Daycare starts today and I am freaking out.

 And by "today," I mean Wednesday, the day this will be posted.

As I have been told by a great many people, we'll get through this.  Appleseed will go to daycare and he'll be okay and we'll be okay and that's the way these things work.  And I'm sure the aforementioned people are right.  This is a nigh universal experience.  People have been leaving their children with other people for hundreds of years.  This is a big part of being a parent, particularly a parent in the 21st century.  This is what we do now.

But that's a big part of what upsets me.

At some point over those first few weeks after Appleseed was born, I told Nicole that I felt like I was going to burst.  It wasn't the responsibility of taking care of him that was causing this, it was the scope of how much I loved him.  It was huge.  It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.  It practically incapacitated me, that's how intense it was.  There was Appleseed and there was Nicole and there was nothing else.

But I couldn't function that way.  I couldn't live life like that.  And eventually I went back to work, which meant that the feelings that had rendered me incapable of life outside of our home had lessened.  I knew this was going to happen from the start, and it bothered the hell out of me.  I didn't want that feeling to lessen.  I didn't want the outside world to tamp it down.

This is how I feel about taking Appleseed to daycare.  I don't want it to become normal.  I don't want it to
be another part of life, like going to work or drinking coffee or brushing my teeth.  I don't want the fact that I'm leaving my son with strangers (albeit licensed, qualified strangers) to become commonplace.  I don't want to be able to walk away so easily.

I'm sure all of the above comes from over thinking the situation and, to a certain extent, from living a life of repressed sensitivity.  The bigger problem is going to be the obvious one: I don't want to leave my kid at daycare.  I want to see him as much as I can and when I can't, I want him to be with his mom.  That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?

To a certain extent, I feel guilty about this.  There's a part of me that truly believes I should have advanced far enough in my life where I'm now able to be at home with Appleseed, where I don't have to go to work five days a week just to pay the bills.  I could have avoided this.  I should have done more.

There are two things that are keeping me from losing it completely (three, if you count whiskey).

Why is that woman smiling??
The first is that I'm going to work from home tomorrow, and the daycare is not far from our house.  I'm not going to be locked into set hours when I have to leave Appleseed and when I can pick him up.  I can even visit if I want, but that might be pouring salt into the wound.  But being close and having the freedom to go see him at the drop of a hat is making this all far less difficult. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on Thursday.

The second is that, as Nicole pointed out, this isn't permanent.  Appleseed going to daycare doesn't mean he'll always have to go daycare or always have to go to that daycare, although it seems like a perfectly fine place to abandon your only child.  There's time.  Maybe I can figure this out.  Maybe I can make this work.  There's a glimmer of hope.

Maybe I can find a way to not end up the way everyone says I will.  Maybe I can put off that acceptance just a bit longer.

I will be fine on Wednesday; the build-up is always worse for me.  Nicole will probably be wreck.

Forget what I said; I'm going to be at that daycare every hour.  I'm not ready to move to the next stage of parenting just yet.

The 5 Stages of Grief (about taking a nap)

Appleseed hates taking naps.

A kid Appleseed's age should sleep something like 14 hours a day.  Even if he miraculously sleeps 8 hours at night, he still needs to get six more hours in during the day.  He's not happy about that.

He doesn't want to sleep.  And, honestly, I don't know that I can blame him.  I know all babies are inquisitive about the world around them, but Appleseed strikes me as even more so.  He's incredibly thoughtful.  Combine that with his new found stranger danger, and we can already start to see his personality coming out.  He's got introverted parents, so I guess that makes sense.

Appleseed's protestations against taking a nap could easily be organized ala the 5 stages of grief.

Denial

We call them "meth eyes."  Appleseed's eyes themselves don't really get red, but the area around them does.  It's like his eyeballs are suddenly surrounded by inflamed tissue.  Even his eye brows get red.  It's crazy.  It's also a sure sign that he's tired.

Appleseed likes to talk.  He can't say anything yet, but he likes to try.  And listening to him is fantastic.  He's to the point where he's not just making noises, it actually sounds like he's trying to say something, he just lacks the words.

But at a certain point it becomes these whale-like noises that are a surefire indicator that he's sleepy

Take meth eyes, add in whale noises, then figure out how long it's been since he last slept, and it's not hard to know when Appleseed needs to sleep.  It's obvious to everyone but him.  Actually, it's probably obvious to him, too, he just doesn't care.  He wants to stay up.  Tired?  I'm not tired.  Why would you think that?

I hope he never plays poker.

Anger

Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the anger.

I get static in my ears from Appleseed's screaming, it is that loud.  It's also freaky as hell because I honestly think I'm hurting him somehow.  Maybe I messed up the swaddle, even though none of him is really swaddled anymore these days.  Am I holding him too tight?  Does he need to burp?  He must
be in real pain!

No, he's just pissed off.  And he knows when we're going to try to get him to sleep.  He knows as soon as we carry him anywhere near the nursery.  And he starts the boil.

Bargaining

Okay, how about if I stop crying and just lie here in your arms for a while, will that make you happy?  Is that good enough?  I'll be quiet and wide awake and that should be enough, right?

Depression

This is when the bizarre noises kick in.  He sounds like a drunk bird or a raccoon that's taken one too many sleeping pills.  He'll often make these noises with his eyes closed, too, just to set me up.

The main problem is that the noises are hilarious, so I inevitably start laughing, which, of course, startles him and we're back to square one.

This is the stage when I know I'm actually making some progress.  His Anger and Bargaining stages are unpredictable in length, but the Depression stage usually means the home stretch is in sight.

Acceptance

Okay, daddy, I'll take a nap...for 25 minutes, even though it just took you 50 minutes to get me to fall sleep.

Mr. Mom

As you are reading this, I'm probably freaking out.

This is set to be published the morning of 7/9, which just so happens to be the day that Nicole goes back to work, and my first day as Mr. Mom.

I will fully admit that this scares the heck out of me. 

I've spoken at length about Nicole's anatomical advantage when it comes to appeasing Appleseed.  But beyond that obvious trump card, there's the simple fact that Nicole has spent months staying at home, taking care of him.  She knows this whole thing inside and out.  And while it's not like I haven't spent a lot of time taking care of our son, I've yet to spend a full day doing it alone.

The timing is just about perfect, and by perfect I mean really, really bad.  Appleseed has decided to be really fussy about taking a bottle.  I fought for half an hour to feed him just two ounces yesterday.  Eventually, I had to walk him around for a while just to get him to settle down.  I tried to feed him again and he started getting fussy again, so I decided to turn on the Indians game.

Yes, I know, TV is bad for babies.  But a) baseball isn't full of quick edits, which are supposedly the worst and b) I just needed him to chill out, and then the plan was to turn it off and try feeding him again.

While he was watching the Indians lose, I decided to try giving him the bottle again.  He took it.  He didn't even register me giving it to him, he just took it.  Drank the rest of it.  I got more.  He drank that, all the while watching baseball.

Clearly, that's not a pattern that can hold.  But I guess it's nice to have that as a fallback, given my anatomical inadequacies.

Appleseed is also not a fan of sleeping these days.  I think I once suggested that the amount of time
spent trying to get him to sleep is roughly double the amount of time he actually sleeps.  It seems like lately that ratio pushes towards 3:1.  Granted, it's the same for Nicole as it is for me, so I'm not any more of a disadvantage than she is.  But I am going to have to perform this song and dance more in a single day than I've ever done before.  I'm going to blow through my back of tricks before it's noon.

But I think I'll be okay with all of that.  I'm sure I'll need to step away and take a deep breath every now and again, but what could be more worthwhile than taking care of Appleseed?  Nothing.  It's the most important thing I'll ever do.

The hard part, I think, will be when I'm trying to get other things done.  The hard part will be when I'm trying to do dishes and he wakes up after ten minutes.  It's going to be hard when I want to make some reasonably healthy food and he starts crying.  I don't want to see my diet go to hell because I'm just eating whatever I can, whenever I can.

I realize that I'm going in naive, but despite everything I've typed above, I can't help but think about how great it's going to be to spend so much time with my son.  I know it will be taxing, but I'm trading a day at the office for a day with Appleseed.  I'm getting a day of him making crazy noises, him smiling and giggling, him trying to eat his own feet.  I'm trading the relative peace and quiet of work for the insanity of being a stay at home dad.  There are no tedious, mind numbing two hour meetings.  There will be frustrating, chaotic hour long feedings.

In the end, I'll smile at Appleseed and he'll smile back.  He might even giggle.

And I'll make it through the day.

Baby Slang

This picture choice will make sense in a minute
I have used the word "shart" more in the last four months than in the rest of my life combined.

For the uninitiated, the Urban Dictionary describes "shart" like this:

a small, unintended defecation that occurs when one relaxes the anal sphincter to fart

Yes, I know, it's charming, but it's also what Appleseed does on a fairly regular basis.  I'm not sure if he's ever pooped without sharting.  I think the two go hand and hand for him.  Oh, and I suppose I've also used the word "poop" and all of its variations a lot more recently.

This is the lexicon of having a baby.  Not only do you use words you've never used before, you start to make up terms for things.

Like volcano.

Appleseed isn't always done emptying his bowels after he sharts.  Sometimes he likes to wait and release the rest of it while we're changing his diaper.  Not unlike a lava, more poop flows out.  In the beginning, it ended up on the changing table, but we're careful enough now to always have a diaper underneath him.  So, yeah: volcano.

But one time there was a little extra behind the lava, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Having a boy means periodically we will exclaim "fire in the hole!"  I attached this particular phrase for the times when Appleseed has an "airborne accident," as the baby app we use calls it.  Why "fire in the hole" when a) it's the opposite of fire and b) it's coming out of a hole, not in a hole, I don't know.  I just said it one day and it stuck.

One day, when Appleseed was probably only nine or ten weeks old, he sharted.  I carried him to the nursery, put him on the changing table, and took off his diaper.


"Fire in the hole!"


He peed everywhere.  It got on the carpet, that's how much he peed.


I removed his poopy diaper and began cleaning everything up.  And then he volcanoed.  I'd yet to put a new
diaper beneath him, so it ran down onto the changing table.


I picked him up by the ankles so I could wipe his butt and lower back clean.


He volcanoed again.  But this time, he had something extra behind it.  This was a shart, a shart that occurred as I was lifting his butt into the air.


And that is how we ended up with baby poop on the walls in the nursery.


I lost it.  I laughed so hard that I nearly fell down on to the pee soaked carpet.  I was practically in tears I was laughing so hard.


The changing table is actually the site of a great many slang occurrences.  On a fairly regular basis, Appleseed will flex all of his muscles, turning himself into a human board.  I think it was Nicole's brother who referred to him as a plank when he did this.  So, naturally, what he does is now referred to as "planking."


His planking has taken on a new element over the last week or so as he's started trying to roll over.  He does this by thrusting his hips forward and to the side.  We call it "Elvising."


This is just the tip of the iceberg, really.  Baby slang is great because it's specific to the family, even if it's dealing with universal occurrences.  I'm sure everyone has a term for when their kid continues to poop while he or she is on the changing table.  

I'm envisioning references to oil fields.

Days, Weeks, Months

On Wednesday, Appleseed turns 3 months old.

Up until now, we've mostly referred to his age by weeks.  I can remember being a kid and asking my mom at what point people stop referring to babies' ages by months.  I guess I'd just met a baby or something and the kid's mom said the kid was 19 months old or something.  My mom told me that most parents stop using months as the unit of measurement when the kid turns 2 years old.  That made some sense to me.  One year isn't a long enough time to diminish the impact of a month; even after 12 months, a 30 day period is still substantial.  But after 24 months?  Well, months are old hat by that point.

And that brings us to Appleseed's 3 month birthday.  He's already passed 12 weeks.  Accumulating a third month makes accumulating more weeks seem small.  Why count pennies when he has dollars?  And so, after Wednesday, he will be 3 months old.  When people ask, that will be the answer, no doubt broken out to 3 and a half and then four.

It all seems so very significant to me.  At the very least, 3 months is a developmental milestone.  But it's more than that.  Moving from weeks to months is the first real change in how time is measured for Appleseed.  Sure, there was a point where he was days old, but that was a whirlwind and didn't last long.  He's mostly been referred to as "x weeks old" -- his whole life, he's been talked about that way.  And now that's going to change.

It's also impossible for me to comprehend that our son was born 3 months ago.  Surely it was more like 3 years ago and also just yesterday.  Three months is obviously too long and not long enough.

Nicole has already started looking at pictures from months ago.  She's already lamenting how big Appleseed
has gotten.  It seems like every other mother we know says something about wishing babies could always stay at this age, which makes me think that these mothers have completely forgotten what it was like taking care of a baby this age.

I've become infinitely aware of time.  You don't appreciate the idea of living each moment to the fullest because it's the only time you will experience that, specific moment.  Then you have a kid and you realize he'll only be x weeks old one time in his entire life.  This is the only time he will ever turn 3 months old.  This is a unique moment.

And it's one which Appleseed couldn't care less about.  None of this means anything to him.  Eating means something to him.  Sleeping means something to him.  These days, his parents' faces mean something to him.  He doesn't care about time.

But time is moving.  I'm excited for Appleseed to get older, just as I think Nicole is worried.  I can't wait for him to become more interactive, to see his curiosity for the world grow.  I look forward to being able to offer him more than just affection, because he's maxing out on that on a daily basis.  This kid couldn't possibly be loved any more than he is.  I'd like to be able to offer him something else, too.

Happy 3 month birthday, Appleseed.  I have a feeling 6, 9, and 12 months will freak me out even more.

8 Things I Learned After 8 Weeks as a Parent

Yep, I'm doing it.  I'm using a classic link bait title.  People love numbered lists.  Who am I to deny the people what they want?

Technically speaking, you are reading this on Appleseed's 2 month birthday, so I've actually been a parent for a little longer than 8 weeks.  But a list of 2 wouldn't have been as entertaining.

8. I enjoy sleeping.  Heading into fatherhood, I was prepared to get very little sleep.  I have a long history of being sleep deprived and getting on just fine.  But a few years ago, I got help for my sleeping problems, and since then I've managed to get a relatively solid 7 hours a night.  Still, I figured going back was no problem.  I had this sleep deprivation thing down.  Just one problem: I like sleeping.  I had no idea how much I'd gotten used to it, gotten to enjoy it, until it was taken away from me again.

7. Showers are amazing.  I never appreciated them the way I should have.

6. One handed.  It used to freak me out when I saw someone carry a baby with one hand.  It was insanity.  How could anyone hold something so fragile, so precious with just one hand?  I would have extra arms attached to my body so I had more hands to hold my baby!  And yet, on a daily basis, I now hold my son with one hand.  I don't even think about it.  Most of the time, I do it because I need a hand free to do any number of other things.  Some of the times it's just nice to have the other hand free.

5. I am a dancing monkey.
By Tina Burke


4. The golden hour(s).  Nicole and Appleseed usually go to bed between nine and ten.  After that, I'm on my own, and it's glorious.  It's not that I don't love being with my wife and son, but it's nice to have some time alone.  I don't even mind that I spend most of it cleaning up the house, since it's just nice to be able to go about my business without any distractions.  I've finally started using some of this time to edit my writing.  Someday I'll get to the point of actually writing, too.

3. My wife is unbelievable.  I mean, I knew that before, but she's taken it to another level.  The physical demands of being a mother are insane.  Add in recovering from child birth and crazy hormones and you have perhaps the most trying period in any one's life.  She doesn't think so, but she's been astounding.

2. It gets easier.  It's hard to even wrap my brain around how hard the first few weeks were.  Everyone tells you that it's hell, but, like with all things children, it's impossible to explain it to anyone.  You can't understand it unless you go through it.  But each week gets better, even if each week also feels like it's the worst.

1. I feel like I'm going to burst.  Not to be too melodramatic, but I have never felt this way before.  It's unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I love Appleseed so much and in such a unique way that it was almost too much for me.  I think I've just now been able to really function.

Let's face facts: this list should be longer.  It would take days for me to cover every little thing I've learned since Appleseed was born.  The truly crazy thing is that I've only scratched the surface of what I'll learn being a parent.

Appleseed's First Opening Day

Photo: Mark Whitt
I was bouncing up and down on the exercise ball, Appleseed in my arms, when the Cleveland Indians finally scored in the top of the 9th inning.  I was very excited.  I think my son might have sharted.

I could go on and on about why I love baseball and I would be shocked if I hadn't already done so online somewhere.  Needless to say, it's my favorite sport.  I'm also a die hard Cleveland Indians fan, given that I grew up in northeast Ohio.  And if you are somehow unaware, Cleveland sports teams have a long standing history of losing in heartbreaking ways.  Cleveland sports fans are a tortured lot.

But I don't live in Ohio anymore.  I live in California, close to two different baseball teams, both of which have had more success than the Tribe.  We also live close to the majority of Nicole's family and thousands of miles away from mine.

Sharing baseball with my son is a big deal for me, not just because I love the sport, and not just because baseball has played a big role between fathers and sons for decades.  No, it's a big deal because it's a piece of where I'm from, a piece of my heritage, heritage that's not overwhelmingly represented here in California.

The other day, Nicole and I took Appleseed out in his stroller.  As we walked, Nicole and I talked about the kinds of things we might like to see from our son.  Nicole suggested I'd be at least a little sad if he didn't like comic books the way that I like comic books.  But I told her that wouldn't bother me -- all kids like comic books, they just eventually out grow them (a thought that never occurred to me as I was growing up).  No, I really don't have any preconceptions on what my son might be into.

I also mentioned that, of all the things I might try to share with Appleseed, being a Cleveland sports fan would be the hardest.  He's going to be surrounded by people wearing A's, Giants, 49ers, Raiders, and Warriors jerseys.  I would imagine the majority of his friends will support some of those teams.  Going to any sporting event will mostly revolve around those teams.  It would be hard to blame him for being a fan of those teams.

And I won't.

But it would be awesome if he liked Cleveland teams.  It would be awesome to have that to share with him.

And I know that there will be plenty of other things to share with him.  I'm looking forward to the strange, wonderful things that he's into, that I only ever learn about because he loves them.

It would be nice, though, that when the Indians finally win the World Series, he has at least some understanding of why his father is crying.

Appleseed: Life Without Breasts

From here: http://www.artofmanliness.com
I think it's unquestionably harder to be the mom than the dad.  I don't think any reasonable person could make the argument that the mom, who is pregnant for nine months, gives birth, and then becomes a 24/7 diner, doesn't have the bulk of the work.  From the outside looking in, it's brutal.

You could make the case that the benefits of all of that outweigh the negatives, and that the advantages gained are enough to make it so that the dad, who doesn't go through any of the above, gets a bit of a raw deal.  I would imagine there are a decent number of men out there who would be willing to do all the things a mom has to do just to form that bond with their child.

It's a slippery slope, really.  I can't imagine there are many women who would give up the relationship they have with their child just so they don't have to go through all the hard times.  I would also imagine that it depends on when you ask these theoretical women.

All that said, there is one aspect of raising a baby that only the non-birth mothers will truly understand: taking care of your kid without breasts (or without breasts that produce milk, as the case may be).

Here's the thing: If Nicole wants to calm Appleseed down or even put him to sleep, she has a trump card.  Granted, she can't play it all the time, but it's there if she needs it.  When Appleseed is screaming bloody murder, she has a secret weapon (well, two).

I have no secret weapons.  I have no trump card.

So I dance like the monkey I am, doing everything I can possibly think of to calm Appleseed down.  I hold in him in every position imaginable.  I bounce on the exercise ball.  I walk around the house.  I put him in the stroller and roll him around the house.  I put him in the rock and play, the bouncer, the swing, you name it.  It is freaking exhausting (particularly the exercise ball).

The other day I spent a good fifteen minutes on the exercise ball trying to calm him down before I had to stop, because full bladder + bouncing up and down meant I was going to piss myself soon.  So I put him down in the rock and play and ran off to the bathroom (Nicole was at the doctor).  As I peed like a race horse, I heard Appleseed unleash a cry that, up until this point, I didn't know existed.  It was unbelievable.  And there was nothing I could do to stop it, not right then and there.  He was just going to have to let it out for a bit (while I did the same).

I ran back and picked him up.  Just being picked up was enough to get him to quiet down, but that only brought me back to where I was before -- with a baby who was on the verge.  I sat down on the couch and held him, happy enough, at this point, that he was no longer screaming bloody murder.

And then a funny thing happened: he started to calm down.  His breathing slowed down.  His eyes slowly began to close.  Within five minutes, he was sound asleep.

I can only imagine that the minute or two in the rock and play had upset him so much that being in my arms suddenly felt like paradise.  I had inadvertently made it so bad for him that just being held was the greatest comfort in the world.

When Nicole came home, he was still sleeping in my arms, not just because it was a wonderful experience for me, but because I was afraid to move.

I often feel guilty that I can't do more to take care of Appleseed, that there are certain things he will always rely on his mom for, certain things I just can't give him.  I feel guilty because I feel like I'm not doing my fair share.  I try to make up for it by taking care of Nicole.

And there are times when I'm thankful that I'm not in Nicole's position because it seems torturous, and then I feel guilty for feeling that way.

So I will continue making food, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, taking care of the cats, and going to work, because it's the least I can do for this amazing child and my wonderful wife.  Hopefully, that will alleviate at least a little bit of the guilt.

Appleseed-ish: What's Important

Over the first few months of 2013, I had something of an existential crisis.  And I blogged about it.

These posts got nice traffic and even some comments (more on Facebook and Twitter than here).  It seemed like people liked and could relate to a lot of what I was saying.

Given my new life a a parent (sweet fancy Moses), these seem relevant again, so I thought I'd share.

What's Important (aka Twitter Tortures Me)
What's Important 2: The Social Tank
What's Important 3: (Happiness)
What's Important 4: The Zen of Art
What's Important 5: You Can Get With This...
What's Important 6: "Writer"
What's Important 7: Validation
What's Important 8: Miles Iz Ded

There's an unpublished ninth part which I imagine I'll update and post at some point.  Let's face facts, my view of what's important has changed considerably in a year's time!

Applesed: Working Mom/Working Dad

I went back to work last Wednesday.  I have never wanted to go to work less. 

California is great for giving dads time off.  I can use up to six weeks of paid family leave, which pays out at 55% of what I make.  My company allows me to use my PTO to cover the difference if I want, so I've basically managed to miss 13 days of week without losing any money.

In theory, I could take a lot more time off, but money is an issue, and I need to save my PTO days for when Nicole goes back to work.  I'd also taken two more days than I originally planned because I realized that throwing Nicole into five straight days by herself was a horrible plan.

Right up until I went to bed Tuesday night, I was debating whether I should take more time off.  But it just didn't make any sense.  I was going to have to go back at some point.

Picking up where I left off at work was relatively easy.  I'd only been gone for two and a half weeks and I don't do anything that's particularly time sensitive.  I spent the first day touching base with everyone and by the second day it was almost as if I'd never been gone.

Except that I left early.

No, scratch that, I more or less have always left as early as possible.  This time, I left early and I didn't feel bad about it.  I left early to go home and see my son and there is absolutely nothing more important to me.  Fortunately, my job is pretty laid back, so I was able to work from home on Friday, which both helped make the transition easier for my wife and prevented me from having to leave Appleseed more than two mornings in a row.

That will change this week.  This week, I'm a five day work week kind of guy again.

The problem that I have is that I don't know how you fit something so large into your life or, rather, fit anything else in with it.  Appleseed is all encompassing.  I have just enough room to squeeze Nicole in and right now that's just about it.  Even writing this blog has been a struggle and I have plenty I want to say.  How am I supposed to be motivated at work when my focus is on my son?

How do you just go back to your life after something like this happens?

The answer, of course, is that you don't, but you find a way to make it work.

This will require a certain amount of compartmentalization and I hate that, because I don't want to compartmentalize my son.  I want him front and center all the time.  I don't want him to take a back seat to anyone or anything.

This kid makes me feel like I'm going to burst.  He makes me feel like that just writing about him.

Strange as it may seem given what I've written above, I'm a good employee.  I'm good at my job.  I've got promoted a lot, but a lot of that is simply the fact that I've stuck around longer than most anyone else.  But I have a track record.  My work is solid.

And it's 2014 and I work for an internet company.  So I'm hoping beyond hope that I can convince them to let me work from home twice a week.  There's no downside in that for them, although the upside is debatable.  The upside for me, of course, would be huge.

I've never been more frustrated by the fact that I don't write for a living.  I look at all the positive feedback I've gotten from agents, writers, and editors on "Master of the House" and I become tense.  I know the book is good and I know that it's ready and I know that it would make some lucky publisher a good amount of money.  And I should be staying home every day, taking care of my son and writing the sequel.

But that's a whole other blog post.  For now, I'm just trying to prepare myself for the coming week.

I can't even imagine what it's going to be like when Nicole has to go back.

Appleseed: New Life Crisis

It happened when I was driving to the grocery store.  It happened again when I was playing video games.  It happens almost every time I pay any kind of attention to our cats.  These are the moments when I wish my life hadn't changed, when I wish it was the way it was before our son was born.

I think that sounds awful, but I've begun to realize that it’s totally natural.  The further I dig into it, the more I read about first time parents desperately wishing they could go back, because the epic turn their life took is just too much to deal with.

I know Nicole feels the same way sometimes, too.  It's brutal.

It's impossible to explain how amazing it is to have our son in our lives.  The astounding feeling that comes with having a child is something you can’t explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it themselves. Every time I look at Appleseed I’m overcome by something I can’t even really understand, something primal, even spiritual.

If this feeling is so strong, then why do I sometimes wish my life was the way it had been before we became parents?  Why would I want a life without my son?

That’s simple: because this new life is bat shit crazy

There’s a scene from the much maligned ninth and final season of Scrubs in which Dr. Cox is trying to explain to Elliot that she and JD need to spend as much quality time together as they can before their baby is born.  His advice comes on the heels of one half of an elderly couple dying.

Elliot: “Having a baby isn't like dying.”

Dr. Cox: “Having a baby is exactly like dying.”

And Nicole and I laughed and laughed and laughed, as we re-watched that episode just after Appleseed was born.

Because it really is like dying.  You have to kiss a majority of your old life good-bye – an old life that I rather enjoyed.

That’s the crux of it, really.  While I wouldn't trade those moments when I look at Appleseed and my world is blown away, they are surrounded by a punishing amount of work and a distinct lack of sleep.  We are in full on survival mode, which makes it hard to see the joy.  It’s hard to see any kind of a light at the end of this tunnel, even though we know it exists.  It’s even worse for Nicole who has responsibilities that I don’t, although this just means that I’m worrying about her almost as much as I’m worrying about Appleseed.

It’s easier for me to see a way out of this cave because I’m not a) recovering from a major trauma and b) not a machine being abused by our offspring for sustenance.  I can wrap my brain around a future where Appleseed doesn't have to eat every few hours, a future where we can sleep for at least six whole hours a night, all in a row.

I wrote the majority of the above a week ago, and since then I'm beginning to have a hard time picturing my life without Appleseed.  In fact, I think the reverse has happened, where the difficulty isn't so much in imagining my new life as it is imagining any aspect of my old life fitting into this one.  Having a child is such a huge thing that I don't see any room for anything else.  I don't even know if I want any room for anything else.

That's probably something I'll get to next time.

Honestly, though, it all boils down to this: having the Appleseed is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

So, yeah, I think I can manage the rest.

Fruitful: Time for the Appleseed

I'm writing this on February 17th, a good two weeks before it will get posted and 8 days until the Appleseed's projected arrival.  I'm taking Nicole's word for it that he will be late, but the doctors keep saying they don't really want Nicole going much past 40 weeks, so I'm working under the assumption that by the time you read this (week 41!), the Appleseed will be with us.  And if he's not, he's probably close.

I've got a lot of wonderful feedback on this series of blog posts.  This site has gotten more traffic since I started writing about my wife being pregnant than it's ever gotten.  I think it's something of a perfect storm in that people love to read about new parents and babies and people who know me think I'm kind of crazy, so they really want to read about me becoming a parent.

Anyway, I've had people ask me what I'm going to do after the Appleseed arrives, given that this series of posts, "Fruitful," is about the pregnancy.  I've had people request that I continue blogging once Nicole and I become parents...as if they could stop me.

And that brings us to Appleseed, which will be the name of the new series of posts I'll be writing about, well, the Appleseed, as he will be known to all of you out there on the internet.  I'm going to try to stick to my every week schedule, but let's face facts -- this kid is going to have a say in that.  It's entirely possible that I may end up posting "I am about to pass out, so no new post this week" on a regular basis.

I'm probably sleep deprived and covered in poo as you read this.  Just so you know.