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Almost a dad



A blog by an expectant father for expectant fathers. I hope this blog will help other men deal with the beautiful, enigmatic and sometimes plainly crazy being that is the pregnant woman.



Updated: 2017-12-14T08:34:38.339-08:00

 



Poo Finger, a treatise on poop and parenting

2012-12-09T15:25:38.592-08:00

There are many things for which new parents are unprepared. In addition to major adjustments to lifestyle and challenges of caring for a new life, new parents are presented with a myriad of other surprises that, while not as significant on a grand scale, are as equally jarring to new parents. At the top of the second list, extensive experience with poop.

There is no way to escape it;  if you have a child you will become intimately associated with feces. The smell, the consistency, the texture and yes, the touch. As an involved parent you will at some point get poop on your hands. My wife and I have a name for the streak of bad luck when a wipe rips or a diaper runneth over; poo finger.

You too will experience poo finger. As if some sort of poop-induced rigor mortis, your first run in with an errant smear will cause your finger to stiffen straight out rendering your hand immobile as to not spread it around. No matter how long you scrub your hands, your first poo finger will leave you feeling like Lady Macbeth, "Out damn'd spot! out I say." You'll get over it with time, but you'll think long and hard the next time you go to pick up a sandwich without latex gloves.

Every parent will deal with diaper blow outs. If it happens while you little joy is in a car seat, it will shoot up his or her back, possibly up to their hair. (That sounded impossible before I had kids.) Kids will stink up your house at some point, but there is also positive side to so much exposure to poop. Your child's poo is a clear indicator of health or sickness and can help you identify what foods agree with them.

You will talk about poop far more than you ever imagined. (You may even end up writing about it.) You will discuss it with your partner or other parents. Poop is just part of parenting, but it's not the worst thing in the world. (Actually you get grossed out a lot less easily after having kids.) When you realize that infants usually only cry because of dirty diapers or hunger, you go out of your way to tackle the dirtiest tasks to keep them happy.  It continues with potty training and butt wiping, extending the lifespan of the poo finger, but your hand doesn't cramp up quite so bad. The realization that it hasn't killed you yet helps you continue your necessary relationship with feces and take care of your little munchkins. So get used to the idea, stock up on antibacterial soap and enjoy the crazy.



Expectant fathers, help me help you

2011-12-22T13:15:32.970-08:00

I get tons of great comments on posts from expectant fathers. I love them because I get to learn a lot about other guys' pregnancy experiences and it's good just to hear people's opinions. Please keep them coming.

If there is something I haven't covered or you just want a sounding board to see if your experience is unique, please leave a comment on this post. I want to hear your questions, concerns or battle scars you have as an expectant father and I'll do my best to shed some light on the topic.

Continue to leave comments on other posts as well, but if you have questions or want to hear more about something specific, this is your place.
Thanks,
Bill



The 365 Things Project

2010-12-17T10:55:09.231-08:00

I walked into my bedroom the other day and saw my three year old son going through a technical book I was reading. He often picks up my books, but never pays much attention, so his look of determination made me wonder what he was doing. As I got closer I realized that he was unfolding the bent corners of all of the pages I had 'dog-eared' to reference later.

He looked up sweetly and said "Dad, I fixed your book!". I couldn't help but say "thank you!".

That experience was just one of the tiny treasures of being a parent. It might not be significant in the grand scope of life, but it's just one thing I love about him.

I thought of everything else that I love about him; how every day he makes me laugh at something or expresses a new piece of his personality. I realized that years from now I may forget some of these tiny idiosyncrasies, even though they're important to how I know him and our interactions. It dawned on me that I really do find something new and amazing about him every day, so why not keep track? That's when I came up with the concept of the 365 Things Project.

The Project basically entails keeping a daily log of one trait or interaction with your child that is special or unique. It's a journal of 365 things you love about your kids. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of everything and make sure I'm up to date. I add a new line every day, usually in the form of sentence beginning with "I love that..." or "You made me laugh when..." There will be days when you're frustrated and want to kill them, but this will help you to see the positive side of things.

I strongly encourage every other parent out there to try it. At the end of 365 days you'll have a funny keep sake of all the wonderful little experiences you've had with your kids over the course of the year. I'm looking forward to reflecting on my son's hobby of flattening folded pages, his love of the color yellow and his tendency to smack the TV when 'bad' characters come on.



Kids dealing with pregnant mothers

2010-11-15T18:56:43.083-08:00

As I approached my front door the other night I caught an earful of screams coming from the neighbor's apartment. They're a quiet and pleasant family so I indulged my nosy side for a just a moment while fumbling for my keys

"I gave up my life for all of you! I give you everything. You're all selfish..." It was the normally placid mother tearing into her usually well-behaved children. Then I remembered, she was pregnant. She was unloading on her four kids in what sounded to be a rather hormonal rant, completely out of character for her. The youngest daughter, about 2 years of age, began to bawl. I could hear the 10 year old trying to comfort her to no avail.

Making things worse, the father is not in the picture, leaving them all without the support figure they each need. A dad's role should be to help a pregnant mother through her difficult times and similarly help kids through what is a period of upheaval for them as well.


Many grown men think that dealing with pregnant women is difficult, but consider the situation from the eyes of a child. It's confusing for adults but must be of an entirely different scale for children.

By the time I found my keys I felt pretty sad for them. Until then I had never considered the pregnancy experience from a kid's viewpoint. It just wasn't my experience growing up nor my experience with our children. However it made me realize how important it is for dads to play a support role to the entire family during pregnancy.

This blog is not about demonizing pregnant women, it never has been. It's about shedding some light on the father's experience which is not always easy. What I hope it points out is that the father does play an important role in supporting everyone involved, mother, upcoming baby and the kids who are already around.

If you're an expectant dad with children, keep an eye out for how your kids are responding to the situation. Help out as much as you can, throw yourself on as many grenades as possible, just make sure they're happy. If you know a single mom without a dad in the picture, help her out as well. She'll need it more than anyone.



Save 15% on diapers with a 'subscription' from Amazon

2009-09-03T18:12:08.440-07:00

When I sat down and calculated how much money I spend a month on diapers, I wondered if having my son poop onto a pile of $1's might be a cheaper alternative. In a previous post about the monthly expenses associated with a newborn, I estimated that disposable diapers set you back about $100 per month; approximately 390 diapers a month at $.25 a piece.

While it's something for which I budgeted, it just seems expensive to me for perfoming a basic bodily function. Kids do use fewer diapers as they get older, but guess what. Diapers get more expensive per piece as they increase in size. My son is built like a defensive tackle and, at less than 2 years old, is in size 7 Pampers Cruisers which average about $.45 a piece.(image)

This size diaper isn't widely sold in our area so I started looking for an online source, which is when I chanced upon Amazon's fantastic offering. I looked around but couldn't find a deal that was even close.

First off, shipping is free on diapers from Amazon, which goes a long way towards not buying them in a store. If we don't have to lug around big boxes, all the better.

Second, Amazon offers a "subscription" service on certain items that will send you that product at a regular interval of your choice. The best part is, you save 15% on on those items to which you subscribe; diapers included.

Free shipping + Saving 15% = No brainer

Personally I like this concept because I don't have to worry about forgetting something at the store. I just know they're going to show up. You can cancel or change (increase or decrease) the subscription at any point, so there's very little risk.

The subscription isn't available on all diaper offerings, but as you mouse-over the various sizes and quantites, you'll see a message stating which are available for the subscription savings. The subscription option is available for Pampers Swaddlers and the larger Pampers Cruisers offering. I only wish I had found this sooner, but am glad I know about this in time for baby #2. (image) (image)



Maggie Maternity, a savior for maternity wear buyers

2009-08-10T10:44:47.049-07:00

I've written previously about how difficult it is to buy maternity clothes for a pregnant woman, stating the dangers inherent to the giver of such a gift. One rogue decision on sizing and she could either explode at you (too big: "How big do you think I am?") or implode in tears (too small: "I'm getting huge!"). It is a challenge for men to buy clothing for women when their bodies are not undergoing a myriad of changes, but throw in altered physical appearance and a limited selection of styles and you're setting yourself up for gift giving failure. As difficult as it is to find something fashionable in the realm of maternity clothing, it's equally difficult to find something that is well made and fits well. A standard, ill-fitting maternity smock won't cut it for women in professional environments, nor will it make the expectant mother feel good about herself either. (If you pick nothing else up from this blog, note this: it is paramount that you make expectant mothers feel good about themselves.)This puts expectant fathers at a distinct disadvantage; buy nothing and you look like you don't care, buy the wrong thing and you may fall flat on your face. Finally, there is a solution in the form of Maggie Maternity clothing. Not only does it make it easy for a guy to buy clothing for an expectant woman, it's something she actually wants! For the first time in either of my wife's two pregnancies, she has clothing that makes her feel good about herself and that she didn't have to describe using the adjectives "tent", "scratchy" or "cheap". My wife called me at work when it arrived in the mail and exclaimed "It's fantastic!"When I got home I realized why she was so excited, she looked absolutely beautiful in her new clothes. They're simple, classic and elegant and make her look more like she's going into a restaurant than into labor. I asked my wife what she liked about the pieces and she began to ramble off quite a few. I only typed fast enough to catch some sentence fragments, but they paint a clear picture:... comfortable, easy to wear, versatile....... mix and match, easy to incorporate with other styles and pieces...... something, something, easy care, something, something, lay flat to dry...... a nice change style wise because everything else is empire waisted and it's nice to have one nice fluid silhouette from top to bottom, not just a uni-boob or boob shelf and a belly.... there is an elastic quality to it that stretches to fit a body but isn't clingy at all. It's great because the combination of the material and the side ruching grows with you. It doesn't make you look too large early on and is flattering throughout the entire pregnancy.While the clothes themselves solve the issue of what an expectant mother would want, the website itself does a great job of helping you select appropriate sizing, providing style tips and suggesting predefined clothing combos. I got the four piece Classic Maggie Box for my wife which includes two tops, a skirt and pants, all of which she loves. My wife is about 6 feet tall and they even have long sizes to accommodate.For those of you looking to buy maternity wear, expecting father or mother, I'd highly recommend Maggie Maternity. The good folks at Maggie Maternity were kind enough to extend a discount coupon good for 20% off of any full-price merchandise through the end of August, 2009. (Excludes sale items and boxes). Enter the code Aug20 on the shopping cart page to redeem the discount. (It's never to early to think about the holidays!)[...]



Fetuses may have memories, make them good ones

2009-08-03T12:53:48.571-07:00

I've always advocated that fathers should talk to their partner's pregnant belly. I practiced this extensively with our first child, carrying on daily monologues next to my wife's baby bump. Moments after my son was born I spoke to him and he instantly quieted and looked up at me. The reaction was significant enough that the nurses and doctor commented on it and asked if I had been talking to him all along. That brief moment made the months of mindless belly banter worthwhile.

Aside from my experience, there is new evidence that 30-week-old fetuses are able to "store information and retrieve it four weeks later." The study tested fetal reaction to acoustic stimulation and noted differences between groups which had and had not previously experienced the stimulation, signifying their memory of the stimulus.

In my non-scientific summation and application of this information, a fetus can learn the sound of its father's voice. It's a great way for both the father and the fetus to bond and, by experience, has a calming effect on a new born baby. Studies have shown that reactive listening can occur as early as 16 weeks gestational age, so talk soon and talk often.



An Alternative Drink for Pregnant Women with Gestational Diabetes

2012-12-09T18:20:00.865-08:00

Most pregnant women will tell you that their taste buds aren't the same as they were pre-pregnancy. I've heard many times that the taste of water, and even an expectant mother's own saliva, can make her feel sick. Ginger ale drink is quite adept at settling an uncertain tummy, but the sugar content puts if off limits for women with gestational diabetes.

An 8 oz serving of most ginger ales has about 22 grams of sugars, or about 8% of your recommended daily intake. This adds up quickly with multiple servings and is a definite no-no for pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes who must watch their dietary intake like a hawk.

(image)

If your partner is one of these unlucky women who has been placed on a restricted diet, yet can't stand water, a fantastic alternative is a naturally flavored sparkling water.
My wife loves the Poland Spring lime essence sparkling water; it tastes great and isn't overly flavored, has 0 grams of sugars and isn't loaded with suspect ingredients. Polar (if it's available in your area) has a similar offering and it's usually less expensive as well.

I actually really like the taste myself, which is good considering my fridge is now crammed with the stuff. Poland Spring has 4 flavor offerings as well as an original sparkling water. I'm sure other brands have similar offerings, just check the nutritional label to make sure there isn't any added sugar or artificial ingredients.

So expectant dads, why am I telling you this?It's your job to take care of her and help her feel better. Bringing home a feel-better alternative shows that you're thoughtful, you care about her comfort and her health. By proxy, this also shows that you care about your unborn child's health. Just remember to buy the plastic bottles; she's hormonal and may end up throwing them at you if she doesn't like the taste.



10 Ways To Help Pregnant Women Feel Better

2009-06-08T10:19:07.882-07:00

Direct from the Almost A Dad reader survey, here's a list of 10 tried and true ways to help pregnant women feel better, physically and/or emotionally.1. Back rub / foot massages. This topped the list as AaD reader's favorite way to help their pregnant partners feel better. Pregnant women are often sore and uncomfortable due to increased weight, dietary changes and the fatigue that comes with growing a baby. A massage is a fantastic way to help ease the tension in her neck, back and shoulders. Have her sit on a pillow or lay on her side to make sure she is comfortable and relaxed.2. Ginger ale. A good old fashioned favorite, ginger has a settling effect on the stomach and can be served in a few different ways. If ingested for an upset tummy or nausea, serve warm and flat. If it just hits the spot, serve cold. Mix with cranberry juice and ice for a refreshing treat and some good vitamins.3. Time alone / Time to relax. This cuts both ways so be careful; you don't want to leave her alone too long, but you don't want to smother her either. She is tired, hormonal and may need some time to think about all the upcoming changes in her life.4. Certain foods. Food can be friend or foe to a pregnant woman depending on mood, trimester, health and a host of other factors. Find out what your pregnant partner likes and stock up so she can have it at a moment's notice. Try and find healthy snacks if your partner is at risk of gestational diabetes. Just be prepared that she will suddenly hate what she loved yesterday.5. Talking. Pregnancy can be as confusing and scary as it is exciting. Pregnant women go through so many physical changes, which says nothing for all of the emotional and even logistical changes you both with encounter. In the face of such a massive life event is helps to have someone to talk to. Give her an attentive ear and share some feelings of your own.6. Attention / Compliments. Attention and compliments do well even when she's not pregnant. Spend time with her and tell her how beautiful she is and what an amazing mother you think she'll be.7. Helping her out as much as possible, tasks, chores. Household responsibilities shift during pregnancy, there's no way of getting around it. Expectant mothers tire quickly (physically and emotionally) and often feel poorly a fair percentage of the time. Start by transitioning the chores that involve any lifting or physical exertion. Branch out into the niceties that make it easier for her to relax like some extra cleaning or picking up. Remember that a pregnant woman should never change the cat box.8. Constant apologies, whether right or wrong. While I don't think you need to become a whipping boy, taking a lighter tack towards proving a point and avoiding conflict with an hormonally charged woman isn't the worst approach in the world.9. Letting her have her way all the time. I personally disagree with this to some extent, however it came up quite a bit. Like #8, I think that softening your approach and being accomodating is important, but if you totally bow down to every ridiculous whim you may find yourself ready to snap by the end of the pregnancy. It's about balance and understanding that her circumstance is effecting her emotionally. With that in mind, cater to her as much as you can, but preserve your own sanity as you go.10. Playing it by ear. One reader who seems to have a good handle on what can be a volatile situation wrote "I find that just playing it by ear is best. If she clearly needs space, I give it. If she clearly needs a hug, I give it. If she clearly needs onion rings at midnight, I go out and find them."And a bonus...11. Exorcism... because sometimes it's safest to get out of the house for a couple of hours.[...]



How long does a pregnancy last?

2012-12-09T15:27:31.311-08:00

The length of a pregnancy may sound like a basic question, but one worth asking as there is often some confusion around it.

The length of a typical pregnancy is approximately:
- 38 weeks from time of conception
- 40 weeks from last menstrual period (or LMP as some call it)

Why are there two different lengths? 

Doctors use the LMP date as it is often the most solid point of reference. Many people don't know the actual date of conception, so the LMP allows for consistent comparisons from person to person amond medical professionals. The 38 week timeline is often referred to as the gestational age.

I thought a pregnancy was 9 months long? Isn't 9 months 36 weeks?

Well, it is 9 months, but the average month is 4.3 weeks long, not 4.
- (52 weeks / 12 months = 4.333 weeks per month.)  
- 4.333 weeks x 9 months = 38.99 weeks
So 9 months is just about the average of the 38 and 40 week numbers.
 To sum up, doctors talk about pregnancy on a 40 week timeline, the actual gestational time is about 38 weeks. All the being said, there are some variances in baby due date accuracy.




How accurate are home pregnancy tests?

2009-05-19T16:05:35.979-07:00

Now that you have (or have not) seen a couple of blue lines on a home pregnancy test, you may be asking yourself just how accurate are pee-on-a-stick home pregnancy tests, anyway? For those of you who are flipping out right now and can't really focus, read the bulleted items below. For those of you who can concentrate, continue reading below for more of an explanation.1. Most pregnancy tests claim to be 99%+ accurate.2. Pregnancy tests should be taken in the morning, with the day's first urination. hCG,  the marker detected in home pregnancy test is most concentrated in the urine at that point, increasing the likelihood for an accurate result.3. Take at least two home pregnancy tests several days apart. You're most likely to get an accurate result over the course of two or three tests spaced several days apart. This will help eliminate false negatives due to low hCG levels, and false positives due to faulty tests, improper use or other factors.4. The longer you wait to take a test, the more likely it will be accurate. Aim for 1 week after a missed period. Again, hCG levels are more likely to be at sufficiently detectable levels in the case of pregnancy.5. False negatives are more common than false positives. You're more likely to be told you're not pregnant when you really are, but false positives are also possible due to a number of factors.So for some more explanation.Home pregnancy test work by detecting hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in a woman's urine.  hCH is a "glyco protein hormone made by the developing embryo soon after conception," so its presence is a good way of detecting pregnancy. The tests are essentially dumb, all they can do is measure hCG and turn a color.The answer on most boxes is that they are 97% -99%+ accurate. I am skeptical of this as that 99% claim is based on a lab trials, not on aggregate real world use.  False negatives are more common than false positives, but both are possible due to a number of factors. Knowing that, it is essential to take the test at the proper time to optimize your results. (See # 2, 3, 4 above.) Some tests claim to determine pregnancy even before a woman has missed her first period. While this may be true, I would argue that one is more likely to have a false-negative (the test says you're not pregnant when you actually are) if taken very early as hCG levels are still very low at that point.   hCG levels increase rapidly in pregnant women, roughly doubling every couple of days. With that in mind, it makes sense that the longer you wait to take a home pregnancy test, the more likely you are to have an accurate result. I know that it is often incredibly difficult to wait that long to find out, so if you do take an early test you should follow up with at least one more in another few days.Always follow the instructions on the box exactly, and good luck whatever the result.[...]



Pregnancy Quotes - understanding pregnant women

2008-11-05T07:39:19.539-08:00

I came across a quote about pregnancy that may provide some insight for expectant fathers on why pregnant women may not seem themselves.


"Life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside."
- Rita Rudner


Pregnant women just don't feel themselves and strange things are happening. I'd be irritable if I got kicked in the stomach all the time. Aside from that, consider even some basic logistics; they're getting large and immobile, they have to pee every 5 minutes and don't have the energy to walk to walk to the bathroom. That alone would drive me nuts.

Check out some more pregnancy quotes.



Books for Babies

2008-10-27T17:01:59.531-07:00

Reading to a baby from a very early age is one of the best things you can do for your child. While it may seem strange to read to someone who has no comprehension of what you're saying, it is at the very least time well spent together. Reading also helps form a bond between parent and child, as they develop familiarity with your voice and become comforted by it. 

As your child grows slightly older, they will begin to appreciate the pictures and shapes in the books. Black and white pictures are good for the very young who can't yet distinguish colors. Goodnight Moon, for example, has both color and black and white illustrations, so it's a good transitional book. 

When they get just a little bit older, it becomes part of a ritual and source of enjoyment. Kids are able to crawl away and may seem uniterested, but the first few lines of their favorite bedtime story bring them scampering back.

Long story short, it's never too soon to start reading to your kids. It's especially important for dads who need to take every opportunity to engage their children. A while back I wrote a post on Fatherhood Matters about parents' top 50 children's books. I thought it is worth mentioning here on Almost A Dad because if you're expecting, you might be stocking up ahead of time. 

I'm Going to Run Away, Noisy Nora, Bedtime for Frances and Where the Wild Things Are were favorites of both me and my brother. My son loves Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, I Love My Daddy and Max's Halloween. Check out the post for the full list, or the cool spinny widget thingy below for a few of them.  

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Goodnight Moon Bloggy Giveaway

2008-07-28T10:05:00.457-07:00

As part of the Bloggy Giveaway carnival I'm sponsoring a giveaway at Fatherhood Matters for a copy of Goodnight Moon. It's been a classic for decades and a nightly read with my son.

If you'd like to win a copy, check out the contest post at Fatherhood Matters.

Good luck!



What monthly expenses are associated with a newborn?

2009-09-03T18:17:26.931-07:00

You'll probably spend a bunch of money stocking up on baby supplies in advance, but many wonder how much it will cost every month once the baby arrives. Babies are relatively simple creatures, and the main elements of caring for a newborn are feeding them, cleaning / changing their diapers and making sure they're rested. The sleep is free, but here is a rough approximation of monthly costs for a young baby.

Formula, $75-105
If your child will be breast-fed, this column is free. If you are planning on bottle feeding, a baby generally eat 2-3 ounces of formula per pound of body weight, so 14-21 ounces a day for a 7 pound baby. Powdered formula (Similac organic) costs about $1 per 6 ounce bottle. This intake level will set you back $75 - $105 per month.

Diapers, $97.40
A newborn usually needs between 8 and 15 diaper changes a day, usually towards the higher end. Estimating 13 diapers a day at $.25 per diaper, $3.25 per day or $97.50 per month. (Update: Save 15% on diapers with a subscription from Amazon.)

Wipes, $15
Depending on the type you buy, budget about $15 per month.

Pediatrician co-pays, $50
Estimating a $25 visit co-pay, budget for $50 per month for the first couple of months, $25 there after.

Miscellaneous $50
There are plenty of little expenses that fit into this category. The items I'd put in here include Mylicon (anti-gas), Desitin for diaper rash, baby lotion and oil, baby vitamins and countless other little things. For this, I'd estimate $50 per month.

Baby detergents, $20
We use a special dishwasher detergent baby bottles and laundry detergent for baby clothes, which cost between $10 and $20 per month.



Pregnancy and birth quotes

2008-01-25T19:43:34.023-08:00

A ship under sail and a big-bellied woman,are the handsomest two things that can be seen common.

- Benjamin Franklin



Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.

- Sam Levenson



Sleep now, you'll never be able to again

2008-02-03T16:44:19.497-08:00

My primary piece of advice for all expecting parents is to sleep now while you have the opportunity.

The days leading up to the birth of a child are all a buzz with excitement as you rush around prepping for your new bundle of joy. This is all well and good, but sleep is better. Make sure you don't tire yourself out; YOU CAN'T CATCH BACK UP ON SLEEP LIKE YOU USED TO.

Sleeping in a chair in the hospital after the delivery will not give you adequate rest. Waking every couple of hours to crying for weeks on end will not rejuvenate you either. Walking your child to quiet him or her until you've worn through a pair of socks does not provide much rest either.

As long as you have a place for him or her to sleep, food for him to eat and diapers to keep him clean, the rest is all just inconsequential icing on the proverbial baby cake. Keep in mind that infants will not care how well-decorated a room is or whether or not their clothes match. Much of the advance preparation for babies is done for the parents' sake.

What will impact them most is having a well-rested, SANE parent who is not teetering on the edge of fatigue-induced clinical insanity.

So if you listen to one piece of advice, rest up now.



Use ACH to pay bills during pregnancy

2007-12-19T09:42:37.168-08:00

The latter months of pregnancy are often very busy with last minute preparation for the forthcoming little one. That full schedule will not ease up after the birth of a child either, and sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to remember little details that don't involve diapers and formula. It seems as though the world revolves solely around the expectant family or newly arrived treasure, but banks, utility companies and credit card companies don't see it in quite the same way.

One highly effective tool for managing time and personal productivity is to use automatic bill payments (especially while caring for/dealing with a pregnant woman and making sure the baby room is prepared). Often known as ACH, automatic bill payments simply deduct the amount owed from one's checking account on a predetermined date on a recurring basis. This service is quite often free and available for sign up through a vendor's website. It typically requires an electronic 'signature' and your checking account number and bank routing number. Certain places require paper forms to be signed and mailed, but it's worth the effort.

Not only does using automatic payments reduce the overhead involved with managing your finances, it helps make sure that you won't miss a payment date. As such, it prevents potential damage to your credit score because of an honest, fatigue-induced mistake. For variable payments (e.g. credit cards) for which the amount is not the same every month, I prefer to set the automatic payment to the minimum so I don't miss any deadlines and then initiate additional payments manually, after the fact.

This approach to personal finances saves time, effort, the cost of stamps and envelopes and makes sure there's never any question about whether or not a bill was paid on time or a check lost in the mail. Some credit card companies will charge a $35 late fee if your payment is even 1 hour past their cut off time; ACH prevents that from being an issue.

Many vendors allow you to change your payment date if you're worried about scheduling your payments around paychecks. I make entries in my Google Calendar for each automatic payment, and set up text message or email notifications on the payment date so I can balance my checking account.


Bills that often can be paid automatically each month include:
- auto insurance
- cable television
- car payments (set up through bank)
- credit card (if carrying a balance)
- life insurance
- phone
- utilities



Talking to the pregnant belly, revisited

2007-12-19T08:07:08.846-08:00

Throughout my wife's pregnancy I spoke to her belly, more specifically the baby within the big pregnant belly, on a fairly regular basis. From the beginning I felt that by talking to him in utero he would develop an affinity for his father's voice once he was born.

After months of chatter I have to say that, in my estimation, it worked and was a worthwhile expenditure of time.

Within moments of my son's delivery he was handed to me, and after speaking only a few words, my baby boy quickly calmed down. A nurse and a doctor commented on his reaction without prompting which was all the validation I needed for my "talking to a pregnant belly" hypothesis. These days, at the ripe old age of 10 days, he quiets quickly with a few words from dad when he's in the middle of a diaper or hunger-fueled crying jag.

I admit it's not scientifically airtight; I had no control group for this experiment. My wife would have been furious if I were simultaneously having a child with a different woman for the sake of a making a point, so I leave it to educated assumption and the opinion of professionals to draw my conclusion.

Among expectant fathers I'm not alone; many men talk to their pregnant partner's belly. Of those dads-to-be who answered the Almost A Dad ongoing survey for expectant fathers, more than 77% of expectant fathers carry on belly talk with relative frequency. More than a quarter of all respondents do so every day.

I never talked about much of anything of much importance; the events of my day, made up songs, anything that came to mind. My suggestion is that all expectant dads, if so inclined, should take a minute or two per day to talk to their partner's pregnant belly.



Prenatal checklist: Chest freezer

2007-12-19T08:30:42.796-08:00

A chest freezer may sound like an odd item on Dad's prenatal checklist, but if you have the space for and means to buy a chest freezer, I highly recommend it. A chest freezer allows you to buy in bulk, prepare in advance and stock up on extra until such a point that the bundle of joy is more mobile. If you are short on space to fit a freezer, you can always throw a changing pad on top and use it as a changing table for the baby.

Since coming home from the hospital after the birth of our son, we've gotten large quantities of food from family, friends and neighbors. It's been so much that it far exceeds the capacity of the freezer compartment of our refrigerator. We would never be able to finish it all before it spoils, yet will definitely eat it in the near future, so we stuck it all in our chest freezer. In addition to helping manage the influx of gifted foods, it allowed us to stock up on things before the baby ever arrived.

As part of the nesting instinct, expect that your wife or partner may buy extras of everything in preparation for your new arrival. A chest freezer helps accommodate any extra groceries that make their way into your home. Remember, you may not be able to get to the grocery store with pre-baby ease and frequency. You can leave a pregnant woman alone for short periods of time, but you can't do the same with a newborn.

Getting things done becomes a much more difficult proposition. Every errand you need to accomplish takes on new logistical weight, food shopping included. You're not supposed to take newborn babies out into crowded public places like shopping centers for a least a month, so you can't just bundle him or her up and take them with you. In the case of a c-section birth, the mother's recovery time will be much longer and will need much more help, again making trips out of the house more difficult.

Some foods that freeze well, or can be purchased frozen, include:
- meat
- poultry
- fish
- breads
- soups and stews
- baked goods, cookies, unfrosted cakes
- casseroles
- lasagna
- spaghetti sauce
- juice concentrate
- pre-made dinners
The function of a chest freezer is just as useful as your child ages and the amount of food you consume on a regular basis may exceed the store you have available in a refrigerator or freezer.
Big box stores like Best Buy and Home Depot usually have small chest freezers for anywhere from $150 on up.



My baby boy

2007-12-08T07:58:53.105-08:00

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8 pounds, 7 ounces after a whopping 33 hours of labor. My wife was amazing and so is our little boy.

Thank you to all of you for your well wishes... I'll be back posting soon!



The Jeffersons Birth Song

2007-12-02T10:02:01.403-08:00

On a regular basis I talk to my wife's pregnant belly. And yes, I do realize how ridiculous I look but I don't really care. In fact, I relish the ridiculous and often embellish it with the gift of song. I would now like to share with you one of my recent masterpieces.

Classless, yes. Offensive, slightly. Waiting for his arrival is killing me and this is the level to which I've regressed.

This is a song about birth, sung to the tune of The Jeffersons theme song.
Well he's a movin' on down, (movin' on down),
To the south side
through a deluxe compartment, in her thi-i-ighs.

He's a movin' on down,
To the south side,
He finally gets to see to whats outside.

Gotta get past the cervix,
Down through that birth canal
Takes a whole lot of tryin'
Just to come join this world

Now we're waitin' for our child,
Just can't wait for that.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Well he's a movin' on down, (movin' on down),
To the south side
through a deluxe compartment, in her thi-i-ighs.



Baby due date accuracy

2007-11-25T07:59:04.508-08:00

Since the beginning of my wife's pregnancy I have been somewhat suspicious of how accurate delivery due dates are.

Well, in fact only about 5% of all babies are born on their due dates, with estimates ranging from as low as 2% to as high as 8%. Whatever the number, my wife is not among the few of every hundred women who deliver on their target date.



Visit the Almost A Dad Amazon store!

2007-11-23T10:16:26.271-08:00

For those of you looking for gifts for pregnant women and expectant dads, including books, maternity aides and baby gear, look no further than the Almost A Dad Amazon store!
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With items suggested by real live pregnant women, the Almost A Dad store has everything you'll need to keep the pregnant women in your life informed, comfortable and happy.



Sleep habits of fruit bats and pregnant women

2007-12-19T08:40:02.499-08:00

Owls. Fruit bats. Vampires. Pregnant women.

What do these creatures have in common? None of them sleep well at night and, in the case of pregnant women, neither do their partners.

A pea-sized bladder, sore back, indigestion, swollen ankles and tender breasts are ingredients in the uncomfortable cocktail that makes pregnant women sleep poorly. They all add up to interrupted sleep on the part of the pregnant woman and, by proxy, the expectant father will not sleep well either. Dads-to-be should make sure that in the months prior to the birth they eat a balanced diet and try to maintain a regular sleep schedule so they are not completely fatigued and unhealthy before the little one arrives.

This may be nature's way of preparing the new parent for many sleepless nights ahead. I would however much prefer being woken by my new, adorable (as he will of course be) son than by my wife's huffing and puffing as she struggles to roll out of bed. I'm actually looking forward to being woken by the little one, for now it's the wife that's driving me to exhaustion.