Lessons From the Front Lines – Week One

PeaceAfter a day and a half at the hospital (one overnight), the Dude, the Mrs., and Little Dude joined the Princess back at Casa de Dude, and we’ve all fumbled our way triumphantly through the Little Dude’s first week on Earth.  Happy one week b-day Little Dude.

Looking back on the blur of the first seven days, some lessons are evident.

1. Mom’s are tough as nails…except when they cry…then they need lots of hugs.  Birth is a doozey, and that’s just the beginning.  At one point the Mrs. compared the early pains of breastfeeding to “monkey’s beating on my chest”…not sure if she’s actually had this experience, but point is well taken…mommying is painful.  Added to the physical pain are sleepless nights, complete loss of personal space, and mental somersaults that accompany a constant pull in every direction at once.

2.  Dads aren’t too shabby either.  True, Dads don’t endure the physical pain, but the mental somersaults are just as much a part of their life trying to balance the increasing priorities within a decreasing scope of time.  Sleepless nights are sleepless nights to Mommies and Daddies; someone needs to burp and change the boy after Mom feeds him, and the Princess and pooches still need breakfast come morning.  I have no idea how a single parent functions.

3.  The rest of the tribe is almost as important as Mom and Dad.  As the saying goes, “It takes a village…”  Babies change everything in an instant, and other members of the “parent club” recognize the magnitude of this transition and actively offer support without a request.  It seems like it’s just understood that it’s needed.  No one has offered to setup a trust fund for him yet, but gestures as simple as dropping off dinner help a day flow smoothly.

This voluntary assistance also extends to the Princess who has happily taken on the role of big sister without a fuss.

4.  Nature is amazing!  This boy is incredible, growing and changing on a daily basis, and to think a short seven days ago he was housed inside of another human being.  Millions of minute interactions occurring at precise moments to bring the tiny lad into our lives.  Thanks Mama Nature.

5.  The Moby rocks.  It allows you to wrap the baby around you using a simple cloth as I imagine our ancestors have done for quite a while.  Allowing for hands-free mobility, and letting the Dude and Little Dude cruise around the yard watering the gardens and taking in the scenery.

6.  A battery operated swing and bouncy chair come in very handy.  I’m not sure I would say a must, but pretty darn close to a must.

7.  All hail the swaddle!  I’ll spare you the detailed descriptions of this relatively boring topic, but if you know anyone with an infant, or expecting, I highly recommend “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Karp.  Here’s a video that shows some of the techniques in action.


The Dude’s sister is in a race with the Duggars to overpopulate the Earth, or at least that’s how it seems to someone who is completely overwhelmed once the kid count rises above two…i.e. the Dude.

In reality, Sis is an amazing Mom and the Bro-in-law is a groovy Dad, so their increasing kid count is more a testament of their love and strong sense of family than anything else…but 5 kids is amazing and ridiculous all at the same time.

It just so happens that the Dude’s newest nephew and the Little Dude were born 19 days apart.  So, both families get to enjoy newborns and watch them grow up together.

For a new parent fumbling on a minute by minute basis through new parent things, it’s great to get tips from a true Mommy pro.

This morning I had the following Instant Message exchange with my sister:
[10:28:20 AM] Dude’s Sis:  Don’t underestimate the power of a picture.  They like faces… kept him happy for a while 🙂

[10:32:32 AM] Dude: Classic.

[10:36:40 AM] Dude’s Sis: haha just looked at it again… i actually snapped the photo after he had put himself to sleep.

True Experience

True Experience

This is what experience teaches?!  I’m way over-thinking this parenting thing.

How are Gordon and Iris?

This blogging stuff isn’t all glamor, paparazzi, and big bucks.  There are long hours required to prepare the random lineup of gibberish that pours forth.  On Friday night I was up late wrestling with some “widgets,” trying to wrench them into place in the blog layout.  By 1 AM, I was beat, but I tamed the widget.

After letting the dogs out one last time, my head hit the pillow by 1:30 Am, and I was prepared for a deep siesta basking in my blogging success.

At 2:20 AM the Dude woke to Mrs. Dude exclaiming “My water just broke…or I peed all over myself.”  Indeed it was her water, and the boy was preparing to make his entrance.

We laid in bed to gather our thoughts, and determined that it was a good idea to rest for a bit to build strength for the marathon delivery we were anticipating.  Within minutes contractions were starting, but we couldn’t get a consistent reading on the timing, so we figured we were relatively early in the process.  We decided we’d labor at home until about 6:30 AM.

Rest really was a naïve plan considering the excitement that was beginning to collect.  So, the Dude set out to pack an overnight bag, and the Mrs. hit the bath to relax as much as possible.

The contractions began to intensify, but continued to lack consistency; jumping from 5 to 10 minutes and back again.  As the intensity grew, Mrs. Dude launched into what would appear to most as a rigorous yogic ritual, but was actually every laboring position known to those that know a lot of labor positions.

Positions didn’t last for more than a minute or two, but each new position met its intended purpose and provided a tiny bit of comfort, more likely distraction, that helped the Mrs. make it through one contraction and on to another.

By 4:00 AM, we started to get the feeling that the intensity was increasing quicker than we expected, and Mrs. Dude was questioning whether her laboring techniques would provide the comfort needed to manage a lengthy labor.

Filling the role of concerned Birth Partner, I pressed the Mrs. for information in a meager attempt to understand the process and where we were.  However, I quickly learned that the Mrs. appreciates quiet suggestions and reassurance rather than inquiries.  She answered the Dude’s questioning with a question:  “Why do these contractions come every time you talk?  I’m not blaming you, but I do feel I need to point it out.”  Ah ha, point taken; no more questions.

At about 4:30 AM, we called in our labor coach; known as Nina to the Princess and Mom to Mrs. Dude.  Nina arrived at about 5:30 AM.  Just in time to assist the Dude in removing the Mrs. from her second bath.  Mrs. Dude was questioning the laboring techniques and hoping we didn’t wait too long to leave for the hospital.  The Dude and Nina provided assurance that she was doing great and we had plenty of time.

We hit the car, and within minutes, the cry of “I need to push!” was echoing through the baby chariot.  It was on!  I hit the gas, and we urged Mrs. Dude to take short breaths and try not to push.  It was an urgent situation, but in the back of our minds it felt like we had time.  We exceeded the posted speed limit by a bit, passed a cop who was either sleeping or couldn’t catch us, hit every green light, and made it to the hospital safe and sound.

Mrs. Dude hurried out of the car and through the doors.  Her hands slammed on the reception desk followed by “I need to push,” as her head swung down to cope with the growing pressure.  The attendant looked up at me and calmly, almost sarcastically, asked, “are we going to have a baby?”  I reiterated that we need to hurry and push.  Luckily, Mrs. Dude was ahead of the plan and already preregistered, so we just needed to provide some basic information to be admitted.  If only the Dude could remember basic information.

“What’s the name?”  The Dude provides the maiden name, which elicits a screeching correction from Mrs. Dude.

“What’s the date of birth?”  In a moment of clarity, the Dude chooses to ask the Mrs. for the correct answer.  Also, not the best approach, but slightly better than an incorrect answer.

The attendants are now somewhat curious about the couple they have before them.  A mom-to-be clearly about the welcome a bambino, and some dude who doesn’t seem to know the mom too well.  Which leads to the final inquiry in the line of questioning; “Are you married?”  Ah, finally an easy one!  The Dude knows the answer to this.  “Yes, we’re married,” which of course the attendant follows with “Are you sure?”

Great, I’m being mocked at 5:45 AM at the Emergency Room reception desk as my wife  writhes in pain about to push out my child onto the cold laminate floor and strangle me at the same time.  Thanks Nurse Crotchet; can we proceed now?

Did the stress get to me?  Possibly, but I pulled the same routine at Walgreens picking up prescriptions the next day.  Didn’t Einstein say he didn’t want to remember things he could look up…or something like that?  Perhaps I’m following in his shoes…I need a general info card for my wallet.

A nurse arrives, and we move past the Gatekeeper/Chris Rock.  Mrs. Dude is in the token wheelchair, and the Dude is steering her around corners like Dale Jr. at Daytona (that’s for all my NASCAR loving readers!).  As we round the last corner before hitting the delivery room, a cheerful nurse pops out in front of us and asks in a bubbly voice “Are we about to have a baby?”  Within a fraction of a second the bubbles evaporated from her voice and she was hit by the serious stick.  Mrs. Dude’s face said it all, and if that wasn’t enough the stern “I’m going to push” drilled the point home…the boy was ready to arrive, now!

With the exception of Mrs. Dude, everyone involved in the process seemed to assume we had plenty of time…but we didn’t.  Mrs. Dude was on a bed in record time, and the nurses were prepping at a rapid pace.  The initial measurements gave us all the information we needed.  The baby was here; there would be no further waiting.

Mrs. Dude was amazing throughout the entire process.  Calm, assertive, and strong.

The nurses worked to slow the progression to give the Dr. more time to arrive, but nature was calling, and the Mrs. needed to push.  Nina stepped in and explained that nature doesn’t always work on the Doctor’s schedule.  Mrs. Dude started to actively push, and the nurses moved into position to catch the freight train speeding down the birth canal.

The first push offered enough relief to allow Mrs. Dude to collect the breath she’d been using to fight off the pressure to push.  A sense of calm eased over her face, and the Mrs. asked “How are Gordon and Iris?”  The room was a bit confused.  Nina and I vaguely understood because we’d seen Mrs. Dude’s “shop talk” before, but the nurses were lost in confusion.  Mrs. Dude asked again, “How are Gordon and Iris?  Your dog and cat?”  The nurse in the catcher’s position brightened as she realized the topic of discussion, and the Mrs. explained that she worked at the animal hospital and knew the nurse’s Dog, Gordon, and cat, Iris.

Why this question came to mind, I don’t know, but the simplicity of it in such complex situation was striking.  The world was moving by us in a flash, our baby boy was about to be born, and Mrs. Dude could gather her wits among all of the confusion and pain and not only recognize a client, recall the names of her two animals, but also care enough to ask!

Add it to the list of reasons the Mrs. is easy to love.

The delivery continued for the next two minutes without a hitch, and we welcomed the boy child with open arms at 6:00 AM on the dot.  Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital Little Dude was in our hands…three and a half hours after the water broke and 20 minutes before the Doctor arrived.

What an amazing experience, what an amazing wife, and what an amazing boy!

Welcome to the world Little Dude.

Little Dude Day One

Little Dude Day One

This Little Piggy

Mrs. Dude is crafty.

The Princess asked if she could play “This Little Piggy” with my toes the other night.  Of course the Dude abides and agreed to the Piggy journey, and the Princess’ version of “This Little Piggy “ is a journey full of random princess activities.

It began with “This little piggy went to bunny’s nail shop, and this little piggy got cupcake’s, and this little piggy ate ice cream.”  Innocent enough.  But, it ended with “This little piggy went to the store to get fans.”

Fans?!  What little piggy goes from bunny’s nail shop, to the cupcake bakery, to the ice cream parlor, to Home Depot?!

I know who’s behind these mind games.  I’m on to you Mrs. Dude.

I get it, we need a couple new fans for the house.  Did you have to turn the Princess loose on me?


You Can Call Life Whatever You Want

A general theme is developing around the Dude’s house, and it’s a theme developed by a five year old princess; “You Can Call Life Whatever You Want.”

The original discussion centered around the word “water.”  The Princess pronounces water “wuter;” it could be a southern thing.  The Dude asked her about this, and the Princess explained that water and wuter are the same thing.   The Dude must have appeared perplexed because this was followed by “You can call life whatever you want.”  And the overriding household theme began.

It seems like this phrase is referenced on a daily basis, like when freckles are referred to as nipples (as in “How did you get nipples on your hand?” or “You have a nipple on your face.”) or zucchini is referenced as bikini (As in “I don’t want any bikinis on my plate.”).

However, it has morphed into a justified reason for almost all of the nuances of life, like a tooth fairy debate:  Princess proclaims, “The tooth fairy brings gold coins.”  Dude responds, “I’m not so sure about that.”  Princess follows with “That’s ok, you can call life whatever you want.”

The Joy of Swinging

The Princess has turned five, and at the same time reached an important life milestone; self-propelled swinging.

Five is huge.  Five is a major shift from little kid to medium sized kid, and along with the shift come some added responsibilities.  Five brings with it kindergarten.  School bus, cafeteria lunch, a big school, and a big playground.

Big playgrounds have big swings, and kindergarteners know how to swing (or at least that’s what I tell the Princess).  The Princess loves to swing.  She could spend days gliding back and forth, but she still needs to be pushed.

To avoid any further discussions of a hideous swing set being added to the Dude’s righteous landscaping, the Dude crafted a masterful plan to help the Princess and ring in the five year old birthday; a swing hooked to the underside of the deck/house.  The swing is the most popular part of the swing set anyway…it’s called a SWING set for good reason.

So, to ring in the festivities, the Dude surprised the Princess with a groovy new green swing with bright yellow rubber protecting the chain link running from swing to house.  A beautiful swinging specimen.

Joy of Swinging

Joy of Swinging

And the Princess rejoiced at the sight, but I’m not sure any of us were prepared for the true joy such a simple gift could bring.

Of course the Dude didn’t buy all of the right parts, but of course the Dude made due with the provided parts and some magic parts from the garage, and the swing was eventually hung with care…about an hour after a fifteen minute project began.  Typical Dude.  But, the end result is just right, and the Princess agrees wholeheartedly.

Within seconds of being hung, the swing was swinging and the joy was growing like the Grinch’s heart at Christmas.  After one or two introductory pushes, something clicked and self-propelled swinging began.  The Princess had learned how to pump her legs to swing.  A major hurdle overcome, and new life long skill was cemented into place.

The Princess was immediately in love with her new skill.  As the Dude tended the garden, the Princess excitedly talked as only a five year old girl can, quickly leaping from one random thought to another.  At one point I heard “Yippee!” yelled repeatedly at least 30 times; I say at least because that’s where I lost count.  The Yippee was followed by the My Little Pony theme song sung at top volume, which of course led to the proclamation, “I’m swinging…with my eyes closed…and singing!”

The singing eventually led to some Dude and Princess discussions (always interesting), and the Dude realized the swing was a great gift for both of them.  The Dude sidestepped the swing set in the backyard debates, helped the Princess with one of life’s simple pleasures, and created a great forum for Dude and Princess discussions.  The Dude gardening and the Princess swinging, delving into many of life’s mysteries…usually profoundly explained to the Dude by the Princess.

It was a struggle to pull her off the swing as the stars began to peek through the dusk sky, and the first words uttered the following morning were “can I go outside to swing.”

So begins the big summer of the Princess and the development of life skills all kindergarteners know (at least that’s what I tell her).  Next on the list:  swimming, tying shoes, and riding with no training wheels.  Watch out kindergarten.

Happy Anniversary. Let’s Go to Home Depot.

Dude and the Mrs. celebrated their anniversary a couple weeks ago.

A great day had by all; a few hugs, a couple high-fives, some thoughtful gifts, a carefully crafted breakfast including flowers from the Dude, and a trip to Home Depot of course…no anniversary would be complete without a giant hardware store.

As the Dude of the house, the responsibility falls on me to repair those things that require repairing.  This includes repairs that are beyond the Dude’s scope of expertise.  Most repairs fall into this “beyond the scope” category, but that never stopped McGyver (or McGrubber), so scope of experience does not preclude almost any repair requirements.  After all, the alternative is to demonstrate a lack of Dudeness…and pay someone else to handle the task at hand, which is never a good option for a self-proclaimed Dude.

So, as the dishes were being rinsed after the anniversary breakfast, Dude recognized a sound under the sink, a sound that sent his Dude instincts aflutter.  The sound of water under the kitchen sink.

Normally, water and the kitchen sink seem to go together pretty well, but this water was not of the friendly variety.  It was of the “I’m going to steal your anniversary because you know nothing about plumbing” variety.

Sweet.  A leak under the kitchen sink.

Awesome.  The Dude has no experience with plumbing…unless, of course, you consider adding Drano to a clogged shower valuable experience, but it was clear Drano wasn’t fixing this (don’t think it didn’t cross my mind).

After a careful inspection, the problem was evident.  The nut (no clue if this is the correct term) connecting the drain to the sink was broken.  And, when I say “the problem was evident,” I really mean the nut was loose, and when I tried to tighten it, I snapped it.  At any rate, the issue was diagnosed, and the plumbing expertise was growing by the second.

Dude Loves Plumbing

Dude Loves Plumbing

Dude Loves Plumbing

Dude Loves Plumbing

After diagnosis, the next step in most of the Dude’s projects is a trip to Home Depot to gather the random parts that will allow a truly McGyvered solution to come to life.  So, with the Mrs. and the Princess in tow, the Dude was off to the Depot.

Luckily, the trip was uneventful, the parts were gathered successfully, and the fix was pretty straight forward.  The Dude strikes again!

However, in true Dude fashion, one repair usually leads to another, and as I was giving Marley a celebratory belly rub in the kitchen, he rolled (more like giant flop) over and snapped the cabinet door in two.  Thankfully super glue is always on hand in copious quantities for Dude projects.

One Job Leads to Another

One Job Leads to Another

Dude's Favorite Tool

Dude's Favorite Tool

Happy anniversary.




A 3 – 4 hour car ride is really not the domain of a nine-month pregnant mom to be.  And turning around and doing it again the next day doesn’t help much.

My newest nephew, my sister’s fifth child (I know, crazy person…but that’s an entirely different discussion.  However, how cool is it that sister-in-laws were preggo at the same time, and the boys get to grow up together…again, I digress).  Back to the subject at hand, an unbearably long car ride for the lady huddled in the front seat, pillows shooting out in all directions, and a six pound watermelon in her belly (pushing down on the bladder I might add…which doesn’t help much with the car ride).

About an hour from the final destination on day two, which happened to be a warm bath surrounded by candles, lavender scented oils, some quiet classical music and a shoulder massage from the Dude…not really, the Dude is good, but not that good.  (The bath part is for real…I’ve never met anyone that loves a bath like Mrs. Dude, especially a pregnant Mrs. Dude.)

So, about an hour away from home the sore back, contracting abdomen, swollen foot, and the annoying urge to pee every five minutes got the best of Mrs. Dude, and some angry grunting and tears decided to stream forth.  As the Dude, who does know best, I began a typical guy’s approach to soothing his loved one; a gentle hand on the leg and some reassuring words of encouragement, but every Batman needs his Robin, and thankfully my Robin is a five year old little girl.

The Princess saw an upset Mommy and began to offer her version of support, which I’ll admit was pretty darn good.  The little voice from the back started by reminding Mommy to “Be Brave” and asked if Mrs. Dude was scared.  When Mommy replied that she was ok, Princess suggested that she call Nina (our version of Grandma on Mrs. Dude’s side…who also happens to be a nurse and one of our go to’s for nursing type things), pretty astute for the Princess.  Then she finished off her array of advice by letting Mrs. Dude know that she was “probably just dehydrated,” which, given the circumstances was a pretty good guess.  (We should probably give five year olds a bit more credit for their understanding.)

Thank you Princess.

The tears of pain commingled with tears of laughter, and the mood was lightened.  Words of support from the back seat gave us the energy to make it home, and the Dude would have struggled without his Robin.

After shaking the car ride blues (and getting hydrated), Mrs. Dude explained to me that we’ve entered the Stinkface stage, where long stretches of discomfort can lead to what seems like a permanent stinkface.  But now I know I can count on the Princess to break to the stinkface spell…nature’s stinkface antibody.

Observations from the Princess

The Princess

The Princess

1.  As we’re watching the Celtics in the NBA Finals (Go Celts!), and Rondo makes an acrobatic move to the basket that leads to a hard collision between his head and the floor, the Princess chimes in by suggesting that “They should have a carpet.”  Very true, that fall would have hurt less with a carpet.

2.  During a trip to the beach…You always need to dig a hole and bury poop at the beach because if it’s out someone might think it’s a rock and pick it up, and that’s gross.  Again, very true, and this is most likely the reasoning behind the town ordinances requiring that we clean up after our dogs…oh, to be a fly on the wall during that meeting…

“Earl, we need to require people to pick up their poop on the beach.”

“Jim, you’re crazy.  We live in America…the land of the free!”

“Earl, if we don’t clean it up, or at least dig a hole and bury it, someone will think it’s a rock and take it home, and that’s gross.”

“Very true, Jim.  The poop law is enacted.”

I’m starting to believe five year olds can run this world.

Baby Beard

Wikipedia:  A playoff beard is the practice of a National Hockey League player not shaving one’s beard during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The player stops shaving when his team enters the playoffs and does not shave until his team is eliminated or wins the Stanley Cup.

NHL hockey players seem like a good model to follow; especially for a father figure…no?  And, Mrs. Dude is a believer in the power of facial hair.

We are 38 weeks today.  Playoffs started last week when we hit full term at 37 weeks, and thus, the “baby beard” also began last week.  Mine is more of a modified “chin strap” than a full beard.  I rocked the full beard during the winter (i.e. my “winter beard”), so I’m going with the summer chin strap modification to keep my head in the game and my facial hair fresh; as any great dad would do.

  • Pregnancy confirmed – check
  • Baby growth on pace – check
  • Baby boy! – check
  • Name picked – check (Little Dude…named after Dad!)
  • New floors for Little Dude’s room – check
  • Baby classes – check
  • Crib – check
  • Baby shower – check
  • Mrs. Dude’s belly stretched beyond what seems humanly possible – check
  • Mrs. Dude completely uncomfortable – check
  • A pillow tower carefully crafted in the bed to create enough comfort for limited sleep between trips to the bathroom – check
  • Baby beard – check
  • Daddy blog – once I hit publish, check

Game on!

Baby Beard

Baby Beard