Pre-moving mixed emotions

I am now smack in the middle of the most frustrating period of our impending move from Hoboken to Basking Ridge, two very different New Jersey destinations. On the one hand, time seems to be crawling, and on the other hand, it feels like it’s accelerating out of control.

Less than one month …

This experience is new to me, as I have never been involved in the purchase of a home, having spent my entire life in rental properties. It is basically a two-month period between the point when the house was pretty much officially ours until the point when we actually move in, and the two months has seemed like forever.

It’s hard to contain my excitement about the new space, and as much as I want to get started on buying things and laying out areas like my office, there’s so much we can’t do until the walk-through at the end of the month. We need to find out if things like shelving in the storage area are staying in the house or going with its previous owner. And even though we took measurements of all the rooms, there are certain things we can’t really buy or order until physically being in the house. I still don’t have a desk, and I work from home.

Plus, there are certain things that I just couldn’t do that far in advance. For example, I am embracing our upcoming switch from horse shit Cablevision to Verizon FiOS, but I had to wait until the other day to set it up because I couldn’t get an appointment as far in advance as the day after we move in. The same is true for things like magazine subscriptions, which I hope to begin taking care of this week.

On the other hand, there are so many things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go before leaving Hoboken, and all of a sudden, time is short. For example, there are three beer gardens in the immediate area that I must say farewell to, including Pier 13, which I haven’t been to yet, so it will be a hello and a goodbye.

A prevailing theme on Facebook today was surprise at the fact that it’s August already, and, as I said in my status update, it hit me even harder because I will be a resident of an entirely different place when this month comes to a close.

Having a baby in the family doesn’t necessarily have to mean an end to everything fun that we liked to do beforehand, but it also makes things more complicated. It’s not like Mrs. 9 and I are going to strap 0.9 into his car seat on some random weekday night and drive into Hoboken for dinner. It’s all about picking your spots, which we’re still learning to do. We’re new at this. It hasn’t quite been four months. There are so many things I want to do between now and Aug. 30, when the moving truck pulls up to the front of our building, and I know I will never get to all of them.

Although I am 100% confident we are making the right move, if I needed a sign, I got one today, when my neighbor knocked on my door to tell me that a car had been broken into in the parking area of our building. This is the first time I have heard of this happening in my nine years or so here, and it’s a little disturbing. By no means do I believe Basking Ridge is a crime-free utopia, as no such place exists, but I’d like to think our car will be a lot safer in our own garage, instead of in a building’s parking area where the door is constantly being left unlocked, or the lock is constantly broken.

My emotions are very mixed right now. As much as I can’t wait to open the door to our new house for the very first time, I almost wish I had a little more time here in Hoboken. But you can’t have everything, I suppose.

0.9 turned leaving the apartment into a miniseries

One of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to since 0.9 joined the fold is how long it takes to do something simple, like get the hell out of the house.

Can we GO now???

The days of my simple four-item checklist — wallet, keys, car keys, and cell phone — are now history. Now, a whole host of questions must be answered before exiting our apartment:

  • Did he eat?
  • Is he hungry?
  • How long ago did he eat?
  • When is the last time his diaper was changed?
  • When is the last time he pooped?
  • Should we change his diaper first?
  • Does he look like he’s about to poop?
  • Is he asleep?
  • Should we wait until he falls asleep?
  • Should we wait until he wakes up?

What used to take 10 seconds now seems to take two hours, and even though I know I will get used to it, and I know there are good reasons for those questions, right now, it drives me absolutely insane.

In the process, I have developed a great deal of admiration for the diaper bag. Apparently, this innocent-looking, small receptacle can carry within it an entire Babies ‘R’ Us, including the furniture department. Diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, toys, and God knows what else all fit inside.

Now I understand why people with kids are always late, although this excuse does not apply to some of my friends who have never and will never showed up on time for anything in their lives.

Adam Mansbach is my hero

I have a new favorite author: Adam Mansbach. If you’ve never heard of him, you have probably heard of his most popular book, and just never knew who wrote it. Mansbach captured the one sentence that surely goes through the minds of every parent, and that I have come to embrace over the past 10 weeks or so: Go the Fuck to Sleep.

Go the Fuck to Sleep

Everyone warned me about it, but until I actually became a parent, I never realized how every aspect of my life would be controlled by whether 0.9 has his eyes open or closed.

0.9 goes through days when he exhibits nothing resembling a desire to nap, and when evening strikes, the lack of sleep catches up to him, and he takes cranky to a new dimension. On days of that sort, the following activities have been frowned upon by Mrs. 9 at various points:

  • Watching the Yankees game with any sort of audible volume on the television
  • Cheering
  • Booing
  • Cursing
  • Burping
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Blowing my nose
  • Doing anything on the laptop that generates sound
  • Any noise coming out of my iPhone
  • Keeping my light on so I can read, despite the fact that I have been reading before going to sleep since I was only a little older than 0.9
  • Getting up to use the bathroom
  • Talking
  • Whispering
  • Breathing
  • Existing

Other than all of those, I am free to live a long and complete life.

Having said that, a sleeping 0.9 is preferable to a screaming, screeching, yowling, bawling 0.9, so adjustments are necessary.

Mansbach captured thoughts that every parent has expressed, albeit likely not audibly, including yours truly. And if the book itself doesn’t win you over, watch the video below and listen to Samuel L. Jackson narrate Go the Fuck to Sleep. This is a masterpiece.

Bravo, Adam Mansbach. At the suggestion of Mrs. 9, I now own a reading light, so I can enjoy Go the Fuck to Sleep many more times. Now if you’ll excuse me, 0.9 is sleeping, and you know what that means.

Welcoming 0.9 into this crazy world

0.9 reached two months old Friday, and to say life has changed would be the understatement of the decade. He isn’t the reason I’ve been horrible about posting on this blog. The blog I actually get paid for is to blame for that, and all is well on that front now. But no matter how many friends, friends of friends, relatives, or random numb nuts tell you what a dramatic change your life undergoes when you welcome a baby into the household, you have to experience it yourself to truly grasp it.

0.9 about to leave the hospital

The obvious moment you never forget is the moment when you hold your child for the first time. But I have a few other moments that really stuck out for me, and that I think about constantly.

0.9 decided it would be a good idea to spend his time in the womb with his head opposite where it needed to be and grabbing his feet, so unfortunately, we had to go the C-section route. It’s hard to find good things about surgery, but the only good thing about C-sections is that the unpredictability is removed as far as timing.

On that note, the first moment I’ll never forget is getting into the car at 5:45 a.m. on a Sunday to drive to the hospital for the delivery. Even though the moment was in the works for, oh, about nine months, the enormity of it struck me when we were physically leaving to actually go and do this.

The second unforgettable moment for me was the few minutes I spent standing outside of the operating room, in scrubs, while they prepped Mrs. 9 for the operation. It’s the only time the father is alone in the process, and I couldn’t have been standing out there for much more than five minutes, but it seriously felt like an hour-and-a-half. My nerves were at an all-time high at that point.

The procedure was very quick, and not that I would have looked anyway, but mother and father are behind a curtain so we can’t see what’s going on. Suddenly, I heard a cry that sounded more like a yelp, and one of the nurses handed me a baby — our baby. This is everyone’s big moment for a reason. There is no way to describe this moment that can possibly do it justice, so I’m not even going to try.

Moment No. 4 came shortly thereafter, when Mrs. 9 went to recovery, and I stayed with 0.9. He started crying and, when I tried to comfort him, he grabbed onto my finger and held on tightly, for what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes. It almost felt like someone was trying to send me a message: You have a son now.

Moments No. 5 and 6 were very similar. I stayed at home the night before Mrs. 9 and 0.9 were discharged, mostly to keep the cats company, as they had been alone for most of the past three days, but also to try to get one last good night of sleep. So moment No. 5 was when I got in the car that morning and realized I was driving to go pick up our child, and moment No. 6 was when I pulled the car up to the front of the hospital after we were discharged, and we strapped 0.9 into the car seat for the very first time.

I am running about two months behind, but now that I’m no longer flying solo at work, I will hopefully have time to begin writing regularly again, and 0.9 is a constant source of topics, as he keeps us entertained every day, Stay tuned.

0.9 looms

The arrival of 0.9 is alarmingly close. When people told me the last few weeks would fly by, they were not joking.

I may have spent a few minutes in this place over the past few months ... just a few

My state of mind is pretty good right now. I’m a little anxious, and at this point, I would like to fast-forward to the point when 0.9 is out of the womb, crying for the first time, and (hopefully) healthy. But I’m not panicked, or on edge. I think I’m pretty ready for this, which is a good thing, because it’s not like I have a choice at this point.

My only personal worry is my complete lack of experience with babies. I am certainly not the only first-time father in history, but I have spent next to zero time around babies. My family isn’t very tight, and while I have friends who have become parents recently, I’ve never dealt with things like diapers, car seats, strollers, dressing and undressing, or anything of that sort. If they could assign a percentile ranking to parents-to-be, I’d be in the bottom 5 percent.

I have had many conversations along these lines over the past few months.

9’s Wife: See, honey, these are the swaddle blankets I want?

9: What the hell is a swaddle blanket?

Recent father: Hey, can you pass the Boppy?

9: What in God’s name is a Boppy?

Hell, when I first heard the term, “Pack ‘n Play,” I thought it referred to filling up a cooler with beer for a tailgate.

I am truthfully amazed by the sheer amount of crap that people purchase for babies. I will not poke any fun at spending money on a good car seat and a good stroller, for obvious safety reasons. But I am positive that when I was a kid, I didn’t have four different contraptions to sleep in, one-dozen different types of blankets, and all of the other various items we registered for. I mean, seriously: swaddle blankets, receiving blankets, nursing blankets? I need a security blanket!

The baby industry is a worse racket than the wedding industry. I swear, there are people sitting around a conference room right now, inventing more unnecessary crap for parents to spend money on.

Everyone says it will all be worth it in the end. I believe they are right. I am ready for go time.

I don’t think I got a 4.0 in my classes for 0.9

In addition to soaking in advice from friends and family on our upcoming addition, my wife and I have taken three classes, covering the actual birth process, infant care, and breast feeding. I’ve definitely learned a lot, but there were also a few things that made me chuckle.

I would not be shocked if 0.9 does this

The birthing class included a few documentary-style videos of actual births. God bless the women who agreed to participate, because, while most males are smart enough to not even try to act like we know what women are going through while giving birth, I wouldn’t want a camera anywhere near me if I were going through about 10% of the discomfort involved.

The instructor tried to show a balanced selection of videos, including natural childbirth, giving birth with medication, and the dreaded C-section, and she also showed both relatively easy and very difficult births. Yet one of the participants in the class felt that the videos were skewed toward persuading mothers-to-be to choose the medication. So the instructor picked one more video of a natural childbirth to show the class.

This video was sort of laughable. There was nothing physically remarkable about the subject — she wasn’t particularly young or old, and didn’t seem to be either athletic (yes, pregnant women gain weight, duh, but they still keep some of their muscle tone), or non-athletic. Yet, when she began to deliver, her baby came out in exactly three pushes.

Seriously? Three pushes? She should have headed straight for the nearest casino, because luck like that is beyond crazy. I turned to my wife and told her she got a maximum of five pushes, and then I was heading to the bar. She did not appreciate that. I don’t know why.

When we took the infant care class, we got some advice that I’ve also heard from my friends who recently became parents: Use the last few weeks before the due date to get all of the sleep you can get. I don’t agree with this.

Everyone’s body is different, but I have found that my body does not have the ability to bank sleep. On the rare occasion when I have a Saturday or Sunday with nothing going on and the cats leave me the hell alone and let me sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, I definitely feel more refreshed, but it only makes a difference for about a half-day. It’s not like a good, 15-hour slumber powers me up for the week. The effects are very short-term.

So, my philosophy runs completely counter to all of the advice. I am taking these last few weeks to get in as much fun as I can, because I know that when 0.9 becomes a reality, opportunities to go out drinking, play softball, go to Yankees games, and things of that sort will be nonexistent for quite some time, and limited thereafter. In the words of the great Warren Zevon, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” And after my wife reads this blog, I may be getting some sleep pretty soon!

Our last class covered breast feeding, and one of the mothers-to-be cracked me up. She asked more questions than everyone else combined, which was fine, because they were actually good, relevant questions, and not, “Can I give my baby jet fuel if I want to make sure he doesn’t sleep too long?”

What made me laugh was that every single one of her questions was aimed at helping her achieve one goal: having her husband feed the baby. It was comical. This woman seemed like she could not wait to hand her husband their baby and a bottle, and head out on the town.

Again, as a male who likes to avoid getting shoes thrown at him, I will not try to pretend I know anything about how much work breast-feeding is, or how draining it is for mothers, but I have a feeling her husband is in for an interesting ride. I hope he was paying attention.

We are one day closer to the arrival of 0.9. Wow.