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Category: Fatherhood Friday

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post on this blog – it hasn’t been for a lack of topics, just a distraction in my mind that I haven’t been able to get around.

Earlier this year, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. This was wonderful news as we were looking to expand our family and bring another child into our hearts and home. As each day passed, I got more excited about the pregnancy, but thought it would be best to wait the traditional 3 months before posting about it here. In a way, I’m glad that I waited, as we got some bad news at the 11 week point.

It all started with some spotting. Nothing too serious, just something to keep an eye on. The next day we called in the Grandparents to look after Nick while we went to the hospital. After being in for more than 14 hours, we were sent home with an order for some follow-up blood tests to be performed in three days.

The next evening, things went from bad to worse. My wife started to hemorrhage very seriously, and we rushed to the ER. By rushed, I mean I drove FAST. Due to the severity of the bleeding, we were given priority and saw a doctor and nurses very quickly.

After entering the hospital in the evening, my wife was discharged two days later after having a D&C procedure performed. We found out a few weeks later at a follow-up doctor’s appointment that my wife was pregnant with twins, and that was the reason for the miscarriage.

I learned a lot about pregnancies, the hospital system (at least here) and the available medical treatments. This topic is not something that I hear a lot about – it is a very personal topic – but I think it’s something that there should be more discussion of.

What is a miscarriage?

Technically, a miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. A loss of pregnancy after 20 weeks is termed a stillbirth. In a terrible choice of words, the medical term for a miscarriage is a Missed Abortion.

Technically speaking, there are no medical treatments available to stop a miscarriage once it has started. In fact, the baby probably passed away in the days before you noticed any symptoms. The symptoms (cramping, bleeding, pain) are the body’s methods of expelling the remains. In another terrible choice of words, the remains of your child will be referred to as “The Product” as in “The Products of Conception”.

These last pieces of information are valuable to know, as we entered the hospital believing that there must be something that can be done to save our child’s life, and felt helpless and frustrated as we repeatedly asked for doctors and nurses to help. Someone could have explained this to us a little better.

What happens at home or the hospital?

Well, it’s not pleasant. Basically, the remains of your baby are passed from the woman’s uterus. In some cases, this will be accomplished without medical aid (please go see a doctor though). In other cases medicine may be prescribed to speed or ease this process.

The worst case scenario is a Dilation & Curettage (D&C). This is a surgical operation where the woman is placed under anesthesia and “The Product” is surgically removed from the uterus via vacuum and physical methods. This is used when there is risk of infection or high levels of blood loss.

What happens after a miscarriage?

Well, I guess that really depends on you and your spouse. In general, because the woman is not yet showing and the pregnancy is not far along, men handle the event better than women. Usually, men have not yet formed a bond between themselves and the baby, and the event comes across as feeling somehow not real. In the beginning, this is how it was for me – I knew something bad was happening, but it just never seemed real. It was only later that I really understood what had happened and how that was going to change our lives. In women, even at a very early stage, it feels like they are losing their baby. There are likely to be pretty strong emotions to deal with, and a lot of thinking to do after the event. Because of the strong emotional complications, most women are advised to avoid becoming pregnant for at least 90 days even though they may be physically ready for pregnancy again very quickly following a miscarriage.

Things to remember.

This is very common. In the US, about 20% of pregnancies result in miscarriage. Because the severity of the miscarriage can vary some estimate the number to be closer to 40% or 50%. You are not alone.

This sucks. You don’t need to be reminded that going through this is not something that you want to do. However, it’s nice to know that everybody else out there also thinks this sucks, and you have every right to be sad, angry, and grumpy for a while.

This isn’t your fault. Most of the time, miscarriage is a result of chromosomal abnormalities in the child. This did not happen to you or your spouse because you ate something bad, exercised too much or not enough, or had too much stress at work. Miscarriages related to trauma are relatively rare as the baby is very well protected in the uterus.

It could be worse. I know you don’t want to hear this, but in the past many women died from the hemorrhaging of miscarriage. At the very least, be thankful that you or your partner will live to try again.

Final thoughts.

I’m not a doctor, so make sure that you see a medical professional if you are pregnant or having any problems with your pregnancy. Just go. The stats presented here are the best numbers that I could find in my research and I believe them to be accurate, but again, check with your health care provider if you have any concerns.

The blog post that I originally envisioned for the 12th week of the pregnancy (a photograph of a fresh, steaming bun in the oven) was replaced by something much more morose several weeks later. Still, I hope that this post helps you if you are going through this terrible pain, and I hope that you know that you are not alone and that there are others out there who understand the way you feel.

Once upon a time my wife and I were both avid campers. It was a get away, a cheap vacation, and an escape from the bustle of everyday life. For us, there were few things more relaxing than sitting beside a fire late at night and gazing into the flames.

As Nicholas approaches 3 years old, the desire to get back into camping has grown, but the thought of having to pack up and head home in the middle of the night because of a scared child was worrisome. What we needed was a test trip, something close to home and the safety that it provided.

Enter the backyard camping trip.

Even though we were only in our backyard, we tried to set the mood of the day like a camping trip by spending most of the day outdoors, grilling burgers for supper, and having a backyard picnic. After supper we set up the tent and got all of the bedding ready.

To me, no camping trip is complete without a fire. Our city does allow backyard fire pits (many don’t, so be sure to check before striking flint to steel), but they have pretty stringent requirements for area surrounding the pit. Plus, I didn’t really want to go to all the hassle of building a fire and extinguishing it for what would amount to 30 minutes around the campfire.

I did some searching on the Internet and found a great alternative. These fire pits run on the familiar 1lb propane bottle that so much other camping equipment uses, and has a pretty decent flame. They do say that you shouldn’t cook on them, but we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores with no trouble at all. I think a weenie roast would be possible, but it would probably take a long time.

Then, when it was time to put Nicholas to bed, we read him some stories and tucked him in. We assured him that we were right outside the tent and that we could hear him if he needed us. Mom and I sat around the fire for a while, and then went to bed ourselves.

The night was uneventful. All of us slept well in the tent, with no interruptions. We woke up a little earlier than usual, but were all well rested.

If you have been considering a camping trip with your children but aren’t sure how it will work, I strongly recommend trying out camping in your yard. Our first real camping trip will come up soon, and I will report how it goes. For the first trip I would recommend choosing a campground close by, but more adventuresome parents may want to go all in and shoot for the moon on the first trip.

Whatever you do, have fun!

Wow!

That is really the best way to describe the Day Out With Thomas event that occurred on May 8th at Calgary Heritage Park. This event, complete with a life-sized Thomas The Tank Engine pulling passenger cars, was a big hit with my wife, my son, and me. If you have a child that is even remotely interested in trains, I highly suggest that you find a Day Out With Thomas event near you.

The main attraction, of course, is the train ride with Thomas, but there were a number of other activities as well:

There was a story station where kids could sit on the floor and have Thomas & Friends books read to them. Between books they watched Thomas & Friends episodes on TV.

There was a GIANT merchandise tent where you could buy Thomas & Friends stuff.

There was an activity tent with wooden railway play tables, face-painting, temporary tattoos, coloring stations, and a stage with a live band.

Photo opportunities with Sir Topham Hatt.

Photo opportunities with Thomas.

We arrived at 10 am for our 11:40 train ride, and had no problem filling our day. One of the best things is just watching Thomas chug around the track – it was quite surreal, even for me to see. We stayed until about 3pm when Nick just passed out from exhaustion. We had kept the event a surprise, and the second he saw Thomas he just started vibrating from excitement.

Overall, the whole event was done very well, but there were some things that really impressed me. There were photo ops with both Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt – but you actually used your own camera. So many events like today this force you to line up and pay them for the pictures. I snapped dozens of images, and was able to select the best to print off and add to my photo album.

Here is a 2 minute video I took of Thomas:

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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I had another post planned for today, but a recent post by C.C. Chapman from Digital Dads made me rethink my plans. C.C.’s post was about a dance competition that he attended at which many of the elementary school age girls were dressed in fishnet stockings, tight boy shorts, and were performing very suggestive dance moves.

C.C. rightly (IMHO) suggested that he would refuse to allow his daughter to wear those outfits or perform those moves, despite the fact that dance is becoming a passion for his daughter.

Have You Been Tested As A Parent?

I haven’t, at least not in this way. Would I refuse to allow my son to do something that he wants to do, that his peer group is allowed to do, and that other parents in my circle think is okay because I don’t like it? I hope so.

One of the reasons I love writing about my experiences as a dad so much is because it forces me to sit down and think about parenting in a non-reactive way and to play out scenarios in my head and try to imagine what my response would be in those situations.

What Are Your Limits?

What I find so interesting about this story is that if just one of the dads involved had stood up and said “Hey, this isn’t right” this dance may never have occurred. Surely the moms and dads of those little girls knew that this was wrong, but they went along with it, not wanting to seem like a prude or go against the grain or draw unwanted attention to themselves. If just one person had objected, the others might have been shamed into rethinking that this was a good idea.

But not one of them did.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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For a long time now I’ve had the idea of putting together a huge list of songs for Dads to listen to. A while back I posted a few YouTube videos of songs that I liked, but that wasn’t enough.

My musical tastes lean toward country; although I like songs from almost every genre, I don’t really listen to other types of music on a regular basis. So, I’m turning to my readers to leave comments here and share your favorite songs about being a dad. They could be father-son songs, father-daughter songs, songs about being a dad, songs about kids, whatever. Basically, if you think it has absolutely anything to do with being a dad, tell me about it.

I will leave all of the comments up, but I’ll also aggregate the responses and put together a post in the future with all of the songs.

To top it off, for every comment that I get on this topic, I’ll donate $2 to the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a very child-like person, thinking that this was preferable to being called childish. Of course, I don’t throw temper tantrums in Wal-Mart or throw food all over the table when I go out to a restaurant – it’s just that I try to view the world in a way that is a little simpler, a little better than perhaps it really is.

Of course, that level of thinking isn’t something that I always achieve; there are plenty of times when I get bogged down and stressed out. I think about responsibility and cleaning the toilet and balancing my checkbook just like you do.

Adora Svitak is a 12 year old girl from Washington state who recently gave a presentation at the TED conference on the topic of being childish – “What Adults Can Learn From Children”. She did an amazing job, and I’d like to share the video with you:

Thinking like a child alone can not solve the world’s problems. Even the best ideas still need to be executed properly, and that usually requires an adult’s knowledge of the way that the world works, an adult’s money, and an adult’s contacts. However, there are probably dozens of situations in my life where thinking more like a child would help me solve a problem, get more enjoyment out of my day, and smile just a little bit more before I go to sleep tonight. How about you?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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The worst four-letter word is of course…CAN’T. As in, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that. For some reason, Nick has started to say this a lot lately.

There are times when every four letter word is useful. The *F* one comes in handy when you drive your car into something, and I like to use the *S* one sometimes when I step in a pile of dog doo doo or a police car pulls up me behind when I am speeding.

The *C* word though – can’t – I’m not sure where it fits in. Yes, I could say that we CAN’T go to Toy’s R Us this afternoon, although saying that I don’t want to is probably more appropriate. Telling your son you can’t afford a new toy probably isn’t true either – you likely just don’t want to spend the money on that item.

When my son says he can’t do something, I try to respond with yes you can, I’ll help if you need it, or sure you can, let me teach you. I don’t like how often I hear the word can’t in today’s world. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for motivational tapes and books, but I really believe that the words that we use to describe our situations and feelings have an effect on us. I wouldn’t say that I believe in “The Secret” (I’ve never seen it or read it), but I don’t see any reason to put negative thoughts out into the world.

Am I being pedantic? Or am I teaching my son a life lesson? If I explain why I don’t wan’t him to say he can’t do something, will he remember the lesson his entire life and achieve great things, or will he think of Dad as a stuffy old writer who was always correcting him?

I remember reading somewhere that instead of saying “I can’t do something”, you should say “How CAN I do this?”. That is a lesson that I would like my son to learn.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I do my best to be an active parent and not let the television babysit for me, but there are times when it is nice to turn on the Backyardigans (or more likely Thomas & Friends) and let my son be entertained.

As Nick gets older, he is more and more aware of the technology around him, especially as he sees Mom and Dad engaging in it. He’s been viewing videos on YouTube since he was six months old (In fact, for a time viewing The Wiggles was one of the best ways to get him to calm down when he was upset). He talks to Grandma and Grandpa on the telephone, and he sees me checking e-mail on my Blackberry.

With his growing addiction to Thomas & Friends, it was only natural that trains would extend into his YouTube viewing. In many ways this is great, because there is a plethora of Thomas & Friends videos and fan recreations on YouTube, many of them very well done and with millions of views.

I began wondering if I could capture some of these videos and transfer them to my telephone for use in outside situations. There are lots of places where kids are forced to wait such as doctor’s offices, restaurants, the mall, in the car, etc where a 5 minute video could prevent a crying fit or prevent him from running around bothering others.

What I found was a handy website called KeepVid (http://www.keepvid.com). This site allows you to download and save any video from YouTube (or other streaming video sites). It even gives you a few options for how you would like the video to be saved. Be aware that there may be copyright issues with downloading some videos.

This was great, and I could now watch the videos on my laptop without an internet connection. However, it didn’t really solve the problem of getting the videos onto my phone; none of the download options were compatible with my Blackberry. For that problem I turned to AVS Video Converter (http://www.avs4you.com). This software allowed me to convert the video into the correct format. Because I use the free version, there is a watermark at the beginning and end of the videos. Those of you using different devices may be able to download videos directly to your device without any conversion.

The end result is a 5 minute babysitter that grasps Nick’s attention when I really need it.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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If you are a full-time stay at home dad, you may think this article is a little obvious. However, if you are thinking about becoming a stay at home dad and want to know what it might be like, I think this article could be very helpful to you.

Today is my 7th and final day as a stay at home dad, at least for the time being. As an experiment, I would have to say that it was a success. Our days went something like this:

We would wake up at a normal time: between 6:30 and 7:30. We would eat breakfast together and watch Thomas and Friends or Dora the Explorer.

At 8, when we would ordinarily leave for daycare, we would often start to watch Sesame Street, and then lose interest and start playing trains. I would try to work on my laptop from 9 until 10:30, with limited success. Then, when Nick would get frustrated that we weren’t playing, we would start an activity until lunch. After lunch he would lay down for a nap. At that point, I would have about two hours to do some work. When Nick woke up from his nap, I closed the laptop and played with him until Mom got home.

As far as playtime goes, we did a wide variety of things. I tried to get out of the house a little bit every day. Two activities in particular really stuck out as huge successes: swimming and going to the library.

The swimming pool was full of other children and parents. This was a fantastic opportunity for Nick to play with other kids, and would be a great way to keep him socialized with other children if he was no longer going to daycare. I also found the other parents to be quite friendly and helpful. They were mostly women, but there were a couple of other dads there as well. In addition, the pool offered swimming lessons for children as small as 18 months, giving them an early start on their water skills.

The library was also an amazing experience. We attended a class called “Toddler Time”, which was intended for kids of about 18 months to four years old or so. The class ran for about 25 minutes, and included story-telling, a puppet show, sing-a-longs, and lots of other kids. After the class, most of the children stuck around the library playing with toys and reading books until lunch. Once again, lots of friendly parents.

We did a few other things as well – got haircuts, did some shopping, went to McDonald’s for lunch and playtime in the kid’s room. Today, I believe that the plan is to go to a pet store and pet the animals.

You could easily set up a routine so that you have one activity that you do every day that gets you out of the house, keeping your child socialized and preventing you from going stir crazy. The afternoon nap is a nice respite where you could get caught up on some reading, do a little work, take a nap, or hit the video games.

All in all, it was a very positive experience, and I am really glad that I had the opportunity to do it. I think that I am going to make some changes to my work day a little bit as a result too. I was really surprised at how much I was able to accomplish in my day when I really focused on it, and that will help me be more efficient next week. In addition, I think I will take at least one day off every month just to hang out with Nick and go swimming or to play. The weekends around here are usually rushed and full of tasks; we had really high quality play time together this week. It was a nice change of pace.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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While I have dramatically cut back on the hours that I work in the past year, my son does still go to daycare for a portion of the day (typically from 8:30 to 4). Our lifestyle changes have meant that I can spend much more time with Nick and more time at home, which has been very positive and something that I am not willing to give up.

For two days this week and all of next week, our daycare center is closed while the wonderful women who run it take a well-deserved vacation. So, I cancelled all of my out of the house meetings and am keeping Nick at home with me. So far, the experiment has been going great, although I do find it difficult to find the time to sit down at the computer and type when my son is pulling at my leg and asking me to play trains. What I did yesterday was get up early and work before he got up, then took regular and long breaks throughout the day to play. We even went out to the library together for a little while. Of course, I worked while he napped in the afternoon too.

However, I do feel guilt. Like, if my son is here, I NEED to be playing with him all the time. I know he needs time to play by himself to develop his imagination, but I still feel guilty. In fact, as I write this he is watching Sesame Street and I have a nagging feeling that I am letting Elmo babysit while I ignore him.

I will check in next week after I’ve got some more practice doing this and let you know how it all worked out. In the meantime, if any of you SAHDs out there want to share any tips for working while your kids are at home, I’d love to hear them.

I have one other little thing to mention to you. This site is proud to participate in Fatherhood Fridays, a feature run by www.dad-blogs.com. Well, this just happens to be the 52nd Fatherhood Friday. That’s right, one year of excellent dad blogs. If you haven’t check it out yet, please visit them today.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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