More simple advice

Advice comes at you all the time when you have a pregnant wife. Friends, family and perfect strangers often feel the need to give you little pearls of wisdom. A lady in Wal-Mart talked to me about the third trimester and child birth for 10 minutes while my wife was in the bathroom. Sometimes you get great advice and sometimes you just smile and nod and think, "Wow, you are all kinds of crazy!"

As we enter the third trimester I find myself looking for more simple advice to help me through being a dad and raising my daughter. Honestly, I still really don't understand women, so how am I supposed to raise a little one? Through happenstance I got some advice from a combination of unlikely places and while a bit unconventional, I think it fits.

I listen to the Adam Corolla radio show every morning through Internet radio, and he has a theory about being a good dad to a daughter; Your only job is to keep them off the stripper pole. That's it! If you're daughter isn't serving up lap dances you've done a good job being a dad. You can also use it as a litmus test; By doing or not doing X will my daughter be pushed towards the stripper pole?

Yeah it's simplistic and doesn't address all of the intricate issues that exist between dads and daughters but I think it's a great overlying theory.

The other day my best friend Jason sent me one of those emails with fake motivational posters. One fit the Stripper Pole theory of daughter raising all too well. . .

strippersNow I'm not saying strippers are bad people. Everyone has to make a buck, and I'm not one to judge. Nor am I saying stripper's dads are horrible dads devoid of love. But you have to face the fact: If your daughter is taking her clothes off for money, somewhere along the line, no matter how much you loved her, you f*cked up buddy!

It's the same with people who have substance abuse issues. My wife and I love the show Intervention on A&E (it makes me feel better about the problems in my life). As they tell their life stories either there is divorce or some form of abuse that leads to these people using drugs and alcohol. As it begins we'll say to each other "So you think it was divorce or molestation?" It's sad but true.

The actions of mom and dad have huge effects on their kids. In order to be more educated about the subject I bought a book on the relationships between dads and daughters, I'll let you know all about it in a future post. Until then, I am sticking with the Stripper Pole Theory.

“Best Baby Products”- Review

Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. Best Baby Products, 9th Ed.
List Price: $16.95
Sale Price: $4.20
Used From: $2.85

Overview:  One of the first things I thought when I found out I was going to be a new dad was, "Oh crap, we're going to have to buy a bunch of stuff!"  If you don't know already you're going to find out really quick that there is almost no end to the amount of baby products out there.  Sorting through all the different products and brands can seem like an insurmountable task.  Enter Best Baby Products, 9th Ed.; a true life raft in the endless sea of baby gear.

While registering for our baby shower, I just happened to have picked this book up at the front of the store.  I literally carried this book with me and used it as a reference guide while we added stuff to our registry.  If it wasn't for Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. I would have gone with my usual "This looks good" shopping method.

Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. is a complete and thorough guide to all things baby and should be a must read by any new dad or parent looking for the best quality and value in their baby products.  Consumer Reports is known for their unbiased and impartial testing of products in all industries.  They don't even accept advertising in their magazines to remain completely objective.  So you know you're getting the best possible reviews with this book. 

It's 37 sections are alphabetically listed for easy reference.  They cover every possible baby related product category you could think of (and even some you wouldn't).  Some of the most helpful are:

Baby Bottles and Nipples

Baby Food

Bouncer Seats

Cribs

Diapers

Formula

Gates

Strollers

Swings

Besides the main feature of reviews, the book comes chalked full of extras.  Stuff like "The Baby Basics" checklist, "Keeping Baby Safe" and "Guide to Pediatric Drugs" really are just icing on this already awesome cake. 

What I liked:  Consumer Reports does a great job of scientifically and objectively breaking down products.  Their reviews keep you from buying something that "looks good enough" or has "cute colors".  For most products they provide a chart that breaks down essential factors (saftey, durability, comfort etc) and gives "poor" to "very good" ratings.  They also give a numerical rating so you can compare between different brands and models.

What I didn't like: For some products they only provide a "recommendations" section instead of break down by model.  Car Seats and Breast Pumps are both like this.  Then for other products they only have limited review charts.  For example the Cribs section only tells the price and if the crib meets basic safety standards.  So it's harder to compare between brands and models.

My Opinion: While the formatting for the reviews is not completely uniform, this book is a must have!  I paid $16.95 for it at the store and it was worth every penny.  I couldn't believe that it was going for only $5.99 @ Amazon.com That is an insane deal!  If you don't own this book, do yourself a favor and get it today.

Advice from 4 new dads

Here is a great article my wife sent me this morning.  It's four new dads being interviewed by BabyFit.com.  Check it out.  I found it pretty much dead on.

Advice from 4 new dads

Pregnancy Hormones

Pregnancy hormones are a wonderful thing.  They allow your partner's body to change so it can accommodate a small growing human, but they also have the added bonus of making them act crazier than a trapped badger being poked with a stick.  For example, my wife went to DEF CON 2  because of the amount of dog hair on the couch and my sweat pant's ability to transfer said hair.  All I need to do is stop static energy and the world could continue to spin.  But I digress. . .

Pregnancy Hormones; they aren't just for women anymore.  Yes, that's right it seems as though your hormones can change as well guys.  Studies have shown that levels of testosterone, prolactin, estrogen and cortisol all change in men (the percentage affected ranges from 20% to 80% depending on who you believe) while their partners are pregnant.  Many researchers believe this is what leads to Couvade Syndromem (from the French for "to hatch") or Sympathetic Pregnancy.  Guys who experience this can "share" in the morning sickness, weight gain, decreased energy etc.  It can also manifest itself in mood swings and nesting.

I'm pretty sure I have not experienced any of the physical symptoms.  At first I started to pack on some lbs, but I think that had more to do with the change in eating habits.  Often the Mrs. would have cravings only to get sick and there would be a lot of extra food laying around. . .which I refuse to waste.  However, I have not been immune to the emotional effects of hormone changes.  I have definitely experienced nesting with my OCD cleaning habits these days, but something even more bizarre was right around the corner.

I'm not one to get too emotional about much.  I can count the times I have teared up in a movie on one hand (if your eyes don't mist when Tom Hank's and Paul Newman have their show down in "Road to Perdition", you are a heartless bastard!).  Yet right after I found out I was having a daughter every single sappy, cheesy or even remotley touching tv or movie scene wells my eyes up.  Case in point: I was watching one of my new favorite shows "Sons of Anarchy" on FX (awesome show about an out law motorcycle gang).  The main character has a son who was premature and had to be keep in the incubator for a couple of weeks.  When he was finally out, Dad got to hold him.  He says to him "I got some bad news kid. . . .I'm you're old man".  Cheesy and sappy right? But I misted up and had to do the "look at the ceiling" move us guys pull when we're trying to keep it all in.   What the hell?!

My wife thinks this is both "cute" and funny and likes to take any opportunity to make fun of me.  Luckily, a lot of this wuss behavior has subsided recently, so maybe the hormones have ebbed.  Everyone joked that me having a daughter would "soften me up" and judging from this I would guess so.  Maybe this is nature's way of preparing me for tea parties with teddy bears and unicorns that I am sure I will be a guest of in a few short years.

As long as I don't get morning sickness and swollen ankles I can deal with it.

Nesting

People who have lived with me can attest to many of the interesting aspects of my character; I love to sleep in, I enjoy a Bud Light or two or three, I am a connoisseur of Chili Cheese Fries and I'm not quick to clean things up.  Now I'm not going to go as far as to sayI am slob, as some ex roommates have claimed, but I put off all things cleaning related until they need  to be cleaned.  That's just how I have always operated.  I tolerate my mess until I feel it's time for a cleaning purge.  At which point I clean up everything and start all over.

About four months into the pregnancy this all changed.  I have become obsessed with cleaning and organizing.  It's more than a conscious thought "Oh the counter is dirty, I need to clean it." It's an compulsion, which once fed spreads.  I will start cleaning the counter, only to notice the dishes need to be unloaded, then I see that under the sink is disorganized, then trash needs to be taken out, which takes me to sweeping the floor. . . .and it's impossible to stop.  I want to clean, disinfect and organize the world!  If I let myself go wild I'd be at home all day with cleaning gloves on.

None of this is helped by my wife's unique cleaning methods.  She apparently subscribes to "Shove it in a Drawer" cleaning magazine.  So when I open our kitchen cabinet and I find recipes, batteries, head sets, ipods, stationary, plates . . . .my nesting infected brain almost short circuits. 

After some research and reading "The Expectant Father" it seems that this kind of activity is semi-normal.  Most new dads or dads-to-be want to organize the house, fix stuff around the house, put together baby furniture and so on.  It's nice to know I'm not going crazy, or that I have adult onset OCD.

Much like my favorite side effect of pregnancy for my wife; she has little sympathy for my plight.  She continues to adhere to her cleaning method of "out of sight out of mind" while I continue to dart around the house muttering to myself like Rain Man,  "Headphones definitely don't belong in the kitchen. . . definitely".

Does this happen to anyone else?  Any ideas on how to put the sponge down?

“The Expectant Father”- Review

The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series) The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)
List Price: $18.95
Sale Price: $10.99
Used From: $15.90

Overview:  "The Expectant Father" was the first book I purchased when I found out I was going to be a new dad.  The authors do a really great job of covering basic pregancy information from the man's point of view.   The book is broken down by months; each month's chapter will have a short section on the things you, your baby and your partner may all be going through.  In addition to that there will be a subject high lighted in that chapter.  Topics that are covered are: paying for the birth, child and college, communication, telling the world, work and family changes, the birth and many others.

What I Liked: "The Expectant Father" gives you a good base of information if you don't really know what to expect from pregnant ladies or the process of child birth.  It is written in a very conversational matter, so it's more like one of your buddies talking to you than a biology text book.

What I didn't Like: The book is organized by months while everything in pregnancy is by weeks.  Yeah the math isn't hard, but sometimes big things can happen from week to week.  Also you get a lot of information thrown at you that may not apply right away.  For example; the authors delve deep into college funds in the second month's chapter.  This wave of information sometimes was too much and I literally had to limit myself to 2 chapters at a time, or I would start to feel the beginnings of panic attacks.  Sadly, I am not joking.

My Opinion: "The Expectant Father" is a great book if you just found out you are going to be a new dad.  It gives you a good base to start off with, but will not be the only baby book you need.  The authors are not doctors so the tone of the book is usually light and entertaining, but they incorporate plenty of professionals into their writing that you get good solid stuff to go off of.  All in all this book is worth the money and does a fantastic job of introducing you to the wide world of pregnancy.

Simple Advice

I'd like to share some really good, simple advice I got a little bit ago.  My friend John passed some advice on that his dad had told another one of our friends when they found out they were going to be a dad.

"Congratulations.  You're now the 3rd most important person in your life."

That really boils it down doesn't it?  You can read thousands of pages of baby books but never get something so refined.  I remind myself of this whenever I don't put my seat belt on right away, when I think about skipping a work out, or when I really don't feel like reading more baby stuff.  I also think about it when my wife reaches into her big bag of crazy and pulls something mind numbingly frustrating out.  It's not about you and what you want.  It's about helping your wife and baby be happy and healthy, and doing the same so you will be there for them.