Since the inception of TRS in 2000, I have written about life "on the road". By plane, train, or automobile, I tell the story of trips; but the real story in each one is about the journey, not the destination. On March 15th, 2008, Daddy's Little Speed Bump was born. 21 months later, Speed Bump Number Two arrived. I thought it fitting to create a place, with a Road Scholars theme, to share this new journey.

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Tuesday
Jun172008

Are You Getting Any Sleep?

It used to annoy me to no end when, somewhere around my third year of college, people started asking me “are you going to graduate soon?” Then, after my fourth year came and went and my fifth year was well under way, the question morphed into more of a judgment: “shouldn’t you be graduating soon?” And of course, who can forget those dearest of friends and family that spouted off in my sixth year, “you haven’t graduated yet? Are you working on a doctorate?” The advantage to spending six years in college is that when you finally do graduate, you’ve had plenty of time to prepare for the party. Most of you reading this can appreciate that since you were there, sipping celebratory martinis. I thought by graduating and inviting the dear friends and family to a celebratory extravaganza I evaded the era of annoying questions. Then, three years ago, I moved to Texas. Now the question du jour is “when are you moving back to California?” I guess the annoyance will continue; only the questions will change.

Now that we’re parents of an infant—our little princess is already three months—there’s another question gaining popularity with our dearest friends and family. It’s the title of this blog entry and we now get it almost without fail. Like the graduation question, it can be asked in different ways, but now it’s the tone that changes, not the words. Let me explain.

Pregnancy opened my eyes to the fact that, when it comes to children, there are two types of people in this world: lovers and haters. You can have a child, not have a child, act like a child, it doesn’t matter: you can’t tell a lover or a hater simply by whether or not a person is a parent.

The Lovers

Lovers are the people that find out you’re expecting and get utterly and fantastically excited. As a soon-to-be first time parent, you’re still in shock, asking yourself questions like “how could this happen” even though you know very damn well how this happened. She tricked you. You’re thinking about diapers and college funds, the vacations you haven’t taken, the luxury car you didn’t get to buy, and these people—the lovers—they’re doing cartwheels in the street. They’re telling you how wonderful it’s going to be, how great parenthood is, what a blessing children are, and how enriched your life is about to become. They’re pumping your hand, congratulating you on finally joining their parental glee club. They view parenthood as a welcome and rewarding challenge and some of them get a little giddy just talking about it. I love these people.

The Haters

Haters are the people that find out you’re expecting and they smile—nay—they smirk. They say “congratulations”, but it’s more like a runner-up congratulating the winner. You’re going to be a first time parent; it’s finally starting to settle in. You’ve been to places like Babies ‘R’ Us and seen things that cost loads of money and you don’t even know what they do. You’re starting to get a little nervous and these people—the haters—they’re saying things like “you just wait ‘til that thing gets here, then you’ll see what expensive really is”. They’re telling you how you’ll never sleep again, you’ll soon be showing up to work smelling like dirty diapers, and having children is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. They’re laughing at you, happy that their misery is gaining new blood in the ranks. I hate these people.

So the following account of Kaitlyn’s birth is for the lovers. It is in spite of the haters and perhaps even to spite them, because my house still has new house smell.

The days leading up to March 16th, Kaitlyn’s official due date, were exciting to say the least. Almost every date in the second half of March was taken in the delivery date pool. The pot was over $100. Everyone was on high alert. Jen had been having contractions for several weeks, but nothing consistent and nothing within the ten minute range our doctor kept telling us to watch for. For the last four weeks of the pregnancy, I went with Jen for her weekly checkup. Every week we ended the appointment with the same speech: “anything consistently within ten minutes, we want to hear from you”.

The 16th was Palm Sunday. Our neighbors across the street were also pregnant and scheduled for a C-section with the same doctor as Jen’s the day after Easter. We joked about how we’d probably end up in the hospital together since conventional wisdom for a first time mom had us pegged for a post due-date delivery. Joe—the other husband—and I had plans to go to the shooting range Saturday, the day before Kaitlyn’s official due date. I suppose it’s worth nothing that the last time I made plans to hit the range I ended up with three stitches in my face six days before my wedding. Jen was a little nervous about letting me go. I, on the other hand, had just spent the better part of the last nine months with a nauseous pregnant lady. Friday night I loaded my guns, put my shooting bag by the front door, and set my alarm. I guess you could say I was a little excited for the opportunity to squeeze a few off.

Somewhere in the 6AM hour on Saturday morning I became groggily aware that preggers was pacing the house. Earlier in the pregnancy we had to make an early morning run to the hospital because she was having very consistent and very strong contractions. Back then there were no uncertain terms about her pain level or the urgency of the situation. On Saturday, March 15th at 6AM, I wasn’t hearing too many terms at all, probably because I was still mostly asleep. I remember asking if she wanted to go to the hospital. I don’t think she ever really answered until somewhere around 6:30 when she screamed “GODDAMN!!”. Those were the terms I was looking for. I said, “I’ll get dressed”.

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