Modern Advanced Birthing Techniques

There's no shortage of reasons to be afraid of what's about to happen to Penny and me.

In fact, we've been mentally categorizing the people we know and who offer their support and advice to us into a couple of handy categories. There's the "Babies are Terrible" camp, in which people seem to really enjoy telling us how utterly and thoroughly our lives will be destroyed by the arrival of this child. That's most everyone you run into at the grocery store, the post office, baby showers, and so forth.

Fortunately, there is also the "Babies are Wonderful" camp, spearheaded by Ryan and Sarah Noel but consisting of a few others (Val and Aaron spring to mind) who we greatly, greatly appreciate. And these folks say things more like what's in Ryan's email from back in September, which I of course saved: "I had the most wonderful day with Simeon on Saturday. Sarah took off in the morning, so it was just us boys. I made him smile and he made me smile, a lot."

The most interesting thing about the BaT and BaW camps, at least that I've noticed, is that they tell the same stories. Seriously, the plotlines are universal; all that varies is the tone.

One person could be telling us about garment soiling in these terms: "Love and all that other rubbish in theory is tested daily. And not the movie kind of love story - the ugly, 'Oh my god please hold this child while I go clean shit off my shirt' love, or 'Please take the little one now because I can't take her screaming any longer' love..." [actual excerpt from an email I just got last night]

...While another parent can describe his son smearing rice cereal all over himself and the premises instead of eating it and all you hear is the smile and the love in Dad's voice.

I imagine all parents jump between camps multiple times per kid, if not per day. And I'm certainly trying to be realistic about the challenges and frustrations awaiting us, especially in these first few weeks to come.

But overall I'm trying to look forward with more anticipation than anxiety. We've studied up, taken the birthing classes, read the books and the articles and the websites and listened intently to everything other parents have to tell us, both good and bad. We're as ready as we're going to get.

And one other thing that's really helping tonight, knowing that at any moment Penny could give me that look and we'll know our daughter's birthday is here, is this little video. It's Penny, as you might have guessed, about eight months pregnant in a sporting goods store, trying out the inversion table to see if it works on her back pain.

Each time she tilts back beyond horizontal, she giggles uncontrollably. No one knows why. And it's such a simple thing, really, being upside down, that it reminds me how amidst all the complexities and contingencies of delivering and caring for a baby, it really all comes down to some very basic ideas.





(For comparison's sake, it doesn't hurt that I figure Penny's laugh is good indicator of what our daughter might sound like.)

A lot can go wrong during parenthood, and a good amount of it inevitably will. But some things we can rely on, like the fact that we will get better at it as we and the baby get to know each other better. And that loving our baby without end will come naturally and will carry us through a lot. And that there is a whole circle of friends and family who will support us along the way — whichever camp they're in.

And I've already got my plan for difficulties with delivery: just tilt Penny's bed back.


Liz said...

Colin, I just wanted to say thanks for this post. My husband and I have been struggling with whether we want kids - most of the people we know are solidly in the Babies are Terrible camp, which is very discouraging! Reading your blog (and Penelope's) has given me a lot of hope.

Valarie said...

The video of Penny is great! Bella and I enjoyed it a few times.

Take a look at my blog today and it will be something you will look forward to.

Anonymous said...


I am so happy for you and Penny! I am in the BaW camp myself. I just had one in October and it is the best decision I have ever made! It is nowhere near as difficult as everyone tries to have you believe. We are very lucky in that we have a very good baby - Annika - she is the greatest. I know you will look back in a few months and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Enjoy the experience!
Meg (formerly Anderson) Butcher

Anonymous said...

It's all about how you anticipate it, how you view it, and what you make of it. You guys are doing an awesome job of making it a positive experience so far, even with Penny's frustration with rhinoceros ankles, exploding raspberries and landlocked lungs! You two just might have more talent at reframing this experience than most, since you've been able to take so many difficult and trying circumstances and make your lives happy despite them :) I'm envious, but definitely glad it's not me...yet...