When Disaster Stinks…

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Sooner or later, it must happen to every parent. You’ve packed, unpacked, reordered and repacked the diaper bag for every scenario you can imagine.

Diapers? Check!

Wipes? Check!

Spare pacifiers? Check!

Blankie? Road flares? Snake bite kit? Astronaut ice cream? Got it!

A couple weeks ago I lost my debit card for six days. I looked everywhere for it. It didn’t make sense. The last time I’d used it, I’d only been one place and I remembered putting it in my pocket when I got back to the car. Where did it turn up? The diaper bag.

At some point however, you will be out as far as you’re going to be from home, with supplies enough to last a week stranded in the Serengeti, but the one item you need most will be absent.

Sunday afternoon we took a little trip to Charlottesville to meet my parents for lunch for my mom’s birthday. William hadn’t had a movement since Friday. Still he was in good spirits. I was bouncing him on my lap when I felt the vibration. Nothing major. Kendall took him to the restroom to check things out.

Several minutes passed before I saw her head peek out of the door at the end of the hall. Her look was of pure terror.

This was a Class IV blowout. The onesie was beyond salvage. It was beyond soaking the stains out even if we did want to ride in the car with it for the long, smelly hour it would take to get home. And the one thing we did not pack was an extra set of clothes.

Imagine the surprise of the young woman who came to the ladies room to find this:

Just a couple dudes.

Nothing to see here.

So This Is Colic

Kendall and I often used to remark that we are the gassiest people we know. I’ll let you use your imagination here for clarification, but for all intents and purposes, let’s just say we burp a lot. And we’re remarkably fortunate to have found one another, as we both find this commonality hilarious…most of the time.

Unfortunately for our child, our digestive traits have coalesced in his tiny little tummy to produce what is commonly referred to as colic.

I don’t know what exactly colic is, and after consulting at length with not only Dr. Google, but a licensed pediatrician, we’ve come to learn that no one knows exactly what colic is. Apparently “colic” is more of a catch-all term for what Kendall has come to refer to as “fussy butt”. She has even composed a song:

William is a fussy butt,
William is a fussy butt,
fussybuttfussybuttfussybuttfussybutt…

As Wikipedia will tell you, Colic can be a pretty serious condition leading to all sorts of horrible outcomes, and for those parents whose newborns are crying inexplicably for hours at a time, I truly feel for you.

We’ve been fortunate to be able to attribute William’s bouts of fussy butt to severe gas pain. We then like to measure the severity based on his level of wigglyness (not a medically or scientifically accurate term).

At baseline we have moderate kicking with grunts, interspersed with short cries. This is common after a feeding and fairly easy to “pat out.”

The early stages of “fussy butt” being patted out.

Often times, William will get “the bubble.” You can feel hardness in his little tummy. Both legs are kicking in tandem, arms are stretched out and he is wailing. Still we can usually pat it out, but I will often have to take it up a notch. This will require some added bouncing on the birth ball or doing laps throughout the house. He’ll typically calm down after about 20 minutes or so, fall asleep for 10 minutes, then awake suddenly to start the process again.

At critical mass, it’s hard to even position him on your shoulder to burp him. That’s when the hitting starts. It looks like this:

If punching me in the face helps, so be it.

This can usually be a sign of a long night to come. We start a cycle of feed a little, burp a little, nap; feed a little, burp a little, nap that will go on into the morning with crying at every stage. Sometimes this can go on throughout the day as well. These are the days that I am in awe of Kendall’s patience and strength. I’ll come home to hold him for an hour while she takes a shower and gets something to eat, but then I’m back to work where everyone’s screaming and crying is quietly contained.

We’ve been theorizing that these days are the products of growth spurts. He can be really uncomfortable for two days and nights and once he’s calmed down, suddenly it’s harder to snap the buttons on an outfit he’s been wearing all week.

Those are the moments that are hardest for us. Every day he gets a little bigger and we begin to realize what our parents were talking about when they say it seems like yesterday that we were that small.

We’re going to feel that way as well someday soon. Then I’m sure we’ll hardly recall his fussy days to save room for the memories that looked like this:

Labor Jams

Music has always had a large role in mine and Kendall’s relationship. Before we started dating, we spent hours in the small office we shared putting off work and listening to our favorite albums, discussing what they meant to us, and quietly falling in love. How fortunate are we that music is so portable now that we can set up a small speaker and mp3 player (ever wonder who actually owns a Zune?) in the labor and delivery room. Here are some of the albums we played to help carry us through.

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

Feist, The Reminder

Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago and Bon Iver

Ani DiFranco, Reprieve

Band of Horses, Infinite Arms

Local Natives, Gorilla Manor

The National, Boxer

Floating Action, Floating Action

Ray Lamontagne, Trouble

Wye Oak, Civilian

Beck, Sea Change

Gillian Welch, Harrow and the Harvest

Coldplay, Parachutes

Dave Matthews, Some Devil

Bob Dylan, New Morning

Any Day Now…

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As we enter the “Any Day Now” stage of the pregnancy, a lot of my friends have been asking me, “What’s that like,” or more often, “Are you terrified?”

The first question is easy enough to answer: “Oh, I’m still getting around alright,” or, “Well, I’m drinking for two these days…” Hilarious!

As for the second question, I just say, “no, I’m not really scared at all,” which, is true. I’m not scared, but the question is so often asked that I sometimes wonder if one should be frightened at the prospect of becoming a parent.

It’s kind of like in grade school when you learn that phenomenon, cognitive suggestion? Behavioral something or other? An example (which of course we unmercifully tried on all our friends) is if you ask someone repeatedly if they’re feeling alright, they will inevitably start to question themselves and eventually go home with a perceived illness. Hilarious!

I do feel a great deal of worries that I have been assured will only intensify as William gets older. As my mom put it, “you’ll never sleep the same again.” Scared or terrified even, I am not.

I was asked that often as our wedding day approached, and the answer then was the same as now. I am not scared of any kind of future with this woman. I was sure of that the day we locked eyes. I’ll never forget it.

And now as we are about to enter the next truly life-altering phase of our lives, and the first phase of our son’s life, I’m not scared at all.

Now as for the labor and delivery, I’m scared shitless. We were talking the other day about some of the things we’d read about laboring and there’s a study that has shown that tongue kissing can help the mother manage pain during labor because the intimacy creates a release of endorphin. Last night I dreamed that Kendall bit my tongue off. Not hilarious.

It’s important to note however that my fears about the delivery are not in any way rooted in a lack of confidence in Kendall’s ability to experience a natural child birth. Kendall is the most headstrong and determined person I’ve ever met. And she’s tough as old boots. I’m amazed by her every day. I know that she can do this, and I know that I am going to do anything and everything in my power to help and reassure her. Even in the dream, I just stuck a towel in my mouth and we kept going.

We’ve researched this, we’ve watched videos and practiced relaxation techniques, we’ve discussed at length our expectations, hopes and fears, and tried to prepare for the possibility that we may not be able to do this entirely the way we wish.

I think my fears are mostly the irrational nerves that lead up to any intense event. When I was in high school, I would puke before every swim meet. I never thought I was going to drown, I just got nervous, threw up and was fine after that. Not to compare birthing a child to the 50M breast stroke, but you get what I’m saying.

Kendall seems a natural at pregnancy. She’s been moving through the last nine months as though the human growing in her belly is nothing at all. Pregnancy just seems to suit her. Look at that glow.

It really could be any day now, and I couldn’t be more excited. We couldn’t be any more excited. It’s a nervous feeling, and it can be scary, but it’s easy enough to think past any fear.

We’re about to give the world to someone. When you stop and think how awesome that is, there just isn’t any room left for fear.

The Outsounds From Way In…

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Each week of the pregnancy, Kendall receives an update from a couple of online pregnancy tracking Websites (yeah, I still capitalize Web) that give us interesting facts about that particular week of development. This week was especially exciting, not only because William’s size was compared to that of a butternut squash (my favorite of the Cucurbitaceae family!), but because at this stage he can recognize and react to simple songs! Oh, it is on.

A couple of weeks ago, we learned that he can now hear the world outside the womb relatively well. Upon learning this we’ve been reading a little to the belly (Moby Dick did not go over so well with baby or mother), and have been playing him some essential listening.
A few posts back you heard that he was kicking to Wes Montgomery. As a guitar player you can imagine how elated I was. I could just see it: sitting on the porch strumming some chords with my boy, seeing his face the first time he cranks up a vintage Fender and holds on to an A chord that’s rattling the windows. So of course, as blues records continue to spin in our home, he seems to really be kicking in interest of…the harmonica.
The harmonica is not exactly the sound I hear when I close my eyes, but hey it is a pretty deep instrument. And he seems to have good taste. Kendall tells me he really gets to going when he hears Little Walter, Junior Wells and now that he’s been to his first Barrelhouse (my band) show in utero, my harmonica player Tom. (Hey, how about when his old man’s playin? Yeah, not so much.)
As I’ve said before, he doesn’t have to play an instrument, and if he happens to take to one, he can play the spoons for all I care, so long as he’s doing something he loves and giving it his all. Even if he has no interest in playing music when he’s finally exploring the outside world, I don’t know how he’ll be able to grow up in our house and not love listening. 
One of the things I love so much about Kendall is her ear for good music. She has much more refined taste than I do, and many of the artists that I can’t get through a week without listening to have been ones she has passed along. I’m so impressed with not only her ear, but her commitment to good music. Here we are in the third trimester and we’re still travelling to concerts.
In the past few weeks William has been womb rocking to Nancy Griffith (womb folking, I should say), The Wandering (Luther Dickenson of North Mississippi All-Stars and the Black Crowes with Amy LaVere, Shannon McNally, Valerie June, and Sharde Thomas) and just this past weekend, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (yeah, that Steve Martin!).
I didn’t make it to Nancy Griffith, but The Wandering was amazing. Each of the lovely ladies in the band is a successful solo artist in and around Memphis, TN, and they each took turns singing at this show. The highlights for me were Ms. June singing Mississippi John Hurt’s “Make Me a Pallet” with Mr. Dickinson, and for both Kendall and me, Robert Johnson’s “If I Had Possession.” Her style has been described as organic, moonshine roots and that is exactly how she sang this tune.
The Wandering

Kendall: “He’s married, right?”  Brandon: “Yes, I believe so.” K: “So how did he talk his wife into going on the road with these beautiful women?” B: “So if I said, ‘Hey babe, I’m going on tour with Amy LaVere…” K: “Um… No.”

I’m a big fan of Amy LaVere as well. Her latest album, Stranger Me is a lot of fun to listen to and her voice is infectious, so it was a lot of fun to hear some of her tunes with this band.

It had been some time since Kendall and I went to a concert by ourselves and I had forgotten just how much fun it is to go on a little adventure with my wife, even if it’s just a couple towns over in Charlottesville.

Seeing Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with our dear friends Paris and Maria was a real treat. When I was a boy, Mr. Martin’s movies were hugely famous and I had gotten it in my head that since we shared a last name and I see him all the time, he must be my uncle. I’ve come to accept that this isn’t true, but have remained a fan of his films, stand-up, writings and music all the same.

He was hilarious at the show, and contrary to the jokes about the underwhelming popularity of bluegrass, you can tell he takes the music seriously. Especially considering he travels with the Steep Canyon Rangers.

We really had a blast at this show, and Kendall was a trooper. We’re really getting late in the game and she’s taking on the familiar back pain and swollen feet of late pregnancy. I’m totally amazed that she won’t let the discomfort spoil her fun.

I supremely lucked out in getting to meet and marry my best friend. She consistently surprises me, and even seven years into our relationship, I think we’re having more fun now than ever. Watching a concert and feeling our child kick with the music is a joy I didn’t know I could experience. I just cannot wait for the fun the three of us will have, and the music we will make. Even if he wants to play harmonica.