Timelapse

Starting very early in Wifey’s pregnancy – pretty much as soon as we were aware of it, in fact – we added one step to our Sunday morning routine. While the coffee was brewing, we’d step onto the back deck for a quick photograph; she’d stand in the same place and in the same outfit and I’d shoot a single photo. Each week I cropped it and added it to the collection, watching in amazement as the striped shirt concealed less and less of her belly.

This time lapse video is made from 30 photographs that were taken over the course of 35 weeks or so. It was a blast to put together (with the help of my brother-in-law Erik over at Hush Studios and my own first foray into iMovie).

If Micah lets me get away with it, perhaps I’ll keep the Sunday morning photo habit going for the first twelve years of his life like this dude amazingly did with his daughter. But I fear that Little Dude may grow to be less pliant than his Mother.

Touchdown

20131009-084936.jpg
Our Little Dude has finally arrived! I’m now officially The Winedad.

Micah Theo Epstein was born at 2:08 AM on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. He is one big beautiful dude; the strength shown by his Mommy has changed my understanding of the word.

As it turns out, all of the clichés hold true. I never knew it was possible to be so proud and full of joy. I’m desperately in love with this guy.

Now I can’t wait to take him home and give him his first taste of Champagne.

Expectations

photo

Week 41.

One week past “due,” we find ourselves really wishing that we had never been given a date at all. No matter how many times you tell yourself that it’s just an estimate – one which could be off by several weeks in either direction, no less – it’s hard to shake that number once you’ve got it in your head. (It’s especially difficult for those of us who are by nature are compulsive planners.)

I’ll be the first to say that in pregnancy, as in life, it’s all about setting realistic expectations. Only 5% of babies are actually born on their “due date,” so with this in mind we’ve done our best to disregard the date altogether. We’ve tried to avoid speaking it out loud and have had to dodge the question:

“When is the baby due?”

“Oh, late September, early October, we’ll see…”

I’ve gotta tell you, though – anyway you slice it, it doesn’t really work. Deep down inside, nobody’s that zen. We were really hoping to have met our new little roomie by now, and it’s well past time for me to take over some of the duty of carrying him around.

We try to keep moving and we try to keep calm – every day that goes by is a day that I’m able to put to good use. Baby Momma and I are spending a lot of quality time together, and simultaneously, Volume V from Le Metro – Wine. Underground. is all ready to ship out next week. (Volume VI is already in the works, although it’s slow going with my head in the clouds.)

I try to stay busy enough that my excitement is contained; according to certain schools of thought Mommy and Daddy’s baited breath actually keeps baby in. The way I keep catching my jaw clenching these days, if I was the one carrying Little Dude around we’d have quite a while left to wait. (Luckily Wifey is generally a much calmer person than I am, and is determined enough to keep it that way that she’s already turned her phone off and gone into hibernation mode.)

We walk several miles a day together and are spoiling ourselves rotten with food (as much and as spicy as possible). Following the midwives orders we’re enjoying as much sexy time as possible (THANK YOU MIDWIVES!!).

However, as wonderful as it all is, we’d much rather be munching on our baby boy.  

 

 

Hands Off

DSC_2301

Week 40.

We’ve made it to the official end of month nine; Little Dude will be arriving any day now. As Wifey and I try to stay busy and struggle to keep our anticipation in check, I figure this is as good a time as any to finally start reintroducing a bit of wine back into winedad.com.

In hopes of a graceful segue I wanted to start with something that’s been very much on my mind these past few months: Believe it or not, I’ve found there to be a lot of conceptual crossover between winemaking and baby-making. The subject of “natural childbirth” is an explosive one, as is that of “natural winemaking,” so I’ll do my best to steer shy of the more controversial aspects of both. But they’re thought-provoking any way you look at it.

For mothers-to-be, “natural” generally refers to unmedicated birth with no drugs to dull the pain or speed the process along. You could say that the word is used pretty much the same way in the wine world – as far as most folks are concerned, “natural wine” is that which is produced without the intervention of outside yeasts, extra sulfites, or other foreign compounds to alter its chemistry. (By implication it’s also usually considered to be organic.)

In both arenas, the primary case to be made for “natural” lies in the the existence of countless precedents for end-results that were healthily conceived/born/guided with no scientific intervention whatsoever. The counterargument is equally straightforward: despite all of them, things can and do occasionally go wrong. Whether it’s the fruit of your loins or that of your labor that’s at risk, wouldn’t you want to leave as little to chance as possible?

At the end of the day, I myself don’t have that much experience either making wine or birthing babies. My exposure to the production side of vino has been broad but still relatively shallow, and the part I played in baby-making was neither drawn-out nor painful. But I do know from the little that I’ve seen so far that barring dramatic and unforeseen circumstances, both processes seem to go more smoothly the less we mess around with them.

SMS

iphone

Week 39.

My mother asked me yesterday if she should start leaving her cell phone on when she goes to bed. I responded with a question of my own:

“Would you be upset if you woke up in the morning to a photo of your Grandson?”

“YES!”

“Well then leave your phone on, Mom. I don’t know what to tell you. Honestly I don’t think I’ll be making any phone-calls while Wifey’s in labor – even to you – but I promise I’ll text when things start to go down…”

A few days before that I had called my mother-in-law, seeing as I was nearby with some free time. She answered the phone breathlessly:

“Hi! Is everything ok?? Is the baby coming???”

“Um, hi. No, we’re not in labor. Breathe. I just wanted to see what you’re doing for lunch…”

“Oh. I’ve gotta run. I’m in a meeting. Sorry, can’t do lunch.”

These ladies are not the only ones – it’s now begun in earnest. The inquiries roll in daily, and not just from the grandparents-to-be. When Wifey’s iPhone lights up on the table it typically reads:

“How are you feeling??? Any contractions yet? Is the baby on his way???”

Yup, of course. She’s giving birth, just texting away on her iPhone… Words With Friends, anybody?

As the man, there’s just one question that comes my way (hourly):

“Are you a dad yet?”

Sure dude. Totally. My son was born yesterday and I’m sitting here tasting a bunch of Pinot Noir. No worries, my wife doesn’t need me around…

Joking aside, it makes us both feel extremely loved to know that you’re thinking of us. Please don’t stop checking in – we’d be pretty devastated if we weren’t getting those messages.

Seriously, though  – we’ll keep you posted. Has anything about this blog indicated that I’m shy?

 

Names

hello

Week 38.

The end is near. (Or, rather, the beginning!)

It could be tomorrow that we finally meet our baby boy – or it could still be a month away. Now that we’ve made it this far and our midwives have repeatedly assured us that he is healthy, the question on both of our minds all day is, “what do you look like, Little Dude??” (Honestly, we’d totally settle for his hair color.)

However, the query that most often comes from those we encounter over the course of our day is a different one:

“OMG a BABY! What’s his name??”

Call me crazy – or maybe it’s just because I’m a Jew – but I’m amazed by how offended some of these folks seem to be when we refuse to divulge. Wifey and I have both always known that we’d follow the Jewish tradition of naming our children for those no longer with us, as well as the superstition about not sharing their names until birth. But you’d be shocked by how many people over the past few months have actually said “Oh come on, you can tell me. You don’t even know me! What do I care?”

My point exactly – why do you care so much?

It’s one thing for those close to us to inquire – in fact, I understand my parents’ frustration when we wouldn’t even let them play the guessing game with us. (I’m sorry guys, I love you; but I just don’t trust myself to keep a straight face once we venture down that road.)

But as far as strangers go, old school superstition aside, there’s a practical element in play here as well. You see, everybody’s got an opinion.

All of my sources concur. Apparently, when expecting parents do proudly proclaim their child’s name before birth, the following type of conversation becomes quite common:

“His name is Abraham, isn’t that exciting??”

“No way man, fuck that name, I’ve hated it ever since that shmuck Abe dumped me in high school.”

“Well, our backup name is Isaac…”

“Eww, that’s my Dad’s name forget that one, too.”

Now imagine the same scenario, with a real live baby involved:

“His name is Jacob, isn’t he precious??”

“Awwwwwwww…..”

You see what I mean? We don’t really expect people to stop asking. But please, allow us some room for dignity when we choose not to reply.

 

Meltdown

ice

Week 37.

When I got home last Friday evening, all pumped up with excitement for the long Labor Day weekend, Wifey was sitting on the couch – crying hysterically – with an ice pack on her head. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I had done something terribly wrong.

“Oh my God! Baby, are you ok??”

“I’m fine,” she snapped.

“What did I do??? Are you mad at me?”

“No.” she replied (unconvincingly). “You didn’t do anything. I’m just fucking huge and it’s TOO DAMN HOT!!”

“What can I do to make you feel better? Should we go to dinner somewhere air conditioned? Do you want to go to the movies?”

“Nothing. I don’t even want to move. Just leave me alone.”

I vacillated for a second then did what any dude would do: popped open a beer and sat down on the deck to enjoy the late summer evening. Incidentally, it was much cooler out there than on the corner of couch from whence Wifey refused to budge.

I gave it an hour or so, leaving her to her misery, then quietly prepared dinner and set the outdoor table. Cautiously, I approached the pregnant woman.

“My lady, might I have the pleasure of dining with you tonight?”

She eventually joined me outside, and after the food, wine, and cool(er) nighttime temperatures had begun to take effect, I broke out the heavy ammo:

“Hey, how about we take a little stroll and have some ice cream?” Just like that, the temperature dropped another 10 degrees.

Guys, I’ve gotta tell you – if you’re thinking about knocking your lady up before summer comes, invest in air conditioning. Then again, if that’s too much for you, can always fall back on ice cream.

 

 

 

WARNING

photo

Week 36.

As well as being another confession of guilt, this one is something along the lines of a public service announcement. You see, I’m just back from our carseat “fitting.”

Since getting pregnant we keep hearing an interesting statistic bandied about: apparently, more than 90% of Americans improperly install their kids’ carseats (by some accounts, the number is as high as 98%). Despite our skepticism – and our confidence that that we’re part of the remaining 10%, duh  – we made made an appointment to get ours checked out. (Most carseat inspection stations are at Police precincts or Highway Patrol offices; I met with Safe Kids Worldwide at a temporary one in the parking lot at Rady Children’s Hospital.)

You’re laughing, I’m sure. Taken at face value this number seems absolutely preposterous. We all want to say: “Well, I mean of course THOSE people fucked it up. But we know what we’re doing. Right, honey?”

I can promise you – whoever you are – that you’re probably wrong.

Our carseat base was absolutely rock solid – you couldn’t budge this thing a millimeter in any direction. We were sure that we had installed it perfectly. Except that we hadn’t, not quite. Attaching the base firmly isn’t the only important factor here – making sure that it looks and feels solidly installed is not enough. This is about making sure that the structural integrity of your carseat is absolutely uncompromised so that the forces of an accident are deflected away from your child.

These are highly engineered doohickeys, and in order for them to protect our children as they’re meant to it’s up to us to properly follow instructions – even the really hard to read ones in fine print. You have to follow steps A, B, and C; unless of course D is true, in which case you skip B, and then follow E, F, and G…. or maybe – if you choose to install it on this seat rather than that one you should be doing H, I and J instead… wait – you didn’t get a Graco? Oh, scratch that, you’ve got to do it this way…

This is no joke – even if your kid has already been riding around in that carseat for years, it’s almost guaranteed that something is wrong, and you may never know until it matters most. So seriously – I don’t care how smart you are, or how many nieces and nephews you’ve got. Get your shit checked, people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep

photo

Week 35.

As we approach the home stretch of this pregnancy, every parent we encounter takes it upon themselves to provide some (unsolicited) advice. Whoever/whenever/wherever we may be, it is always the same, and comes delivered with equal parts solemnity and melodrama (as well as an undertone of evil laughter and spooky Halloween music in the background):

SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!! mwa ha ha ha ha ha” 

I’ll admit, I’m a little freaked out by how quickly time seems to be passing these days. Before we know it our little guy will be here, after which point (if you buy into the hype) we’ll never sleep again. The problem is – we’re already not sleeping much.

It’s understandably difficult for Wifey to get comfortable with that watermelon inside, and he’s resting right on her bladder sending her to the bathroom at regular intervals. There’s a lot of nocturnal activity going on over here – not to mention a body pillow in the middle of the bed. So I’m left with a little slice of mattress on which to enjoy the Daddy-to-be insomnia that my sources indicate is par for the course.

You know what’s happened? The dire warnings I’ve been receiving are actually causing me to sleep less. I lie there, brain churning, wondering what my son will look like and what changes he will affect in my life. Meanwhile, somewhere on the edge of my consciousness a very assertive man with a powerful loudspeaker is screaming YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO SLEEP AGAIN!!!! YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO SLEEP AGAIN!!!!

Honestly, I’m becoming convinced that I’m going to sleep better once Little Dude is here. The reality can’t possibly be as bad as my own imagination.

Balls

photo copy 4

Week 34.

This totally inappropriate-looking contraption has had a major impact on my marriage in the past week.

No, it is not a sex toy for tennis players (get your mind out of the gutter!), but rather a cheap and easy-to-make prenatal massage tool. (Apparently this is only one of many alternative uses for tennis balls; if only Wilson knew they might explore some entirely new marketing avenues.)

Thanks to the international communication chain of pregnant mothers – and a pretty hilarious youtube video – this sexy little doohickey came to Wifey’s attention while I was away on a wine trip for a few days last week. So I got a text message:

Please buy some tennis balls on your way home. Thanks. I love you.” WTF? 8 months pregnant and you’re going to pick up tennis?

“No, but you’ve been away for five days and you owe me a lot of massages.” Yes, dear.

I did in fact owe her a lot of massages – and sadly, the few that I had attempted to provide so far during pregnancy had probably been unsatisfactory. My massage skills aren’t bad, generally speaking, but that goes out the window when the person on the receiving end is growing a child and therefore can’t lie flat on her stomach. Furthermore, pregnant women are cautioned against massages at all during the first trimester, massages that are too invasive, or massages by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. So you’ll understand my concerns.

These balls – for lack of a better term – are a lifesaver. Believe it or not they provide just the right kind of pressure, and the pantyhose (or sock, if you choose to go that route) keep just enough space between them to straddle one’s spine. Honestly – speaking from experience now – they feel pretty damn good.

Guys – take it from me. Don’t wait until month 8 to get yourself some new balls.