Monthly Archives: May 2014

Goodbye, happy hour

Another week gone by, and again most of it spent at work. It really does not matter what you do, how much you like doing it, or how long you have been doing it for. There is nothing like a good happy hour with coworkers (hopefully ones you like) to cap off another work week, be it good or bad. It is the best part of many a work week. As I prepare for fatherhood, I am mentally preparing myself to part ways with this magic time called happy hour. I know that becoming a dad will be much more rewarding, and that in time I will be back, but for now I must say farewell to you happy hour. I will miss you, let me count the ways.

I will miss having my bosses buy me drinks.

I will miss making fun of coworkers in ways that are kind of true. Whereupon hearing such jokes everyone kind of knows the fault being exposed but all laugh it away because it is the magic time of happy hour, when these things are fair game.

I will miss the telling of stories that are not appropriate for work. These stories, and not work, are the best way to get to know your coworkers.

I will miss witnessing the awkward sexual tension between coworkers as they dance on the border of actually hitting on each other and just being friendly.

Most of all I will miss the freedom borne of having absolutely no responsibilities outside my own well-being until next I go to work.

I knowingly trade all of this in to become a dad. Soon, after another long day of work is done, in the last of five long days of work, I will skip happy hour and come home to my son. He will have crapped his diapers, and I will change them. When I change them he will try to pee on my face. As I dodge the pee I will drop a diaper full of poo on the carpet. While I am cleaning the carpet of infant poo, I will wonder how my coworkers are getting along at the happy hour. What stories are being told? Who did something inappropriate? What are they going to talk about the next morning at work? When the poo is finally cleaned off the carpet I will pick up my son. As I look at him, and he looks back, I will forget about happy hour.

I see the future

Literally, I see the future everywhere. It’s skipping down the street towards me, it’s riding in the backseat of the car driving next to me, it’s on the train, it’s on TV. Sometimes the future looks like a little boy, sometimes a little girl, and some other times the future is a mom and dad pushing a stroller down the street. Everywhere I look I see it, and there is no escape, and I don’t want to escape it. I fully embrace the idea of my future. Whenever I see kids, babies, or families now I cannot help but picture my life in the future, doing those same exact things. To me all these scenes are the future and my heart is gladdened by it. Sometimes I just want to grab hold of that kid or new dad and ask them: What is the future like?! Is it as awesome as I have imagined? But alas, I know I’d just get punched in the face or kicked in the shins, so I wait until it is time for me to take part in that future.

Becoming a new dad makes me fully appreciate the sentiment that you can prepare all you want for the future, but you will never know what the future holds. I’ve imagined my son a million ways knowing already that he will be none of those things but somehow fulfill everything I ever imagined and more. Just the idea of him makes my future seem brighter and fuller than my present.

I feel ready to be a dad already but know that’s still a few months down the road. So the best I can do now is to keep arming myself with all the knowledge I can gather and prepare future me as much as possible for the enormous task he has at hand. The version of me sitting at the keyboard today is full of bright hope and idle time. If I do my job right the future version of me will be full of even brighter hope and more meaningful time.

I’m off to the future friends, see you there!

You win, daycare

My wife and I both work fulltime, and would both like to continue to grow our careers.  We enjoy the opportunity to develop and learn that having a career gives us, as well as the social aspect of interacting with coworkers.  Furthermore, even though the cost of full-time childcare is astronomical, it still makes financial sense to have us both continue our current positions (purely from a numbers perspective).  All this is to say that in our specific situation, it seems to make sense to utilize a form of full-time child care instead of having a stay at home parent.

Live-in Nanny

We evaluated several types of care, the first of which was a live-in nanny.  This is a very good option for several reasons.  With the nanny you get more flexible schedules than with other forms of care since they are living with you and aren’t going anywhere after 6pm.  Nanny’s will also often do things for you around the house, like some cooking and cleaning.  This is a big win.  If the cooking and cleaning is reduced for you and your spouse, everyone is happier.  And depending on your cooking ability, possibly even better fed and more satisfied.  Pricing for nannies varies, but is generally cheaper than daycare centers.  And of course your child is less likely to get sick versus those kids being cared for in a group setting.  These are the major points that have floated up in our discussion and research into the live-in nanny situation, and they make a strong case.
On the other hand, there are several aspects to having a live-in nanny that could be considered drawbacks depending on your views.  For us the biggest drawback is having another adult living with us five days a week.  This means that our current world of two people will not just expand to be three but four, and that fourth is another adult.  So no more running around the house naked and no more impromptu songs sung loudly.  Even if you were brave enough to continue these types of habits, there’s not a nanny out there that would stick around after the first naked sighting.  Also with a nanny you have to get very comfortable and trusting with someone you have known for basically no time at all.  You will be trusting this person with your whole life.  They will have access to your house and everything in it for 9 hours a day, not to mention sole access to your brand new child.  All the security spy cams in the world cannot mitigate a bad intention or even just plain laziness (ie nanny takes a nap).  Related to this potential issue is the fact that you are basically putting all of you childcare eggs in one basket.  If a nanny is sick or has a sudden emergency, you are hosed.  If a nanny goes nuts you are hosed.  If the nanny doesn’t feel like giving your baby any attention, your baby is hosed.  This list of drawbacks is also not exhaustive, but these were the main things we considered in coming to a decision.

Daycare

Daycare centers were an obvious thing to consider.  They offer many good qualities, most prominent of which is the reliability in schedules.  Daycares are basically open when they say they will be open, and all the risk of schedules not working is with the new mom and dad.  They have an entire staff so one sick teacher does not mean you will have to find other care for your child that day.  There is also the reduction in risk of things like a caregiver going nuts or acting inappropriately, because there are numerous other adults around who will act as a natural safeguard against unacceptable behavior.  The last major point is the social aspect for your child.  They will be exposed to interactions with many different adults and children, better socializing them from a young age.  All these major points of benefit drive strong piece of mind if you have found a good daycare center.
Major drawback: price.  Daycare is expensive, and to me it is offensively so.  To have someone watch your newborn child (our boy will be about 6 months old when he goes off to daycare) on a fulltime basis can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $2,000 per month in our area.  The low end of that is about the same as our mortgage, and the high end can cover the mortgage, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, property tax, and all utilities combined.  Let that sink in a bit.  Then consider the fact that some places had the audacity to tell us they charge $5 every minute you’re late picking up your child.  Excuse me?  Are you a $300 per hour attorney disguised as a daycare worker?  Am I getting some kind of legal advice, or at the very least a physical checkup for my $5 a minute?  That’s crazy and offensive.  Add to this the second biggest drawback of increased illness.  Babies get sick a lot at daycares.  You will be able to navigate from work, to daycare, to the pediatrician’s office blindfolded within a month from what I hear.  If you need any more cons beyond this, there surely are some, but these two major points were enough to base decisions off of.

Grandparents

This really isn’t an option for us since our folks live in different states, but having grandparent daycare is a strong contender to consider.  It’s free, reliable, and flexible, while it has the added benefit of having your child bond with more family members.  What’s not to like?  I would imagine the major drawback is you asking a few more years of childcare from the person who already spent 18+ years of their life raising you, and even more years in childcare if you had siblings.

You win, daycare

So with all that we concluded that daycare would be the best choice for us given the reliability and piece of mind it provides.  I say here that daycare wins because to me it is a fight where I’m trying to resist but just don’t have the power to do so.  I really do want to avoid the exorbitant price tag and germ exposure for my child, but my desire to cling to what independence I have left before my child can kill it is very strong and I don’t want a live-in nanny to do it first.  You win, daycare.  You win.

Going to breastfeeding class

Breastfeeding class today. Two hours total, so about one for each breast. On any given Sunday, this is probably not one of the best ways to spend it. Even if the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Blackhawks both did not have playoff games today, (which they did) going to breastfeeding class is not all that fun. Informational, but not fun. It is however, a great way to feel awkward around strangers if you were looking for a great way to feel awkward around strangers.

The one we went to was at the hospital where we will be giving birth, and was taught by a woman who had had over half a dozen babies of her own and is a RN, BSN, and IBCLC, so I’m guessing she’s as qualified as they come. Here’s what we did:

  1. Walked into the room and found the folding table which holds the sign-up sheet and about 40 different flyers and brochures. Signed in and grabbed one of every one of the 40 flyers since we did not want to miss anything. 39 of them got dumped later that day after a brief look over them (mainly ads or things we already knew). One of them was used as an impromptu Kleenex.
  2. Picked up a fake baby from the pile of them left unceremoniously on a cart. They come in all colors and sizes and we got a big ‘flesh’ colored one. This is the first taste of awkwardness. Is there a politically correct way to pick a fake baby? If I pick one that looks like me am I being close minded? If I pick one that definitely not like me am I trying too hard? Am I being judged by my fake baby choices?
  3. Sat in the rows of seats which all faced a podium with a projector screen behind it. There was a welcome slide on the screen in the beginning, but I had a pretty good idea of what would be on that screen shortly.
  4. Listened to the instructor talk about the pros and cons of breastfeeding and how to do it properly. Lots of awkwardness happened here, like hearing a strange woman talk about words and phrases like colostrum, hand expression, and football hold for babies. Please try also to imagine the hand and body gestures that were going along with the talk.
  5. Watched a video of these things happening. I immediately asked myself why the video looked like it was from the 80’s. This question was immediately answered when the men in the video showed up. They were wearing gold colored, square, wire-framed glasses straight from the 80’s, confirming for me that yes they and the video were both from the 80’s. I then asked myself why this video hadn’t been updated in the last 30 years. This question is still unanswered, but probably has something to do with the fact that boobs haven’t really changed since the 80’s.
  6. During the video, I also watched another poor guy a row in front of me battle the sandman. He had the full-on eyelid fluttering going on, the one where you know he’s struggling mightily to keep his eyes open but the damn eyelids are winning. There were several head drops the times he fell asleep, each of which was followed immediately by stern looks from his lady. This gave me much joy.
  7. More awkwardness comes when the breasts make their first appearance on the screen. I am now in a room full of strangers watching basically what I have to equate to soft porn. Not since sex-ed in school have I watched a video with as many boobs that wasn’t some kind of porn, so pardon me, but that’s the only perspective I’ve got.
  8. Then a little sadness hits me as the thing that I have cherished since puberty and chased for a good decade or two of my life was transformed before my eyes from a mysterious, sexy thing, to a utilitarian means of feeding a person. Please, tell me that this will pass.
  9. The video ends and we are instructed to practice what we have learned. I use ‘we’ loosely, as I am even more useless during this part of the class as I was during the not-porn boob video. I still only have a man chest so my wife had the fake baby and put him in different holds while I watched. There was also no way I was going to start groping her right there to show her how the women in the video had done their hand expression. So I basically sat and gave generic words of encouragement. For the record the instructor came by and said my wife was doing a great job.

That was about it and we were let out. I can say that there is some useful information that comes out of this class, and the feedback from my wife is that she got a lot out of it. So if in the end my presence was mainly for moral support, then I’m all for that as well. And hey, if my wife’s hands are ever full while she’s trying to breastfeed, I’m confident I can hand express a breast as well as any lactation consultant out there.