The Shadow knows….

Image“Who knows what evil, lurks in the hearts of men?”

If you’re familiar enough with this quote to know what follows, then either a) you’re a little dorky like myself, or b) you might be our obstetrician.

On a recent visit to the office to see if our little one was going to be making their entrance to the world anytime soon, the doctor was ‘feeling around’ for lack of a better term, to see if Meg had started effacing. We were asking questions, and at one point, jokingly, the doc responded “who knows? The Shadow knows…” followed quickly by a “nobody gets that reference today.”

But, I did!!! 🙂

After the who and the what and the when about the baby taking it’s sweet time to arrive, it led to a nice conversation with the doctor about not just The Shadow, but several other old-time radio shows from the 1930s and 1940s. It seems our doctor (who looks like he walked right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and I love it), used to listen to recordings that his father had of the old radio shows (back when our doctor’s father was a kid). We talked about Jack Benny, Dragnet, Little Orphan Annie, and, of course, The Shadow.

In case you don’t know, The Shadow is a character from ‘pulp magazines’ way back in the day. Usually filled with some type of bizarre crime story, kids and adults could pick up the dime novel and read a thrilling, noir-ish adventure.

ImageOn the radio, The Shadow was really Lamont Crantson (or Kent Allard if you read the novels), wealthy man about town, who, along with girlfrend Margo Lane, would often solve crimes in 1930s/1940s New York City. The Shadow possessed “the powers of mesmerism” which he learned in “The Orient,” and allowed him to ‘cloud men’s minds,’ making himself invisible to their sight and able to tap into the minds of evil doers everywhere. For my money, some of the best radio adventures of The Shadow were the ones from the late 1930s voiced by the great Orson Welles. Even now, if you can get your hands on one of the old recordings, it’s pretty exciting stuff to listen to.

Theatre of the mind – the stuff you see on television and movies will never compare.

Hopefully the doctor realizes it’s more of a (dorky) daddy interest and not a mommy interest. Wouldn’t want her to have to deal with questions about radio crime fighting while in the delivery room. 🙂

The Waiting Game

ImageWe’re in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment.

In the course of the pregnancy, we’ve been given a couple of different due dates, and today marks the third out of all three. As each one hit, we were at the ready, bags packed and set to go, only to find nothing happening.

I knew we had jinxed ourselves. When we went to a doctor’s appointment last week, we had our overnight bag in the car, extra food out for the cats, and everything set to go. We got in the car to head to the doctor’s and I realized ‘we’ve just jinxed ourselves. There’s no way this baby is coming when we’re this prepared.’

So, I was convinced that with a full slate of projects on the July 4th holiday, THAT was when the baby would decide to come. I mean, if it didn’t come when we were prepared for it, surely it would come on the day we decided to a) fix a ceiling fan b) assemble a dining room table and chair set that had been sitting around for months and c) did some gardening, yard work and weeding.

But alas, it did not. The work week then continued and the beat goes on. Two due dates given have passed.

As we start out the day on this third due date, we of course are hopeful, but yet, there seems to be no contractions, no increased movement, just…nothing.

So, for the time being, that just puts us in a waiting period. As the doctor says: “it’ll have to come out sometime,” and when it does, we’ll be waiting for it, anxious to meet whoever this new little person is.

I’m sure I can find some other things to write about in the meantime. 🙂

Extra, extra, read all about it

My wife recently had a dream.

In it, she says that we ended up having a little girl, and that as she got older, she decided she wanted to be a journalist. In the dream, she says this caused an incredible rift between the daughter and myself, as the many years in journalism professionally made me none too kind to the career prospect for my offspring.

According to my wife’s dream, this then created a falling out and my daughter and I were on non-speaking terms as she went forward with the career she wanted, and I did all I could to talk her out of it.

I’ve worked in different realms of journalism for a few years now. From newspapers to online content to television news, there’s always some sort of struggle and conflict.  Whether it’s the age-old struggle of journalism versus the business interests (let’s not forget that many media companies are privately owned), the ever-concerned bottom line (otherwise there will be no paychecks), or the massive egos and condescending personalities of others in the business.

At the end of the day, though, you make it through. You put food on the table for your family, you put gas in the car for another week, and maybe, just maybe, you’ve hopefully made a difference somewhere, even if there’s those around you who don’t feel a story was “worth doing” or questions its validity.

I wish there were more moments like that, but, hey, you take little victories where you can.

These thoughts and expressions are commonplace in our household with my career choice, and so I don’t find it all that surprising that it would weigh on my wife’s subconscious mind and start seeping into her dreams.

Fortunately, our child hasn’t even been born yet (any day now), we don’t know if it will be a girl or a boy, and their career paths are still a long ways off.

However, the dream definitely made me think about when that day comes that they set out on their career goals. I hope my real life self can be a bit more understanding and selfless than the version in my wife’s dream.

Go slowly sands of time…

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No, there will be no pillows in here once the baby arrives.

Time is moving by at an alarming rate.

I am unable to fathom the speed with which the past nine months have flown by. It seems like only a week or so ago that it was Halloween night and we sat there, slightly late for our rehearsal of “Arsenic and Old Lace” at a local theatre house, realizing what a life changing moment that little “plus” sign on a stick was.

We recorded a video that night for our kid to one day see, letting them know that, yes, their parents were once young, and what an amazing day this was for us.

As the months moved along, I went through phases of checklists, worried more about what had to be done around the house before the baby than their actual arrival. Then it hit me a few months ago that this was the one shot we get at a first child, that our lives will forever be changed, and that this time together, before the child’s arrival, should be savored.

I took a step back and have been smelling the proverbial roses of each day as best I can.

I admit that this past weekend, as we put the semi-final touches on the baby’s nursery – a few sheets down in the crib – it suddenly just seemed so incredibly real.

It’s happening and happening very soon, and before we know it, we parents-to-be will just be parents.

Where did all the time go?

It’s fascinating that a few sheets on a baby’s mattress could make me feel this introspective, but well, there you have it.

If time is moving this fast now, I’m a little frightened about the years ahead.

Woot Woot!

I have an obsession with the website, shirt.woot

For those of you not in the know, shirt.woot is a website that allows artists to submit designs for a t-shirt, and web users vote on their favorites. Each week tends to revolve around a different theme, although you’ll find the occasional random design. The winning entries are then offered as that day’s woot, and you can purchase it, with free shipping, on that particular day. After that day, the clock starts ticking and unless it’s popular enough in sales in the weeks that follow for it to continue, the shirt disappears and your chance is gone.

It makes for some very unique threads.

I became aware of woot because of my brother, who had purchased a few shirts from there over the years and would often send me a little note if that day’s woot was something we’d both find particularly funny to look at (even if neither of us bought it).

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve bought a few for myself, including this great shout-out for fans of the TV show, Arrested Development:

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And as I mentioned, the woots change each day, making their website a bit of a daily destination to see what’s gone up for sale that day. I even added it to my web browser shortcuts at work so that I can take the daily peek at what woots are wooting. 🙂

But, here’s where the slippery slope came – some of my favorite shirt designs have been absolutely perfect for kids, and woot DOES offer them in a child’s size.

Sure, even their smallest child size won’t fit my kid for probably a year or two to come, but who could resist the “Okey Dokey, Artichokey,” “Family Portrait” (get it? it’s the planets), or “A Day at the Loch” with Nessie in her swimmie-gear?

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I admit it. I’ve got a handful of woot shirts for the kid already, stashed away in the nursery closet, as I know there’s still quite some time before they can wear them. How could I pass up getting my hands on such absolutely adorable shirts that are almost as unique as my soon to be born?

I just couldn’t resist. I was powerless in the grip of their cuteness.

Storytime with the Justice Society

Last night I read to our unborn child.

This is nothing new. For months, I would randomly grab a book from the small collection we’ve amassed since we found out we’re expecting and read directly to Meg’s stomach.

On this occasion, though, it wasn’t “Puss in Boots” or “Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You?” Instead, I picked up the book I was sitting there reading anyway and just began reading aloud to Meg’s stomach. That book happened to be a collection of old All-Star Comics from the 1940s featuring the Justice Society of America. Issue #14 to be exact.

For those of you who may be uninitiated into the geeky world of superheroes, you may have vaguely heard the term “Justice League” bandied about in pop culture. However, The Justice Society, or JSA as they were often referred to, were roughly 15-20 years prior to the League. Amid America’s impending entrance into World War II, several second-tier superheroes of the time came together in the world’s first super team, The Justice Society of America.

On this occasion, the team’s mission was simple, yet oh-so-complicated: to get food to occupied European nations and overthrow the occupying Nazis.

Okay, okay, so a little bit harder than Dr. Seuss, but I was reading it anyway and I figured doing so aloud may be just as fun, doing my best to provide distinctly different voices for Hawkman, Starman, and the like.

Although, admittedly, both my German Nazi voice and Polish soldier voice need work. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I get to the chapters in Norway and Holland.

The odd part? Odd, yet exciting?

The baby really seemed to love it. Meg couldn’t believe how much the baby was moving around, and the more it moved, visible through her stomach this far along (36 or 37 weeks!), the more excited I got to keep reading chapters to this wondrous little soul I’ve yet to meet.

We stopped a few chapters in (I promised to read more in the nights ahead), but it led to a wonderful discussion (obviously one-sided, as her belly doesn’t verbalize too much) about fictional heroes written to inspire, and the real-life heroes (like the baby’s great grandfather and great grandmother, our next door neighbor, George, and our other neighbor, Geno) who put it all on the line during that very real war so that they, we, and our unborn child, could come into a free world.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with that era in history, and it was comics, just like these old adventures of the Justice Society, that got me interested in what was going on in the real world at the time of WWII.

It was truly a remarkable moment to see and feel my child, still in the womb, getting excited as I read and acted out this 1942 adventure for them. What was even more exciting was knowing how much they have to learn about their past, their family history, and the history of the world around them. They have a lifetime of learning ahead, and I’m lucky enough to be there with them from the very start of that journey.

And hopefully, we’ll have many other Justice Society Adventures to relive together. 🙂

Social Butterfly

I think my wife thinks I’m too social sometimes.

The other half the time, I’m sure I come off as a recluse or a grumpy old man, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little burst of excitement from meeting new people.

We just completed our childbirth class, and in it we’ve come across a multitude of other couples. One of those couples, we’ve had the occasional side joke or chuckle about something, and they just seemed like nice people. They’re due within the next week or so, and with last night being the last class, it’s likely the last time you’ll ever talk to these people.

So, during the class break I decided to ask them to exchange emails and let us know how they make out when the baby’s born in the days ahead.

Okay, sure, so maybe it’s the grown up, internet-age equivalent of that high school yearbook greeting, “Have a great summer! Let’s stay in touch!” but I figure eh, you never know when you’re going to make a new friend or friends. Sometimes the older we get, the harder that can get.

Breastfeeding class

One of the things about the hospital that we’re registered at to have the baby is the multitude of “extra” educational offerings they provide. For the past six weeks or so, my wife, Meg, and I have been attending Childbirth Classes at the hospital one night a week, where we’ve learned all about the process of child birth, contractions, etc. Made up of roughly 20 or so other couples, it provided us with the opportunity to take yet another “extra” that we attended this past weekend – Breastfeeding Class.

We’re both very big advocates of breastfeeding our “soon to be,” and I admit, the class made me even moreso, if that’s possible. I know some people will tout how far science has come, but by my humble estimations, there’s only so much that science can replicate in baby formula, and certain things that can only be found in breast milk. These unique characteristics include immunities, anti-allergens and all kinds of other great nutrition that they can’t get elsewhere. So, I’m all for it.

We’ve had people in the family who have had some trouble with breast feeding, and that gave Meg a sense of caution – one of the reasons she wanted to make sure we attended the class. I didn’t mind, as I really want to make it work.

Of course, that’s said as the relationship-half that isn’t going to actually be having a child sucking on its chest, so perhaps I’m out of place with my enthusiasm.

While I found the class informative, it also was a bit daunting. Between the video that shows you all the problems that may arise for you to troubleshoot, to the intense “lactation specialist,” it can feel a little stressful and could easily push some people off of the whole concept all together.

That is the slippery slope, I think. Here’s why…

One of the things they press upon you in this breastfeeding education is that a child has to latch on and breastfeed within the first two hours of their birth. It’s crucial. Introducing a bottle at any point in the first few weeks can kill the entire process of breastfeeding.

But when a mother is feeling scared, and a specialist, nurse, whomever, is so intense that they enhance those fears, it can often lead to some difficulties for both mother and child. It’s pretty detrimental to what a lactation specialist is trying to accomplish in the first place, wouldn’t you think? So the key is calm. Calm. Calm. Calm.

That’s where I, as the spouse, realize my place. I can not offer the physical nutrients that the child needs, but what I can offer is support to Meg, and to the baby as we head into this venture together. Yes. All three of us. The baby may be latching on, but we’re a family, and we’ll get through it all together, even this.

As I sat in the breastfeeding class, I could not help but notice that I was one of only a few spouses that were in attendance. What’s more, directly across from us at another table was a woman who was very eager to try this when her baby is born, and next to her was her spouse or boyfriend, who at first was sleeping during the class (very blatantly), and then got up and left, leaving her on her own until class had ended.

I felt terrible for her. Here we are, learning how important support of the spouse is to a mother who is trying to breastfeed, and this guy can’t even sit through a class with her. I just felt bad.

So, husbands to be, I say to you this – don’t brush off the idea of breastfeeding, and don’t be so quick to hand over a bottle if they haven’t latched on right away. Stick it out, it can happen, and you can help – simply by being there, being supportive, and being the partner that you’re significant other needs you to be, for her sake and the sake of your baby.

What’s in a name?

For being at 34 weeks into this pregnancy, finding possible names has only recently come to the forefront of our activities.

First off, I should mention we are not finding out the sex of our child ahead of time, so that automatically means any list of names was immediately two lists – one for boys and one for girls.

People often thought we were nuts, or that I was lying when I’d tell them “nope, no names picked out yet.” It was often met with a look of disbelief or a raised eyebrow that I was being secretive. My own mother said to me once when I had no answer on names that “you guys are so secretive.”

People just have an incredibly hard time believing that we didn’t have our final names picked out within the first two months of pregnancy.

So, here we are. 34 weeks and only last week did we come up with roughly four possibilities for each – found through the use of exercises in “The Perfect Baby Name” by Jeanine Cox.

We never thought we would be “baby book” people and in the beginning scoffed at the idea, to be quite honest. “We can figure it out on our own,” we thought. “Who needs a book.”

We did.

Sure, we had no trouble naming our cats – Beardslee, Winston, Jasper – but they all have names that sound like British butlers. We soon found that trying to come up with names for a human being we have yet to meet is not so easy after all.

So we bought the book, we did the exercises, ranging from names of friends who’ve made a difference in your life, to family names, to names from your family ethnic backgrounds, we had pages and pages of names. Then, both mother and father are asked to go into separate rooms and jot down the ones they liked best from those lists. So, we did.

So, we have two lists of names we both had jotted down…but afterward we both agreed, none felt like “the one.” You know, that moment when an idea strikes you and you just know “this is it.”

That just wasn’t there.

This morning as we woke up, my wife said to me “what if we meet the baby and they don’t look anything like any of the names?” It’s a thought that has occurred to me time and time again. However, as is often the case, there’s things that I don’t verbalize (but probably should) until I realize she has the same fear.

I never thought the question “who are you” would carry so much weight to it.

Eight Months

About a month to go.

Seriously? As I type that first sentence, I just can’t help but ask myself, has 34 weeks really gone by that quickly? Why has it taken me this long to finally sit down and put my thoughts to page? My wife and mother in law suggested writing about the process of fatherhood to be months ago, yet, here I am at 34 weeks before I even typed out a single word. If this is how far behind I am on writing about it, how far behind am I going to be when the kid actually gets here?

These are the thoughts that went swimming through my brain the minute I started thinking about this tonight. It’s just how my mind works. Always a handful of questions, always doubting what I didn’t accomplish or why I didn’t do it sooner. It makes me worried for what kind of a father I’m going to be.

I sit up a lot at night and get lost in my thoughts. I wonder what are child will be like. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will they take after Meg or myself? Will they want to read comic books or go to a baseball game? Then it’s not long before my mind goes to a darker line of questioning that’s just downright frightening. Will they a good person? Will they be kind to others? To animals? What kind of friends will they have? How will they be influenced? Will we live in this small house forever? Where else could we possibly live? What kind of role models we be for the child? Will they even care?

You see what I mean. I thought getting cats made me a worrier. The prospect of another human being that is going to grow into a adult one day, a living breathing member of society, is just plain frightening, and loaded with questions that I don’t have answers to.

And now there’s only four weeks to go and I feel woefully unprepared for this.

Sure, we’ve been taking classes to understand the birthing process. We’ve been, little by little, getting things done around the house – putting shelves up in the nursery closet, assembling the crib, painting a dresser and putting it in the nursery. Tiny steps towards the little one’s arrival.

But yet, I keep having this nagging feeling that I’m supposed to be doing more. It haunts me, this feeling that, if I don’t have x y and z done in plenty of time for this baby’s first step into the house that I’m starting them, and us as a family off on the wrong foot.

It’s because of that feeling that I feel I wasted the first 8 months of this pregnancy. I was so busy crossing things off of lists and running around to make sure “things were done” that I never stopped to take in and appreciate what is going on – the life that is being created and the family that is being created. Now, there’s only one month to go before that child is here and our lives are never again the same. And yet, it’s taken me all this time to stop and realize it, leaving me with four weeks to cherish it while it is here.

You only get one first. Don’t waste it. Take the time to stop, slow down, and appreciate it.

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