Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daddy K tells a birth story

Saturday, September 27, 2008, 2:00 a.m.

With Beatrice just fed and changed (again and again and again), I lay here not able to sleep. The Talking Heads song "Stay Up Late" keeps playing in my head and I keep the drum beat with my hands and feet (I may just add the song to B notes due out soon). Amy asks what I'm doing, I tell her I'm drumming and decide I need to write.

Before I get my laptop, I lie next to lovely Beatrice and stare at her, her arms rocking over her head. She bops me on the nose.

"I know honey bee," I whisper. "We didn't know it was your arm."

Five days and six hours earlier, Sunday night, September 21

We're watching the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. Thank God because the comedy relief is just what Amy needs right now. The contractions are getting stronger and are coming 3-4 per hour. Amy's bouncing on the exercise ball and I call our midwife and doula to keep them appraised of where we're at. Everything is in place and we look forward to our planned home birth.

A couple hours pass and the contractions are getting more uncomfortable for Amy. I'm amazed at how she's taking it in stride, though. It's about 10:00 p.m. now and I again call our midwife with an update.

Maybe another hour has passed, maybe two. The contractions are definitely lining up like planes at O'Hare. Amy wants our friend and doula Annee to come over so I call her. She's on her way. Soon after that, I call our midwife and she's on her way.

Time is irrelevant to me at this point. The very linear nature of time expands with the moments' labor, stretching outward to the sky and filling all space in between, only to collapse again into broken seconds that line Amy's path. She's moving around the house, getting in and out of the birthing tub, staying on top of her labor. Kathe coaches her, Annee soothes and I do what I can to do the same. But it's not the same for me being a man, and no matter how I help, a helplessness seeps in. Sometime during the night she dilates to six.

It's early morning around 6:30 a.m. and Amy's water breaks. She's also fully dilated at this point, unusually quick for a first-time mom. It's time to push. Kathe makes a comment about the baby coming with the sunrise. Amy's worn out but amazingly keeps going. She's so completely in the moment with each contraction, embracing our baby with her very soul while her uterus works. Not even the most seasoned triathlete can compete with the strength and stamina of a woman in labor. Not even close. I am in awe. I am humbled. God is a woman.

Another hour passes. Another midwife, Laura, comes over to assist ours in what we hope will be the home stretch. We've been up all night now and it's taking its toll on me as well. We're trying all sorts of positions for Amy to push the baby out, but it's not moving, not passing the pubic bone.

Time is now a thick sludge we wade through. Amy's completely exhausted. The midwives and Annee are doing a great job but I'm losing it. Watching Amy go through this with me not able to do anything other than hold her and love her. Helplessness seizes me and I breakdown, shaking and crying. The totality of it all is overwhelming. All I can think about is being a little boy again, paralyzed with fear because of an abusive father and step-father. I can't get the fear out of my head.

I know this glorious day of our child's birth is not about me and my past, but all my courage has fled and hidden under the bed. I am no use to anyone.

Laura fixes us all something to eat. Scrambled eggs and toast. We all take a much needed break and let Amy rest for a few. She can't hold anything down at this point and her stamina wanes. I get it together again and am ready to help.

The baby isn't moving no matter how much Amy pushes and no matter what position she's in. We move back and forth from the baby's room to our room. No change. I get Amy in the shower and it's at that point I want to call the ballgame. Call it and go to the hospital. But we don't because if we can only get the baby's head under the pubic bone, we're home free. I breakdown again and Kathe tells me to pull it together for Amy. I recover quicker this time.

It's midday on Monday, September 22, and we've got Amy on our bed pushing again. Something's wrong, though. The baby's heart rate is decelerating fast and is cut in half with each push. That's the first time I see doubt in our midwife's eyes; she monitors the baby's heart rate and is shaking her head a little.

Calmly she says, "Okay, I think we've done all that we can do. It's time to go in."

More talk about d-cels and heart rates and I become surreal detachment; let's go I think but don't say anything. Amy's beyond exhaustion and she's dehydrated; her eyes track slowly from person to person and she howls with each contraction.

There's confusion. The baby's heart rate stabilizes. We need to go to Sutter to meet our OB/GYN, but we also call 911 to go to Dominican. The EMTs and ambulance arrive at our house and there's an exchange between them and our midwives but I don't really hear any of it. I'm thinking of what to bring and to get Amy dressed to go. Annee helps me find something for her to wear.

We're outside, Amy's on the gurney, and now the ambulance guys are telling us they can't take us to Sutter because there's no emergency room there. Kathe negotiates while monitoring the baby but I just want us to go.

"Let's just drive ourselves there," I say. "Get in the car."

Get in the car, I keep thinking. Get in the car.

We get Amy off the gurney. The EMTs are explaining something to me but I don't understand what they're talking about. I don't understand anything except getting in the car and going to Sutter.

Kathe gets in the back with Amy and I drive. The baby's heart rate is still strong. We're there in less than 10 minutes.

We check in and get our room and Amy is done. "No more pushing," she says. "No more pain." They give her a mild pain killer and start giving her Pitocin, everything we wanted to avoid, but now everything I wanted her to have. Our OB in the meantime, the one who was meeting us at Sutter, is trapped in gridlock on Highway 1 because of any earlier accident.

The OB finally arrives but they still aren't starting the delivery. She give the okay for the anesthesiologist to administer what's called a spinal (like an epidural) and it takes effect immediately giving Amy relief. Only problem is that her right side isn't staying numb, so the anesthesiologist has to keep adjusting it.

It's been hours and we're confused and inpatient. Amy's spinal finally works on her right side. The contractions are constant and she wants to get the baby out. We're supposed to deliver right there in the room.

Around 6:00 p.m. I go downstairs to get something to eat. Three minutes after I order a cheeseburger and fries Annee runs into the cafeteria telling me to come now. My first thought is the baby's coming. But as we're running back up the stairs, Annee says, "The baby crashed and they went to the OR!"

The baby crashed and they went to the OR.

The baby crashed.

The baby.

I feel like my body has fallen away and I'm flying towards the room. Kathe and Annee are yelling things I can't comprehend and they tell me to get the blue scrubs on. They lead me to the operating room and a nurse lets me in.

"You're the husband? Come this way."

Stark whiteness washes over me and I'm immediately sat next to Amy. She's shaking but strong and ready to go. I'm out of my mind but not showing it. The OB is there. There are nurses and the anesthesiologist and everyone's moving around doing things I don't understand. The leg clamps don't work on the table, so two of the nurses actually hold Amy's legs up. Amy pushes and pushes and the OB coaches her along. They didn't let our midwife in so it's just me holding Amy's hand and urging her on. And praying. I even joke at one point to offer my help in doing anything to get the baby out.

The OB says we're making progress and gets the vacuum ready. Based on what she's telling us, she's only going to try to vacuum three times and then we're doing a Caesarean. But the vacuum isn't holding any suction and they have to change it two times. The OB keeps encouraging Amy to push and push. The baby's heart rate stays in the safe range.

She pushes and pushes. Two sets of labor and two different experiences in 24 hours – at home and at the hospital. Finally the OB hooks the vacuum up and pulls and pop – she looks startled, falls back and smiles.

"There we go. It was the arm. The baby's arm was up over its head."

The baby's arm was up over its head. Wow.

A second later the baby is out, umbilical cord is cut and the baby is rushed over to a side table and cleaned. Amy's still shaking but smiling. She whispers, "I'd better pay my co-pay." The baby cries. The pediatrician who was in the operating room calls me over to see the baby and identify the sex.

I'm still flying when I see that B is a girl – our little Beatrice – 7 lbs. 8 oz. (although that was wrong in retrospect; she was actually 7 lbs., 14 oz.), 21 inches long, and born at 7:08 p.m., September 22, 2008 (which is also the anniversary of me quitting smoking).

From that point on we're rushed along this newly formed river, spilling over falls after falls after falls, the water sweet, cool and fresh like snowmelt in spring.

We spend two nights at Sutter, Amy nursing herself and the baby. Wednesday morning we come home, but Amy's not well; her neck is sore and she develops a spinal headache (which started right after birth actually). We sleep off and on. The baby feeds, sleeps, poops and pees. We become semi-pros at changing diapers within 24 hours. Friday afternoon we head back to Sutter so the anesthesiologist can give Amy a blood patch in order to quell the headache.

While Beatrice and I are waiting for Amy, I change her twice and her crying is minimal. She's such a good baby. I hold her gingerly, watching her gaze out the window at the world beyond us, a lifetime of possibility before her. My heart is full and I thank God for my Amy and my B.

Now we're home and Amy is better and Baby is sleeping sound.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Now we know why we called it plan B.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Daddy K and Mama A are overdue and know it; we’re all good

It's mostly my fault, feeding the Baby B hype and due date and the 0-60 mama and daddy transformation. The fact of the matter is: most babies don't come on their due date. For those of you who have experienced this (in our mother's generation it was not uncommon to deliver at 42 or even 43 weeks), you understand frustration and disappointment and the emotional toll it takes.

Family and friends have the best intentions and share their concern, but that can also add to the level of frustration – especially when there's nothing wrong with us or the baby at this point. It's just late.

In fact, of the 95 percent who don't arrive on time, 7 out of 10 are overdue. And the baby isn't considered overdue until two weeks – not one day or week – two weeks. And only then do you consider options for inducing if there are medical issues, because there is evidence that some babies are at risk after this stage due to a gradual decrease in the supply of nutrients from the placenta.

We have a plan B if we get to that point. We've had a plan B since the beginning (wink). We, including our midwife, didn't just fall off the turnip truck (well, maybe I did, but that's not the point).

Here are some great tips for overdue parents from the Mayo Clinic:

Hang in there. You're in the homestretch! Whether your health care provider suggests a wait-and-see approach or schedules an induction, do your best to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

  1. Accept your emotions. It's OK to feel frustrated or disappointed. You probably didn't bargain for more than 40 weeks of pregnancy.

  2. Take advantage of the extra time. Sleep in while you can. Put the finishing touches on the nursery. Stock your freezer with extra meals. Address birth announcements and thank you cards.

  3. Make plans (we are). Your health care provider may want you to stay close to home, but that's no reason to miss a new movie, go out to dinner or take a walk in the park. Don't be afraid to make plans just because you may need to cancel at the last minute.

  4. Put your answering machine or voice mail to work (which we've done!). To keep well-meaning friends and loved ones up-to-date, consider recording a greeting with the latest on the pregnancy front. "We're patiently waiting for the big day!" may be enough to handle the inquiries that are sure to test your patience.

  5. Treat home remedies with a dose of caution. A simple Internet search will yield countless results for "natural" ways to trigger labor, such as eating spicy food or having sex. Some tactics are relaxing, others silly — and a few may do more harm than good. Get your health care provider's OK before trying any home remedies, herbal supplements or alternative treatments (we've gotten our witchdoctor's approval – we're good).

  6. Stay in touch with your health care provider (we are). You'll need frequent checkups until your baby is born. If you think you're in labor, call your health care provider right away.

Soon you'll hold your baby in your arms — and the long wait will no longer matter.

We're all good for now folks. That's why I did away with the Baby B ticker; it was overdue (wink).

No baby yet. Keep out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Daddy K loves the game

Go SJSU Spartans beating San Diego State this weekend 35-10! Quarterback Kyle Reed was back in the saddle and then some. So was their defense. Next week they go to Stanford to face the Cardinals.

And the Raiders won this weekend as well!

They both lost last weekend – SJSU a close one against Nebraska, but the Raiders were worked over by Denver.

Hey, I'm a daddy-to-be who loves football, even if I don't watch much of it. Mama A gives me a little sports slack.

Daddy K sets up a TotSpot account

Mama A and I are social folk, but I'm the social animal. I'm the one who links in and tweets and blogs and toots. Wait, forget about the last one. Please.

And although Amy's been good about letting me rant and coo over the sound of my own voice, we have had serious talks about what we're willing to post for the world once Baby B comes into the world.

Which will be sometime in the fall of 2012.

I have a lot of faith in the goodness of the virtual world around me, and to date I haven't experienced any creepy folk hanging around our blog, but I certainly respect my wife's concerns.

The guys at DadLabs were also talking about it recently and I wrote:

Great question and one I'm thinking more and more about. As it stands now I launched a blog for God and the world to view about our pregnancy and other related "be positive about life rants", and I used my last name (although not others) and the city we live in and have shared many photos. I've been accused of loving the sound of my own writing and writhing, but then again I like to share. My wife is somewhat concerned at times of how much I share online but loves the fact I like to share. My feeling is that I want to be part of the larger conversation, a virtual parents group and beyond of one who spreads the gospel of personal responsibility and taking care of business, family, community.

Yes, the world can be a dangerous place; that's not the world I want to live in. Even in this cool forum at DadLabs, there could be freaks waiting to pounce. (Have you seen the campaign? I get it but Christ almighty.) I was abused as a child but I'm not hanging my hat on that to be afraid or paranoid for my family or my child.

That all being said, there is a new online service called TotSpot for families to securely share their children's lives and photos.

For now I'm going to continue to share on my blog and in forums such as this. I'd rather feel the love if you know what I mean.

As mentioned above, I've known about a secure parent-child social networking service called TotSpot for a few months and just signed up for an account. Once B arrives, I'll use this service to share our child's life with our family and friends.

So while I'll still rant and coo about daddy-related issues and personal responsibility, I don't plan on sharing pics and video of Baby B on this blog.

Keeping it real and safe for the Bster and beyond. Can't wait to feel that love.

In the summer of 2015.

Daddy K does a double-take

So here we are still waiting for Baby B to arrive (maybe the full moon tonight will help), and when I catch up with my good friends at Nelson News, I find out they're pregnant with twins.

Twins mind you. I can't even get my kid out of the womb and their son will have two brothers or sisters.

Wow. We couldn't be more thrilled for them. Troy, fly over our house and honk.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Daddy K says, “That’s okay, that’s all right – stay in there and fight, fight, fight!”

One of the many informative online resources I've found for fathers (and mothers as well) is the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. The "Take Time To Be A Dad" site is a better name, but c'mon, it's a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pro-marriage but not co-habitation, there is information in the site I question, but for the most part I've enjoyed perusing it.

Here are some depressing stats:

  1. 24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.

  2. Nearly 20 million children (27 percent) live in single-parent homes.

  3. 43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60 percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.

Having loving, involved, personally responsible parents in a lifetime partnership is the key for change, biological or not, married or not.

And this video is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. Love it.

(I played football in high school, but one year in the off season, I was a cheerleader for the girl's powder puff flag football team. Is there a problem?)

Mama A struggles for sleep in the zero hour

Mama A had a rough night last night. The Baby B Ticker reads "0 Days to Go" but no baby yet. Early labor has progressed at a glacial pace, and the sinus congestion, baby-on-bladder syndrome and no sleep has caused tectonic plates to shift under our house; it's now like living a span of geological time.

Mom and baby are fine, so at this point there are no medical issues. And only about 5% - 10% of babies are born on their due date. According to

Unfortunately, a specified due date has made women (and their family and friends) place too much emphasis on a precise day - to the point that they plan their life around it. Your baby doesn't have a calendar, however, so it is no surprise that less than 10 percent of babies actually arrive on the date they are due.

Sigh. No consolation for mothers ready for the babies to beamed out of them like an old Star Trek episode. I may as well have thrown a dart to pick a date.

We were all sure that Baby B would come early, but not so. Amy's had such a mellow pregnancy – except now the sleep deprivation is wearing her down. I wish there was more I could do for her.

According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 78 percent of women reported more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. And approximately 30 percent of pregnant women snore because of increased swelling in their nasal passages.

Most sleep problems come in the third trimester, and for us, at the end of the uterine road. All signs indicate birth is imminent. So we wait.

Maybe today, Baby B? Mama's levitating over our bed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bumpin' Baby B

Waiting and waiting and waiting. Only 1 day left on the Baby B Ticker. Maybe the baby is having a dance party in there and doesn't want to come out 'cause it's havin' too much fun. We already sent our midwife in and B said, "Talk to the hand, lady." (Actually it was the midwife's hand talking to the baby.)

So maybe if we call the cops to break the party up, B will come on out?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The K files: In remembrance

This time last year we took a trip to New England with Amy's Uncle and wife. We stayed in New Hampshire and took day trips to Boston, Salem, Cape Cod, and other surrounding areas. Although the fall foliage hadn't fully arrived yet (a few leaves changing here and there), it was still gorgeous countryside – especially when getting lost on rural New England roads to nowhere.

Two days after we arrived I received a phone call from my office. One of my colleagues' daughters was in a horrible motorcycle accident that had put her into a coma, and then on September 11 she passed away. She had just started college in the Boston area two weeks before that. Since we were there on our trip, we were all happy to offer our support to her family.

Most of us are in the habit to respond gingerly to such tragedy, listening, offering prays and support, nodding our heads saying we understand and we know how they feel.

But we really don't know. We do our best to be there for those who have lost loved ones, but we have no idea unless we've lost a child or family member ourselves.

We really don't know.

Amy and I were still trying to get pregnant this time last year. We couldn't even imagine the depth of loss they experienced. For the past year the family has struggled and grieved and done their best to rise up on the healing road. (Two recommended books on loss from differing perspectives include Neil Peart's Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road and Jerry Sittser's A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss)

Their faith in God's will is strong, but still…

Remembering my friend and colleague's daughter this week puts our baby's life and our own in perspective. It's a cherished gift this life. Embrace it and don't let go.

Live, love and B.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Daddy K gets a great email bumper sticker

An old high school friend sent me this and man does it hit the mark for me. Review and talk amongst yourselves. We can agree to disagree if need B.

Waiting for Baby B: Quick tips for new fathers during the 9-month dance

Where the heck is the baby? We wait and wait, and nothing yet. Although the signs are all there that Baby B is getting ready, it's moving at a glacial pace.

Mama A says, "Baby, get moving! Time to get out of there!"

Daddy K says, "Baby B, save yourself! Get out now!"

Baby B says, "Gurgle, gurgle, hiccup" – kick.

So there you have it. All we can do is keep busy and stay active and do the things we do. No, no more strenuous hikes like in Yosemite. This weekend we went to the Greek Festival, the Santa Cruz Library had a book sale and we bought a big bad of books, the Capitola Art & Wine Festival was fun – good times.

But no baby yet, which leads me to some quick tips for new fathers during the 9-month dance:

  1. Be involved in the pregnancy. This is your child too and you made it with your wife and/or partner. Go to as many of the baby check-up appointments as you can, whether you're having a hospital birth with an OB or a home birth with a midwife. Ask questions and be informed about what's coming. Work conflicts are one thing if you don't have much flexibility, but complaining because you have to miss a ball game on T.V. or because your global buds are ready for the next video game level – that don't cut it.

  2. Don't push the pregnant one's buttons. Even with a mellow pregnancy like we've had so far, the hormonal witches' brew can boil over at times. Case in point, early on in the pregnancy Amy was looking for her favorite sweat bottoms and couldn't find them. So I reluctantly helped to look for them. We realized they had probably fallen behind a dresser drawer, but I was worried about breaking the drawer, and I said that out loud multiple times. I tried to pull it out gingerly while Amy stuck her hand behind the drawer and – snap, ouch – her hand got caught. Then, she cursed repeatedly and removed the drawer with the same kind of adrenaline that saves kittens and children under burning buses.

  3. Read and read and read some more about being pregnant and having babies and caring for them (I got a whole list of books if you want 'em). Listen to others' birth stories as well. Rinse and repeat. And then when you're at 39+ weeks, you wait and pray. You're as ready as you're ever gonna be.

  4. Stay active and healthy. Don't be a sloth, especially if you're going to be an older parent. Eat right and exercise regularly. Workout and walk with your pregnant spouse. We haven't experienced it yet but we've been told that we're going to need every ounce of energy we can muster in the first 3 months (18 years).

  5. Intimacy, intimacy and more intimacy. Kissing and hugging and you know what I mean. Enough said. The baby needs to "know" that Mama and Daddy love each other. The baby's in its own insulated spacesuit, remember that. You're good, unless the water breaks, and then you've got a birth a-comin'.

  6. Talk to your unborn child. Read to your unborn child. Poke your unborn child. Good times.

  7. Plan for maternity leave, health benefits, baby expenses, wills, guardians and other financial and legal mumbo-jumbo before the baby comes. For parents who need dual incomes to support their families, it's really important to plan as far ahead in the first 12+ months as possible. Leave a bubble of income if possible for unexpected expenses.

  8. Be mindful of every moment during pregnancy. It's a pretty fascinating journey. Be aware and actively present in the moment. You should always reflect on your past and plan for your future – but always be mindful of the present and live in your presence.

All right, B. What's up? Or when's down?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The K files: What not to do when your better half is 9 months pregnant

Never in a million years would I have done this (but it's still funny).

We wait for B now. Tap, tap, tap…

Where did your kids go to camp this summer?

It's a pleasure working for someone with such business acumen and insight. My boss's last three posts alone on our HRmarketer Blog attest to that, along with building a successful marketing and PR software and services firm at Fisher Vista, LLC.

I was a psych major in college; everything I learned about business I learned the hard way – on the job making mistakes and somehow persevering with minimal crying (sounds like a cheesy business book out there somewhere).

Years ago helping to run a business was as foreign to me as having children – just not part of the plan. When I was a child, maximizing the summers with fun was the way to go. I never even went to camp (we were po' folk). When I was a teenager it was still all about fun, but the work ethic started because the end game then was my first (muscle) car – '72 El Camino. Miss that car.

For many of you with children, the school year has most likely started by now. Did your kids go to any camps this year? Did your teenagers have a job, even in this messy economy, saving money for their first car, computer, iPhone and/or other gadget? Did they do any community volunteer work?

A few weeks ago I read an article in the San Jose Mercury News (the Silicon Valley newspaper, you know) about business summer camp. Yes, business summer camp. Maybe not a surprise to some of you, but I had no idea. I'm stuck in the world of Meatballs.

The business camp I read about is called Camp BizSmart (I'm sure there are many of these across the U.S.). On their home page they write:

Ever wondered how Apple created the iPod or YouTube started an online video revolution? Do you have ideas that could one day become the next Netflix or Wii?

Heck yeah.

For two weeks, students will:

  1. Work on real inventions with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and CEOs

  2. Present a business plan to investors onsite at Microsoft

  3. Make a 30-second video pitch at Cisco's TV studio

  4. Talk to customers around the world using state-of-the-art, virtual meeting technology

  5. Win prizes for inventions and innovativeness

Very cool. There was also a local UCSC camp for developing role-playing games. I never would've even imagined going to these types of camps. I mean, I remember hanging out, sitting on my butt, watching MTV play the same 10 videos over and over again back in the day, in between my summer job and football practice. (And MTV has grown up and grown into quite a lucrative business.)

So on the eve of Mama A and I having our first child, I'm happy to hear there are "fun" business, leadership and technical skill development options out there for kids. We do need to be making these types of educational investments in our children – America's bright future in a glowing global economy.

Oh, and they can still play, too. Playing is good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Daddy K and Mama A play with cloth diapers

The Tiny Tots diaper service delivered our first batch of diapers this morning early around 5:00 (when I get up), complete with the diaper covers, clasps and instructions.

Oh God, Baby B's really coming. Not here yet, but soon.

We've heard plenty of pros and cons either way and decided to give the service a try for environmental reasons. An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year.

That's a lot of crap. And believe it or not cloth diapers aren't much more over time.

We were going to practice putting them on the cat, but she didn't like that idea. We read the directions and I may as well have been reading German. Then we watched the Tiny Tots online videos while we were watching the Republican National Convention. Amazing parallels. (I think I just wet myself.)

So we'll see how it goes with the cloth diapers. I just made a hat out of one of them. Good times.