Nobody knows where little brothers come from

This is a guest post. Our special guest poster is Buster: Age 2.

From the beginning, it’s always been me and my big brother – and Mommy and Daddy, of course, but that goes without saying.

I don’t know where I came from, but I know where I’m going. I’m going to wherever my brother is playing, and whatever he’s building I’m knocking down – Buster style. That’s his idea of fun, which is why I don’t understand how it makes him pout so much. For my part, I do what I’m supposed to do.

One day, I noticed that Mommy was getting a little extra round in the middle. At first, I thought she was just hitting McDonald’s extra hard. But she kept getting bigger. It looked like she swallowed a soccer ball, and I’ve never seen them serve soccer balls at McDonald’s. Eventually, it got to look like she had a basketball in her belly. That was okay with me; I like balls. They’re fun to throw at people. But who am I kidding? Anything you lift in your hand is fun to throw at people.

One day, Mommy pointed to her basketball and told me it was a baby. I was a little disappointed about losing the ball, but I like babies too. They’re small and cute, just like little, mini toddlers. It’s a shame they have to grow up. Also, baby is an easy word for me to pronounce.

After Mommy swallowed a basketball

Apparently, they start out as basketballs. Odd but true.

Anyhow, I worried for a minute that Mommy had eaten a baby, cause that doesn’t seem right. Upon mature reflection, I considered this physically improbable. For one thing, the baby stayed in her belly. Everything I eat ends up in my diaper.

Everybody liked the baby in Mommy’s belly. Sometimes Daddy would look at it and wink at Mommy, all smug and proud of himself. Really, Dude? Like you had something to do with it?

The one thing that confused me was how a baby got in there and how it was going to get out. I guess that’s two things, but somebody should probably send me to school if they want accurate math from me. That baby was only getting bigger and I didn’t want it to pop Mommy. She’s my favorite parent. I know, we’re not supposed to have favorites, but it is what it is.

There’s a lady who looks a lot like Mommy that we often talk to on Mommy’s iPad. I kind of know her name, but I can’t pronounce it yet. One day, she showed up at our house. We were hanging out, having some laughs, when it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen Mommy or Daddy in a while. I was a little worried, but that lady is nice, so I held it together. Later, she took me to get my brother from school. Then we went to this big hotel place.

I’ll be damned if Mommy and Daddy hadn’t checked themselves into their own room!

And BAMM! Mommy’s holding a little baby. And Mommy’s belly isn’t like a basketball anymore. So I’m looking at the baby, and I’m looking at her belly. Look at the baby; look at her belly. My eyes are bouncing back and forth. Baby; belly. Baby; belly. And I’ll be a son of gun if that’s not the baby from inside her belly!

By and by, everybody comes home, and this includes the little baby. I like him. He’s pretty cute – reminds me of somebody I know. Mommy lets me hold him on my lap and kiss him on the cheek. And one time when I was kissing him, it dawned on me. This kid might be my little brother. Ha! What a crazy world!

Baby pictures

Showing the little bro some of my baby pictures.

I hope he is my little brother. Then I’ll have somebody to knock down my toys for me when I’m playing. That will be awesome! Way better than just another basketball. I can’t wait.

But I still can’t figure out where he came from.

Where are your boob holes when you need them?

If you are like me, you probably think that all hospital gowns are pretty much the same. That just goes to show how wrong it is to be like me. You should try very hard not to do it anymore.

In the maternity ward, they have a special gown, just for mom, with holes cut out over the breasts. I don’t remember seeing these on our first visit to the maternity ward, in 2008, but I suspect I just didn’t notice. After all, I was passed out much of the time, and overwhelmed by the prospect of a lifetime of parenthood when conscious.

The ostensible purpose of these special gowns is to allow mothers to breastfeed their babies without having to navigate all the way around to the open edge of the gown. While this is a noble cause, and a team of engineers probably dedicated the better part of their careers to calculating the optimal number of holes, I think it must be the most underutilized piece of medical technology in existence.

I almost missed knowing about these medical advancements on this last visit too, and with good reason. Though my wife breastfed from the get-go, she most often did so by throwing the bulk of her gown up over her shoulder with the same abandon with which a cavalier would manage his cape.

Only once, entangled in the gown, bed sheets, and other sundry cloaks of fresh motherhood, did my wife attempt to use these helpful slits in her apparel. She wriggled around, searching the folds of her peculiar garment. “Where are your boob holes when you need them?” she muttered in frustration.

This was my first indication that such a thing existed. “What are boob holes?” I asked, a little embarrassed that, in my position as a repeat father, I might have been ignorant of an entire undiscovered acre of female anatomy.

She pointed to a spare gown hanging on the bathroom door. Unlike the gown she wore, this one clearly showed a hole, by virtue of its being hung from it. Before I could note the difference between this hole and the short sleeves at either side, I said, “I thought that was an arm hole.”

This gown must be defective. Who has arms this close together?

“How many arms do you think I have?” she asked. Clearly, her frustration with her own gown was making her sarcastic.

Intrigued, I took down the extra gown and examined it. True enough, there were two spare arm holes cut right smack into the front of it. “Science!” I whistled to myself. I was just at the point of thinking that we might be able to use one of these at home, when a couple of quick impulses cooled my ardor.

First, my wife had given up and slung the bulk of her gown off to the side. She had finally located one of the holes, but it was awkwardly situated and she had no success using it to lasso anything useful to a baby. I’m no expert on hospital gowns, but it seems to me that they are difficult to keep on straight.

Some sicko with a camera playing dress-up in hospital dainties. They really ought to be more careful about who they let into the maternity ward.

By the time a woman gets into bed and maneuvers breast and baby onto a collision course, the boob holes (pardon my continued use of technical terms) might as well be arm holes. A baby stands a better chance of finding milk by shoving his head up a sleeve.

Second, the material of the hospital gown seems flimsy and unattractive to me. I think I’ll wait until they start making these chic little outfits in leather.

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Dispatches from the Delivery Room, Part 2: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Labor Pain

Watching your wife go through labor is kind of like seeing the one you love turn into a werewolf. There is nothing you can do to stop the transformation; your wife possesses decreasing cognition of why she shouldn’t tear you apart; and the townspeople agree that you are not to be trusted to make the difficult decisions that might need to be made.

When my wife’s contractions were getting to be about five minutes apart, she could still speak to me as a friend. She very calmly made the arrangements for our three-year-old to be looked after. She put the house in order, and even accepted my comforting touch whenever her five minutes of peace expired. We got into the car and drove to hospital like married people.

Even though the contractions were only five minutes apart, the hospital wasn’t satisfied that she had made enough progress to be admitted. They made us walk the halls for an hour, after which they became convinced that we had no business there. They sent us home; we were welcome to come back when we were serious about having a baby.

A lot can go wrong when one finds himself alone in a car with a woman in labor. Even though we were heading home, I drove as though it were an emergency. I was sure that I would be pulled over for speeding at any moment. I imagined how I would explain myself to the cop. “My wife is in labor, Officer. So, naturally, we are driving away from the hospital as fast as we can.”

Back home, my wife’s contractions gained in intensity. There was no more quiet conversation in between. To make matters more frightfully confusing, those damned pains would not pace themselves at regular intervals like they do in all the training literature.

We tried every position, short of standing her on her head, to alleviate her agony. A warm bath helped for a few minutes, but soon became just another terror associated with the pain. All the while we debated the wisdom of returning to the hospital. What if all of our screaming and writhing were still not worthy of their hospitality? What if they sent us home a second time? That wouldn’t make us feel like social outcasts.

After three or four hours of this, my wife crossed an invisible line. I could no longer reach her. She had gone into werelabor. The transformation was manifest in her incongruous plea, “Help me! Help me! DON’T TOUCH ME!”

Her sister helped me load her into the car, for she was beyond the management of a single human. At the second stoplight, the cruel spirits of labor overcame her. “I can’t stand this!” she moaned. “I gotta get out of here!” Only my quick finger on the auto door lock kept her from laboring against traffic in a busy intersection and causing chaos in the streets.

Our son was nearly born in the middle of this intersection. Despite his mother’s fervent attempt to have it all out here, I stuck to my guns and insisted upon a hospital birth.

In the hospital again, the doctor did another cervix exam. She announced to us that it was four centimeters dilated, which was enough progress for us to earn a bed at their inn. I’m not sure if it were four centimeters or not. I truly believe that, having seen the wild light in my wife’s eyes, the doctor knew what answer she had better give before she pulled on her gloves.

Finally invited to give birth among polite society, my wife howled for pain medication.  The hospital staff insisted on observing certain formalities first. This only left my wife more desperate. I soon found myself caught between calculating civilization and the primal needs of raw nature, trying to forge a peace between two powers with which I held waning influence.

This was when I understood that they were both right. Raw nature had no good reason not to tear me apart. I was merely an annoying noise that brought relief no closer. At the same time, civilization could not trust me to make calculated decisions. The werewolf was too much a part of my heart.

In all fairness, my wife only turned werewolf under the most stressful conditions imaginable. I often turn into a Frankenstein while sitting around the house, without provocation. (Photo credit: my three-year-old son with his Fisher-Price camera.)

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