Taking kids on vacation

I’ll be honest, it sounded a bit crazy to me. Taking a 4 year-old and a 6 week-old on a 7 (that was more like 12) hour car trip to a location with nothing but sun, sand, and water. One is very energetic and excited, the other can’t put on sunscreen, nor can she regulate her body temperature very well. But alas, we decided to go with my family for a week of a beach vacation.

We left bright and early on Saturday morning. Daughter snoozing in the backseat, son enjoying the views and looking at a road atlas. To be honest, the first 4-5 hours of the trip were very smooth. Our daughter eats every 4 hours or so, so we just scheduled stops and used it to stretch while she ate. Shortly after we began the last few hours of the trip, we learned our son, who never previously had this problem–gets carsick. So that was a blast, as we were completely ill prepared for that. Then the traffic hit–and a 2-3 hour trip stretched on for almost 6. I’ve been going to the beach for a long time and never saw traffic like that. It was horrible. Of course, by this point, the daughter is hungry, but there’s nowhere to really pull off because we’re just stuck in traffic. After almost 13 hours, we pull into our condo and have a chance to get settled in.

Thankfully, the rest of the week went swimmingly. Our son LOVED the ocean and sand (probably too much, as it took a lot of coercion to bring him in every day). We were also battling no naps the entire week for him, and he actually rallied pretty well with few incidences.

For our daughter, we wanted to be outside, but also wanted to make sure she stayed out of the sun, and also cool the entire time. Thankfully, the beach was fairly cool all week and being near the ocean provided a nice, consistent breeze. We purchased a large, 100 SPF umbrella and she wore protective SPF clothing all week. We set up a travel bassinet in the sand on top of a towel, and then had a battery-operated fan on her keeping a nice breeze. We also had a spray bottle of water in case, but rarely used it.

We did get confronted by one older lady (whose obesity provided for an incredible hypocrisy) who asked if we were putting sunscreen on her. She seemed shocked that we wouldn’t put sunscreen on our 6 week-old (spoiler alert: you shouldn’t on any child under 6 months old). We gave her a solid dismissal of her concern (“She’s fine.”) and didn’t have any other run-ins (in fact, we were complimented several times throughout the week for our innovative setup).

When we were out in the evenings, we had an extendable shade for the stroller which provided her with complete sun protection, and then had a clip-on fan to attach to the side of her stroller (one passerby commented, “See that? Brilliant”). Both kids slept very well during the trip. Our son slept on a pull-out sofa in the living room and our daughter slept at the foot of our bed in a Pack N’ Play.

While all in all we had a great time, I won’t lie, vacationing with children is a lot different than vacationing without them. First, there’s sort of always an overwhelming concern about where your child is. Thankfully, we went with family, so there were always extra eyes, but I always kept a watchful eye, especially on my son near the water, and of course, our daughter couldn’t be left alone. And with two parents and two kids, it takes a bit of effort to make sure that everything is okay and the kids are being adequately supervised. I think it would have been not much fun to go by ourselves with just our kids.

Secondly, we are schedulers, and have found schedules that work for our kids that optimize both their and our happiness. However, that’s really easy to do at home, and not so easy to do on vacation. Our son, as I mentioned, skipped naps, which made our time more flexible, but also ran the risk of having a grumpy kid (thankfully, this wasn’t really the case). With him though, being nearly 5, he is able to entertain himself, be reasoned with, etc. There’s also a certain level of responsibility where he can do things on his own.

For a 6 week-old, the challenge is unique. Eating every few hours means scheduling beach time, dinner time, and activities somewhat “around” eating. Additionally, sleeping is still of utmost importance. Sure, we could have laid our daughter down every night at 10 and then stayed up with family until midnight or 1 having fun, but our daughter is waking up a 3 am to eat whether you went to bed or not, and she’s going to be ready to start the day by 7, whether you got 8 hours of sleep or 2, so it certainly cut into evening time, but it was a sacrifice necessary to make our days go better. So others may want to stay out late, but you’re saying, “We need to get to bed”.

And of course, you’re never not a parent. And so disciplining, consoling, assisting, snuggling, etc. is still ongoing, even on vacation, which certainly takes a notch out of the “relaxing” column. You don’t want to have to scold your kid on vacation, but you also can’t have them throwing sand that’s getting in people’s faces, or puts themselves at risk to get hurt.

But seeing your son see the ocean for the first time, to be able to snuggle your newborn on the beach, to spend time with your family for an entire week, it makes it completely worth it. We certainly look forward to doing it again next week and hopefully, by then, we’ll be even more seasoned.

Babies can’t read–and how to set up yourself to parent successfully

“My kid will NOT use a pacifier.”

“I will not swaddle my kid, it’s bad for arm development.”

“There’s no way I’ll ever give my kid formula.”

“NO TV in this house!”

First-time parents, it’s likely that you thought, uttered, or exclaimed some of these sweeping grandeurs of sage parenting, back when you were reading every book on the planet on how to raise well-adjusted children. And I’m also sure that you were frustrated beyond all belief when been there, done that parents said, “Just wait…”

And if you aren’t a parent yet, I’m sure you have some really good ideas about how you’ll parent your kid to maximize their and your happiness (read: sanity). Believe me–I did it too. Somewhere on a bookshelf in my house are all the parenting books that I read diligently when we were expecting our first child, collecting dust. It seemed so easy! They make how-to books for parents! And then your kid is born and realize, oh sh*t, babies can’t read. Not only can’t they read, but they don’t seem to give a you-know-what about your plans for them.

This time around, I didn’t even pick up a parenting book. You learn very quickly that 90% of parenting a newborn is trial and error, and really the other 10% are instincts that you guessed right on. Even between two of our own children, I notice differences in how one thing worked with one isn’t working for the other–and neither scenario was adequately explained in What to Expect the First Year. I guess I just finally realized why already-parents get to act so smug, because at one time, we were all those first-time parents that knew how we were going to do everything, just to get knocked down a few pegs when our kids didn’t calm down after The Five S’s, or how attachment parenting was slowly making us lose our minds, or when the only thing that could calm them was the aforementioned pacifier previously relegated to Public Enemy #1.

Similarly, I now know that newborns are evolutionarily designed so that first-time parents really have to try to cause serious damage. I also realized that if you give your kid like 5-10 extra seconds to pull it together on their own, they often will (which saves me many trips into their room to pick them up in the middle of the night).

But most of all, I learned that the best way to keep yourself from stressing out is to not set up yourself to get stressed out. First-time parents, expectant parents, eventually-will-be-parents, take a deep breath. Never say never. It’s fine to draw your lines somewhere (for us, it’s sleeping arrangements, our kids will never penetrate our bedroom’s threshold to sleep), but don’t get set up rules for a creature that has no idea what a rule is, and then be stressed out when the rules have to be broken. And then you can be smug like the rest of us.

Ending your childbearing years before age 30

I went back and forth on even writing this blog post. Making the decision to end your ability to have children is an incredibly personal one–in your relationship, physically, and mentally. However, after we made that decision, I was astonished by the lack of available information out there from people who had gone through the same thing. If you google “vasectomy”, you’re left with Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and urology websites describing the procedure, but very, very few testimonials by people who have gone through it, and if you are like me, that causes some anxiety. So yes, much of this is probably too much information, but I hope it’s helpful to someone either considering the procedure now, or expecting to consider it in the future.

I’m a medical procedure wimp, I want to know what to expect, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t want it sugarcoated, I want to know what it was like to have the procedure performed from someone who experienced it.

28 probably seems young to make such a permanent decision in your life. But the plan for us was essentially two children by age 30, and that’s what we got. We made the decision pretty early in this pregnancy that this would be our last. Several factors played into this decision. First, pregnancy is not always a fun experience for my wife, and this one, especially early on, was pretty rough. Second, we had a boy and a girl, which, for us, was our “dream family” and we were excited to get one of each. Third, and this can’t be understated, but children are an economical and emotional commitment. I think sometimes the “expense” of children is overstated, but daycare isn’t, and having a kid already starting school, we really don’t want to be dealing with a baby when our oldest in middle school. We wanted to be done with that part of our lives and go forward with raising two kids into adulthood.

For obvious reasons, we wanted to wait until she was born before taking the steps to become permanently finished. Well that time had come and went, and 5 days later, I was sitting in my urologist’s office discussing permanent sterilization. It is my intention here to give you a solid overview of what went down. Firstly, we chose a vasectomy because it’s much less invasive than other forms of permanent sterilization, such as tubal ligations. It’s an outpatient procedure, recovery is only 2-6 days, and has minimal risks. Vasectomy is also a much more successful form of permanent birth control. It’s 99.9% effective in the first year, and long-term rates have failures marked at about 1 in 50-60,000. Tubal ligations, while effective, fail at a rate about 5 times more often than a vasectomy, and long-term rates actually decline after the first year.

My consultation was only about 10 minutes. The urologist did confirm with me that I had children already and that my wife was on board with it (I guess there have been a few “incidents” in the past). I explained to him that she drove me to the appointment. Vasectomies should be considered a permanent method of birth control, he said, and that reversals are expensive, rough, and not a guarantee. Anyone considering one should have discussed it with their significant other and also assume it will not be reversed. I actually expected more pushback about my age, but he seemed to address me just as he would a man in his 40s or 50s. After we determined I wanted to go ahead with the procedure, we scheduled it about 10 days later.

I mentioned earlier that I am a medical procedure wimp. So while I was confident about the procedure, I was still very anxious about it. I reported to the outpatient surgery center at 7:30 AM to complete some paperwork and was taken back around 8:15 for pre-op vitals. After sweating it out for about a half-hour, I was taken back to the “operating room”, which was really just a standard room with some extra lights. I did my best to keep my eyes off the sterile blue tray that contained all the instruments needed for the procedure. I knew basically what to expect, but still didn’t really want to see what was going to be headed towards my nether-regions.

My urologist explained the first thing would be a local numbing agent. Yes, it is a needle. This was probably the “worst” part of the entire procedure. Since the procedure happens in two places, he did one side first, which included probably 2-3 separate injections.  They did feel like very small pinches. But in my experience, a single flu shot in the bicep hurts more. It was about 5 seconds, if that, of discomfort–but it did the job. A small incision was made (there are technically no-needle, no-scalpel ones as well, but this was not one). I didn’t feel the incision at all, thankfully. There was a brief tugging sensation. It wasn’t necessarily painful, but it felt similar to getting hit there. However, whereas when that happens “in the wild” the sensation lasts for about 90 seconds, this lasted for maybe 2 seconds. At that point, the vas deferens is extracted, a small section is cut out, and then the rest is cauterized. Then maybe 2-3 sutures are placed to close the incision. This was absolutely pain-free.

After one side is done, the same process occurs on the other side. Since you’re already numb from the first series of injections, this is even less painful than the first time. A few pinches, a brief tugging sensation again, and then you’re done. In all, the procedure took about 15 minutes, though it only felt like 5. I walked out of the office on my own. On the overall pain meter, you’re talking about maybe 10 seconds total of discomfort over those entire 15 minutes. On the “pain scale”, this was about a 2, and a bad papercut is a 3. Stubbing your toe is honestly more painful.

Again, while considered a permanent procedure, it’s not immediately “effective”. Generally 6-12 weeks is necessary for the procedure to take effect, and an analysis is performed to ensure that you are, in fact, sterile. Most vasectomy failures occur because the patient didn’t wait long enough and spontaneous “reconnection” of the vas deferens is very rare.

Post-operation, the urologist was adamant taking it easy for a full 48 hours. No exercise, no lifting, minimal walking. All in all, with rest, ice, and Tylenol, you’re pretty much back to normal in 2 days, and can resume full activity in 7 days. There’s some soreness, but I really thought it would be worse. But I’m also taking maximum care, and I think if you do that, you shouldn’t really have any adverse post-op experiences.

So we’re done. And that’s it. I’ve had a very surgeries in my life. Leg surgery that was performed under general anesthesia, wisdom tooth extraction under twilight anesthesia, and this procedure. This was undoubtedly the easiest and least painful process. Leg surgery, while under a general anesthesia, felt horrible the week following. Wisdom tooth extraction was not painful, but I could still “feel” it happening, and again, the recovery was miserable. In no uncertain terms would I call this “fun”, but I would imagine every person has experienced something more painful, and in the end, it’s certainly less than 9 months of pregnancy and labor.

But we certainly didn’t take this decision lightly. We discussed the future and were both 100% positive that we did not want any more children. No reversals, no going back, this is a one and done. And if anyone is considering this, I would encourage you and your significant other reach the same level of agreement. But that’s it. It was not bad at all, and if fear of the procedure is the only thing holding you back, don’t let it.

Paige is here!

Paige decided she didn’t want to wait around until June 5th and made her grand entrance on May 31st at 10:11 am.

My wife had an induction scheduled on June 7th, as progression had been very little up until the last week of her pregnancy. She woke up shortly after 1 am on Saturday, May 31st to a few contractions. By 3:30, the contractions were starting to come every 4-6 minutes, and by 4:45, the call was made to go to the hospital.

Our son, she, and I, arrived at the hospital at 5:15, where it was determined she was in labor and her water had broken. By 6 am, we were in labor and delivery, and by 9:45 am, it was time for PJ to make her arrival. At 10:11, we saw our daughter for the first time…and she is perfect.

It amazes me how much she reminds me of my son, both in looks and actions. She’s really awesome, she’s sleeping great, and is all around a very happy baby. We couldn’t be more happy to have our daughter with us.

Entering the home stretch, been there, done that.

Today marks 36 weeks for us, which means technically, only 4 weeks remain, though really that’s anywhere between 1 and 6.

We’ve been quickly preparing ourselves for her arrival. Last week was room painting, so added with a built crib and changing table, and the pending build of her dresser, we’re getting close. I hate to say that this time has been more “non-chalant” for us, but really it has. Having a kid already changes your entire approach. You realize infants basically just need a place to sleep, a food source, and diapers to live for the first month or so. We’ve been slowly buying more things as we realize we need them, but it’s not the mad rush that we had with our son.

But at the same time, we’re doing more for her than our son, mostly because of our living situation. Last time, we were switching apartments on his due date, this time, we already have a house, and therefore, feel like we can actually do some decorating rather than subjecting her to the spartan surroundings our son had his first few months in the apartment. So even for having a brother whose items we’ll be using as hand-me-downs, we’ve been doing a decent amount of things for her that we didn’t really get to do the first time, so that’s kept it interesting.

It’s marked, though, the experiences between a first-timer and a “been there done that”. It’s hard to express how much being a parent is really just “on the job training”, but it’s something you don’t really understand until you are one. You can read all the books or blogs or articles you want, but in the end, a baby can’t read. At the same time, past experiences as a parent don’t always mean that it will work the second time around. Odds are, we’ll be altering a lot of the things worked so well with our first.

But as last time was met with a lot of anxiousness and mystery, I think this time I’m just totally excited to do it again, though I reserve to change my mind after the first few nights of sleep.

An experienced dad’s guide for first-time dads: Labor & Delivery Edition

We’re sitting here very close to being inside 1 month until the arrival of our daughter. Mom is probably getting ready to pack her hospital bag, and as a dad, you need to start preparing yourself for Labor and Delivery as well.

1) Understand first and foremost, that the woman doin’ the pushin’ gets control of the room’s temperature. If you’re spending the night on the room’s sofa or pullout, you’re going to want to pack both shorts and pants, t-shirts and sweatshirts, even in the middle of the summer. Because one minute, you’re freezing to death in the middle of the night and then next, you’re under the deathray lights while you’re standing there holding your wife’s hands as she gets an epidural. You don’t want to be that dad that passes out.

2) Learn the lingo. You’ve probably heard the word “dilation” before, but get used to words like effaced, crowning, episiotomy, etc. Like really dig deep, because it’s a lot more pleasant to know beforehand than having some L&D nurse have to talk about cervices, mucus plugs, etc. And if you hear a word you don’t know, just Google it, for the love of God, just Google it.

3) A lot of dads like to be really “in there” when it comes to delivery. Word of advice, even it’s your wife of 20 years, there are just some things that you probably want to keep a mystery, and believe me, that mystery can be kept if you stand near your wife’s head during delivery. Like–things happen down there, and you’re probably better for just not seeing it.

4) Have some respect, don’t house a really damn tasty cheeseburger right in front of your significant other when she’s not allowed to eat anything. If there is support there, have someone come hang out with her while you go and eat something, and then lie about it later. If you don’t have any support, make up an excuse to leave the room like–I forgot to lock the car (even better, forget to lock the car on purpose, or leave your cell phone charger in there so you have a legit excuse), and then just take a big bag of Wendy’s into a bathroom stall and have at it.

5) If your significant other is hooked up to a monitor that monitors things like contractions, be sensitive. You’re going to see a contraction coming about 5 seconds before she feels it, and making a grimacing face probably doesn’t help

6) Stay positive, but keep expectations realistic. There may be a few times when you think your significant other is really going to fucking lose it. Like, really kill someone, or like my wife conceded, that the baby was never going to come out and just live there forever. Try and stay really positive about it all, but also don’t stand there and tell her that it will all be over soon and that this is a really fun time for everyone.

7) Bring some entertainment. Even in labor, women might want to rest their eyes. And sometimes, labor is really long, and your ass is sitting there watching whatever daytime cable show that happens to be on (try to convince her to go into labor on a Tuesday, because USA shows Law and Order: SVU marathons).

8) Slip the nurse a $20. I don’t know if this works or not, but it seems like a good idea. Tell her to make the ice chips good.

9) You have no idea what the pain feels like, so just don’t even question it. It doesn’t matter. Don’t hold up the little smiley face chart and ask her to point where she falls on the scale, if she says it hurts, assume it hurts, and do what she wants.

10) Realize that sometimes, you won’t be able to say much besides “I’m so sorry” or “Is there anything I can do?” Like, what are you supposed to do, your significant other is pushing a baby out of her and you’re just standing there. You aren’t an epidural and you aren’t a physician. Just be the punching bag if you need to be, do the things she needs you to do, and when you’re not doing those things, just stand there and feel helpless and realize there’s nothing more you can do.

11) Don’t complain about how long it’s taking. Seriously. Why the hell would you do that?

12) Be on camera patrol. Seriously, you’re never going to be forgiven if you forget to take that first picture. My kid was like 7 seconds old when his first picture was taken. I was like Johnny on the Spot with that camera. Be sure to vet the pictures before posting to social media. You don’t want a placental photobomb. Or a friend to catch a glimpse of your wife’s hoo-ha.

13) If your wife has a birth plan, stick to it with her. Set up everything in a way that she can do that. But also be prepared to be the voice telling her it’s okay if she needs to deviate from it. She’s the one in labor. Just because she wants to go med-free during Hour 1 doesn’t mean she’ll feel the same in Hour 11. If she needs to break from the plan, be the person telling her it’s okay to do that. If your significant other who was adamant about going natural suddenly wants an epidural, drag the nearest anesthesiologist into the room and hold him against his will if need be. Don’t act like a birth plan is a contract in danger of being breeched if you at all deviate from it. (Additionally, check with your her BEFORE it all starts going down to determine how breechable said birth plan is. If she states that she wants you to keep her to it no matter what, then do that, perhaps create a safeword or something).

14) Be the least-complicated thing in her life for the day. There’s a lot of shit going on, and very little, if any of it, is legimately enjoyable or fun. Like, even if you’re not having fun (and you likely won’t be), just be the one thing that she doesn’t have to worry about. Everyone has it in them to not be an asshole for a day.

15) Seriously, though, I think greasing the nurse will go a long way.

Should dads really take paternity leave?

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has missed the first three games of the baseball season to be with his wife who went into labor with their son Monday.

According to Major League Baseball, players are given three days of paternity leave to spend with their wife and newborn, and Murphy took them. No big deal right?

Well, yesterday, former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason shared his thoughts on Murphy’s decision:

“Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. This is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give our child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

Set aside for the moment Esiason’s apparent extreme controlling macho-ism whereby you can dictate exactly what your wife needs to do because you make the money, and look at what Esiason is suggesting–an, at this point, unnecessary surgery that carries with it complication risks and longer recovery times so that a player could be at Opening Day.

His co-host, Craig Carton, weighed in similarly:

“To me, and this is just my sensibility, assuming the birth went well, assuming your wife is fine, assuming the baby is fine — 24 hours, you stay there, baby is good, you have a good support system for the mom and the baby, you get your ass back to your team and you play baseball.”

I’ve blogged recently about Family and Medical Leave and the importance of a work-life balance. But even more so, as a father, Esiason and Carton’s comments are insulting. It’s part of a broader issue with parental leave, in that we’re often legally (or, in some cases, procedurally) entitled to it, but that using it isn’t responsible if your job is calling, but honestly, that would take too much time to explain.

The ultimate issue is why shouldn’t a father use the time to be there with his child in their first few days? It’s shoving off neonatal care solely on the mother, and that the father either doesn’t or shouldn’t play in a role in it–especially if they have a job. A man has a job, and it’s not to care for children, so think Esiason and Carton. Is this really how we want to treat dads who make a personal decision to take THREE DAYS off of work to help care and bond with their children? That being a real man-dad is about telling your wife to get a C-Section so you don’t have to worry about taking parental leave?

Daniel Murphy should be praised for his decision to take a few days to be there for his family, not taking heat for it.

An experienced dad’s guide for first-time dads: Third Trimester Edition

Guys, you’ve made it through the morning sickness and nausea, the glucose drink and “feeling pretty” good, to finally this point: the third trimester. But here’s some things you need to know:

1) Your significant other is probably going to grow a little more expeditiously than the first two, because the baby is growing faster. You may likely find yourself in situations where she says offhandedly, “I’m SO HUGE” or even worse, “I’m fat!” Let me say, I’m one of those men that occasionally strays from conversation and just generally answers “Yeah” when I’m not listening. The third trimester is when you learn to say “No” when not really listening, because you never know when this comment might be uttered, and you don’t want to agree with her.

2) The third trimester is where you pick up your paycheck, fellas. Pregnancy is a lot of “what have you done for me lately” and the third trimester is your chance to pick it up if you’ve been slacking or to solidify yourself in history as a coveted “Best Hubby Ever”. You may even get a Facebook post devoted to your excellence. That’s big time.

3) Mom is packing a bag for the hospital. You should too. But also, you need to start researching every possible path to the hospital. From the house, from work, from the store, from the highway. Map out routes in advance, throw in obstacles, what if there’s a wreck, where do you go? Also, research parking garages at the hospital. You don’t want to be incredibly efficient getting to the hospital and have no freaking clue where to actually park the car (you’re not going to be able to just park it in the middle of the road like they do in the movies). That’s just sloppy staff work.

4) It’s time to put together the nursery if you haven’t already. I’m telling you, hell hath no fury like a baby (and a baby mama) without a nursery that you’ve had exactly 9 months to plan for.

5) Your significant other will be likely complaining a lot about discomfort, everywhere. Don’t be dismissive. If you have to, get a backpack, fill it with like 15-20 pounds of stuff, and wear it backwards for 24 whole hours without ever taking it off.

6) It’s probably a good time to start talking about parenting decisions that you need to make. A lot of decisions you make will have to be on the fly or just adjusting to your kid, but you don’t want to be the parents arguing in the hospital about whether or not to use a pacifier, or even something like circumcision.

7) You really need to start reading up on things like contractions, water breaking, cervical dilation, etc. It just needs to happen. You don’t want to be the husband that’s like, “Oh, it’s no big deal”, but you also don’t want to be the one dragging your significant other to the hospital because she said she had a contraction.

8) Back to where the baby is…the baby is likely sitting right on your wife’s bladder in some form, which means she’s going to be getting up to use the bathroom a lot at night. Don’t make her walk through a freaking minefield to get to the bathroom. Make sure the path is clear before you go to bed. Also, you don’t want to be helping a pregnant, now irate, woman out of the toilet bowl at 2 AM. Make sure the seat is down before you go to bed.

9) She’s going to be going to the OB almost every 1 or 2 weeks now. If you have been going with her to the visits this entire time, you may have noticed most of them recently consist of a few questions and perhaps a quick fetal doppler. Well, they are going to start diving in there soon, you need to mentally prepare yourself for that and determine with her what you’re going to do when the OB is up there. If you need to excuse yourself, if you need to remain in the room and just not watch, or…something. Believe me, it can be a really awkward situation if you aren’t prepared for it, so if you know it’s going to happen, it will help.

10) I know finances and things might be on your mind, but take the time to get out and do some things, or just do special things together. It doesn’t have to be a full-on babymoon, but even just take advantage of date nights because you might be on a bit of a hiatus once your kid is here.

11) Compliment her. Even if she looks disheveled, she’s carrying your kid. She may not want to get dressed up, or do her hair, etc. You should be saying the same things to her when she’s wearing sweatpants and an old t-shirt as when she’s in a cocktail dress and heels. Alternatively, take the chance to be disheveled too. See who can out-skank the other. If she hasn’t showered in two days, tell her you haven’t showered in 3.

12) You need to start putting together everything for the big day. YOU’RE probably going to be the one that has to make phone calls, send emails, etc. Make sure you’re calling the parents, siblings, and yes, your in-laws. Also confirm ahead of the day who you guys want in the delivery room, both during labor and during the delivery. You may need to run pass-block that day, so carb up.

13) Newborns do these things: eat, poop, and sleep. You need to start figuring out all the stuff babies need. It’s your job to change diapers too. And let me tell you, newborn diapers can get naaaasty. If you need to practice, do it. Learn how to do a solid swaddle. Know how to prepare a bottle if you’ll be bottle feeding, read up on breastfeeding if you’re doing that. If you can help it, try not to use “I don’t know” as an answer when it comes to parenting stuff. You can certainly master everything you need to know for those three things. You’ll be learning a ton of stuff on the job, but there’s a lot you can learn beforehand. Don’t assume parenting duties all come down to mom, because before you know it, the kid likes her more than you and then you have to resort to bribery (and if you help out, you’ll be in the running for a possible “Best Daddy Ever” Facebook post–that’s big, man).

The killer you didn’t know was lurking in your child’s bedroom

Which of these are the most dangerous to your infant?

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Last year, 1,181 children under the age of 1 died of unintentional injury. 91 died in a motor vehicle accident, 45 died from drowning, 25 died from fire or burns, and 22 died from poisoning. We’ve accounted for about 16% of the total unintentional injury deaths. So where do the rest of come from? Would you believe…this:

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Suffocation was the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among children, with 907, or 77% of the total deaths caused by unintentional injury. Accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed (ASSB) has for quite some time been the leading killer of children in this category. Rollovers during bedsharing and unnecessary crib bedding, including bumper pads, have been the primary cause. The recommendations are generally well-known against bedsharing between parents and infants, but many parents who put their infants in a crib may not realize the dangers that suffocation poses in a seemingly safe environment.

It’s important to understand that ASSB is not SIDS. SIDS happens mostly spontaneously, the causes, as well as the cause of death, are largely unknown, and while there are things parents can do to lower the risk of SIDS, it’s not necessarily preventable. ASSB is when we do know the cause of death for the child, and it happened in their bed. It’s known now that babies should be laid on their back for bed, with no loose blankets, pillows, or other obstructions that the child can entangle themselves in.

However, crib bumpers are still a very prominent piece to both cribs and crib bedding sets that are sold in stores. What’s not to like about them? They’re pretty, they match the sheets, and they provide a necessary barrier to keep your infant from getting his/her legs caught in the railings or hitting their head, right?

Not so much. Evidence is lacking that crib bumpers actually prevent bodily injury, for an infant can hardly propel themselves at a crib railing at the velocity needed to cause serious injury, and with the new regulations of crib railings, both in size and the ban on drop-down sides, children aren’t at risk for even breaking limbs, let alone losing one.

Instead, crib bumpers are becoming a hazard to children. Older children can pull themselves up on the bumpers and use them to fall over the side, the strings can become loose and cause a choking or strangulation hazard, and most of all, for small infants, they pose a serious suffocation hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, a reactive consumer protection agency, has investigated incidents where a crib bumper was thought to have played a role in an infants death and indeed, has targeted dozens of cases where the crib bumper contributed or caused the death of the infant by strangulation or suffocation. Some descriptions are displayed in this table, though I warn you, they are graphic. Many of the children became wedged between the crib bumper and the mattress, many more simply had their face pressed against the bumper, and even a few died when their limbs went through the crib bumpers and they were unable to get their faces away from the bumper.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2011 expanded its sleeping guidelines for infants, which included recommending that crib bumper pads never be used in infants’ cribs. According to the AAP, there is no evidence that the crib bumpers protect against injury, but that they do carry a risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment because infants lack the motor skills or strength to turn their heads should they roll into something that obstructs their breathing. Some parents have turned to mesh, ‘breathable’, bumpers, but the AAP still sees no evidence that the bumpers are protecting infants, so why have something in the crib if it’s not there for a reason? Both the State of Maryland and the City of Chicago have banned crib bumper sales as a result and more locations are considering such measures.

At this time, the recommendation is a well-built fixed-sides crib, firm crib mattress, and a single, tightly fitting sheet. It’s boring, plain, and safe.

It’s getting really real–and definitely feels different

5 years ago, it felt a bit different.

You go through this whole thing the first time and I don’t think you really know what to expect. You don’t know what it feels like to be a parent, you don’t understand or comprehend the love that a parent has for a kid, and you wonder if you’ll even be very good at it.

It’s different this time around. I’m not feeling nervous at all right now, and really, I’m freaking excited. I’m really excited to meet my daughter. I’m excited to see her face, to hold her, and to be her dad. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is no breeze, but I think a lot of fears are dispelled when you just see your kid for the first time because there’s a very natural need to want to take care of them.

I always pictured myself as a father to a daughter. I have no idea why. It just always seemed like I would have a daughter. And I’m really excited to do this over again, but with a girl. And I hope that doesn’t come across as not wanting another son, because all I ever want is a healthy child and I would have been immensely happy to be the dad to another boy, but I’m also really looking forward to being able to experience both sides growing up. I’ll also admit that the learning curve is quite a bit steeper this time. I was a little boy once, so I know what little boys act like and what they think about. I’ve lived with two women my entire life–my mom and my wife, so there’s quite a bit of learning yet to do, and I imagine the bulk of that will be on-the-job.

I think a lot of excitement stems from my son. He’s so excited to be a big brother and some kids, I feel, are just meant to be big brothers. He is one of them. I love seeing his excitement build and talk about all the things he’s going to do for her. I remember how excited I was to be a big brother.

We’re done after this one–mutual agreement. Two is what we wanted, and we’re looking at having our second child before either of us is 30, which is exactly what we wanted. We’re having a boy and a girl so, in many ways, the family we always wanted together, so I think there’s a bit of looking forward to this as well. I’m happy to start on this journey for the last time and watch our kids grow together.

After this week will begin the process of visiting the OB every two weeks, before visiting every week starting in May. And she’s due at the very beginning of June.

I’m really excited to meet this little girl.