occasionally have irrational fears brought on by the concept of raising another human? I guess so, yah.

Okay, those things sound pretty darn similar. But, I am not afraid of becoming a father. I embrace the challenge of raising not just a baby/kid, but a young man. I am confident in my ability to teach him right from wrong, how to conduct himself, and how to be an effective member of society.

It is the ability to keep him alive and fully funded that spooks me. It is the cost of college, the watchful eye, and the ability to fulfill his every need that I am a touch nervous about.

The thing that I am the most confident about in my life is my marriage. I have the utmost confidence in the example my wife will set, as well as the example we’ll both set as a happy and loving couple.

Just a couple of hours ago we had dinner. We shared a pizza, though she had a salad and water besides, while I had a Blue Moon or two. We were enjoying each other’s company so much that we walked a block down to a pub where I had a couple or three more drinks while she had an O.J. She can hang in the weirdest situations and has been a great sport through this – above and beyond, really… and I could not be more grateful.

Anyway, back to the kiddo

There have been a few unexpected side effects of this pregnancy on me. I had a nightmare about the world ending, which may or may not have been related.

I was working for a company in a high-rise office building. My coworkers are made up of mostly strangers, but also a few high school classmates. Classic dream. There had been talk on the news about a cataclysmic event, but no one believed it.

Sure enough, we all gathered around the window, and the world was ending. Water was rising and I saw some unusual stuff, even for a dream. The Sydney Opera House appeared in the distance, then the Eiffel Tower. The Roman Colosseum popped in as well as a few other historic landmarks as the water rose.

As the final wave crept over the sky-scraping office building, I remember thinking “It’s too bad I couldn’t be with Emily in these final moments.”

It turns out world-ending dreams aren’t uncommon for expecting parents, or so the internet says.

This strikes me as a little hilarious, but also a little meaningful, as one chapter of life quickly closes and another begins.

I am excited and prepared for our son in many ways. I am also anxious and apprehensive about the unknown. Weird times that many of you have been through and the rest of you will likely experience for yourselves.

Nervous as I am, I am excited. Weird-ass, smart-ass, however he turns out (likely ass-related I would wager) this will be the best part of my life and I appreciate you being along for the ride.

Being a dad that loves video games

Photo from entertaimentfocus.com

Possibly the most important issue facing fathers today.

Okay, okay, it is already time to backtrack a little bit. I am aware that this is a very minor issue, especially in the important scheme of fatherhood – don’t get your Wranglers in a wad. The important issues of fatherhood revolve around growing your child into a respectful, helpful, hardworking, loving adult. See? I get it.

Being a Dad that plays games is just an interesting aside to fatherhood that I would like to take a moment to think about. I have already been playing games less and less as life has gone on. Will that desire just evaporate completely once all the new responsibilities arise? Will I just play one night a week once the kids are asleep, or will exhaustion take precedence?

In the early going, sleep will likely be deemed more important. Let’s be realistic.

I love video games and will probably never stop playing completely. There will need to be balance though, as I also want to set correct examples for my son and any other future kids. There is nothing wrong with spending free time doing something fun and relaxing like playing a video game. Knowing when those times are appropriate will be important lessons.

These gloves seem cumbersome, but I love where their heads are. Photo from Atchuup.com

Also, it isn’t like a three-year-old is going to see you playing a fun-looking game and just continue on his merry way. How early should games be introduced? I got a Game Boy at 6 and got a console (GameCube) probably around 10 or so. Those ages seem reasonable, but our son will grow up with game systems already in the house.

I think that many video games are excellent for critical thinking, problem-solving, vocabulary growth, and competition. I also understand that reading, exercise, and imaginative play are more important, especially in the early stages. Finding a balance will be an interesting challenge. Maybe the little fella will not even like video games; who knows.

Not everyone gets it, but it is more than possible to create great memories playing games. My Dad and I played NBA Live against each other for multiple hours each week. Those were great memories, but so were playing Frisbee, walking in the woods, hitting off the baseball tee, and playing catch. Balance is possible.


My own desire for gaming, my son’s, and the progression of how my son will choose to consume media and entertainment will all be very interesting going forward. Just one very small aspect in the very large future I will share with my son. I just cannot be more excited as every aspect of our family’s new life unfolds.