So, my wife is Dutch. Not like cops and army men in movies who are named Van *blank* that people nickname Dutch. Nor, like the Germans (Deutsche) who came to America and refuse to use modern inventions yet have no problem with high-tec flourescent orange/super reflective street safety devices and get called Dutch. She's real Dutch. That Windmill up there? That's the view from her friggin bedroom. Dutch.
So, one of the wonderful things about being with a foreigner is being a part of all the delightful lessons in cultural differences and the things that get lost in translation. For example, did you know that the Dutch also have a food pyramid, but theirs is built out of sugar cubes and blocks of cheese? Another, was the other day when we were discussing the baby and my wife said she was happy that our daughter didn't show any signs of "yawndice"(that actually did happen). I'm sure as time goes on I'll share with you many traditions I learn about as we share them with Saskia.
One Dutch Tradition, mainly from her region (who thought a country the size of Maryland had regions, much less regions that are VEEERRRY territorial), is to bake a bread in honor of the new born child. Called Krente Wegge, the bread is of course sweet, a raisin bread, and is filled with a marzipan filling (like you do), and is baked to be the size of the baby when born.
Like the good proud grandparents that they are my in-laws had the bread made to share with friends and well wishers. Now, our baby was roughly 19" long, but something tells me that somewhere in the conversion process to metric those numbers got frazzled along the way. How do I know this? Well, take a look at the photos they sent us of themselves with the bread. On the one hand you have the sheer scale of the loaf. On the other, my in-laws have a look of bewildered nervousness that their daughter may have just birthed a T-Rex.
Well, Saskia is a week old and can I just say, it's a treat. Really really fun/wonderful/strange/cool experience. I will write more about the actual birth (no personal gory details sorry) later, but I just wanted to toss in a few words about the care of the newborn. Is it hard... Well? No.
For starters they're damn near indestructible. You know how people are afraid they'll leave the car seat on top of the car and drive off? Good news, even if you do, they're fine. Kidding.
However they are fine if they get run over by a FLIPPING TRAIN!!! (yes, seriously the baby was in that stroller and lived suffering only minor injuries.)
Logistically, they're easy. The eat, sleep, poo parts I knew. The only one that I didn't was "gas". If the first three don't get them to stop crying then burping her seems to be the final trick.
I can really equate the whole thing to the computer in the Hatch on Lost. On the show, they find a weird living quarters where every 108 minutes someone, usually Dreamy Desmond, has to input a sequence of numbers into a computer and hit Enter, thus averting a catastrophe (have we figured out exactly what that was yet btw?). The act of entering the numbers isn't really hard, it's just that you have to consistently do it every 108 minutes no ma. Same with the baby. Caring for her isn't hard, it's just that it takes round the clock attention or she implodes and the sky turns purple. Which brings me to my next point.
Someone asked me this week if she's keeping me up at night. To be honest, no. She doesn't keep me up, she wakes me up at night, but I'm getting decent sleep. Like difficulties people in life like to be melodramatic about, I'm beginning to think that the "No sleep when baby comes" is a self fulfilling prophecy. For the past 10 months I've had people bombarding me with this phrase
"Get lots of sleep now because soon... phoo forget it."
Now from the get go I had issues with this, but swallowed them so I wouldn't look like I was wrong later. For starters, how does one "back-log" sleep? I can sleep for a month, but then one of two nights of no sleep and it's all shot. Secondly, I'm really good on 5-6 hours a night. I know people who tell me they need at the minimum 8, but usually 10. I think they are probably depressed, have mono, or are avoiding life. And finally, when I lived and worked in L.A. I would work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, and tried to have a busy (drunk/out late) social life. That meant I would regularly be out until 2 and at work by 7, and that went on for a while. It would be wholly hypocritical of me to say I could hack that, but not a stinkin baby.
Even so, once the lady was nearing the end stage I decided to drink the sleepy Kool-Aid. We would pass out around 10 and wake up about 8:30 or 9. Now, she was carrying a full term baby, I don't know what my excuse was. And it hit me, of course new parents think they don't get a lot of sleep when the baby comes. They just spent the last month oversleeping after everyone told them to, so they have no concept of what a "normal" night of sleep is.
So friends, my very informed (after one whole week!) opinion is this... Before baby arrives, go nuts! Go out with friends, have dinner at 9, stay up until 3 in the morning trying to beat Radec in Killzone 2 (I still haven't), take up smoking if only for a month, hit the gym every day, twice on Sunday, wake up and make breakfast in time to watch the only good hour of the Today Show, do it do it do it (helps instigate labor, this I know.), and just live. Do all these things and the schedule of occasionally getting up to feed or change a baby will seem like a pale imitation of the crazed life you were living.
Well, I had a few posts that I was going to write all about our final bit of preparation before the little lady was going to appear into the world, but she had other plans. Monday morning we were on our way to the hospital where she came into the world shortly thereafter. Healthy, with huge feet (Mom). I'll post more about it all later, but right now she's way more important than the innernet. Except for 4Chan.
In the novel/movie Dune, Paul Atredies, new to the harsh desert climate of the planet Arakis, puts on his own Stillsuit. The Arakis native Liet Kynnes remarks that someone must have helped him put it on because he wore the complex suit designed to keep you alive in the desert not only correctly, but in the fashion of the Fremen who dwell in the desert. This of course ends up being foreshadowing, showing the intuitiveness and brilliance of the young leader who in time becomes a planetary messiah.
I bring this up because I have a similarly difficult task ahead of me. Or so I've been led to think. Keeping a baby healthy, alive, fed, and happy for 18 years apparently pales in comparison to the challenge most individuals face installing a car seat. I've heard tales of it taking up to 8 hours. 8 HOURS, to run a strap under a piece of plastic. And then the chances, after you actually manage to thread that labyrinth, that you've actually done it right are slim to none, guaranteeing that car crash or not, your baby will somehow find a way to shoot out of that base and through the front windshield.
You guys are morons. I'm calling it now.
I will be the Muad'Dib of the planet Graco. Sometime in the next couple of days I will install this car seat base in no time flat. Then, when I visit Ikea for meatballs and a carseat inspection, the Snugrideologist will look at me with an expression of stifled excitement and say,
"You've installed a car seat base before."
and I will say "No, never, this is my first time."
And he will gasp and drop to his knees and yell "WE HAVE FOUND HIM! THE CARSEATZ HADERACH!" and one by one I will be surrounded by people in yellow polo shirts all dropping to their knees to praise one so brilliant.
Or I'll get pissed while putting it in and toss it into the street. Time will tell.
Last March, my wife and I discovered that we were going to have a baby. Despite being recently laid off, the crap economy, and the general insanity that comes with a child I was rather excited.
For you see as all parents do I saw this as a two stage adventure in which to mold someone into a perfect being.
The first stage is what I'll call "The Minion Stage". Essentially having a little tiny henchman who does as their told and will make Manhattans for you. I've even started buying the smaller bottles of Canadian Club so he can lift it sooner. But, during this stage you do more than boss him around, you also prepare him for stage two...
"The Coolest Person on the Planet Stage". This is the butterfly to the minion's pupa. You see while they've been your henchmen you've been taking them to see "the right movies" while shunning musicals about High School that I'm sure he won't want to see anyways. Pokemon? Yu-Gi-oh? Whatever is popular now? Pshh. Ignore that! You've been showing him original seasons of G1 Transformers, GI Joe, MASK, and Thundercats on DVD, his taste is too refined for modern cartoons (save a handful of good ones). And of course he's never even heard of The Wiggles because for him he hears cartoons and bands and he thinks of Dethklok. He'll know the complete songbook of Dean Martin before he hears "Baby Beluga" for the first time! And on his 10th birthday you and him will sit down with a big bucket of Popcorn and throw the classic of the Horror/Action/Sci-Fi genre "Predator" into the wall screen (I figure we'll have wall screens in 10 years) and bond like no father and son ever did before. Then, when he is ready to enter High School, he will such a cultured, educated and all around awesome lady-killer they'll have thought James Bond himself had enrolled.
Then we found out we were having a girl.
Hrm. If I was wrong about the sex of the child, could I have been wrong about any of my other plans for her? Possibly.
In our birthing class (more on that down the road) they had an exercise for us where we took 14 different two sided cards and we laid out our "ideal" birth scenario. IV/No IV, Drugs/No Drugs, etc.. We slowly whittled it down until everyone in the class (should have) had Healthy Baby as the only card remaining. The point of the exercise is that while you may have a vision of the perfect birth, only one thing is truly important and very little of it you actually control.
So the news that I was having a girl made me rethink my whole plan. To be fair it was a bit of a relief. In my mind I was going to have the coolest son on earth, but there was a part of me that thought, "Am I just making the biggest dork in his school district?". As a nerd/collector/movie buff/artist/designer I have a lot of interests. So if I were to lay out my cards I'd have many ideal scenarios for the next 18 years of what I need to do with my daughter but as I whittle them down only one really important question remained...
When should she see Die Hard?
So please visit here often to see how I'm doing with my newest full time job, and help me figure out the answer to that, and other questions.