Category Archives: nesting

Dadchelor Parties: A Dream or a Disaster?

I saw this segment on ABC Nightline last week about “Dadchelor” parties becoming all the rage among soon-to-be daddies. In fact, according to one expert interviewed during the segment, roughly 1 in 5 dads has a dadchelor party.

If you’re like me and don’t know a single dad whose had such a party, a dadchelor party is a man’s version of baby shower. And because its usually given by men for men, it tends to end up looking seriously similar to a bachelor party, with loads of booze and questionable entertainment generally lasting well into the wee hours of the morning.

It would appear that most soon-to-be mommies aren’t exactly big on this idea. It’s totally immature, but I personally think it’s brilliant.

Leave it to men to figure out how to take the idea of a baby shower to the next level. How lame do ladies lunches with traditional shower games seem next to a party bus full of raucous friends with a final destination of the nearest casino? And the diaper keg is ingenious. Basically how it works is every dadchelor party participant brings a box of diapers to the party in exchange for booze. I also really like the idea of bringing a new stroller full of beer or drink-with-me Elmo games, as shown in this dadchelor party spoof:

But while I find this whole dadchelor idea totally creative on the part of soon-to-be dads and their degenerate friends, I sincerely do think it’s a good idea. From what I gather from a lot of my mommy friends, nearly every husband has a freakout moment before the birth of his first child. (Mine most definitely did.) It most often looks nothing like a soon-to-be mommy freakout. Rather than coming on fast and furiously like a freakout does for soon-to-be moms (thanks, hormones!), soon-to-be daddy drama usually builds builds slowly and sort of festers before exploding, usually after some serious nagging by the moms to get off their duff and do something on that honey-do-for-baby list.

That trigger for a lot of soon-to-parents is the issue of the nursery. Moms totally stress about getting the nursery ready and especially about setting up the crib. Dads generally don’t have the same urgency in dealing with those tasks, which drives most moms absolutely nuts. I see this lack of urgency almost as a subconscious refusal to deal with the reality of having a baby. It’s like a last grasp to hold on to life as they’ve known it. No crib roughly translates to more time to still be the kind of married-without-kids carefree that they’ve enjoyed for some time. Conversely, the crib is a physical reminder that those days are seriously numbered. And this reticence has nothing to do with not being excited about a baby or the prospect of being a dad.

So, maybe a dadchelor party is just the cathartic experience that some dads need to reconcile their fears with reality. Sure, life changes in a big way post baby, but it’s in a good way. You don’t just stop being the person you were, but you do start to learn more about the person you are. I get that for a lot of dads it’s scary to be looking at an overnight change. Personally, I wished I’d have known about these dadchelor parties back when I was pregnant. I think my husband would’ve totally benefited from one last blowout before getting down to the real business of baby.

Admittedly I would’ve also been jealous had he had one. I’m not sure when I’ll get a night on the town dadchelor style. But maybe that’s where a compromise is in order. Dad gets a dadchelor night out and mom gets a post-baby moms-gone-wild night. Sounds like a deal to me.

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Filed under daddy care, dads, diapers, family, infants, marriage, maternity, mom style, mommy care, moms, nesting, newbie parents

Baby Daddy Drama

Over the past week I’ve found myself watching a lot of crap TV. I guess that’s what happens when you combine a new mommy with hungry baby and cable television. You see all sorts of stuff at all hours of the day, from documentaries on Benjamin Franklin to reality series like Basketball Wives.

I’ve been particularly obsessed with this show on Vh1 called Dad Camp. The premise of the show is that six soon-to-be baby daddies (and their pregnant teen partners) go through an intense parenting course to learn to become respectable fathers. As part of the coursework, they not only get graded on how well they complete child care exercises (installing a car seat or comforting a crying baby, for example) but they also have to go through therapy with their baby mommas (and sometimes baby mommas’ mommas).

Part of the entertainment of the show is that these dads-to-be are complete disasters. Immature, irresponsible, angry, clueless, and most often jobless, it’s surprising that any of these miscreants would even show up to a show like this, where they are expected to submit to a behavioral overhaul. Point in case is the guy who calls his girlfriend that she’s a “stage five clinger” (bad). Or the guy who makes out with another girl the first night the couple is at Dad Camp (worse).

But for all the daddy drama on the show, the whole idea of dad camp is completely intriguing to me.

For as excited as my husband was about the idea of us having a crumb cruncher to call our own, there were times in my pregnancy where I had to wonder if my husband had any idea of what bringing up baby actually meant.

Part of the disconnect I trace to my husband’s personality. He’s a natural-born extrovert with a sharp wit, a combination that often makes it seem like he doesn’t take much seriously. The other part is that he has been wrapped up in some intense training for the past 14 months, which has kept him a little out of the loop in terms of the day-to-day stuff at home. And then there’s the fact that he’s an only child, so he hasn’t gotten much , if any, practice with babies. (Not that I really know what the hell I’m doing either.)

So, thinking that we (but really more him) needed a crash course in all things babies (I was the one reading the baby books, after all), I signed us up for the birthing class taught by Juliana Parker of Birth-n-Babies. Then on second thought, I also signed us up for her breastfeeding class.

But for as much as we felt like we got our money’s worth out of the classes, I still felt like sometimes he didn’t “get” it. He was definitely excited, but it was like he had no concrete idea of what life was going to be like when our wee one arrived. And it was freaking me out.

Here’s an example: We were invited to a wedding in Hawaii in December. My husband really wanted to go (so did I), especially since I’d never been there. Plus, we had airline vouchers that we could use to book the flight, which was a bonus. But I was stressing over what to do with the baby. We couldn’t drop him off with the grandparents, so what to do? Do we try to upgrade our seats to business class and keep the baby on our lap? Or do I just book a third seat in coach for the bambino?

These are the things that stress mommies like me out, but dad had nothing to say other than to roll his eyes when I told him how expensive flights to Hawaii were (it is Hawaii, after all, it wasn’t going to be cheap). And then he made the fatal mistake of saying, “Does the baby really need his own seat?” (The flight from D.C. to Honolulu is how long?) I won’t share with you my reaction to that.

There were a few other moments like that in the later part of my pregnancy where it was clear that he had no idea how life was going to change. And if I had known about a sleep-away daddy camp, I would’ve had him on the first bus.

Unsure if what I was seeing in my husband was an anomaly or not, I’ve asked a few friends if their husbands were similarly as infuriatingly clueless the first baby around. I’m sure that there are exceptions, but my conclusion is that it’s totally a guy thing.

I talked to a therapist friend of mine about this phenomenon. Her professional take on it was that while mommies-to-be and newbie mommies are so acutely aware of baby–baby is top of mind 24/7–for many newbie daddies, it continues to sort of be “all about them” for awhile even as mommies are doing the hard work of carrying the next generation. And when it’s not, they can sort of act out. They get frustrated, irritated, annoyed, pouty, and sulky about all the things that they suddenly can’t do (or, alternatively, all the things that they now have to do that they don’t want to do) now that baby is in full focus.

So, I asked my therapist friend how long this sort of alternate reality lasts. When do the daddy instincts kick in in full, putting them on the same page as mommies?

Month four. That was her professional opinion as to when men, in general, really start to bond with baby and grow fully into the daddy role. Why month four? She says it’s because by month four baby has started to really respond and interact. Baby smiles, giggles, recognizes the ‘rents, etc.–and dads really connect with that. Those outward expressions serve almost as mini validations of their role and importance in the life of the wee one.

Her theory makes a lot of sense to me, but I wish, as mommies, we didn’t have to wait so long sometimes. And even though I realize that this is part of a natural progression, I still wish there was a baby boot camp that normal first-time dads could go off to for some pre-baby training. I’m talking not only car seat installation and crib construction, but diapering, burping, swaddling, and round-the-clock feedings. If nothing more, it would hopefully give newbie dads a little perspective on everything moms have been stressing about for months while hardly any of it has been more than a fleeting thought in dads’ minds.

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Filed under birthing, daddy care, daily life, education, mommy care, nesting, newbie parents, post-partum, post-pregnancy, pregnancy, Uncategorized

Isn’t My Nest Feathered Enough?

With my due date now a four-day-old memory, I’ve been doing the best that I can to keep busy enough to get my mind off of the one thing everyone in my family’s itching to know: When is this baby going to arrive?

I’d like to say that I’ve been able to use some of this extra time awaiting Baby P’s debut doing the one thing that nearly every young mom has strongly urged me to do–stock up on sleep. Unfortunately, for as much as I’m trying to heed their advice, the sandman keeps shortchanging me. The best I did was a nap yesterday afternoon, which ran a surprising four hours long despite the sounds of my neighbor weed-whacking his lawn to Latin carnival music floating in through my window. But the reality is that I’ve been spending my so-called “free” time doing more cleaning and organizing.

Now, I thought I had done a pretty good job already. My nesting instincts definitely kicked in pretty hardcore around month six. Our kitchen remodel was finally complete, so I was able to move pretty fast from organizing my cupboards and putting away my nice dishes, which had been in boxes for the past year and a half, to finding a cleaning lady to come once a week (god bless Joselyn); installing a new closet organization system for our master-bedroom (Container Store and Elfa, you rock); re-planting about half of our front garden; hiring a carpenter to complete a set of built-in shelves in my living room (thank you, Scott); throwing out about half of the stuff in our basement before sealing the walls and floors (thank you, Lesley); and decorating the nursery.

But if there’s one thing that my mom’s really good at it’s getting to that expert level of organization. If it were up to her, about a third of my stuff would be sitting in garbage bags in my alley this morning waiting for the 7am garbage pick-up, another third would be in a box marked “Free” on the sidewalk in front of my front stairs, and the remaining third would be either folded neatly in a drawer or shoved in a plastic bin to be stored in the basement.

Although she really just naturally doesn’t mess around when it comes to getting organized, it feels like it’s in overdrive, which makes me think grandma-to-bes also have a certain nesting urge that rivals many mommas-t0-be’s own instincts. Take my mother for example. In the week that she’s been in town, she’s checked these items off the to-do list:

  • Organized all the silverware, cooking utensils, and junk in my kitchen drawers (again Container Store is the best)
  • Steam cleaned all my living room furniture and rug
  • Scrubbed my porch
  • Hung pictures/artwork
  • Purchased a new dining room rug
  • Put together a new laundry sorter and laundry butler/organization system
  • Re-organized my linen closet
  • Helped me sort through/get rid of a ton of old papers

And, if you can believe it, we’ve still got a to-do list for today that includes some additional organizing in my bedroom and the basement and a quick trip out to the grocery store to stock up on some provisions–assuming we don’t need to take a detour to the hospital, which is totally possible, even likely, at this point.

But I really wish someone would have included this tidbit of information about grandmas’ nesting instincts in any of the gazillion pregnancy books out there, especially the basic how-to-have-a-baby manuals like What to Expect When You Are Expecting, which is by the way, a fantastic book for mommies-to-be like me who just want facts and not a lot more. Because it’s just not my mom. My mother-in-law also exhibited some of this behavior. She came for a five-day stay last month and spent at least a couple days of washing baby clothes and then ironing them before putting them into dust-free plastic bins, which were organized by size.

The other thing that I wish I’d realized before now is that the nesting instinct spikes very close to labor. According to this Web site:

“The nesting instinct generally kicks in around the fifth month of pregnancy, however it can also occur much earlier or much later. Many women acutely experience the nesting instinct in the final days of their pregnancy, and this can often be a sign that labor and delivery is close at hand.”

I had no idea. I thought it was something that kicked in somewhere in the second trimester–thus the suddenly urgent need to wash baseboards–and sort of held steady before tapering off close to delivery as you get everything just-so in the nursery. (By the way, that whole baseboard thing is no joke or exaggeration. I was in my half-bath just this morning and happened to glance down and had the thought that I should really take a sponge to the baseboards in there again.)

So, just as an exercise, I decided to chart my nesting instinct intensity. I looked back over the past 41 weeks and thought about when I started to get really serious about getting stuff done.

As you can see from the chart above, there was some ebbing and flowing of my nesting instinct intensity. Contributing to the spike very early on in my pregnancy, before I even knew I was pregnant, in fact, was the kitchen remodel. I spent a lot of time stressing over the design of the kitchen and the product selections, racking up one major meltdown brought on by an out-of-ink fax machine that had me running to a local gas station to use their fax machine so I could save $1,500 on cabinets. In retrospect, my anxiety and all-over-the-place emotions (not to mention bad skin and bigger boobs) should’ve been an indication that something was up.

But that really didn’t get confirmed until I was in the 13 to 14 week mark. The news that Baby P was on the way definitely kick started some nesting instincts anew. The next big bump came after my 20 week sonogram when it was confirmed that baby was indeed a boy. (Good to know my maternal instincts weren’t completely off.) The news got my brain turning over some nursery theme ideas.

I hit another new peak around 27 weeks or so, when I spent the better part of my vacation in Chamonix, France, on the Internet, researching childcare options (still haven’t found one) and building my baby registry.

Things started going off the charts after 30 weeks. I wanted all my big house projects to be wrapped up by May 1 on the off-chance that Baby P would arrive early. (Good thing that didn’t happen because we wouldn’t have been ready.) As my husband can attest, I was pretty much a slave driver, insisting that we spend every waking hour on the weekends doing one of three things–cleaning, organizing, or throwing away. (He was not exactly happy about this.)

But by May 15th, I was feeling pretty great as I washed and folded a few newborn onesies, rolling them neatly and placing them in small plastic bins that I decided to use as drawer organizers. I had already stocked up on newborn diapers and wipes, as well as some breastfeeding relief products that friends had recommended. I was ready.

Or so I thought. But it’s amazing how a motivated mom can light a mommy-to-be’s nesting fire once again. I guess no nest can be over feathered.

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Filed under due date, moms, nesting, organizing, pregnancy