Urbandad’s Weblog

Fishy Statistics
June 29, 2008, 11:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It took several days for the realization of Tara’s pregnancy to sink in.  After Tara’s cramping subsided, she became very tired, had very odd cravings, nausea, and had anatomical features radically transform.  Cliche mood swings could only be taken with a sense of humor.  She made banana peanut butter milkshakes and snuck McDonalds, which was NOT typical.  So much for the all organic diet we discussed.  

My dad and his wife were coming in town in just a week – staying with us for 2 nights – and I had made reservations at Morimoto.  Morimoto is sushi restaurant in the Meatpacking District.  The original restaurant opened in Phili and Morimoto himslef used to be the head chef at Nobu.  Later he was one of the Iron Chefs.  The sushi at Morimoto is just supreme.  So we were taking my dad there for both father’s day and his birth day, which are a week apart.

But we had heard that if you were pregnant you should not eat fish.  Or certain fish.  There also seemed to be a lot of disagreement about which fish, and how much mercury is OK.

Neither Tara and I are fanatics about our diets (she did eat at McDonald”s) but we are foodies and are well aware of the prevalance of environmental carcinogens.  We are members of the NY chapter of the Slow Food organization and take a lot of care and pride in the food we eat.  And we do try to eat organic, particularly when it comes to milk, meats, and other areas where carcinogens, antibiotics, and hormones are concentrated.  

Tara is also a doula — a birthing assistant and advocate.  I will go into that in a bit – but it does mean tha she is more aware than most of birthing health statistics.  So top of mind for us was the skyrocketing rates of incidences of autism and other disorders.  

And as a pseudo-academic, I certainly always envisioned my child being intensely smart and sharp. So mercury, which can have a profound impact on fetal neurological development, was perhaps the single most important health concern.  

After doing some research, I found this site ultimately which, in the end, provides a lists of fish bucketed by mercury levels.  The Report, called Brain Food, is published by a group called the Environmental Working Group.  Here is a link to the group and the report:  www.ewg.org/reports/brainfood.  

So the Toro was a no go for Tara.  I ended up printing out a list to have because there are too many fish to keep it straight.  She ate the white fish, flounder, shrimp — in fact most of the fish was OK.  Morimoto just rocks.  And my dad and his significant other had a great time.  

Some of my friends thought that eating sushi while pregnant was not a good idea.  They told us all kinds of horror stories about parasites…  I think it is easy to go overboard in this arena.  I’d be much more concerned about environmental carcinogens – and most sushi is super frozen anyway.  I think it is important, early on, to be informed about what health and developmental concerns you have, be careful, and then to relax.  Being stressed out all the time is also not a good thing.  

But his brings up a topic for my next post, what to do with all the advice…




June 28, 2008, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Oh my god!” I hear emanating from the bathroom.  I am in the kitchen cooking dinner having been laid off a month prior from my miserable advertising job.  “Ari come here and look at this” she yells.  I turn down the ragu and walk over.  She is holding the pregnancy test she had purchased – holding it out for me to read.  PREGNANT it reads. 


Now you have to understand, while we had stopped using birth control maybe a year before, we weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant.  In fact, we would avoid having sex when she was ovulating, saying there was too much going on career wise for both of us to have a child.  But we had also said that we would be OK if indeed it happened. 


So we stared at this word in a bit of dis-belief.  And as cliché as it sounds she asked “How did this happen?


I started to laugh.  I laughed because I really wanted to be a father.  I laughed because I was happy and deeply in love.  I laughed because she was a control freak and we were now definitely, no longer in control. And I laugh because I know that deep inside, she really wanted to be pregnant too. 


“Are you sure they are accurate?” I asked and I unfolded the small directions booklet written in fifteen different languages.  It basically said that false negatives are possible but false positives are virtually unheard of.  Still, it was hard to believe.  “Do it again.” I said but she was all out of pee. 


So I went back to cooking.   What are you to do?  The ragu was going to burn and my entire world had just turned upside down.  My mind was racing…   Thank God I had  a new job lined up.   I’m going to be a father.  I’m going to be that guy with the baby sling.  Tara is pregnant!  I am going to have a child.  My child.  I am like my dad.  Someone is going to call me dad.  I laughed again.  “You’re pregnant!”  I yelled back. 


“What am I going to do?”  asked Tara.  “Do?” I replied.  “Nothing.  You are pregnant.” 


It sank in a bit more.  I kept cooking. 


What does it mean to be a father?  I always looked forward to having a child, really a boy in my mind’s eye because the boy is me and I am my father.  I want to be the better version of my dad.  I use me as child as the reference point of me as dad.  As a child I loved natural history, and kept these out-of-date Time-Life books on reptiles and whales to give to my son.  I had spent my whole life preparing.  I had pictures and stories.  Books and tapes.  I did not have a vision of me with a newborn so much as me with my thinking, walking, precocious toddler.   Me with the little prodigy. 


Tara said it’s a girl. 


So suddenly I have gone from having a live-in girlfriend, my “domestic partner”, to having a family.  Weird thoughts begin to show up.  We realize she will have to take some time off from her work, even thought she is self-employed.  I feel the weight, well weight is not so much the word as it is not heavy and hard so much as significant and substantive, of being a bread-winner.  Here we are, a progressive, urban, liberal pair who are unconventional, and I am thinking about how I don’t have a will, or enough life insurance. 


We sit down and eat dinner.  We try to figure out when it happened…  which time…  She can’t be more then 3 weeks prior.  So why, you may ask, did she bring home a pregnancy test to begin with. 


Well it all started just a few days prior when she started to get bad cramps but she was not getting her period.  Cramping was not uncommon for her but the lack of a period was weird.  Tara’s mom had recently had a very bad bought of cancer so she worried there was something really wrong.  When she brought home the pregnancy sticks, I assumed they would come out negative, and she would shortly get her period.  But nope.  It read PREGNANT. 

By this time we had eaten, and she could pee again so off she went to do it again, just to be sure.  While she waiting I walked in the bathroom and stared at the blinking clock on the digital test stick.  PREGNANT it said.  And there is was. 



Why this blog?
June 28, 2008, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the first things I did after hearing that we were pregnancy was to run to the book store and then go online to find books for expecting fathers. 


What I found was a constellation of books written for men that I did not know – reluctant fathers and misogynistic ignorant men.  Men with IQs below 80 for sure and men who were incredibly insecure and out of touch with their own internal states. 


I was deeply resentful to discover that men had only this gross caricature of themselves depicted in the books that men would be reaching for exactly at a time when they needed a sense of empathy.  When trying to normalize a deeply unfamiliar experience, the men are told that they should be real men – meaning stupid, insensitive, selfish men .  Children. 


This pluralistic ignorance needs to be attacked.  I am willing to wager months of writing that there are a lot of men out there like me.  Men who are thrilled to be soon-to-be fathers.  Men who are fascinated by the pregnancy process.  Men who are worried and concerned – and not just about the sudden mood swings of their partners.  There are men who want to be great fathers, who want to know how to nourish and nurture the minds and bodies of their babies. 


So I have decided to write a chronicle of my own experience as an expecting father.  It is not intended as a how-to book and I have no training in child-development or any other relevant field.  Rather I am hoping to voice my own concerns and experiences, one’s that I believe other men are experiencing, to give other thinking men (most men I would presume) a sense of what they are in store for. 


So here it goes.