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An Actual Tip

4 Jun

It’s not inconceivable that part of the modest traffic that this blog manages to attract are new and expectant triplet parents. Maybe, like me years ago, you’re trawling the internet, looking for wisdom and advice about how to handle the task of having and raising three individuals at the same time. Well, today I’m going to try something I haven’t attempted in an awful long while: an actual tip, as it were, on triplets.

But since this is TipsOnTriplets and nothing’s easy-breezy, before I get to the advice, I’ll start with a story. I like to call it My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent.

Triplet pregnancies are fraught enough, but Carey’s had the added peril of Lupus, a condition she’s lived with since college. Every moment of our boys’ gestation would need close monitoring, which is what took us to Long Beach’s Magella Medical Group, specialists in high-risk pregnancies.

As you might expect, I had a jones to document everything with an eye toward eventually cutting together a highlight video of the pregnancy and eventual birth of the boys. I was on the lookout for odd moments, hopeful moments, important moments… anything that could communicate the nervous frenzy of the time, assuming we’d one day appreciate the look back.

So we arrived at Magella Medical Group for our initial consult and tests, a situation ripe for the video reel. And since the idea of producing a video had only occurred to me a few days prior, this was going to be one of the very first moments of the eventual edited piece. So I got to work grabbing b-roll of the building, the sign, the elevator ride up to the office. I imagined all of this cut together montage-style atop a heart-swelling music bed.

magella-sign

elevator

We entered and I was getting footage of everything, no matter how mundane. Carey signing in. Carey’s blood pressure being taken. No moment too small.

sign-in

We entered an exam room and an office supervisor told us to have a seat. I pulled out my phone to grab a shot or two of Carey getting situated. The office supervisor said, “Just so you know, we unfortunately can’t allow any video taken here in the office.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s one of our rules. I could explain all of the liabilities behind it, but suffice it to say it’s our policy here.”

“What about photos?”

She hesitated. “Photos are ok, maybe just a couple. It’s video we can’t allow. It looked like you were about to record with your phone, so I have to mention it.”

I thought about it for maybe two seconds. It made sense: an office specializing in high-risk pregnancies meant they’d likely seen quite a few pregnancies go badly. Failed pregnancies = angry parents = looking for someone to blame = “evidence” gathering, however legit, however spurious = legal battles = headaches the Magella Medical Group would just as soon avoid. I should also point out that the good people at Magella are as smart and conscientious as they come. It’s a wonderful place and we were lucky to be there. “I get it,” I said.

And that’s when My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent happened:

I lied.

“No problem, I won’t take any video. Maybe just a couple of photos.”

As reasonable as the Magella Medical Group’s policy on video capture was, it was a rule I just wasn’t going to follow. Sure, I thought, I could respect the wishes of the office. It’s their space, they get to decide what’s allowed. On the other hand, I pictured myself a decade in the future, me and three 9-year-olds huddled around a laptop. I would play the video their dad shot when they were still in the womb, showing how excited their parents were to meet them, how committed we were to taking every precaution to keep them safe and healthy.

Or I could tell them the story of why we didn’t have any video because we followed a lame f&%#ing liabilities rule.

The office manager left the room and I started shooting. And that’s how the rest of the morning went. I caught some great moments: The doctor telling us how the placentas work. Our hearing their heartbeats for the first time. Poring over ultrasound prints, relating to the camera what we’d just found out about our then-healthy three.

doctor

ultrasound

And stern looks from the staff. “Nope, just lining up a great photo moment,” I’d tell them, video rolling.

Of course, the video I really wanted to make was never made. But I did use the Magella footage in the memorial video I cut together after the boys passed. And you know? It’s not only my favorite moment in the whole memorial video, it’s footage I wouldn’t trade for all the riches in the whole wide world. While it was the postmortem footage of the boys (4:40) that caught the interest of The Daily Beast, BBC World Update and Good Morning America, it’s the Magella material (1:01) that makes my heart the happiest. Because there it is, in full-color, living, breathing, 24 fps shaky glory: two expectant parents who love their children more than anything, full to the eyeballs with excited, terrified, nervous anticipation. That’s the real stuff. That’s where life is.


Ok, that was quite a wind-up to get to the point of this post and the reason we’re all here: a Tip on Triplets. So here it is.

As a triplet parent, nature has already decided to chuck your special ideas about the traditional way of doing things right out the window. You have to wing it, you have to make it up as you go along. And the world is loaded with rules and philosophies about how you’re supposed to handle these three little aberrations.

These triplet children of yours are a messy, imperfect miracle. Listen to what the critics and the experts have to say. Take it in. Consider carefully. But keep in mind:

These children are yours. You make the rules.

That’s really it. You get to decide. If you need to go rogue, man, go rogue. This isn’t twin parenting and lord knows it sure as hell isn’t singleton parenting. It’s a whole other thing that demands reserves that John and Jane Q. Public don’t fully understand.

If you need to shoot the video, god’s sake, SHOOT THE VIDEO.

Go nuts. It’s up to you. The status quo was miles back, do your own thing.

That’s all.

(But, you know, within reason. Vaccinate your kids. I mean what are you, a bunch of toothless hill people?)

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Memorial Video: The Bear Triplets

28 Jun

Below is the video produced for the June 25th, 2011 memorial service for Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar Bear, our triplet sons.

Please be warned: while this video contains a handful of images from their brief lives, it also contains some imagery captured shortly after their passing. If you’re disturbed or offended by this sort of thing, please don’t feel any obligation to watch.

Thanks for celebrating them with us.

Faces

25 Jun

Today was our boys’ memorial, which was shared with a few dear friends and family.  It’s another example of something I’d like to talk more about later, but suffice it to say it was a really tremendous time.  If you were there in person or in spirit, thank you.

It probably hasn’t escaped you that Carey and I have been very precious about sharing photos of the boys.  Only a very few people have seen them and that may change eventually, but to commemorate the day, it seemed a good time to share my drawings of our sons, produced for the memorial.


Rudyard


Desmond


Oscar

Good night and God bless.

From Noelle

21 Jun

Posting this week will be sparse, even though I have half-drawn thoughts on Father’s Day, E. Coli and other odds and ends wasting time in my WordPress Drafts folder. Our boys’ memorial is this weekend, see, and all available moments are being directed that way.

I mentioned last time that Carey and I have been lucky enough to receive a lot of notes from a lot of beautiful people and today I decided to share one of them. Noelle runs her own blog over at These Mountains Are Mine and, rather than picking through what she said and presenting it in bits for the sake of modesty, I’ll just give you her whole letter.

It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to lose your children and Noelle doesn’t claim to know, but I think she has an idea:

Jeremy,

I appreciate the mention on your blog and I hadn’t originally planned to write to you, but after reading your most recent post I figured maybe you’d want me to. I originally wrote a much longer post specifically inspired by your blog. But, after rereading it, I decided not to post it.

I thought maybe my honesty about my lack of understanding would offend or be misunderstood. So instead I decided to steer people towards your blog and experience the story for themselves.

But I’ve decided to share some of the original post with you:

There’s something about the loss of a child that changes you, isn’t there? I haven’t experienced this personally, but I have family and friends who have, even recently. Tips for Triplets dad, Jeremy, got to me today. I read the story of his three sons. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I blame his writing skills for my emotional breakdown. I’ve heard these stories before, but the way he wrote it conveyed all the emotions they were feeling and suddenly I understood.

Losing a child of any age is heartbreaking. It’s just out of order and isn’t suppose to happen. But I’ve never truly understood before, the concept of equal heartbreak for a child who was never born. I know friends who’ve lost babies. I know that they still think about them, love them, grieve for them on their birthdays each passing year, and believe they’ll be in heaven waiting for them someday. Above all they consider that child as much one of their children as any. It’s hard for me to relate and sympathize with those feeling because I guess I’ve just never experienced it. If you miscarry and never name or meet your child can you really already love them that much already? I’m guessing the answer is yes, but the story of the sons that Jeremy lost takes it even deeper for me. They were each born into the world, held in their parents arms, talked to, loved, and then they died. That has to be one of the most heart wrenching situations. He introduces and describes each boy, their unique names and characteristics–I have no doubt they’ll never forget their sons. I’m not sure that I will ever forget their sons.

I remembered something about myself as a child today. My mother had two miscarriages and a stillbirth. I think the still birth was the most painful because they’d already found out the gender and named her…Naomi. She was born, buried and mourned. I remember that growing up I always told people that I had a sister in heaven named Naomi…I really considered her my sister. I don’t even know what it’s like to have a big sister (and honestly, if she’d been born, I probably wouldn’t be here anyway), but I considered her to be very real and she was just a story my mom told me, before my existence. I also remember telling people that really there were six kids in our family, but three were in heaven. I had it in my head that the other two were boys.

Maybe it has something to do with being wanted. When you lose a child that you wanted in your life and should have been…you just lose a child. Once you give your child a name, and a face, how can you get them out of your heart?

I guess the answer is…you can’t.

I know I can’t really understand, but I was absolutely struck by your sons story. I appreciate your honesty about your feelings. I also appreciate your cinematic references. 😉 But most of all I admire your courage. You know, the messy-sometimes angry-courage that it takes to keep blogging and remembering your sons. They have found there way into many of my conversations, and they absolutely will not be forgotten.

Since I have no idea how to end a letter to a stranger, I suppose I will just share with you one of my favorite poems…

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overheard, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

Noelle
http://thesemountainsaremine.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Noelle.

The Bear Boys

7 Jun

Our sons are gone, but their spirits remain in our hearts, our home, our heads.  Speaking as a father, I’ve never been prouder of anything than I am of these boys and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to introduce them.


Rudyard Bear
b. 6:28 am, 6/4/11
1 lb., 1 oz.  /  10-1/2 in.

Rudyard was “Baby A”, whose sac ruptured Tuesday evening.  He fought hard to replenish his fluid over the following few days, but was eventually forced to surrender to the weight of his brothers and the stresses of infection.  We saw him, his heart beating weakly on an ultrasound screen, minutes before his delivery.  By the time he’d completed his journey through the birth canal, he was considered stillborn.

When I was in high school, my favorite poem was If, by Rudyard Kipling and it’s remained so to this day.  It provides what I consider to be perfect instructions for any boy anywhere on the requisites of becoming a man.  At 16, I told friends I’d one day have a son named “Rudyard” and, mostly, they laughed.  But it’s always been a dream of mine and I petitioned my wife, when we discovered our triplets were boys, to set it aside as the name of our oldest.

Rudyard was very likely going to wind up being his Dad’s boy.  I’m an oldest son myself and even though we’d planned to keep the boys’ birth order a secret, I suspected I’d always have a very unique and immediate bond with Rudyard.  Shortly after his birth, I held him, told him how proud of him I am, assured him I loved him and later thanked him for selflessly protecting his mother and brothers from the infection that had ravaged him.

Before saying goodbye, I recited the final lines of If to Rudyard.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!


Desmond Bear
b. 7:03 am, 6/4/11
13.8 oz.  /  10-3/4 in.

Desmond was “Baby B”.  At various moments throughout the pregnancy, Carey would feel the babies kick and the vast majority of the time, it was Desmond she was feeling.  The small handful of times I felt a kick, it was always Desmond.

He was born without any doctor assistance.  In fact, when he came, our doctor wasn’t even in the room.  He emerged healthy and without a mark, perfectly colored, with a head of dark brown hair.  If our boys were Beatles, Desmond would’ve been “The Handsome One”, as he emerged completely free of infection with ideal proportions and features.  He was tall and lean, maybe the strongest of the three.

Carey had picked Desmond’s name for a few different reasons.  TV is filled with lots of sexy/dark/mysterious leading men, but LOST’s Desmond Hume was the sort of animal you don’t see a lot these days in popular entertainment: a true romantic.  We pictured our boy as suave and slick, who ladies would one day fight over.  And speaking of The Beatles, it didn’t hurt that he shared his name with another Desmond, the one from The White Album’s Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, the story of another romantic soul.

But in the time I spent with Desmond, I found myself telling him the most about his third namesake, Desmond Tutu.  “There’s a very silly idea in this world,” I told him, “that it’s best to judge people a certain way or treat people differently because of what they look like or where they came from or who’s in their family.  There are a lot of words for it, but some people call it ‘apartheid’ and Desmond Tutu spent a lot of time telling people that there are better ways to do things, smarter ways to see into a person’s heart.  And that’s what we were hoping you could someday show to others.”

Of the three boys, Desmond stayed with us the longest.  As he did his best to gasp air into his tiny lungs, we assured him we’d continue holding him, that we wouldn’t leave him alone for the rest of his life.  “Be brave, young man,” we said.  “Your parents love you.  We’re proud of you.  Don’t be afraid to let go when you need to.  We’ll be right here.”

Desmond stayed with us for nearly an hour and 30 minutes after his birth.


Oscar Bear
b. 8:40 am, 6/4/11
11 oz.  /  9-3/4 in.

Oscar, “Baby C”, was nearly our miracle baby, who seemed to be staying put in his mom’s womb for over an hour and a half after Desmond’s birth.  Throughout the pregnancy, Rudyard and Desmond would crowd and kick each other, while Oscar always seemed to float high above the melee, opting to let his brothers work out their differences amongst themselves.  He was typically the sleepiest of the three, the “laziest” as Dr. Chao warned us.

Only a few short moments after Desmond’s post-birth passing, the womb around Oscar shrank to the point of breaking his water, inspiring labor.  His was a rough entry, a breech birth, and Dr. Chao told us later that she did her best to reposition him for the cleanest, safest arrival.  He came left-arm-first, causing said arm to dislocate and purple violently.  He was bruised, but clearly whole, the smallest of the group, the runt of litter.

We’d stumbled upon his name only recently.  Carey remarked throughout our naming discussions that she thought Baby C’s moniker should be something fun and rascally.  She more or less plucked “Oscar” out of the blue and it immediately felt right to both of us.  After all, we’d planned on reading the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde to our brood.  I’d portrayed “Oscar” in The Odd Couple in high school and again in college.  And since it was a theater audition that first introduced me to Carey, we thought it appropriate to name him after what’s popularly recognized as acting’s highest honor.

In our short time with him, we did our best to comfort and swaddle him, which wasn’t easy, as his frame was too tiny and delicate to wrap up properly.  We told him who he was; I explained the proud tradition of Bear Men and how our family’s biggest challenge is usually sitting still and staying quiet.  I described what an “Oscar” is and how to dream big.  “They don’t just give them to actors,” I told him. “Writers, directors, musicians, people who create beautiful things to look at… all sorts of artists can win an Oscar.  Old men have gotten them and even a few little children.  You just have to be very committed to being the best you can be at what you love doing.”

Oscar did his best to breathe in the short time he was with us.  Like his brother before him, we assured him we wouldn’t leave him as long as he was with us.  We told him just how much his parents love him, but he would need to take courage.  “You’ll be back with your brothers very soon, son.  Take care of one another.  Let them know we’ll all be back together again one day.”

I kissed his head and told him, finally: “Oscar, my boy, I promise you.  Our time was short, but I’ll think of you every single day for the rest of my life.”

Oscar stayed with us nearly 40 minutes before going on to join his brothers.


They fought hard, to a man, and I can think of no better tribute to these boys of mine than to do my best to follow their example.

It’s, after all, what they would have wanted.

“We Can Hope”

2 Jun

Needless to say, we’ve been waiting in the eye of a mighty whirlwind since Carey’s water broke a couple of nights ago and she was admitted to the BirthCare unit at Long Beach Memorial.  We’ve spent all of our time in the hospital since then and, as you’d imagine, our OB warned us that we were in for a very long night and day to to follow.  And, of course, she was right.

Yesterday morning, we met with Dr. Chan to “discuss options”.  Truthfully, we met with several doctors, but it was Dr. Chan who told us where everything stood.  (Apologies if I get some of these details wrong.  When you begin hearing terms like “viability” or “termination” or “sepsis” in relationship to your wife and three children, the world starts to strobe and details get fuzzy.)

Chan looked at our ultrasound and described what’s happening.  Baby A, who’s lowest, next to the cervix, is the baby whose sac ruptured.  By yesterday morning, the amniotic fluid had drained more or less completely, causing the sac to, in Chan’s words “shrink wrap” around him.  What fluid is left is in the pockets around his body and Carey continues to leak amniotic fluid throughout the day and night.

The biggest problem with this isn’t necessarily that Baby A has less fluid or that he’s all scrunched up in a ball (those things are big problems later down the line, but it’s not the immediate concern).  A fetus is able to survive in those conditions and A’s heart continues to beat just fine, but it’s the risk of infection that worries everyone here at Memorial.

Carey was experiencing minor contractions when she was admitted (so small that she couldn’t even feel them), but they put her on medicine to counteract it during the first night.  Eventually, Chan made the ruling to take her off the contraction-blocker, as it was only serving to mask infection.

The trouble with infection is that it begins as perfectly safe bacteria that’s either introduced into Carey’s body from the outside or already exists there to begin with.  Our bodies are accustomed to it and our immune systems keep everything in equilibrium, but the game changes during pregnancy.  Hormones make gestating fetuses extremely susceptible to any sort of infection and the barriers between our children and certain disaster are the cervix and the sacs.  At one centimeter dilated and the bottom most sac ruptured, that’s very bad news.

A lot of people have asked if it’s possible to save the other two if something happens to Baby A and Chan explained that, with infection, it doesn’t exactly work like that.  Any direct, invasive action taken to address the situation introduces more bacteria and increases risk of infection.  It’s not really a matter of taking one baby out to save the other two.  There are definite exceptions, but in most cases, if one becomes infected, it’s likely the infection will progress to the uterine lining and other placentas.  And if that happens, it becomes a matter of saving Carey’s life instead of the babies.

We asked what the chances are for all three to make it and Chan was straightforward: about 30%. And, of course, the likelihood of the kids living with motor-neuro deficiencies or spending their lives in wheelchairs due to CP is now extremely high.  I asked him if it was at all possible for us to have three healthy, fully-functioning  children at this point.  He shrugged: “we can hope.”

Now, I’m a realistic guy.  I know that “we can hope” is doctor-ese for “extremely doubtful and you need to prepare yourself for some very cold realities.”

He discussed Options with us.  He warned us that to continue down this path could make it very difficult for Carey to get pregnant in the future.  He said that the odds weren’t with us and there’s a strong possibility of handicapped children, even if things begin moving in a positive direction.  He mentioned that we’re still a couple of weeks away from 24 weeks, the Age of Viability, and that’s the point where he’s no longer allowed to treat termination as an option.  He asked if we would object to any termination discussions from here on out.

Carey and I weren’t exactly sure what to say.  We’re Pro Life people.  Carey in particular is a hard and fast believer in the sacredness of all life, including-but-not-limited-to human beings, born or unborn.  We’ve agreed that nature is better at deciding these sorts of things than we are.  But, like that annoying instigator who throws up his hand in the midst of every college Ethics course discussion and plays the devil’s advocate, life is testing what we believe by introducing an extreme scenario.

We finally said we want to wait and see.

“There’s a phenomenon,” Chan told us, “where a ruptured sac can seal itself back up.  It happens very rarely and we can’t explain it, but I’ve seen it.  The sac heals and fills again with amniotic fluid.  After a few days and weeks, well, we’re back in business.”

“How often does that happen?” we asked.

“I don’t want to get your hopes up for that.  It’s rare.  I’m tempted to say it’s a 1% chance, but even that is being too generous.”

“Have you ever seen it with multiples?”

“Ah… I’m not sure how to answer that.  I think probably only singletons, but I can’t recall.  It’s unexplainable.  A miracle.”

Later, Carey and I were discussing what we thought.  What should we be praying for?  Is there any hope left for our boys?

“What do you think?” Carey asked me.  “Be honest.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just laid the truth on her, as I see it: “Well, less than 1% isn’t 0%.  And it’s got to happen to somebody.  So why not two people who are right now being prayed for by hundreds of people all over the world?”

She agreed.  So that’s our prayer.

It’s Thursday morning, just before lunch, and Carey is still losing amniotic fluid.  Miracles are called miracles for a reason, though, and we’re taking Chan at his word: “we can hope.”

People have been absolutely astonishing with their prayers and encouragement.  To anyone who says blogging and social media is a waste of time, I say, respectfully, that Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and txt messaging have been our saving grace and anchor throughout this impossible time.  All over the world, we’ve received emails and txts, wall posts and blog comments, tweets and retweets from dearly loved family and friends and also Tweeters and Bloggers we’ve never met with encouragements, prayers and soothing words that have given us smiles and hopes in our darkest hours.

Several times a day I’ve pulled out my iphone and read Carey the latest, wishing we could reply to each person with hugs and heartfelt thanks.  “Good thoughts and vibes from me to you,” people have said.  “We’re praying.” “We know someone in a similar circumstance and they came out of it with a healthy baby.”  “We love you, we’re praying now and all through the day.”

“Praying.” “Praying.” “Praying.”

It would be impossible to describe all the encouragement we’ve received, but I want to mention one or two.

Marisa Palma: thank you for bringing meal after meal to the hospital.

Jerry and Pat Giles: thank you for getting out of bed at an ungodly hour to come and pray for us and give us a desperately-needed Psalm.

Mom, Dad, George, Shannon, Kelley, Erin, Lauren, Schwyzen, Danielle: thanks for crying with us on the phone and asking and listening.  It’s okay that you’re not sure what to say.  Being there for us is enough.

If you’ve txted us or posted something on your wall or commented or tweeted or retweeted: thank you.

If you’ve had a life long faith and are praying, or if you’ve told us, “I’m not a praying sort of person, but I’m praying for you,” or if you’ve simply wanted to send us good thoughts or vibrations or love or care or anything at all: thank you.

Thanks also for being understanding about what Carey and the boys need most.  It’s entirely possible that we’re unable at a given moment to take your call or receive an in-person visitor, particularly if you’re getting over a cold or something that could be dangerous.  Please don’t hesitate to ask if it’s an okay time, though.  If we’re able to talk or see you, we certainly would love to.

Most of all, please continue to lift us up.  It’s a difficult time and it’s far from over.  We’re trying our best to stay positive and get sleep when we can (I’ve gotten pretty used to this beside chair at this point).

I’ll continue to update Twitter when I can.

We’re going to keep hoping.  Hope with us, would you?

June 2, 2011

Daniel

24 May

Let me tell you about Daniel (poor bastard).

You’ll recall last Monday’s Baby Care class.  Well, last night was Becoming Parents, once again hosted by Susan (etc.), chock full of helpful information.  (What does a baby look like in the first few days?  What changes and how fast?  Why is he crying/laughing/ignoring you?)

A quick sketch of Daniel. Probably not a very good likeness, but the best I could do from memory.

During an informal “introduce yourself to your neighbor” moment toward the beginning, we met Daniel and his wife, whose little girl is due in early July.  Nice folks.  They offered the appropriate congratulations/sympathies when we told them about the triplets.

Class began and it became immediately clear that Daniel (poor bastard) is a fidgety sort of guy, kind of uncomfortable in his own skin.  At least a few times over the course of the evening, he’d stand up and pace to the back of the room, wait a minute or two, then return to his seat.  After awhile, I began wondering if it was some sort of medical issue or tic.

Susan is good about asking for questions and our class asked a lot of them.  Mostly, it was a good group.  This is Long Beach, so the whole gamut was represented: the cultured and educated, the shell-shocked teens, the blue collar crowd, the granola hipsters, whites, blacks, hispanics, asians and anyone else you can think of.  A lot of hands were going up and Susan was making time for everyone.

Including Daniel: “I have a question.  How, um, involved does the father need to be with the late-night stuff?”

“How ‘involved’?”

“Yeah, I mean, if they usually just need to be fed or something, the mom can probably take care of that, right?”

Chuckles.  Daniel’s wife smiled, winked at us and mouthed: “He’s trying to get out of it.”  Susan explained that, well, babies cry in the night for all sorts of reasons other than feeding, so you’ll probably need to take your share of night shifts.

The class continued.  Susan outlined the importance of getting help if you need it, but not so much visitor activity that the baby becomes over-stimulated and, consequently, awake at all hours.  “Friends, in-laws, people from church… don’t be shy about asking and be specific,” she said and nodded to me and Carey, “particularly if you’ve got multiples on the way, like our triplet mom and dad over here.”

Daniel raised his hand: “Actually, the grandma is going to come stay with us for awhile to get started.  Between her and my wife, they’ve probably got the late-night thing covered, right?  I mean, unless you’re saying that the middle of the night is an important bonding time with fathers or something…”

No smiles and winks from Daniel’s wife this time around.  Susan fielded it.  “Well, in this case, it’s probably more important to stay bonded with your wife.”

More laughter at Daniel’s expense.  Susan moved things along.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, Daniel raised his hand a few more times, always with questions that began with “Is it really necessary for me to” and “Do dads typically” and, as Susan says, et cetera.

Eventually, we stopped for a quick break.  Carey and I took the opportunity to wolf down chips and sandwiches she’d brought with her and, as we did, we noticed a minor queue forming at Susan’s podium.  She was answering specific concerns people had about their individual situations.  At the front of the line, no surprise, there was Daniel (poor bastard).  It was hard to make out what he was saying, but we heard a few keywords and phrases:

“…just saying, if grandma’s there, it’s probably okay for me to sleep as long as…”

His wife was looking optimistic, but a little defeated.  I turned to Carey: “dude’s mission in life is to get out of s#%&.”

Carey said, “shh.  He can probably hear you.”

Of all the tidbits I took from Becoming Parents… the advice on feeding and sleeping and crying, the discussions on your mental health and your partner’s, the instructions about bedding and medicine and the proper time to use a pacifier and the benefits of a sling versus a Bjorn… I think I might’ve learned the most from Daniel.

And I don’t know the guy.  Maybe he has a really specific situation and he needs every possible hour he can get his hands on in order to make the rent.  Maybe he’ll wind up being the best dad in the room.  Could happen.  But, judging by my brief interaction with him, he doesn’t seem to be off to a ripping start.

I pray god I’m not too tempted to be the dad who’s trying to get by on as little as possible.  Who assumes, eh, the wife’s on top of things, I can skate.  And anyway, those little sleepless moments of torture might even turn out to be one of the most important parts of Dad Boot Camp.  (Hah.  Check back in with me in September.)

Either way, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a Daniel, desperate to hang onto the safety and sanity of his old life.  Dodging responsibility, handing everything off to Mom.  Sleeping in, missing all the good stuff.

Because ugh.

(Poor bastard.)