An interview with a dad: Me!

On August 14 at 6:07 a.m., my golf career officially came to an end. That’s when Anne and I welcomed our son, Owen Michael, into the world.

For the nine months leading up to that momentous occasion, I ended every night by whispering into Anne’s belly. “I can’t wait to meet you,” I’d say. “But please, oh please, pretty please, don’t come on August 14th. That’s the day when daddy gets to play a really nice golf course.”

Kids. You know? They never listen. 1 week ago, I didn’t think anything in the world could be better than playing a beautiful exclusive country club for free on a cool summer morning. (sorry Anne). But then I saw this for the first time:

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And in that one moment, when I looked into my son’s eyes for the first time, I could feel my life changing forever. I felt a sense of purpose, of pride, of protection, of parenthood. And then, I had the most amazing realization: If I hurried, I could still make my tee time.

EXCLUSIVE: My First Interview

To commemorate the birth of my first child, a masculine child, I’m bringing back my “Interview with a Dad” series to answer all your pressing questions. My first subject, Ryan, is back. But this time, he’s the one asking the questions. Here’s what Ryan had to say for himself.

Ryan: Congratulations, Rob! I’m so happy for you.

Rob: I wrote that part.

Ryan: I know, but the rest will be the things that I really asked you. So let’s get to the questions.

Rob: Fine.

Ryan: Biggest surprise so far?

Rob: I never thought anything in the world could prevent me from responding to emails at the precise moment I received them. Even if someone were to chop off my hands, I could just get one of those straw microphones to dictate my responses. So I was quite surprised that having a new baby somehow prevented me from responding.

I was also surprised by how much my kid sucks, and even moreso by the power of his sucking. One of the books we have suggested that the dad put his finger in the kid’s mouth to soothe him when he cries. I tried that, and the next thing I knew, I was pulling my shoulder out of his throat.

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Actually, there was one other thing that was the quite surprising. After the onset of labor, when I was blitzing through the house grabbing every last thing we could ever need, Anne decided that she should take a quick shower and blow dry her hair. I was in full on panic mode, and Anne decided to clean herself up and make herself beautiful for the hospital. At least it worked – her hair looked fucking amazing until a little but of her vomit got caught in it.

Ryan: One thing that happened from the water breaking to the birth that you wish you could take back?

Rob: Nothing. But I imagine that I’ll say something in this blog post that I’ll need to take back. Maybe the vomit comment. Or the sucking thing. She’ll probably think I mean that he sucks, like “Man, what a jerk. That guy totally sucks.” When what I really meant was :

suck definition   Google Search
Ryan: What’s the meanest thing Anne said to you during that same period?

Rob: I’ve spent the last three hours thinking of a good response to this question. And believe me, I love taking shots at Anne. But she was amazing throughout the whole process. I mean, I guess if I had to pick something that was kind of mean, it would be the moment when she said, “Rob, I wish I never married you. I hate you and I hate your face and I hope that you burn in the pits of hell for ever and ever. Oh, and I hope that when you arrive in hell, you find this waiting for you:”

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Ryan: Did you cry at any point during that?

Rob: No. You did a great job of preparing me for what to expect during labor. I’m basically a pro at this parenting thing:

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Ryan: On a scale of Jodie saying yes to going to the junior prom to getting your socks wet on a log flume, how excited were you to see balls?

Rob: Good idea to reference two things that no one who reads my blog will understand. For the uninformed, I went to the junior prom with Ryan’s now wife. She loved me at the time. I also once got my socks wet at Great Adventure. I was pissed because my moron friends thought it would be a good idea to ride the log flume at the end of the day. I told them, right off the bat, that it would be stupid to ride the log flume because then we would be wet for the whole ride home. No one likes being wet and cold, including my son, who cries every time he has a cold wet diaper. That’s my boy!

So to answer your question, I was very excited to see the balls. I was especially happy when the doctor said, “it’s definitely a boy.” One of my biggest fears about not finding out was that the data would be inconclusive at the time of birth.

Ryan: What’s the first thing you said to Owen?

Rob: Wow, I wish I remembered this. I think I said, “Hi Owen! You have daddy’s hair!”

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Ryan: have you been mad at him yet?

Rob: I mean, he did make me miss that tee time. Also, every day when I get home, we go through the same routine. I hold him for a few minutes and we have a blissful moment of love. Then he pees on my shirt. Then I change him. Then he immediately pees again. Then I change him. Then he starts crying. I sway and make idiotic noises to soothe him, but nothing works. Then he shits on me. Then I change him. Then I finally sit down and he gets this big smile on his face. I’m pretty sure it’s his way of saying, “that was fun, right pop?” Then he shits on me again. Then I change him. Then I hand him to Anne and he doesn’t go to the bathroom again until she hands him back to me. It’s not that I’m mad at him, but I know he’s doing it just to fuck with me.

Ryan: Has he been mad at you?

Rob: I think I crushed one of his balls once when I was changing his diaper. He didn’t like that very much.

Ryan: What’s the best thing about him so far?

Rob: When he falls asleep on my chest and snuggles in extra close while we watch golf together.

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Ryan: what’s the worst?

Rob: That he can’t talk yet. The hardest thing so far is that I know he’s trying to communicate with me, but I don’t understand. Just try to imagine how mad Anne would get if we had this conversation:

Anne: Rob, I’m cold. Can you please turn the AC off.

Rob: Um…. Do you want to take your sweater off?

Anne: No, I’m cold. Please turn the AC off.

Rob: Milk? Do you want some milk? If so, I’ll go get your mom and have her bring it to you.

Anne: Is it fucking cold in here, or is it just me?

Rob: [sticks finger in her mouth] Is that what you want?

Anne: The AC. Off. Turn it off now.

Rob: [smells Anne’s ass] Did you poop?

Anne: This is really pissing me off.

Rob: [pulls Anne’s underwear aside and peeks] Any pee in there?

Anne: if you don’t turn the AC off right now, I will murder you.

Rob: Let me get your mom. I think it’s her turn.

Anne: I don’t want my mom! I’m just cold, you asshole.

[Anne takes the baby, Rob walks out of the room decides its cold, turns the AC off because he’s cold]

Anne: Thank you.

Rob: See, I knew you just wanted your mom.

That’s what it’s like when Owen cries. I have no clue what he wants, but I know he’s trying to tell me. It’s so stressful to not be able to give him exactly what he wants at that exact moment to make the crying stop.

Ryan: What’s the nicest thing someone said to you after the birth?

Rob: “He looks just like Anne.”

Ryan: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten since the birth?

Rob: “Whatever you do, don’t blog about your child. Respect his privacy and let him decide on his own whether his images or stories should enter into the public domain.”

Ryan: Did you stay in the north end zone?

Rob: Nope. I saw everything. The hospital didn’t do much in the way of delineating the end zones. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. And, frankly, I’m glad I got to witness everything. It’s unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I have a whole new love and respect for Anne, and think I’m not forbidden from ever getting mad at her again. When the delivery was finished, Anne said to the doctor, “things really seemed to get easier when you started sawing me open.” As a witness to everything, I can assure you there was no saw.

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be married to such an amazing woman. One who can endure 16 hours of pain, stress, and sawing, deliver the most amazing baby of all time, and remain so god damn beautiful throughout. I think all women can learn a valuable lesson from this: Even when you’re in the throes of labor, there’s always time for a quick blowout.

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My irrational fears about imminent parenthood

I haven’t written in a while because I am consumed with irrational fears about parenthood.  For instance, every day for the last 18 days, I have started the day by asking Anne if she’s in labor.  She never is.

Anne promises that she’ll tell me as soon as she knows, but I’m worried that she’ll keep it to herself for a few minutes because she’s not sure if it’s really happening.  Then, during those minutes, the baby will come out, and grow up, learn the violin, go off to college, get an amazing job, win the masters, become disgustingly rich, and not give me any of the money because I missed it all.  If Anne just had the decency to tell me that she was in labor, then I’d be driving a Benz right now.

See what I mean?  Totally irrational (but kind of legitimate, right?).  Also, as I played out that scenario in my head, I totally pictured the kid as a girl.  Does that mean it’s a girl?  That’s not a super scientific way of figuring out gender, but is it accurate?  60% of the baby pool responses say no.

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While I’m at it, here’s a summary of the responses:

Birthdate:  Responses ranged from 8/3/13 (gasp!) to 9/1/13 (Insert Anne gasp here).  The most popular response was 8/20/13, two days late.

Baby weight:  Responses ranged from 6 lbs 7 oz to 9 lbs 8oz., submitted by Kerry.  Kerry, you obviously studied my baby pictures, but Anne thinks you’re a god damn motherfucking bitch right now.  Ryan’s response of >19 lbs is disqualified for public health and safety reasons.

Will Rob pass out?  More than 50% of responses say “no.”  Love you guys.

You all think that I will maintain a healthy weight at the time of birth.  Except for a few readers, who shall remain nameless.  Like Robert Harms, the prick who said I would weight 201.4 lbs at birth and that dickhead, Ryan, who thinks I’ll balloon up to 265.

To no one’s surprise, way more of you like Anne better than you like me.  Why don’t you follow her blog then?  Exactly.  Because she doesn’t have one.  If she did, I’d like it more than this one too.  Anne’s the best.

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And finally, here are some of the best responses to the “Please use this space to provide any well wishes or parenting advice.”

“I hope your kid has massive balls, but only if it’s a boy.”  – Guess who.

“You’ll be a great, overbearing and lovably obsessive father. Your child will grow up with numerous complexes created by you.”

“Don’t read a newspaper or write your blog whilst Anne is actually in labour.”  I’m just including this one because of whilst.  What a stupid word.

“Rob: Reminders: Good tempo, slow take away, head down, stay on plane and finish your swing. Wait, what was this about again? Good luck Anne!”  – Someone who gets me.

“I don’t have kids, but my cat is ‘kind of’ a kid. I guess my advice is, keep it off the back of the sofa and teach it where to poop as early as possible.”  – Weird cat lady.

“Your humor makes the work day bearable.” – Probably my “test” submission.

“Rob – Don’t be a jackass! Anne – You are awesome! ” – Anne’s dad.

“And just so you know, I like Anne better because something tells me she is tougher about this whole situation than you.”  – Typical reader of my blog.

” Rob, don’t be a douche.”

“This poor, poor (Lucky!) child.”

“if you do the exact opposite of my parents, I may be able to guar.an.tee your kid will be at least 14 before smoking pot”

Those were actually real responses, not like the edited responses I gave in all of the interview with a parent blogs.  It’s nothing compared to your pictures of how you think the baby will look:

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Little_Pollak

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Anyway, here are the things that are really freaking me out right now:

1 – I haven’t figured out how to install the car seat, nor do I believe that it’s something that’s possible to figure out.
2 – I haven’t assembled the crib or any other furniture in the nursery.
3 – I don’t know how to change a diaper.
4 – I am a little behind on sleep and keep thinking I’ll catch up on the weekend, but then I remember 100 things I forgot to do last weekend.
5 – I want to play a few more rounds of golf, which I do every weekend when I”m supposed to be doing all that other stuff.
6 – I’m scared of the animalistic sounds anne might make in the hospital.  Special thanks to the reader that shared this terrifying video of what it’s going to be like:
7 – I’m scared of hospitals
8 – I dislike spit up tremendously
9 – I think the kid might look like me
10 – I think the kid might not look like me
11 – I think I might fuck up the spelling of the name, like the parents of baseball player jhonny peralta
12 – Anne and I moved into a new home and now I am obsessed with HGTV and I’m worried that Pinterest will be next.  What do you think of these drapes, by the way?
Modern interior. 3D render. Living-room. Exclusive design.

 

The Official Rob (and Anne) Complains About Things Baby Pool

Welcome to the first annual Rob (and Anne) Complains About Things (other than their baby) Baby Pool.

A drawing launching a baby pool for my blog

CLICK HERE to submit your entry to the baby pool.  It only takes a minute to enter, but by doing so, you will receive 15 seconds of entertainment.

If you like to read the “fine print” then the rest of this post is just for you!

The Rules are as follows:

  1. One entry per person (no purchase necessary).
  2. The winner will be the person who submits the best entry form.  Because the answers to some of the questions will not be finalized for many many years, this will be a somewhat arbitrary process.  In other words, the person who does the best on picking the gender/DOB/weight/height/Apgar score/Rob Pass out/name will win.  In the event of a tie, all prize money will be donated to charity (Baby’s college fund).
  3. People who have provided interviews to this blog about parenting are all already winners in my mind!  But if they do win the contest, their prizes will be as follows:
    1. If Andy wins, the prize will be one pair of Hank and Jojo socks.
    2. If Ryan wins, the prize will be a weekly guest spot on my blog.
    3. If Suburban Mom wins, the prize will be extra blog traffic for my blog.  She wins!
  4. Anne is not allowed to enter.  Not for any specific reason, but it would really crush my spirits if she did better than I did in this pool.
  5. These rules don’t matter because, as you’re about to see, the prizes are all really shitty.  If you still want to enter, here’s what you could win:  

First Prize:

  • Have the baby named after you (redeemable only if the winning entry has the same name as we were going to pick for the kid anyway).
  • A custom stick figure drawing.
  • An autographed photo of me passed out in the delivery room.  If I don’t pass out, an autographed photo of placenta.
  • A blog post all about you.
  • Three unused Rob Complains About Things Stamps (cash value $1.38)

Second Prize:

  • A slightly shittier custom stick figure drawing.
  • An autographed photo of me doing yoga.
  • A blog post all about someone else but mentioning you.
  • Two unused Rob Complains About Things Stamps (cash value $0.92)

Third Prize:

  • Yeah, right.  Like I’m going to give a prize to someone who couldn’t even make the top two.  You suck!
  • $3 cash
  • One unused Rob Complains About Things Stamp

Last Place:

  • You will be mocked relentlessly by me.  Unless I finish last, in which case the scores will be manipulated in such a way as to make it seem like someone else finished last.

Good luck to all participants.  I am ineligible for any prizes (except first or second prize), but I will submit an entry to crush you all with my inside information.

Thanks for participating.  Here’s the link again in case I f*cked up the one I posted at the beginning:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1d_cPSTVFTNRR4CijYDsD3nNlojriX6UL1oX-zXviuXU/viewform

A surefire way to offend a room full of pregnant woman

I learned a valuable lesson recently.  When dealing with pregnant women, it’s sometimes best to keep certain thoughts to yourself, even when those thoughts may be factually accurate and supported by science.

Let me explain.  A few years ago, before I discovered yoga, I fancied myself something of a runner.  I was no Dean Karnazes, but my weekly mileage often soared into the double digits.  I envisioned a future filled with health and happiness, jogging strollers and Gu packs, spandex onesies and body glide.

All those dreams disappeared one cruel day at the TriBeCa Equinox.  Fresh off a sub-60 minute 10-K, I set out to become the world’s chubbiest sprinter by employing a training theory called “Speed Work.”  To do speed work, you supposedly just start at a nice warm up pace and then add periods of sprinting followed by a nice easy cool down.  I did my first speed work session on a treadmill.  I began with a nice warm up at 6.0 MPH and, when the time was right, cranked that puppy up to 6.2.  Whoa baby!  I had that thing  humming!   I loved speed work!

I’m a very logical person, so the next week when I tried speed work, I thought I should progress to see whether I’d improved.  Indeed I had.  I did my short warm up at 6.0 MPH and then steadily increased the speed to about 100000 MPH.  Here’s a video of what happened:

About half way into my last lap of speed work, I pounded my foot into the treadmill belt and screamed out in pain.  Fine, it was more of a yelp.  Or a whimper.  But holy hell did it hurt.  I limped off the treadmill and immediately consulted a medical professional, WebMD, where I learned that I definitely had either cancer or scoliosis.

Some more research and a trip to an actual doctor confirmed my worst fears.  I had something called Morton’s Neuroma, a thickening of the nerves between the third and fourth toes.  Anne still questions the existence of this condition.

Although I am prone to exaggerate things, I hope you’ll believe me when I describe the pain.  It felt like there was a little pebble in my shoe and every time I took a step, the pebble caused me a slight degree of discomfort.  On some mornings, the pain got so bad that I would take one, or maybe even two Tylenol.  On the worst day, I had to use extra strength gel capsules.

You might be asking yourself, “why is Rob talking about Morton’s Neuroma?  How does this relate to offending pregnant women?”  Good question, and believe me, I know exactly what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “why is this jackass trying to predict what I may be asking myself right now.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t know anything about me.  I wish he’d just write about yoga again.  Or interview Ryan again.  That guy was funny.”

Well it turns out that studies have shown that Morton’s Neuroma may be as painful as childbirth (refer to the section on symptoms).  Lucy Waite, a well-established blog commenter over at the Angry Orthopod summed it up best.  She said, “[The] only comparison [to Morton’s Neuroma” is natural child-birth, which I did four times.”

A comparison of pain - Morton's Neuroma and Child Birth - Drawing by Rob Pollak

Who knows if the pain caused by Morton’s Neuroma actually is anything like child-birth.  Lucy Waite, that’s who.  But in case you don’t believe her, then let me give you some helpful advice:  If you ever find yourself in a hypnobirthing class where scared pregnant women are discussing their fears about pain, just keep your mouth shut.  I promise you that they will not feel comforted when you say, “Actually, I’ve had a Morton’s Neuroma, and according to studies conducted by researchers at KimsFoot.Com, it is supposedly just as painful as child-birth.  I didn’t think it was so bad, actually.  In fact, a little cortisone should clear it right up.”

My body remains still and limp: My first experience with Hypnobirthing

If you’re not familiar with hypnobabies, then look into my eyes.  Are you getting sleepy?  Yes.  You’re getting sleepy.  Very sleepy.  You’re entering the deepest sleep you’ve ever felt.

A drawing by Rob Pollak hypnobirthing and hypnobabies

When I snap my fingers, you will have an uncontrollable urge to share the link to my blog with everyone you know.

In the meantime, while you sit in a blissful state of heightened relaxation, let me tell you about hypnobabies.  To my surprise, hypnobabies has nothing to do with this Pokemon:

Nor does it have anything to do with a bunch of boozy babies slugging back this:

As I now understand it, Hypnobirthing is a French cult that brainwashes pregnant women with hippie-ish tendencies into believing that they will have a carefree and pain-free childbirth.  In other words, it’s the epidural without the shot or pain relief.  It achieves this by stealing your Friday nights during the height of Spring and placing you in a windowless corporate room with other terrified parents-to-be.

For the first hour of class, our Birth Professor read from the Hypno-manual and told stories that were meant to calm the nerves.  She told us that we don’t have to listen to friends who share the horror stories from their 91 hour labor.   “Thank god,” I thought as I listened to her proceed to tell us all the bad things that can happen if we don’t follow her instructions.

Or even if we do follow the instructions, how sometimes hypnobirthing can be so relaxed that the baby might slip out and become injured.  Like the time a Pilates instructor hypnobirthed and became so vaginally pliable that, while in labor, she went into a squat so deep that her baby cartwheeled out of the birth canal and hit his head on the ground.  Thankfully, the child was fine and he immediately found himself in happy baby pose while the doula checked his vitals.

Here’s how Hypnobirthing actually works.  You’re supposed to repeat certain affirmations in order to train your brain that the experience of labor is not a war between the body and the baby.  We practiced in class and discussed the way the affirmations can truly change your mindset.  It really did seem relaxing.

Here, try it with me:

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp?

Well, gee.  Wasn’t that empowering emasculating.

Here, let’s try another one together:

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

Ahhhhhh!  Pure bliss.  I’m feeling better already.  You?

For me, the highlight of class was the first snack break.  Professor Placenta distributed these amazing French cookies.  The pregnant moms looked on in horror when I took two from the box, especially the mom at the end of the circle who may have gotten no cookies because of me.

It may have seemed like a dick move at the time, but as you’re about to see, proper nourishment can be very important for hypno dads.

After the break, the teacher explained that we would be moving to the video portion of the evening.  She wheeled in a sweet flat screen and popped in a DVD from 1974.

We watched two videos.  The first was an amazing five-minute birth, edited to make it seem as if labor involved no blood, no screaming, no pain, or no crying.  It’s exactly how I imagined labor to be when I imagined it involving a stork.  I felt better about the process and even started to wonder if I could stray from the North end zone in a few months when we’re in the delivery room.

That feeling of wonder was quickly shot down.

Video two:  A very relaxed mom and her husband wait for the big moment in the delivery room.  They laugh and joke as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  They probably didn’t, but the second film was directed by the Stanley Kubrick of Hypnobirthing videos.  A quick cut sent us from the laughter and joking to the inside of what’s medically known as “up in the business.”  There, a brand new child with a head the size of rottweiler began corkscrewing its way through an opening the size of nostril.

As the child moved down the birth path, the temperature of the classroom suddenly increased by 12,400 degrees.  I looked up to my left to see how Anne was taking it.  All three of her seemed to be taking it quite well.  Those buttery French cookies that earlier had been so delicious now felt as if they had lodged in the portion of my esophagus just north of digestion and south of regurgitation.

On the brink of collapse, I put into practice all the tricks I had learned during the first hour of class.  I bobbed my head in rhythm and recited every affirmation I knew:  Mycervixopensoutward Mycervixopensoutward Mybodyislimp Mybodyislimp.

I felt much much better until a second later when a pool of blood gushed out of the birther’s upinyourbusiness and then the other things that come out came out.  I don’t know what these were, but one looked like an alien with an eel connected to it, one looked like a sac of breast implant, and another looked like this turkey chili Anne once cooked for me.

Pass out

Frenchie walks over and turns off the video and says, “so, Vhat did zoo theeenk?”  At least that’s what I think she said.  It was hard for me to hear her voice, which was being drowned out by the birds circling my head and chirping.  I stared up at her and tried to respond, but I could barely see through the bright light that I was slowly gliding towards.

At that moment, I leaned forward in my chair and took hold of my head.  Anne emerged from her state of hypno-meditative bliss and finally caught a glimpse of me.  “Why do you look like the guy from Powder?”  She asked.  “Are you okay?”  She reached over and gently rubbed the top of my head, a move she instantly regretted when she felt my sopping brow.

Amazingly, I didn’t faint, but I was brought back to full consciousness by Anne’s audible laughter at my expense.  I shared with the class that I had just almost passed out, and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.  Although I was embarrassed, I like to consider my light-headedness as an act of macho bravery.  You see, after mocking me for a few minutes, each of the moms went into reassurance mode and explained to me how I had nothing to be afraid of and how the whole thing’s not so bad or scary.  In other words, by nearly passing out, I effectively allayed all of the fears that these women had expressed in the pre-cookie portion of class.  You’re welcome ladies.

Before we were dismissed, I asked the teacher if anyone had ever fainted when they saw those videos.  She responded with a curt “non.”  That’s French for “no, you pussy.”

Technically speaking, the answer to my question remains the same.

Suck it, Hypnobirthing.