LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

Preparing for the Unimaginable: Why Two XXs Don't Constitute a Strikeout

I don't care who you are, if your wife is pregnant with your first child your mind automatically runs rampant with dreams of having a boy. Why? Well, there's no scientific reason, it's simply a preference, not to carry on your family name and not because you're a misogynist at heart, but rather, to keep you sane.

First time father's either have dreams of having a son, or nightmares about having a daughter. Its a fact. First of all, being a boy, you know boys. And secondly, being a boy, you know girls and the hell they can put fathers through. So you can be sure, no matter what your brave face says to your wife, you're crossing your fingers, and toes, that you're wife is about to give birth to a boy...and you know it!

Try to hide it but the truth comes out no matter what you do. I remember sitting there, watching my wife's second ultrasound, angling for a view of anything that looked remotely like a penis. "Is that one?" I kept asking the technician. "Is that one?," I kept pestering her. But she couldn't get a clear view. It took over a half an hour before the baby turned around long enough for her to take a guess. "I'm 95 percent sure it's a girl," she said. And "I'm 100 percent sure I need a second opinion," I said (much to my wife's dismay).

Neither the technician nor my wife understood my need to know; the need to be 100 sure. First there was the 40 bins of hand-me-down clothing in the garage. I needed to know which bins came in the house and which stayed in the garage - the boys or the girls? Then there was the color scheme of the nursery - pink or blue? But the real reason I needed to know, the honest truth of why I needed to know if I was having a boy or a girl, came down to one thing, and one thing only: fear. The fear of having a daughter. More importantly, the fear of having a daughter in this day and age of sex ting and whatever else twelve-year-olds can think of.

My second opinion came in the form of a 3D ultrasound, which, understandably, I was not invited to. It came back 100 percent conclusive: vulva. Vulva: the scientific term for "no wiener." Vulva: the word that told me I was about to enter a world of dance recitals, tampons, and horny teen aged boys. I was inconsolable, until my wife was inconsolable because I was such a schmuck.

I slowly realized the stupidity of it all. I was about to have a daughter; a little girl that would revere me; a little girl that would become my whole world. And as scary as having a daughter sounded, at first, the idea began to grow on me, and after about twenty minutes or so I was sold on the idea. Having a daughter wasn't so scary after all. I mean, how much does a shotgun and some shells cost anyway (to scare off future suitors)? How many years of dance recitals is too many? How long does it take for a kid to learn tae kwon do to protect herself? How could I have been so wrong?

Well, my daughter is ten-months-old now, and all her male contemporaries are bulldozing their parents houses while my sweet little angel watches kung-fu movies with me, quietly on the couch. She doesn't cry, she doesn't whine, she doesn't scream. She doesn't do anything but smile when I enter the room to get her in the morning, smile when I put her to bed, and smile and laugh almost every other second of the day. And, I smile because for a second, a brief moment, I didn't want her because she was the wrong sex, and I realize how wrong I was.

I'll deal with her dating years, some day, way off in the future, but for now, I'm enjoying my little girl. The daughter I couldn't live without. May you only be so lucky to be blessed with a daughter. I know I am.

The Cost of Fatherhood: Can You Afford It?

How much does it cost to care for a baby? Well it depends on your perspective. Babies aren't cheap, but the old saying is true : "if everyone waited until they could afford to have children, no one would have them." Don't get me wrong, the money is there, it's just a question of what you're willing to give up on your end.

The monetary costs associated with caring for a baby creep up on you pretty quickly. Even if you collect your fair share of hand-me-downs- clothing, toys, and accessories- you still have a mountain to climb in terms of paying for all the stuff you're going to need. First there's feeding the baby, and if you're wife can't, or won't, breastfeed, there's the monthly cost of formula- roughly 140 a month. But that's only for the first few months. After awhile, your baby needs to be introduced to solids as well - roughly another 80 bucks a month. And then there's snacks for your baby - but they're only about ten dollars a months. Is it adding up yet?

Next, you might need to consider the fact that some of those hand-me-downs, specifically the clothing, may be for the wrong season. That's an excuse for your wife to buy baby clothing that better suits her taste - add another 50 to 100 dollars a month. And, diapers. We can't forget about diapers, and wipes. You can expect to pay anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks a month on diapers and wipes for a newborn; if you can find them on sale.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. These are your day to day expenses. What about the up front costs of painting the nursery, furnishing it, and supplying it with creams, thermometers, humidifiers, night lights and sleep aids? What about baby buckets and strollers and swings? What about bedding, and blankets and a bassinet? What about bottles, and nipples and bottled water? What about special laundry detergent, and shampoo and dish soap? (What about a second mortgage on your house?) All these things cost money, and I'm not talking about a few hundred dollars. I'm talking about a few thousand. Feeling faint yet?

Most men cringe at the sound of a "baby shower," but if I were you I'd be standing at the door thanking every person that gives you a gift with a heartfelt hug and handshake because without them, and their generosity, you'd be screwed. But that still won't get you off the hook. Gifts are nice but your wife will certainly want to return many of them to get something "better," and, when the gift certificates run out, you'll be reaching into your own pocket for the difference.

Before you know it, your once lavish lifestyle of eating out or ordering in has turned into budgeting for groceries and clipping coupons for cans of tuna fish and generic white bread. The cost of a going out to see a movie quickly becomes astronomical and renting or setting your PVR becomes the norm. And clothes shopping is something you'll reserve for when the clothing you have becomes too caked in baby barf to wear outside the house (even though your wife in turn needs a brand new wardrobe because none of her clothes fit her anymore). It never ends. And just when you think it does, some new expense comes along.

You think it's crazy to hold a lavish birthday party for a one-year-old, and so did your wife until all her friends started throwing them for their kids. And since you have to buy gifts for all these parties, it becomes more of a necessity to throw a party of your own just to recoup your costs. That's about 300 to 500 bucks in itself with the food, the drinks, the balloons, cake, decorations and entertainment, if you go on the cheap side.

And we still haven't covered the loss of income incurred when your wife takes her maternity leave. Whether she's off for 3 months or a year, and however well her employer tops her earnings up, it's still less money than she was making before. And the second she goes back to work you always have to look forward to the cost of daycare - roughly 600 to 1200 dollars per month. Ouch!

So the question is, "can you afford to have a child?" Can you afford monthly government matched college contributions and classes for everything from swimming to baby salsa dancing? Can you afford the extra gas your wife needs to run around the city to get to these classes? Can you afford the little, weekly things your wife comes up with that the baby "must have" without having an argument about it, each and every time? Can you afford your baby and your bills- simultaneously? Yes! But it won't be easy (at first). When there's a will, there's a way. It all depends on your priorities, your needs, and the suppression of your wants, but if you decide to have a baby, you'll find a way to make the money that you have work, for the time being. You can always make more money. You won't always be able to have children- at least not without costly fertility treatments.

So, the better question is: is it worth it? Is it worth having children? You better believe it!

Stop Crying Before I Give You Something to Cry About: Why You Should Never Take a Healthy Baby for Granted

Every first-time father hears the horror stories about "how hard" it is to take care of a baby. From the lack of sleep to the crying to the toll it takes on your golf game, there is no shortage of sob stories from new dads.

Truth be told, taking care of a baby is hard work, and dealing with a neurotic wife only makes it that much worse. But honestly, the joys of the experience far outweigh the hardships. I have complaints but they disappear whenever I see my daughter learn something new, or, better yet, when she laughs uncontrollably. You take the good with the bad, and if your child is healthy, and happy, you can't really complain. Crying and crapping and complaining come with the territory, but it could be worse...much, much worse.

Count your blessings. Life isn't that bad. If you have the average, well adjusted, relatively normal kid, you're one of the lucky ones. You've never had to deal with Colic, or Croup or, god forbid, a Cleft Palete. And, let's hope you'll never know the horrors of Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy or a Congenital Heart Defect in your baby that could crush even the strongest of dads. You never had to watch your premature baby fight for life in an incubator, or leave your child in a hospital's care because he was born with cancer of the brain. You've never had to fight the fear, and the heartache, of watching your baby struggle for breath, or life. It doesn't take much to remind you of the fragility of the human body and how much worse things could be, in a heartbeat. So instead of complaining about how having a baby affects your ability to go out drinking with your buddies, remind yourself that you have it pretty good. If your baby was born healthy, you have it VERY good.

You want to whine about something, why not lament the fact that your baby is growing up so fast that the best time of your life is quickly passing you by and soon it will all be just a memory. So quit bitching and enjoy being a dad. It's a gift, and should be seen as such, always.

But, hey, if you want to complain about your wife, I'm all ears....

Dad in Song: Where Did We Go Wrong?

I bet you there are more popular songs about Elvis than there are songs about fathers? And, if you ask me, Elvis was a pretty shitty dad- by regular standards anyway (which he can't really be held to).

No, dads don't get the same notoriety in song as, say, God, or Jesus, or even Superman. No one stands up to celebrate "Dad" in song. Instead, we get dittys about being neglectful dads (Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle"), folk classics about not respecting our children's life choices (Cat Stevens' "Father and Son"), hits about being dead (Dan Fogelberg's "The Leader of the Band," and Mike and the Mechanics' "The Living Years") and signature pieces about the kind of bastards we are for running out after giving our sons girl's names (Johnny Cash "A Boy Named Sue").

What's my point? Actually, I don't have one. I was just having the worst time getting that horrible Creed song, "With Arms Wide Open," out of my head, and now it's gone. Phew! I hate that song.

But, hey, click on the links and at least enjoy some of the unearthed video while you're here.

Man I feel old now!





Prenatal Classes: They're Not for Everyone

By everyone, I mean me. Having to pay for prenatal classes when I could have just read the book is the exact reason why I stopped going to all my university lectures and crammed the night before all my exams (and, yes, I was an honours student).

In my opinion, unless you're a hands-on learner, prenatal classes are a waste of time. I didn't learn anything new, and I certainly didn't need to waste the money. Actually, the only thing prenatal classes were good for was meeting other couples who were in the same boat and pre-arranging friends for my unborn child. I didn't need to see the graphic pictures of babies crowning. I didn't need to listen to sleep doulas hocking their services. And, I certainly didn't need to be shown how to give my wife a massage (I know I suck at it- it took me years to perfect just how much I suck at it so I'm never asked to do it). All I needed was a pamphlet and/or a website to go to. But, that's just me... and my wife, and the fifty other couples that sat for an hour staring at the ceiling with us eight weeks in a row.

But, don't take my word for it. Maybe prenatal classes will be right for you. It's a personal choice... like giving into your wife and watching a chick flick on T.V. Who knows, you might enjoy yourself?

Damned If You Do... Just as Damned if You Don't

You know and I know that your wife does herself a disservice every time she berates you for doing "it" wrong. The "it" in question may be how you change a diaper, or wash the baby bottles, or keep to the strict schedule that she tries to enforce regarding when your baby eats, sleeps and plays. She'll complain about how tired she is because she has to do everything herself, but you and I both know that is self inflicted because, truth be told, you are quite capable of handling your new duties as a parent but your way of doing things doesn't quite live up to your wife's stringent expectations, and that's her problem, not yours.

This article dispels the many myths surrounding the uselessness of first-time dads. I suggest you show it to your wife so she learns to back the hell off and let you handle your fair share of the responsibilities. If not, she'll have no one else to blame when she can't get a seconds rest because you're too useless to help out.

Unless, you really are useless. Then she's got a point, you lazy, useless bastard.

http://www.purplecrying.info/sections/index.php?sct=6&sctpg=55&loc=mb1r3p6

Unsolicited Advice on Child Rearing: The Nice Way to Say Thanks But No Thanks

I'm not saying I don't appreciate advice. I do, when I ask for it. The problem is when you have a new baby everyone and their mother has some advice to give and, frankly, it can get to be a bit much. The truth is everyone is an expert on their own child. But, that's just it, my child is NOT your child, and I only recognize three authorities when it comes to the care of  MY CHILD: 1) Her pediatrician, 2) The "What to Expect When..." series of baby books, and 3) Telehealth Ontario (a helpline where you can seek advice from experienced nurses). That's it.

So you can talk about Dr. Spock, or Ferberizing, or how back in the day babies slept just fine on their stomachs, but if you're talking about MY CHILD, who already sleeps 12 hours a night, rarely cries and doesn't need to crawl before 14 months, shut up!

I thank-you for your understanding.

The Pain of Shopping with a Baby: And The Stomach Ache That Follows

Every once in a while your wife will need some well deserved time to herself. Not too much time, but enough to take the pressure off. These are the times when you should take your baby along and run some of the household errands that you can do on your own. For me, it's food shopping. I actually prefer to do this alone because I can wheel around the store and get it done in half the time if my wife, who hates this chore (and drags her heels), stays at home. Of course, it's a totally different experience with a baby in tow.

Victoria's Other Secret: Where to Shop When Your Wife Complains She Has Nothing to Wear

It happens around a week or so after you arrive home from the hospital. Her maternity clothes no longer fit and your wife starts to freak out because she doesn't fit in to any of her clothing. You can either go the futile route and go into her closet and pull out the outfits that you think she can fit into, or you can be smart, and realize that the only thing that is truly going to make you wife even remotely happy, if you can even call it that, is to go out and pick out some clothes that you think she will like.

Site Unseen: 5 Websites All First-Time Dads Need to Bookmark

FREE BABY STUFF

http://www.freebabystuffonline.com/

This is one of many website to make this claim, and you may have to sift through all of them to get to the stuff you really want, but if you take the time, you can save yourself a lot of money upfront and get some handy coupons and packages sent right to your door for free. 


BABYCENTER.COM

http://www.babycenter.com/

Who wouldn't want an at your fingertips reference for every question you could possibly ask about both
having and raising children. This website is awesome. I reference it all the time to win arguments with
 my wife.

TOYS R US

http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=2255956

You can click this site and start shopping right now, or start a baby registry (with your wife's approval, of course), or look at all the cool sports equipment you'll be able to buy your kid when he or she (or they, if you have multiples) can actually walk. I personally use it to find out how much something is going to cost me when my wife tells me "we must have one." And there's always something...

BABY HEALTH

http://www.baby-medical-questions-and-answers.com/baby-health-problems.html

Even if you paid an extra fee to your pediatrician to be able to ask him or her a million questions whenever you want, there will be times when a little research beforehand will make you slightly more informed and sound like less of an idiot when you're panicking because your daughter has acne. This site is full of information to help you, but, as always, when in doubt, consult a doctor.

ESPN - SPORTS SCORES

http://espn.go.com/

As I've mentioned before, for the first few months after your baby is born you're not going to get to watch too many games (but try changing the channel and see how quickly your wife gives you the smack down). So, if you want to stay informed, this is a better place than any to get your fix.

Set It and Forget It: PVR is a Dad's Best Friend

I don't know what it was like to be a new dad in the 1950s, but I can almost guarantee 3 things: 1) New Dads in the 50s never changed a diaper, 2) they never did laundry, and 3) they never missed their favorite game on the tube.

It's amazing how far fathers have come in 50 years, but the further we come the more complex our lives get. Sure a dad in the 50s never missed a game on TV: one, there were only three channels, two, his wife would be putting the kids to bed, not him. It was a simpler time, but better, I think not.

But the more we change and evolve, the more we as fathers feel we are missing out on. After all, it's hard to bathe your child, read him or her a story and put her to bed and watch the hockey game at the same time. But thanks to PVR it's not really an issue. We can play Mr. Mom and get our fill of our favorite sports, no problem. Right? Well, kinda...

The Induction Production: Why Getting Induced is Harder Than it Sounds

Some women love being pregnant. Others hate every minute of it. But no matter the pregnancy, every first-time mom will tell you, when she wants that baby out, she wants that baby OUT. So when the due date arrives and that baby doesn't arrive with it, every woman falls back on her contingency plan, her "plan B:" induction.

So you ask, what is induction? What does it entail? How do I get me one?

Dude, I don't know. I'm not a doctor. Look it up yourself:

Don't Forget to Pack Your Laz-e -Boy: Why Two Hospital Chairs are Better Than One

When you're waiting at the hospital for your wife to give birth, two thoughts go through your head: what sports am I missing on TV right now and how do I get a more comfortable chair? I know, it's a moment in time when the world doesn't revolve around you, but just because your wife is in discomfort doesn't mean you have to suffer too. So, instead of moaning all night as you wait for your child's big reveal to the world, get your wife the epidural that she's been begging for and get yourself a more comfortable chair.

F4F SUGGESTS: CHECK IT OUT! T-SHIRTS ANY DAD WOULD BE PROUD TO PUT ON HIS CHILD




T-Shirt Hell has shirts for both father and child, both offensive and well, less offensive. Check it out. This is my new favorite website.


"Chlorophyll? More like Borophyll!:" The Perils of Excluding Green Vegetables from an Infant's Diet

Well, it's actually not that bad. I just wanted to get your attention.

Apparently my daughter's beautiful bronze complexion doesn't come from mine or my wife's side of the family: it comes from not eating any green vegetables. It's not that she had never had a green vegetable, she just hadn't had one since I started shopping for baby food - around two months ago.

The problem wasn't breakfast or lunch, it was dinner. I always assumed baby food had everything your baby needed, all in one glass jar, but I was wrong. It's actually hard to find a baby food that uses a green vegetable.  Turkey Dinner - orange vegetable. Beef and Pasta - orange vegetable. Chicken Casserole - orange vegetable. In fact, most of the time, the only way to get a green vegetable into your kid is to buy the strained peas or green beans, the ones they make for beginners, and add it to your toddler's already complete meals. It's kind of annoying, but it's better than your wife coming home after your daughter's check-up and yelling at you because your kid is orange!

Postpartum Depression - It's a Scary Thing

Photo Courtesy of The Exorcist, 1973
 For months before the birth of my daughter people would pull me aside, grab my arm, whisper in my ear and say: "You know about Postpartum Depression, don't you?" People, sometimes strangers, would pull me aside at work, family gatherings, restaurants, convenience stores, and even the barber shop to warn me of the perils of Postpartum Depression. I even overheard two guys talking about it in the bathroom after a prenatal class. It was as if everyone had watched a horror movie that I was about to go see and they all wanted to warn me about it.