Archive for category Gripe


I’m learning a bit more about myself as I get closer to being a Dad. It’s not that the approach of fatherhood is causing me to mature or reach inward and uncover spiritual truths. I’m learning that I don’t wind down well.

This post will dovetail with another that I had gotten 3/4 of the way through when I thought this idea up. I’ll post that companion piece tomorrow to make up for the fact that I just straight up have not felt like posting on time this week.

My schedule at work has been winding down (that’s only half true, it’s more the case that the type of tasks I’m undertaking have changed—my days remain full, just paced differently). Since really Janelle could pop at any point between June 4 and, well, now, I’ve been trying to shift my normal responsibilities around to my co-workers in anticipation of my leaving. The tasks I’m handing off are the ones that cannot wait, the standard day-to-day tasks that help overall business roll along at the office. The tasks I’ve found myself with instead are the more research-heavy, investigative tasks that require their time to be measured in hours, rather than minutes or seconds. I’m not really handling the transition as well as I’d hoped.

I had in my mind that I would train everyone else on my tasks and then kick back at work for a couple week and put out fires. There would be Hulu to watch and games to sample. I’d make some phone calls and take off early when I had the time. I was expecting Shangri-la. I didn’t count on my brain. Stupid brain, I’ll get you one day.

Instead, it’s looking like I’m more like a shark. I need to keep moving to operate at capacity. If I slow down, I get lethargic. Relaxing isn’t so much a recharge as it is a trough.

Apparently I’ve become so wired for fast action and crisis response in the workplace that trying to actively avoid the tasks that would require that kind of reaction seems to be putting me in some manner of withdrawal. I find myself sitting at work and shuffling things around. I have tasks, but they are leisurely. No one is breathing down my neck about them, and they produce no immediately discernible result as feedback. And when I try to move to a distraction to occupy my time I find myself feeling guilty about it, knowing that I’m just putting off another task.

That feeling extends to the house. Even if Janelle and I are clearly in relaxation mode and she’s watching TV while I poke around on the computer I can’t stop myself from looking up every few minutes and asking if she’s doing okay and if she’d like to be doing anything else. Or if we need to tackle some task to get ready for the baby. I can feel myself being antsy and, again, a bit guilty that I’m not busy crossing something off a to-do list.

It seems I’m the geekiest kind of adrenaline junky.

Probably good news I have to take care of a baby pretty soon.

1 Comment

The Fear

I did not intend for a post entitled “The Fear” to have the page ID #666, but there you go.

I’m beginning to become afraid about the birth. I’m not afraid for Janelle and I’m not afraid for the baby, not in terms of health. I’m afraid that things are not going to go as we have planned and I will feel impotent in the process. Our friends have stressed to us the need to adapt and adjust to the fluid process of birth and to remain focused on the end goal: a healthy mother and healthy baby. However, I think I need to have a little more from the whole thing to feel comfortable about it.

I’m rehashing old ground, but not everyone’s been playing along since the first round. Janelle and I are trying for an entirely natural birth as long as complications and safety concerns do not overrule this. Mothers are told to be rigidly vigilant about what enters their body for nine months of gestation and then expected to throw caution to the wind and rock out with painkillers on the final day of the process. They are also becoming more and more easily directed into procedures like the C-section, now the most common surgical procedure performed on women and largely accepted to be something extraneous in the vast majority of cases. A C-section is relatively safe and relatively easy for both mother and baby (though, there are actual, measurable physiological benefits for a baby going through a vaginal birth). But while the procedure is seen as something casual, it is major surgery. And, something mothers are not told, the first C-section might be a piece of cake, but every subsequent delivery via C-section becomes more dangerous for the mother. As we’re not planning on this being the only kid, this is a concern. Turns out, your body doesn’t like to have big holes cut in it. Who knew?

Do I think that every mother should abstain from painkillers and skip the C-section? No. But it’s not what we want and it’s very, very likely we won’t really get much say in the matter.

This Thursday will be a bit of a moment of truth for Janelle and I. We have our final ultrasound, and the baby’s size will be approximated. Based on findings there, we’ll learn how long the doctors are going to be willing to let Janelle incubate the baby. Will they let her go to term? A week earlier? Based on that timeline we’ll be able to figure out when we should start trying to induce Janelle naturally.

If we can get a perfect storm—Janelle is given time enough that labor induces naturally, we are able to let her labor progress far enough at home that we’re not at the hospital very long before second stage labor (pushing) begins, and her second stage proceeds without complication—then we’re set. However, if we miss that then the artificial induction process basically guarantees that we need to take all our plans for the baby, things we have spent months and months researching and practicing and preparing for, and throw them out the window. Pitocin to induce means contractions come fast and hard, at a pace that most mothers cannot handle without painkillers. Painkillers slow the process of labor and contractions, and more pitocin is needed. Rinse. Repeat. Once this process has gone on long enough, doctors will claim a failure to process and start talking C-section.

It’s a view both pessimistic and realistic. After all, studies have shown that there are spikes in C-sections at 4:00pm and 10:00pm. Yup. Quittin’ time.

What concerns me about all of that is of course the pain that it means Janelle will need to be enduring while I hang out and try not to feel too much like I’m glad it’s not me, but more than that I’m worried that I won’t have fought hard enough for what we wanted. I’m not a fan of conflict, even with people who are subordinate to me. So the notion of going toe-to-toe with an MD is pretty daunting to me. If they tell me that something needs to happen and confirm to me that they feel it is the best course of action, am I going to be able to fight them on it? Is it obnoxious of me to even think that I should be challenging the choice of a medical professional? Personal rights dictate that I am, but I wonder how far I can push that envelope before it affects the quality of care we receive. Sure, sure, Hippocratic Oath and all, but medical care is as much a customer service industry as working the register at Blockbuster is and there comes a point where you’re just not going to take someone as seriously as you began.

This is starting to feel like my first test of fatherhood and I can anticipate the flavor of bitter failure. I don’t care to add the birth of my first child to the list of things I look back on with both nostalgia and shame.



It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good old fashioned gripe on the blog. Thankfully, the radio provided today.

Driving in to work, the morning show we typically find ourselves listening to got onto the concept of the “push gift”. This is a gift that is apparently a trending topic lately (Janelle saw a bunch of forum threads on baby site The Bump as well today). A push gift is a gift that a father gives to the mother of his child because she went to the trouble of carrying and delivering the baby.

I was instantly in “rant and rave and make hand gestures at the radio while I drive” mode. The idea of the gift itself is not something that bothers me. I like to get Janelle little gifts. I don’t have many really good reasons to, and we spend so much time together that it’s tricky to pull off a surprise (and a cardboard box from Amazon, while easy to pull off, is not romantic, no matter what’s inside). I’m looking forward to the event of the birth to be a reason for celebration and gift giving. The notion that Janelle is owed a gift from me because she did all the work in the pregnancy, however, is just slightly maddening to me.

Let’s break it down.

Janelle and I are consenting adults. We knew what was coming up when we started trying to have a kid. It’s not as if I pulled a fast one on her and so my gift is a necessary expression of apology.

Pregnancy is often a very uncomfortable stint of time for mothers. There are many physical and emotional discomforts that can plague a mom before (and after) the baby’s arrival. An attentive father, though, is trying to contend with those discomforts for nine months and, depending on how things are shaking out, may end up being berated for his efforts. Janelle gets massages in one form or another just about every day. She also needs assistance with virtually any chore that requires any little bit of physical effort. We’re both lucky in that her discomforts are mild and if her personality has shifted in response to her changing hormone levels, I haven’t noticed it. If I were an inattentive partner, she might have it much rougher, and might then deserve a little retribution in the end. But if I were an inattentive partner, what are the chances I’d be concerned about getting her a gift? The push gift is just there to be a guilt item for fathers who are already geared to be concerned.

It’s also not fair to claim that a mother is owed for her efforts when a father has no choice but to simply be a bystander. I cannot volunteer to take on Janelle’s discomfort no matter how much I wish I could. By this logic, if she gives me a cold, should she then be expected to go buy me a flat-screen TV because she has been responsible for my discomforts? It’s silly.

The DJ at one point cracked the joke that he had gotten his wife a push gift: a baby. A caller then rang in to say, in a manner that I assumed was just bantering but Janelle heard to be more earnest, that the gift wasn’t a gift from the DJ, but from God. That one really sent me over the edge. I understand the sentiment behind the statement—that a baby is a blessing—but it removes the father from the process to a degree that is pretty telling. And, really, if God reached down and blessed you, are you in much of a position to clamor for more riches to be lavished upon you?

Ahhh ranting. How I have missed you.

Just to reel it back in before I get beat up by my readership (if the “likes” my posts get on Facebook are any indication, 90% of the readers of this blog are mothers or women who wouldn’t mind being mothers one day) I think getting gifts for your partner is wonderful. It’s something everyone should do more when they feel like it. It just so happens that it tends to feel like a good time to get a gift around major events, like a birth. However, I will be bitching and moaning about this while they lower me into my grave if this turns into the kind of thing that becomes canonized as obligation.


As Lord Xenu Commands

I’m not saying that I want some eerie Scientology birth where there’s no sound and everyone treats the affair as some induction ceremony. I do want things to go smoothly. Problem is, much as I like the tenets of the Bradley Method (for those of you who haven’t been playing along, this is a father-coached, natural childbirth method), it sets you up for delivery room combat.

Bradley spends a lot of its time teaching you the evils of things like epidurals (meant to numb pain for the mother), petocin (meant to induce labor), episiotomy (just… just don’t make me think about it), fetal birth monitor (meant to track the health and progress of a baby in labor), c-section (an “easy” surgical method to deliver the baby), etc. etc. etc.

All of these things, Bradley argues, are unnecessary for birth and cannot be proven to be entirely safe for the baby. In some cases, they can make things unsafe for the mother as well. This is of course assuming things don’t go as planned which is pretty common in just about all things. There are cases where each of these items can make sense or be necessary for the mother and baby (except for the epidural, which is really just about pain relief and not safety), but Janelle and I are determined to make a go of it au naturel.

To hear it explained, over and over and over again in Bradley class and Bradley reading materials, going a doctor-driven, medicated and surgically motivated birth replete with an episiotomy to make delivery faster, petocin to speed labor up, a fetal birth monitor to track progress and then a c-section if, gosh darn it, you’re taking too long versus going a totally mother-driven natural birth is not just a matter of making a choice. It’s a matter of a throwdown in the birthing room.

The expectant couple is cautioned and trained repeatedly to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital. This is both to try and ensure the mother can remain relaxed in a comfortable environment as much as possible, but also to ensure that you’re not put on the hospital’s clock once you are admitted. Hospitals are a busy place and Bradley method canon teaches that many to most decisions made about how to handle a mother’s birth are a factor of trying to get births over and done with at the hospital’s pace and not the mother’s. I’ve seen several videos and read many stories about mothers who are talked into drugs and birth techniques that they went in adamant that they did not desire. The underlying message behind all of these stories is that the doctors will try and screw you, and that you need to be educated and ready to handle them.

Never have I read a story about doctors who suggest something, and then decide to honor the wishes of the parents. Or seen a video where a doctor and a patient disagree, and then the doctor acquiesces (or even just consents grudgingly). It’s making me a little tense.

Janelle is a Kaiser patient, and Kaiser has rolled out a policy to make all their hospitals “baby friendly”, meaning they will allow mothers to be with their babies just after birth for bonding time and various other policies that enforce the notion that the hospital needs to help conform to the will of the parents in a birth scenario. This makes me a little less tense.

I’m sure that the birth will go well and the doctor’s will honor the birth plan we’ve laid out. They may try to push things that we don’t want, but I’m hoping they’ll be sensible and won’t lie to me about the medical necessity of any particular procedure. Just the same, the Bradley Method, so focused on peaceful relaxation, is continuing a bit of a campaign of terror to convince me to adhere to its tenets.

I know there are some parents that read this here blog. How was your hospital experience? Break it down for me in the comments, if you please.


A Cautionary Tale

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious affliction. It’s something that affects a fairly broad swath of new mothers (numbers are unclear, but some studies suggest as high as 25%). The rapid hormonal changes that a woman undergoes during and after pregnancy are the chief suspects in the onset of PPD, so there’s really no way to tell if it is something that will strike your partner. A history of depression is not a necessary precursor—though research does suggest that postpartum psychosis is linked to genetics.

The unpredictability of the disorder is part of what makes it most feared, but it’s also something that hits during what should be a joyful period in anyone’s life. I know that I’m not really going to be able to avoid watching Janelle like a hawk after the birth. I’m sure I’m going to begin to get very annoying, asking if she’s okay and how she’s feeling and if she wants to talk about anything and she can tell me if she’s upset about anything and I’ll be right in the other room if you need me.

But, were it not for a friend of mine, a recent father himself, I never would have thought to keep an eye on myself.

PPND – paternal postnatal depression (though I’m sure you could go for PPPD, but that just looks silly to read) – is not just Dads not wanting to change diapers. It’s a medical condition just as PPD is. The specifics of PPND are just as vague as with its maternal companion, likely moreso as not a diagnosis with a lot of history behind it, though there is research out there.

Just as with PPD, there are both environmental and physiological changes at play. A new father is likely concerned about the well-being of his new family and is more than likely placing undue stresses upon himself. Studies show that hormone levels change in men as well. Male testosterone levels drop and estrogen levels rise after the birth of a child, supposedly to assist in the bonding process by lowering typically male aggressive tendencies. And, as everyone knows, when you mess with the concentrations of what make someone tick, it doesn’t always go smoothly.

In the case of my friend, he stacked an engagement, a move to a new home and a pregnancy within about six months. That’s a lot to take on. Follow that with an actual baby a couple months later, and it’s quite the haymaker. Making matters worse, he didn’t realize anything was wrong. He had been reading the books and browsing the websites and doing all the things that fathers are supposed to do in advance of actually becoming fathers. He was focused externally and totally unaware that when things began to go wrong that he might need to take a look at himself to see if everything was okay. In the midst of the enormity that is welcoming a child into world, he simply wasn’t even thinking that something might be wrong with him. It was seven months before he realized he was in trouble, and by that time things had gotten bad enough that his fiance was considering moving back home and taking the baby with her.

He’s managed to turn things around now, but managed to do so only because he was able to recognize in himself that there was something wrong. He took stock of things, saw that he wasn’t himself and sought help.

I know I’ve argued that Dads need to be stoic from time to time, and I still believe that to be true, but part of looking after your family should be looking after yourself as well. I think if you read this blog, I don’t need to justify the following statement, but just in case I’ll do it here: mothers get the raw deal in the pregnancy as far as physical and mental comfort goes by far. However, a father needs to realize that he is a part of the birth. You cannot focus exclusively on your baby and your partner because you can’t help them if you’re broken yourself. That baby may have only come out of one person, but it has become a part of many lives and it will affect everyone. Let’s all light up some incense and imagine it’s like the baby is a stone you throw into a pond and we are all leaves riding upon the ripples sent through the water and then let’s remember that metaphors that involve hurling babies into water aren’t really so great.

Don’t assume that the baby didn’t happen to you. Babies are wonderful, but they make a hell of a mess of things. Why should you be immune to that?

No Comments


This is actually a third attempt at a post. Hopefully this one sticks. You’ll see the other two one day, once I’ve made them suck less.

This is advice that doesn’t apply to an expecting parent specifically, but it may apply to them especially. Stress is a stealthy thing. I haven’t been feeling particularly stressed, not in any way I’ve been hugely conscious of. I’m busy, but that’s been my M.O. since high school. So I don’t think anything of it. Par for the course. But I’ve got new things that are in the background. The baby and the home are carving out spaces in my brain that I’m not aware of.

If I think of my brain like a computer file server, I’ve partitioned it out into different pieces. Let’s make it easy and say my brain is normally split into three even parts: work, relationship, miscellaneous to-do. Now that I’ve got new things to focus on, the system administrator that live in my brain has carved out new partitions for house and baby. The thing is, though, that my brain’s capacity has not increased. So if I now have new partitions for these items, I have less room for everything else—I just don’t realize it yet.

Well, I do now, but that’s because my body let me know it was an issue. Early evening on Sunday, I realized my left jaw was sore, like I’d been chewing gum only on that side for days and the muscle had gotten tired. Monday and Tuesday this progressed into muscle pain that would make me wince whenever I started to chew or clench my teeth at all. It has faded now, but only after a pretty healthy amount of massage over the last two days. I’m almost 100% sure that I’ve been clenching and grinding my teeth, probably while I’m sleeping, as a way to vent my stress.

I don’t tell myself I’m stressed, but if I step back and take stock of my day, it’s pretty clear that I am. Today, for example, I’ve sent out 30-something e-mails and fixed at least 20 entirely unrelated issues BEFORE NOON. Even on a day that I consider a slow day, I probably send 30-40 e-mails and solve 10-20 different problems. Then when I get home, I’ve got at least seven house projects and two or three baby projects or decisions to deal with. Maybe back when I didn’t have the house and baby to deal with, everything I took care of at work was manageable in my brain, but no longer.

I need to learn to pace myself better. Maybe I schedule blocks of time for myself to spread out my tasks. Maybe I head home early a couple days. Maybe I need to delegate more tasks. But I need to do something, because you can’t shrug off duties related to the baby until later. If you don’t handle these things in advance, they become small disasters later on down the line. My fix here is a pretty simple one: make a to-do list, preferably a physical one. Put a limited set of items on that list. Maybe one is hard or multi-part, the others, maybe three to five of them, are all easy. Don’t think about anything else except those items, and when you finish them, cross them out with a big, bold pen stroke. Each one is a victory, and being able to visual that and physically express it is important.

Try not to neglect some self-reflection as you focus more and more on external things, like a tiny new person. If you’re no good for yourself, you’re certainly no good to them. After all, aren’t the best managers people who can practice what they try to teach? Manage the items you can and celebrate all the victories you can claim, large or small.

No Comments

Fear Itself

There are two things that are a bit at odds with one another when preparing for a baby. On one hand, you are told to try and avoid stress. It causes tension, which can cause a host of other bodily discomforts. It causes blood sugar levels to rise, dangerous in the case of mothers with gestational diabetes. It’s just bad news. On the other hand, you are advised to keep yourself informed and prepared and information has a tendency to cause stress.

Learning to sift through the many info streams that are coming your way to find the tidbits that are helpful is a tricky art. Allow me to impart a bit of wisdom that has guided me through many years of heavy internet browsing and maintain my sanity: never read the comments. Ever. You may find yourself reading an elucidating article by an erudite author and figure that the readership may have some worthwhile input that can expand upon the topic. You are wrong. Just go along about your business and open another webpage. There are lots of them! Some aren’t about porn!

This rule includes most forums as well, as they are really just extended comment sections. Janelle and I recently had to agree that she would stop reading through the forums on The Bump. While browsing through to get some information and read about experiences of other mothers with gestational diabetes, she found herself in the High Risk Pregnancy area of the forum. She found herself reading posts from mothers who, in their forum signature (a bit of text and/or graphics that tails every post they make, much like an e-mail signature would) have photos of their premature babies with captions detailing how they died shortly thereafter. Mothers that, using an automated signature tool the forum has, list the dates that their stillborn children would have been had they survived. And, as you would expect, the posts in this area are filled with the kind of horror stories that will keep a mother up at night.

But you can trust books, right? They’re filled with facts and information meant to inform you and make you safe. Well… not always. The world of pregnancy is fraught with warring factions. There’s vaginal delivery versus Cesarean. Breast milk versus formula. Day care versus home care. Bradley versus Lamaze. Books written in favor of any of these options tend to treat the opposing camp as if it were comprised mostly of sociopaths who only make the choices they make so that they can be in defiance of the natural order of things. Many of these books are thinly veiled propaganda.

We are taking a Bradley class currently, and I’m a fan of the major tenets of the system. Natural childbirth, a focus on relaxation techniques for the mother, a focus on nutrition and exercise to prepare the body for childbirth and an aversion to the use of drugs in childbirth. I don’t find any of the alternatives to these methods to be abhorrent. Janelle and I simply have a preference. So we signed up for a class. Imagine my surprise when, for our recent reading assignment between classes, I found that I was basically reading Dr. Bradley’s Little Red Book instead of a bit of background information regarding drugs used in childbirth.

The article begins by telling me that in 1987 an Associated Press article “linked teenage drug addiction to the use of childbirth drugs by their mothers” and that other reports have linked childbirth drugs to teen suicide. Correlation does not equal causality, for all you statisticians out there. Then, two inches below this on the page, it claims that 98% of children delivered are delivered with some form of drug administered. *insert spit take here* I was astonished. Child birth drugs cause teen drug use. Oh, and 98% of children are born using childbirth drugs. CLEARLY THERE IS A CONNECTION. With numbers like that, I could make a pretty convincing case that eating breakfast also causes teens to want to kill themselves.

The article then begins to discuss the so-called “-caine” drugs, thereby linking things like Novocain, epidural drugs and street drugs like cocaine. It then begins to reference cocaine-addicted mothers who reported that their drug use resulted in a passive baby that fueled their own resentment of the child. In the next sentence, it makes the lofty assertion that if street “-caine” drugs are unsafe, how can any “-caine” drugs be safe? Then it casually tosses in the idea that taking these drugs could result in later child abuse. Really? Really? You’re making the assertion that habitual drug abusers using an unregulated and un-dosed amount of an illegal narcotic is the same as a one-time, carefully controlled application by a trained profressional in a medical setting? I understand that you want me to really try and avoid drugs during the pregnancy, but please do not insult my intelligence with fear-mongering.

Okay, okay. I’m done ranting. Maybe.

Beware your source. Take the information you gather with a grain of salt. Do not spend your time terrifying yourself or believing that everything you read is the gospel truth. Most literature based around a particular birthing practice is intended to educate and baptize. You are meant to spread the good word of your chosen method and to renounce the evils of all other practices. But really, it’s all about you. Just because some other woman had a horrible experience does not mean you will. You want to give birth in your bathtub? Go for it. Is your pain tolerance so low you need an epidural? Load it up. You’re having your baby and no one else’s and there are so many mitigating factors involved in every individual birth that it is just this side shy of totally useless to be concerned about what happened in any other scenario.

Fit the education to you, not the other way around.

No Comments

The Internet Won’t Save You

A search for a missing girl in San Diego may have ended today. Chelsea King was, it seems, abducted from a wooded park she was jogging in one afternoon. A registered sex offender has been arrested in relation to the crime. Coming home today, I heard a radio DJ discuss the story and plead to parents to educate themselves about predators in their area via the Megan’s Law database. It kicked off a rant from me in the car, and here’s why.

The internet won’t save you.

The Megan’s Law database is perceived in a flawed manner. It is a website that provides a very selective set of information and does more to inspire fear than it does to prevent crime. I’m going to get to my salient point before I start collecting the wrath of the internet.

No tool will protect your child better than the common sense you have instilled in them. No hand-gun, pepper-spray, karate class or internet database will do more to keep a child away from danger better than a parent passing down the framework for safety and situational awareness. To believe otherwise is to set yourself up for tragedy.

The Megan’s Law database displays the current addresses of registered sex offenders in California. Searching by zip code, you can observe where offenders live by viewing a Google Maps-ish application. Information, yes, but hardly useful. Headshots are shown along with offenses committed, but there’s no real context given. There’s no date associated with or synopsis of the crime. Perhaps the man convicted of statutory rape is the kind of case where it was a consensual relationship between two 17-year-olds. Still a crime… but something that should incite panic in the surrounding neighborhood? How about a frat boy who was made to streak for rush week and gets picked up for the cops and is then nailed for indecent exposure? Menace to society?

Imagine a database where every crime is logged and displayed in a database like this. Let’s say my next door neighbor got into a bar fight after he got back from the Korean War because some guy insulted the Marines. He’s booked for assault. Should I be scared of him? No. But if I open a web page and see a red dot next to my house and open it up to a mug-shot of a man looking angry with bolded text that reads “ASSAULT” — that’s scary. And misleading.

This is all largely tangential, though. That’s a matter of poor implementation. What worries me most is that it seems that the Megan’s Law database is touted as something that will solve problems. How?

Let’s say you live down the street from a registered sex offender. Okay, now you know what he looks like and can keep an eye out for him. Will you be around all the time to watch your child? 24 hours a day? No. So you print out a picture of him and teach your child to stay away from the man. Okay, solid. Will that prevent him, or anyone else, from taking your child when you’re not around? No. You decide you need to move away from this man. Can you find a zip code with no registered offenders in it? No. You want to get preemptive. Can you call the cops about this man? Not if hasn’t done anything. But if he’d done something worth calling the cops about that you witnessed, would you have needed the database in the first place? Not really.

The most dangerous child predators, in nearly every case, are the ones who are undocumented, rendering the Megan’s Law database inutile. The case of Chelsea King is a bit of an outlier. But would knowing that John Albert Gardner III was a registered sex offender have protected Chelsea? I can’t imagine how. Had prosecutors and judges listened to a psychiatrist’s advice to sentence him to a longer stint in jail for his previous offense Chelsea might be safe today, but this has nothing to do with Megan’s Law.

Do not learn to lean on the support of the outside world to raise your child. It’s something I see becoming more prevalent all the time. Kids who cannot focus are not undisciplined, they require meds (yes, yes, I understand that many kids do). Violent children play too many video games. Children who swear learn it from the movies. The assumption is that the parent is powerless to stop these rampant forces out in the world and must lean on outside agencies to sanitize the world for them. Whether it be the FCC or the MPAA or the ESRB or a tool like the Megan’s Law Database, there’s a sense that because these things exist, the burden of effort is taken off of the parents.

The buck stops with you. This is your child. This is your life to protect and to shape and no one can ever be expected to do that job for you. You will never be able to guarantee your child’s safety once they are old enough to be out in the world, but you can tell yourself that you’ve done all you can to make them ready for the life that will surround them.

Do you teach your child to always walk at a red light, that crosswalks are safe and that stop signs are always obeyed? Or do you teach them to look both ways every time?

1 Comment

Picture Perfect

I tend to get cranky if my plans get changed. Considering that I have a fairly active life and am frequently making trips all around San Diego and up to LA to visit with friends and family, I hold surprisingly fast to what I have made up in my mind will be happening. Just because I’m aware of it doesn’t mean that I’m any less petulant about it when the case arises that something doesn’t go as imagined.

I’m not talking about awesome plans, either. It’s not like I was originally scheduled to get hot oil massages from Victoria’s Secret models all hopped up on ecstasy and someone told me I needed to go and clean rain gutters out instead. I’m talking about things like learning I’m not going to get to go home and watch The Clone Wars.

You can imagine then that matters concerning things like that human being that I created would be a bit more worrying.

After a recent blood sugar test, Janelle’s results came back high. Type 2 diabetes actually runs in her family, so her levels tend to be elevated, but not in the danger zones. Gestational diabetes is a reasonably common affliction for pregnant woman, where the hormones released during pregnancy essentially induce a temporary form of diabetes. So, considering her predisposition, we were concerned about developing gestational diabetes. But, the pregnancy to date has been better than textbook. Janelle’s avoided morning sickness, major body discomforts (that are chronic and lasting), vicious heartburn and the rest. By all accounts, we’ve got ourselves a fully healthy baby on the way. Like all parents, we hope for perfection for the baby’s arrival and things had been going so well, I think we both forgot that perfect just isn’t going to happen.

In our particular case, this bit of news is more than just a concern in terms of diet and habit for Janelle through the course of the pregnancy. We’re aiming for natural childbirth. We’re reading books about it. We’re taking classes about it. We are fully committing ourselves to it. Aaaaaaand now the choice may very well be taken away from us. Yes, yes: I am jumping the gun in assuming things will go poorly, but it makes for a better post.

Part of the fallout from gestational diabetes, alongside concerns that the baby won’t develop as well as it would normally, is that babies tend to get very large and large babies are hard to deliver in the usual fashion. That means that it’s far more likely that the hospital will decide to induce or go the C-section route, which means drugs for mom and drugs for baby.

Janelle was about as upset as Janelle gets about this. While I was distressed to see her so affected, I found myself uncharacteristically ready to roll with the punches. Forgive the application of this phrase, but no plan survives contact with the enemy and infants are most certainly the enemy of expectation. They may demand a degree of routine as far as scheduling is concerned, but they are little balls of chaos. They don’t understand expectations. They don’t know how not to do dangerous things. They don’t know what it is to upset someone.

So what can I do but just take it as it comes, plans be damned? Seems like me and the baby might be growing up together.

Bonus Note!

I played with the baby for the first time today. Janelle was sitting next to me on the couch, looking at her belly. The baby is strong enough to make its various punches and movements visible on this flipside of the tummy. As we watched, her left side rippled a bit with little exploratory foot pokes. So, of course, I respond with some fairly strong rapid finger pokes, like I’m playing the piano on Janelle’s tummy. Wait a second and, sure enough, right in that spot, two big kicks.

I tried a couple more to see if it was a fluke, and no response. Oh bummer.

But wait! Baby starts to flutter things again a bit near the center of Janelle’s tummy. I repeat my poking, wait a second and, lo, two more big kicks!

I figured there’s not a lot to do in the womb. I like to spice it up a bit.

No Comments

First Impressions: Google Wave

Google Wave is an interesting animal. Similar to the much ballyhooed Google Chrome OS, Wave has been the “it” thing for a while among select geek circles. To date, Google knows almost no wrong and so announcements of new products from the company are all treated as the coming of The Next Big Thing™. Compound this impression with the fact that just about any product beta (the name for a software product’s final test phase—the very earliest test product is known as an “alpha”) is an invite-only affair, being able to get in and use something as highly publicized as Wave was sort of like being on the VIP guest list to the hottest club in town. It doesn’t matter how it looks on the inside, being invited is all that matters.

I finally got my invite into the Wave beta recently (first from my brother-in-law—Thanks, Todd—and a day later the official one direct from Google, coincidentally enough). The juxtaposition of paragraph one and this makes it seem as if I’m saying I’m the cool guy in the club, but really I’m coming in at the very tail end of the early adopter train here. Wave’s been in beta for a month or two already, so I’m not exactly bleeding edge. Besides, the point of the intro was more the hype over the app than how I awesome I am (which is not something science can currently quantify).

Google Wave is, in a nutshell, Google’s re-imagining of e-mail. Instead of keeping e-mail in the basic format we know and love—which is rooted in the days when computers couldn’t do anything but display text—Google is opting for a dynamic and powerful collaboration tool. The problem they’ve run in to with Wave might be that they’ve created a tool too niche to really draw in the masses, and without the masses the application has minimal usefulness.

What are the key features for Wave?

– The Wave Itself – The Wave is so-called presumably because of the way it flows and adapts to conversations and participants. Messages in Wave and displayed in the standard way.





But instead of being locked into this rigid structure, you can also at any point scroll back and add comments to earlier items. Things will then be indented thusly.



—-Another Reply



Inviting participants also isn’t a matter of CCing them on a message and then forcing them to hunt backwards through a message to see what’s happening. They are essentially just brought in to see the entire Wave show. They can scroll through the entire talk. The idea here is that you want them to see everything—and not just the talk starting from where you messaged them. To this end, our second feature.

– Playback – The Playback is a way to review the conversation in the proper order. Because Wave allows you to backtrack and add comments where you please, it could get tricky just reading things top to bottom. What if a comment at the top requires knowing of some details shared down at the end? Well, Playback is literally watching a text movie of what everyone in the Wave has been saying in the order they said it. It’s a neat feature to get newbies to a Wave up to speed, and probably my favorite aspect of Wave so far.

– Message Widgets – Gmail has already blazed a trail of add-ons and widgets. In fact, if Wave doesn’t support many of the features I’ve come to know and love from Gmail, it will likely be a deal-breaker for me (I mean, come on, Gmail actually has an add-on where, at certain times of day, you can require it to ask you a series of math questions before you send a message. It’s to prevent drunk, late night e-mails. You can’t beat that). What Wave offers, though, is more features embedded into the message itself. The intro messages you get when you sign into Wave for the first time have embedded YouTube videos, for example. I recently got a message from my brother-in-law showing an embedded Google Map of a place we were supposed to meet up, with an option below to register with a Yes/No/Maybe for our “event”. Who needs Evite anymore with slick built-in action like that?

– Live Typing – This is currently something that cannot be turned off, and very desperately needs to be something that users can toggle. Wave is really a hybrid of e-mail and instant message. If you are sending a Wave to a friend who is currently also using Wave, they will be able to see what you type to them in real time. This means that every single typo or slip will be something your Wave buddies will see. The idea from Google is that in conversations on-line, much of the time spent is just waiting to see your buddy’s message. But the ability to view their typing live will allow you to formulate and begin to respond while they’re still writing, making the conversation speed along better. But, along with the notion of giving new invitees to the Wave access to the entire message instead of just what has happened after they were invited in, Wave isn’t about privacy. The notion is that you want everyone involved to see everything at all times. So if you accidentally write “I go tit” or “I’ll look into the details of that user acocunt”, your friends will get to see that before you can correct it. A small thing? Yes—until you’re using Wave to communicate as a professional. And let’s not think about the nightmare scenario of not realizing you’re in the wrong window and copy/pasting your password into a Wave. You don’t have to have sent it to someone for them to be able to see it. Bad news.

The major killer for Wave right now is how limited it is. Right now you can only communicate with other Wave users. It stands alone. E-mails cannot be sent to other services or received from them. This seems like a major feature to be missing even if you consider this is a beta product. I’m a big fan of the Wave format, the playback and the features embedded directly into messages. I’m not a fan of the way Wave forces you to be into full disclosure at all times, mostly due to the embarrassment factors in play. However, if Google can integrate Wave smoothly into the rest of the world, it could be awesome.

Here’s a video explaining Wave with some nice, you know, video to it:

And an amusing screen for maintenance I got tonight: