D2’s taken a liking to “taking photos.” My wife and I both dabble in photography, so D2 has been imitating us with the toy camera we bought for her. Last week, I decided to have a little hipster fun and let D2 take a mirror self portrait – I’m sure you’ve seen them before, or maybe you were taking mirror self portraits before they became so mainstream. Here’s the result.
I love her asymmetrical pigtails.
This post is part of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), where we link up photos taken from our smart phones. Any smart phone.
Dear Daughter #2,
It’s hard to believe, but today, you are 5 months old. I wrote this post a little less than 5 months ago, but it seems like ages since I wrote it. Why? Because it’s hard to imagine my life without you.
I hate leaving for work in the mornings because I have to kiss two beautiful girls goodbye and leave them at home. I can’t wait to get home and hear about all the new things you’re doing – these days, you’re sticking out your tongue and it’s thisclose to cuteness overload. I know this may sound weird, but I love squishing my face in your juicy thighs and arms. Can you blame me? Your thighs are exceptionally juicy. Your older sister carried all of her baby fat in her cheeks (good lawd do I miss sucking those chubby cheeks), but you? It goes straight to your thighs (I may have to go against your mom’s will and post a picture of your thighs on here later so that everyone can see how awesome they really are). Yeah it’s been awhile since mommy and daddy have gotten a good night’s sleep, especially now that you’re teething, but you’ve brought so much joy to our lives.
You made me smile when we took you in for your 4 month checkup and our pediatrician, who looked at your chart outside the office, walked into the exam room and began by saying, “So, D2 is almost a year old….oh, she’s only almost as big as a 1-year-old.” You make me laugh when you strain really hard during tummy time and let out a fart. And you impress me in both the frequency and quality of your explosive poops and I’m often left quoting Ron Burgundy: “How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing.”
But the best thing you’ve brought into our lives is your smile. Most babies make people work for a smile, requiring them to make funny faces, ridiculous sounds (WOOJEEWOOJEE WOO!!!), spastic movements, or a combination of all three. In fact, your sister used to make me work for a smile and I often looked
even more foolish in public. But it was so worth it. Not you. You smile when someone simply makes continued eye contact with you. So much so, that most people we run into comment that you’re the happiest baby they’ve ever seen.
Life, however, will often seek to take away your smile. Daddy’s been stressed as of late, and it’s been hard for me to smile. When you read about the ridiculous things that people do, it definitely doesn’t make you want to smile. Like a county executive who was arrested for corruption who, along with his wife, continue to maintain their innocence, despite FBI agents finding $80,000 in her bra. Or you read that taxpayers are subsidizing a car that 1) they can’t really buy as there’s only limited production and 2) may not help the environment that much. You’ll often find more things to shake your head about and fewer things to smile about.
But you smiling at strangers and friends/family alike is a reminder to me that good exists in people; that someone shouldn’t make me smile because of what they do or don’t do, but simply for existing. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or a smile. Don’t let life suck away your joy; bring joy to the lives of others. Keep smiling, kiddo.
They put the baby on my wife’s chest and as I beheld her for the first time, I thought, “Wow…she’s perfect.” I cried uncontrollably when my first daughter was born because I was overwhelmed with joy. The joy was still the same for our second, but I didn’t shed a tear. Looking back, I think the peace God gave me when our friend said the child would be perfect was the difference. For our first, I was so worried about her health – it’s hard not to be paranoid when you read about all the things that can go wrong in development and birth. So when she came out healthy and let out a strong, healthy cry, 9-months of build up was released. For our second, I had no such worries and enjoyed the development and birth process.
As a frugal dad, I was happy it was a girl since we wouldn’t need to buy new clothes and toys.
I noticed our second daughter (from hereon, I’ll be referring to her as D2 and our first as D1 for simplicity) had a hairy back and ears. D1 has the same birthmark my wife does on her left forearm; D2 doesn’t. If we have a 3rd child and he/she has the birthmark, I imagine D2 will be teased about being adopted. D2 had really long fingers and toes, and nails, and her hair was black with light brown highlights. I rubbed her skin with the back of my hand – I’ve yet to touch anything that feels a soft as baby skin. I took a step back, looked at her and marveled at this gift God has given me; I fell in love.
The midwife clamped the cord and gave me the shears to cut it with. It takes 3 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop; it takes 2 strong snips for me to get through the umbilical cord. I said a prayer and welcomed D2 into the world.
The midwife and nurse told my wife what a wonderful job she did and said, “That was a perfect birth! We didn’t have to coach you to push or anything! Just perfect.” They insisted they weren’t just saying that, and that the methodical way my wife pushed out the baby was perfect. She did tear a bit however, as our baby girl’s elbow nicked her perineum on the way out.
D2 eventually found her way to my wife’s nipple and it’s amazing how a baby instinctively knows how to feed. The nurse looked at the latch and said, “Her latch looks perfect.”
We had a pool of names picked out and with the birth being symbolic of something being birthed in this generation, we chose a name that meant something we wanted to see for the next generation of kids.
A few hours later, our family began to arrive. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law came first. Later, my mom and my sister brought D2. It probably wasn’t the best idea to wake D2 up at 4:30 in the morning and bring her to the birth center. I gave D2 a big hug and spent some quality time with her before taking her in to meet her new sister.
I imagined their meeting would be all sweet and cuddly. Instead, the look on my daughter’s face was like the face most people make when they walk into a porta-potty and see the pile of crap that has amassed in the blue-turned-green liquid. Whenever D2 cried, we all paid attention to her and D1 picked up on this and began to cry whenever D2 did. When anyone held D2, D1 asked that person to pick her up. Imagining the emotions that D1 was experiencing, I began to cry. But I took solace in the fact that I knew they’d be best friends eventually.
I took a quick nap in the birth center. Well, maybe it wasn’t very quick because in that time, my wife was able to nurse, shower, change, and grab something to eat. Shortly after I woke up, they weighed and measured D2: 8lb5oz and 20″. While she was being measured, D2 pooped. When she was placed on the scale, D2 pooped again. Then just before we put on the diaper, she pooped again. At about 7:30, after running through a few things with the nurse, it was time to go home.
As we got to the door, D1 asks, “Daddy, is baby going to stay here alone with the doctor?” “No,” I told her, “She’s family and she’s coming home with us.” When we got home, my daughter asked, “Daddy, are we going to leave the baby in the car?” This difficulty adjusting totally caught my wife and I by surprise. At one point when we were waiting for labor to begin, my wife asked if I had any regrets for leaving the retreat early. I had none because I treasured the last days I got to spend with my family as a family of 3. And now with the range of emotions D1 was struggling with, I’m so grateful to God that I had a few days to love on my firstborn.
We took D2 and D1 to our pediatrician later that morning. The nurse examined, weighed and measured D2. Later, the pediatrician came and said, “So she’s in the 80th percentile for height…and 80th percentile for weight. She’s perfect. And for her head circumference…50th percentile. Just perfect.” Being Korean, having an average-sized head, especially when her Pop’s head is far above average, is a pretty big deal.
Over the next few days, we heard that word a lot in regards to D2. Being the dull guy I am, I didn’t really notice but my wife brought it to my attention and it will be something we both treasure in our hearts for the rest of our lives.
It’s not so much that our specific child is perfect, but a reminder that children are a perfect gift from God.
Parenting isn’t easy, as it can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. And I’ve made so many mistakes with D1, that I’m thanking God for the mulligan He’s giving me with D2.
I’m far from a perfect parent, and my children aren’t perfect either; but they are God’s perfect gift to me. Every now and then–usually every 3 hours when D2 wakes up–I miss being married without children. But overall I’m happy to be a dad and I’m going to try to be the best dad I can be.
As I’ve reflected on D2’s birth story over the past week, it’s amazing to see how God was guiding each step. And knowing that He’ll guide each step hereafter, gives me incredible peace. I may not be perfect, but God gave me a perfect gift, and He has a perfect plan.
Thanks for reading!
As the midwife began the pelvic exam, water gushed forth. I like keeping a clean house, so I smiled quite a bit inside knowing I wouldn’t have to clean up the mess. The midwife told us my wife was at 7cm and 80% effaced so he told us to stay. Once again, for the uninitiated, cervical dilation is complete at 10cm and delivery of the infant takes place shortly thereafter, so we didn’t have very far to go. I ran out to the car and grabbed all of our bags. Yes, bags. DSLR bag, camcorder bag, bag with all the baby stuff (diapers, onesies, blankets, wipes), and my wife’s snack and drink bag (pita chips, trail mix and water). I expended quite a bit of effort to get all those bags on my person so that I could take them all in one trip and of course, my keys are in the pocket opposite my free hand. I always do this.
To give you some background, my wife and I chose to do a natural birth for both of our children. Scratch that. My wife chose to do natural birth. As the man, I believe natural birth is beneficial and doable, but that’s like the punter on a football team saying that he thinks contact in the NFL isn’t a big deal. Yes, the punter plays a role on the team, but ultimately, he doesn’t get hit and if he does, it’s a penalty. So yeah, fellas out there: share your opinion but know your role – or this could happen.
For our daughter, we went with the Bradley Method. Although our class was immensely helpful in understanding pregnancy and labor, the method ultimately didn’t do much for us as my wife despised the sound of my voice and my touch during labor. For her, she liked to enter into a zone whenever the contractions came on, so I sat by praying my butt off. For our second, we decided to try HypnoBirthing at the recommendation of a friend.
The name makes it sound like I get out a watch and say, “You are not in pain…you are going to have a baby…” or something like that. And some posts on the Web will lead you to believe the method is of the devil – but we all know only foosball is the devil. After reading the book, we were led to believe that people who posted such things likely based their conclusions on the title and a few select anecdotes. In fact, the author talks at length about birth being God’s plan and has Scripture littered throughout the book. Granted, that doesn’t mean HypnoBirthing is the work of God, but just don’t believe everything you read on the Web.
HypnoBirthing seems to have 2 key components: 1) the book works really hard to psyche you up about being able to deliver the child naturally and 2) there are several audio tracks where a woman guides you through visualization exercises. When we told our midwife we were thinking of doing HypnoBirthing, she told us that when it works, it’s great, but it’s problematic for the women who experience lots of pain and who had HypnoBirthing as their sole source of pain management.
I setup our iPod and turned on her favorite visualization exercise. The woman’s voice is incredibly relaxing and the visualizations helped my wife relax when the “surges” came – HypnoBirthing goes to great lengths to use terms that sound more positive. Her contractions were roughly 5 minutes apart. Some lasted upwards of a minute and a half, and others lasted as little as 15 seconds. We alternated between walking around and her sitting on the birth ball and going through the visualizations. Once again, it helped for me to keep completely quiet unless asked, and my hands to myself.
It’s midnight and I’m still by her side, timing contractions. You know how Apple says, “There’s an app for that”? Yup. There are numerous apps for timing contractions. I stupidly didn’t even think about downloading one of them.
It’s now 1am and we’re both fighting to stay awake. A few days prior, I thought about packing some coffee but thought better of it since I didn’t want my baby’s first impression of me to be stinky coffee breath. While my wife is doing her visualizations on the birth ball, I’m doing pushups and jumping jacks trying to stay awake. My wife’s contractions aren’t getting any closer together and the intensity has remained fairly constant. The visualizations seem to help a lot for pain management.
It’s now 2am and to be honest, I was DYING! I imagined my child being born and me snoring away, passed out on the wooden floor. And the HypnoBirthing woman’s relaxing voice wasn’t helping very much. Our birth center doesn’t really do pelvic exams unless it seems there is quite a bit of progression or we ask, but since my wife’s contractions weren’t getting any closer together, they just made sure the baby’s heartbeat was ok. At 2:05am, I ask my wife if she wants a pelvic exam just so that we can see how much she’s progressing. She agreed.
The midwife came in and he said that my wife was still at 7cm. Three hours of labor and we haven’t progressed?!?! My heart sunk and I was now kicking myself for forgoing coffee. “The good news is,” the midwife said, “that you’re now 100% effaced.” This is like getting to the theme park only to find that you’re too short to ride anything. It sucks.
For my wife’s sake, I tried really, really hard not to look disappointed, but since I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions to begin with, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing a good job of it at 2:05am.
The nurse suggested my wife take a shower since the water on her nipples might kick start the labor. We got my wife’s shower cap and slippers ready. And just as she was about to get in the shower, a massive surge/contraction hits. Then a few minutes later, another.
It might’ve been the pelvic exam; it might’ve been my desperate pleas to the baby to come soon. Whatever it was, the baby was coming. And fast.
Contractions started to get really intense and the HypnoBirthing was becoming increasingly ineffective. Maybe with more practice, the HypnoBirthing may have worked, but it became pretty useless so we turned on some relaxing music.
Low moans really helped my wife as did me applying counter pressure on her hips during each contraction. She found it really helpful to lean on the birth ball with her arms while resting on her knees on the bed. Time is moving incredibly fast at this point and it seems the contractions are right on top of each other. At this point, I’m glad I’ve been working out because squeezing her hips for the better part of an hour was an intense bicep/forearm workout.
Around 2:55am, the midwife and nurse came in and got their gloves on – based on my wife’s moans, they knew she was in transition. At this point, I step away from my wife because there’s a lot going on down there. So I do the fatherly thing and get my camera ready.
At 3:02am, I can see the head about to crown. There are somethings I just cannot get used to seeing: skinny jeans on guys, glitter on vampires, and a baby’s head crowning. I find the latter to be the least unnerving.
And even though it was the second time I’ve seen a birth, I still ended up thinking, “There’s NO way that’s going to fit…OMG…it’s gonna fit….OMG OMG OMG OMG.” Leave it to childbirth to reduce me to a school girl who just saw Eclipse.
Some of you may have heard of the ring of fire in childbirth. That’s when the head is about to crown and the vaginal opening is at its widest and the sensation is often described as a ring of fire. Grab a turtleneck from 15 years ago and try to fit your head through and you may have an idea what it looks like. This is the point where I think, “OMG…my wife’s vag is going to explode.”
Without any coaching, my wife slowly and methodically pushed out the baby.
*bloop* out comes the head…the baby turns a bit and
*bloop* out comes the arm and
*bloop* out comes the baby
I ran and looked and…IT’S A GIRL!!!! IT’S A GIRL!!!
Tomorrow: I conclude the Birth Story with The Perfect Child
Once I got that text from my wife, I asked my boss if I could leave. There are certain things in life that illicit a, “Say no more” from men. Two of those things are menstruation and water breaking. We don’t know all that goes on with those things and we usually don’t want to know, so do what you gotta do but say no more. So I walk into my boss’s office and said
Me: Hey boss. My wife’s water just broke so…
Boss: [interrupting me, holding up his hand as if stiff-arming a defender] Say no more. Go.
A lot has changed in childbirth over the decades. For example, men other than doctors can now be actively involved in the labor and delivery process and technology has advanced significantly. But a few things seem to remain constant: 1) that white birth blanket with blue and red/pink stripes and 2) the mystery and awe surrounding the water breaking. As I was leaving the office, I could hear my coworkers saying, “Water broke? I remember getting that call,” and “Clean up. Aisle 6. Bring a mop.”
Since contractions hadn’t begun, I wasn’t in a huge rush and said a prayer for my wife as I drove home. As involved as us dads are now, there’s nothing we do that comes close to what the moms go through in labor. So I prayed for her health and the health of Baby #2 as his or her birth was drawing near.
I get home and my wife is leisurely surfing the Web, my daughter is reading a book, and my sister is finishing up some work. For the next few hours, it was really, really hard not to ask my wife if she was having contractions yet every few minutes – I would’ve been the equivalent of a kid asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
So we wait. And wait. And wait.
June becomes July and my wife is as pregnant as ever. We go to sleep that night, fully aware that this could be the last night we get 8 straight hours of sleep in quite some time, but slightly disappointed that our new baby is not in our arms.
We wake up and of course, the first thing I say is, “Did you have any contractions?” In retrospect a “good morning,” or “I love you,” would’ve been better. Nope. None yet.
I took my daughter out that day but made sure to stay close to home. I saw a mother at Target who was either baby sitting kids or had a very fertile womb. Six kids! Some were on leashes – in 2010, parents not only take their pets but their kids out for walks. I’m not hating. If you’ve got six kids, you gotta do what you gotta do to corral them. Personally, I’d use duct tape and a flat-bed cart, but that’s just me. But seeing her kids pining for her attention made me a bit sad for my daughter. She’s still having issues sharing, but sharing your toys is one thing; sharing your parents is completely different.
At that moment, I get a phone call from my wife and my heart starts racing.
Wife: Hi you. Could you pick up some (some item we needed) while you’re there?
Me: *whomp whomp* yeah…sure.
I get home and of course, the first thing I say is, “Hi honey.” Followed immediately with a “Feel anything yet?” 😛 Nope.
It’s now early in the evening and still nothing. During dinner, my wife still had a very good appetite so we figured the baby wouldn’t come anytime soon.
Then at 8:06pm, my wife had her first mild contraction. She’d been having smaller ones before, but this was the first sustained contraction. At 8:22pm, she had another one – 16 minutes apart, so I run to the cars and double-check to see if we have everything.
It’s now 8:50 and since I’ve restrained myself from asking my wife if she felt anything no less than 8 times, I figure I’m allowed to ask. Nope. Nothing.
So we wait.
At 9:50pm, I put our daughter down for bed and I’m thinking, “If this baby comes tonight, her world is going to be completely changed when she wakes up.”
At 9:58pm, my wife has a decent contraction where she had to stop what she was doing and focus.
10:05pm, another one. That’s 7 minutes apart! We call the midwife and ask him what we should do. Seven minutes isn’t very close but because my wife was so far along (4-5cm dilated 4 days ago), he wasn’t too sure what to do. He recommended waiting a bit more to see what would happen.
She had two more contractions at 10:12 and 10:19. At that point the midwife said to come in and we left our daughter at home with my sister at 10:25pm.
On the ride over, we figured we’d get sent back home since the contractions were getting farther apart – likely due to the change in scenery. In the car, they were about 9 minutes apart and pretty short in duration. But we figured it’d give us peace of mind to have her examined.
We got to the birth center at 11:07pm and I didn’t bring any of our bags in. The midwife examined my wife.
Tomorrow: Should we stay or should we go?