34 weeks (and 5 to go)

Today is the 34 week-mark in Kelly’s pregnancy and that means there are only 5 weeks left before our baby’s arrival.  (Kelly’s c-section is scheduled at 39 weeks, which is a common practice, and that’s why there are only 5 weeks left and not 6 weeks.)  It seems like these last 5 week-markers are good times to reflect on the idea that we will soon be parents, and to update you all on what we are doing to prepare for this.

At this point, we have just about everything that we need to bring the baby home.  We’ve got a crib (which was beta-tested this past weekend by our niece, Sadie).  We have a glider (and one that does not have a crack in it–finally!)  We have a beautifully painted bookshelf (courtesy of Kelly’s parents) on which to put all of the books we have received.  We’ve got a top-of-the-line car seat.  We’ve got baby clothes galore.  We’ve got a breast pump, bed sets, swaddling blankets, toys, stuffed animals, diapers, a changing table, strollers, bottles, and bibs.  There are still some things that we have to pick up, but there are not critical to have.  I still need to install the car seat in the car, but there is time for that yet.  We have completed our childbirth classes, our baby care class, our c-section class, and this past Sunday, we had a tour of our hospital.  We are on two daycare waiting lists.  We have even chosen our pediatrician.  We have submitted our leave plans with our employers.

There are still a few significant things that we plan on doing before the baby arrives.  We need to install the car seat, and once we do, we will drive over to the local police station and have it inspected to make sure we’ve done it correctly.  Next week, we are enrolled in an infant CPR and pediatric first aid class.  Late next week, we are meeting with our lawyer to get our estate planning setup and finalized.  With a baby on the way, that suddenly seems much more important.  We are also meeting with our financial advisor next week, who will tell us how we have to adjust our life insurance, how much to save for college, how much of a house we can afford (because as the family grows, they will need a place to grow into).  There are also a few things that we still would like to pick up before the baby arrives (a baby monitor, for instance, and perhaps some more diapers).

I think we are both beginning to mentally prepare for his arrival at this point.  Everyone in the world has told us in rather dramatic terms, that our lives will change forever after he arrives.  It seems to me that our lives changed forever the moment we could detect signs of his life.  We are expecting to get virtually no sleep.  We are planning on living on the main floor of the townhouse for a while, until Kelly can safely negotiate the stairs after the c-section.  We are well-verses in the frustrations of breast-feeding.  Trouble in these areas will come as no surprise to us, although we will be pleasantly surprised if these things turn out to be easier than we expect.  We are trying to plan ahead.  We have received an abundance of good advice from family and friends and we are trying to use that to our advantage.  We know that we have to prioritize–cleaning the house won’t be as important as changing a diaper.  We are looking at getting some help around the house to tide us over so that we don’t have to worry about this.  (And of course, Kelly’s parents and my parents will be around to help out in the very early stages.)

Physically, Kelly is showing the entire cadre of signs of 8-1/2 months of carrying a bay.  She waddles when she walks.  Her back bothers her.  She sleeps within a remarkable pillow fortress, which calls to mind the height of baroque architecture.  She had her first Braxton-Hicks contractions on Monday.  Yesterday, I could feel the baby just below the surface of her belly.  His feet pushed against my hand with a surprising degree of force.  He has been moving with sometimes violent force, but talking to him seems to calm him down a bit.  (On the other hand, ice cream seems to excite him, so we already know he’s a smart kid.)  I am very conscious of the signs I am supposed to be looking out for.  We know what the plan is for the baby’s arrival, but we are also aware that plans sometimes fall apart and that we have to be ready to go with the flow.  I think we are prepared as we can be at this point, and I can say for myself that I am not nervous, but rather anxious for the time to go by and eager to see the little guy.

So that tells you on how we have prepared.  But how to do I feel about all of this?

That is more difficult to describe.  In my mind, I’ve always imagines myself as a kind of kid living in a world where I am surrounded primarily by adults.  I don’t know why I think of myself in this way, but is the way I have always thought of myself.  Perhaps it’s because I hold a job in which I do things that were a lot of fun for me to do when I was a kid (program computers).  After all, as the saying goes, do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  Regardless, when I think that I am 37 years old, I experience a kind of cognitive dissonance:  on the one hand 37 is still fairly young; on the other hand, I don’t see myself as 37, I see myself as ageless, which is the same way I have always seen myself.  And since the bulk of my life was spent at ages far younger than 37, I still feel in many ways, like a kid.

I find myself fascinated by the day before and the day after.  With a scheduled c-section, it was suggested that we spend the day before the c-section relaxing, going out to eat, taking in a movie, getting a good night’s sleep.  There is something surreal in that.  It is so typical of the last 37 years, and yet the very next day, things change in some fundamental way that I am not yet capable of understanding.  Or let me put it another way.  For 37 years, I have done a whole bunch of things: learned to read, played baseball, played with all kinds of games and toys, gotten bumped and bruised, laughed (and sometimes suffered) through 16 years of schooling, worked at various jobs, been in various relationships, make people proud and made lots of mistakes.  And now, I am about to do it all over again though someone else’s eyes.  Seems kind of remarkable when you think of it that way.  It’s an opportunity to experience my first plane ride all over again, my first time to Disney World, the first time I skinned my knee or got stung by a bee, the first time I realized the Earth was hurtling around the sun, the first time I read a science fiction book, all of it.  And really, it’s a kind of two-for-one, since Zachary will be experiencing it all for the first time, too.  I have never heard a completely adequate description of why parents take such pride in their progeny, but I suspect it has something to do with this.

I used to worry if I would make a good parent.  It was a legitimate worry.  How does one know until one tries?  But I have had enough people tell me what a great dad I will be that I have allowed my cheerful self-appreciation to accept their opinions as fact.  I do feel like I will be a great dad.  Not a flawless one by any means, but it’s not something I worry about any more.  (Although I must admit, I think it might take me a while to get used to holding the baby.  When Sadie was here, I held her, and I never felt as though she were comfortable in my arms, and vice versa–and I don’t mean “comfortable” in the abstract sense, but the literal, physical sense.)  I think it will be interesting to look back on these blog entries (and on my diary) in years to come and see if I laugh at my naivete.  In the meantime, I just plan on enjoying this.

See you next week.

Originally published at From the Desk of Jamie Todd Rubin. You can comment here or there.