I work for a pretty awesome company with a perk of occasional travel. But, with five kids at home…
Watching some of the Super Bowl ads, I can only say damn you to Pampers.
This is a beautiful commercial. Perhaps it is because of the two eight-week olds across the room who just graduated to those exact Size 1 Cookie Monster diapers in the clip that it brings a tear to my eye. No wait, it’s the cedar. The cedar pollen sucks. That’s totally what it is.
Or Similac and their Sisterhood of
Motherhood Parenthood commercial (will forego any more of my usual “what about the dads!” bit):
The emotion of running after the lost stroller, while comedic, is still genuine. No matter the parenting choices, I feel like most parents really get hit hard when they hear about something happening to a kid, as in they can put themselves in those parents shoes. It’s why I stopped watching Law & Order: SVU. Before parenthood, I could watch it all day without care. The wrong episode about something happening to a kid now and I’m installing military-grade proximity sensors around the house.
I’m a stoic guy. I’ve been through enough that a lot in the world doesn’t make an impact on me. Fatherhood has a way about it. I’m not a softie, even with the girls. At least, not yet.
Our newborn twin daughters were back in the hospital due to RSV. They’re doing well and so time to share my tips for dads on how to survive a hospital stay.
First, before going on, this is comedic with some truth. This video is primarily a stress release for me and I don’t mean to make light of the seriousness of the hospitalization of little ones. Take me with a grain of salt and then read much better tips for NICU stays. First stop should be Kathryn Whitaker’s index and the posts she links to from there.
Frankly, the experience is still too fresh for me not to make a half-joke out of it. Compared to Kathryn and Luke’s 44-day NICU stay, his complications, continued medical issues, etc, the twins are a cakewalk. They were only feeder/growers with relatively easy issues. Even the RSV hospitalization this weekend was kinda pointless–a little oxygen and a lot of everyone being careful. Eventually, I’ll write a serious post with some (more) serious recommendations. I admit this is me trying to play off their stay. Until then, accept this bit of quasi-comedy like you would the Daily Show, the Colbert Report or anything in that genre: true enough but framed for comedy; not as an exhaustive source of info or even focusing on what is important of the truth.
We were only in the NICU for 11 days. The twins’ RSV stay was only 24 hours. O and MC on separate admissions were in for 4 or 5 days combined (ignoring everyone’s normal postpartum time). That’s nothing compared to what some families go through, but still sucks. No one should have accrued almost three weeks worth of hospital time for their kiddos.
In reality, with all of these tips, the overarching message is the same as my Dads in Delivery post: be the chief advocate for your child through direct awareness of their immediate medical situation and as much awareness as possible of the broader “system”. Knowledge is power, so gain that knowledge and use the power that comes with it as necessary for the benefit of your family.
The experiment continues with recording straight-to-tape with the girls costarring in an episode featuring our mealtime rules. For those that don’t wish to watch the video, the list of rules are below the video.
Holidays are tough. In addition to all of the stress around the actual holiday, you have two weeks of all of the kiddos at home from school, daycare, or whatnot, which means instead of one meal all together plus a rushed breakfast, you have three meals a day.
These rules help us keep order at the table.
- Meals last for 30 minutes. We aren’t going to drag out a meal until the end of time only to have a fight when “I’m not finished!”
- We sit in our chairs the entire time (but allowed to go to the bathroom). Meal time isn’t recess. It isn’t free time. Keep your butt in the chair.
- Enjoyment doesn’t define meal time. If you don’t like something, that’s fine. Still have to sit there.
- You get what you get and you don’t get upset. Since O has allergies, sometimes, there are variations within the meal. O might get cherry soy yogurt while the rest get vanilla “moo” yogurt. You get the food that you get and don’t throw a fit if it is different than what someone else has.
- Seconds after firsts. They have to eat the gross veggies before getting seconds of their favorite.
- No playing at the table. If they’re using the forks as drumsticks or being goofy with their milk cups, it will no longer be their silverware or cups. Too many spilled glasses of water or milk.
- No whining. Table time is family time and whining isn’t allowed.
- Keep it to yourself: If you don’t like your food, don’t voice that during the meal. When one kid proclaims that green beans are hell on a fork, none of them will take another bite.
- No dessert if you skip food.
- A big fit at the table puts you in the chair. Booster chairs will come out of retirement if you’re throwing a big fit.
- No snack if you didn’t eat breakfast. The kids were skipping breakfast and cashing in during the morning snack.
Trying out a new idea, “Dads Drinking Beer”, a video podcast. Our first episode is making gingerbread houses with the kids. The beer of the day is the Real Ale Brewers’ Cut 013: Oyster Stout. Let me know what you think in the comments here or on YouTube.
Really Lame Gingerbread House
- Store-brand graham crackers in an abnormal size
- Cake icing
- Bag of jelly beans
- Raided candy from a previously Christmas party the kids haven’t thought to ask about yet
- Powered sugar
- Drink the beer.
- Using the foil, completely cover the plate. This allows for easy clean-up.
- Taking six graham cracker squares and icing, build a cube.
- Curse repeatedly under your breath as the graham cracker breaks, falls apart, turns into an liquified pile of evil.
- Cover with more icing
- Pass to your child with jelly beans and candy to decorate
- Look away for a second to turn back to see them licking the icing and dumping the bowl of candy into their mouth
- Rebuild house after it collapses when they place the first jelly bean on it
- Repeat step 6
- Take an extra piece of graham cracker, dip it in the icing and eat it because screw it, this is hard and messy. Dads can be emotional eaters too. Don’t judge me.
- Once finished, take the powered sugar and spread over the house like snow. It won’t look anything like snow.
- Explain to the kids that you made it snow even though you live in Texas and they’ve never seen snow and think you’re crazy.
- Take a picture before the house collapes when the air from the air conditioner blowing knocks it down.
During labor, delivery, and postpartum, it can feel like a useless time for a dad. Rightfully so, it is all centered around the mother and the child, their health and well-being. That we’re “allowed” into the delivery room is still noteworthy to many—I was the only one of my dad’s four kids he was allowed to be present for the delivery.
You just became a dad. You’re pretty amped up about it. Some of your friends might congratulate you, but overall, it’s all about mom and baby. What should a dad being doing during this time?
Whatever possible for your child and the momma. Your sleep, within reason, doesn’t matter. You don’t have stitches in places where the sun doesn’t shine that require you to use a special water bottle and a Sitz bath. You aren’t worrying about if your breasts are producing enough milk for your kid, or if you’re trying to breastfeed the right or wrong way, or dealing with a kid who bites versus sucks or whatever the case. You aren’t dealing with breasts that are often in pain, on their own schedule of needing to feed the baby or pump.
Or, from the kid’s perspective, you aren’t figuring out what the hell this hunger feeling is, or if you’re up in the NICU like us, dealing with constant blood draws, figuring out how to regulate your own temperature, having leads to monitors attached all over the place.
There are plenty of times for the dad to be in the spotlight. Every one of my kids go through regular daddy phases where no matter what mom says or does, Dad is better/right to them. Even if I repeat the same exact words. There will be time later for a beer with the guys, taking them out camping, giving the speech at their wedding and the father/daughter dance. In this time, do whatever mom needs.
She’s pumping breast milk seemingly by the gallon. Clean the pump without hesitation or question. Pay attention and do it before she thinks of it. Pay attention to her medicine schedule and make sure she gets it at the appointed time before pain really sets back in (sometimes hospitals/nurses are better than others on being proactive or reactive to the med schedule). Tell her to get sleep when she needs it. Keep track of meals and ensure she eats when she needs it and/or before food service/the cafeteria closes.
Be the gatekeeper. Everyone wants to see mom and baby—and you all want to see everyone too—but they’re recovering from being born, giving birth, emotions (both joyful of a 100% healthy/normal birth and stress from seeing your kiddos in the NICU with no idea what’s coming next). If it helps, handle her phone. Relay messages when it works for them. When she needs a pick-up, suggest she call her best friend.
Schedule the visitor flow—even if you’re a jerk that is slow to respond to text messages. Your friends know you love them and you will happily see them soon, but don’t feel like you must see everyone as soon as they offer. They understand or, if not, will someday.
For us, we’ve figured out one visitor a day is plenty, but still be aware of how she’s doing and don’t think twice to raincheck if she needs sleep/shower/alone time/baby time/whatever.
It’s hard. You want to see your friends too and you want them to share in your joy now, but there’s time for that. You’re going to need love and support for a while, so no need to get it all in 48 hours.
Stand up for your wife and kids. Sometimes this means processing the medical talk first and buffering, sometimes this means making sure the doctor talks to her and that no one buffers it. Sometimes this means pushing back against a doctor or nurse that isn’t making sense to you. It is different for everyone and different moment to moment sometimes.
The important part—the take away—is that the father’s job in this time is to be chief advocate for your family. Your ego is last. Whatever needs to happen for them, you make sure it is happening.
Gender equality issues were never on my radar before becoming a father. I was selfish. Being a white guy, I was always considered in a privileged class, but I was more concerned about the unprivileged group within.
Sure, I’m white, but my father had died and we were living off of the various social security checks that come along with that. Plenty of my family and white friends in high school weren’t privileged despite our race—I recall an argument with a friend who was considering dropping out of high school and I made an insensitive comment without realizing her mom was a high school dropout herself.
Sure, I’m a guy. In high school, I was more concerned about finding a way to pay for college knowing that my family didn’t have the means to offer support and came across more scholarships than I care to admit that weren’t open to me since I’m guy.
One of our girls mentioned the other day that girls don’t drink coffee. V asked them why would they think that? Well, Mom and Grandma don’t drink coffee. Dad and Grandpa do. Boys do. Girls don’t.
In O’s school, a full 60% of the Kindergarten students were princesses of some sort for Halloween.
O is beginning this phase of doing anything possible to not be different than the rest of her peers. She’s not eating her lunch because it is different than the other kids. Not changing into her black leotard for dance/gymnastics because the other girls have pink leotards and so on.
I’ve heard of late hate being directed toward the phrase “As a father of daughters…” in regards to men expressing support for women issues suggesting that these men didn’t feel women were equal or thought of them as objects before “all of a sudden caring about a woman as a person”.
Becoming a father of daughters has broaden my view quite a bit. Not that I ever thought that women were not equal to men or should be restricted to or from certain fields, but seeing the world through their eyes has evolved my point of view. I’ve matured; not into a state of seeing women equal, but rather of becoming less self-centered.
This is one of the trickier parts of parenting a daughter. You want them to fit into their peer group. It sucks to be the odd duck, so you want them to avoid that. But, seeing them impressed into different roles and behaviors because of them trying to fit into their peer group? That sucks too.
I don’t have any conclusions or answers to this, yet, and believe I’ll be wrestling this for some time to come.