Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Am Horrible at Photoshop

I am horrible at Photoshop. This absolute is based on the fact that I have never used it nor have these eyes laid upon the program before. What makes this problematic is that I like what Photoshop does. I’m a big fan of cutting and pasting faces onto pictures because I enjoy creating weird computer made cards for my wife. I’m sure it does other things, but one step at a time.

I tend to journey the path of most resistance with this work – lemme ‘splain. First, I pick a lovely face picture and then I pick the background picture (following me so far?). I paste the face picture into PowerPoint where I do my best cropping job leaving the once perfect face in more of a boxy form. Then, I overlay the cropped face-picture onto the background picture and adjust size and angle. Finally, I highlight it all with the curser to save it as one solid Jpeg. Quite the process, I’m well aware. At the end of this laborious effort a wonky picture or card has been created. So far my wife has loved all of them – or that’s what she tells me.

I decided to present you with my latest endeavor that hopefully illuminates the wondrous bond that exists between mother and child, as well as offers a bit of advice to Myles as he matures.
I am humbled that you are attending my very first “Photoshop” exhibition entitled:

“I’ll tell ya, you and that kiddo …
you two are going places”
Title: "We have a bright future together"
Lesson: Son, living in the past is only acceptable if you plan on using that knowledge for evil … I mean gaining wealth … I mean getting the girl or the guy … I mean plotting revenge … I mean, shit, if you can time travel just go for it.
Lesson 2: Son, never trust a dog who can “Sieg Heil.”
Title: “Jesus Christ you’re a good mom!”

Lesson: Son, you may scold me for making this if you decide to become religious after your secular upbringing. I won’t judge you for that, but you know who will?

Lesson 2: Son, there will always be one jerk at any dinner party you throw.

Title: “It’s our differences that connect us and help build even more appreciation for one another”

Lesson: Son, sometimes you’re the rabbit and sometimes you’re rabbiting. Everything is better with an “ing.”

Lesson 2: Son, it’s very easy to be replaced by an astronaut in the short term. Hey, there’s nothing you can do about it as they’re quite exciting. Just wait them out as it’s entertaining to watch their ego resist the other side of the bell curve.

Title: “Just try and scrub away the bond we have”

Lesson: Son, yes, going whiteface is as bad as going blackface, but never as bad as going blackface.

Lesson 2: Son, you will find a best friend. It’s more fun to do crazy things with that friend if you have a high paying job.

Title: “A Royal without cheese is just fiction … we have the cheese”

Lesson: Son, yes … I know, I just talked about how going whiteface is as bad as going blackface, but sometimes things happen. You’ll learn that. Maybe you should stop calling me out.

Lesson 2: Son, there are many places you can hide something. You may want to review all options before settling. Seriously, there’s no need for hastiness when hiding things. I sincerely mean this and hope you really hear what I’m saying – unless you’re into that.

  Title: “We make a great pair and there’s nothing dumber about that”

Lesson: Son, extras will photo bomb for many reasons and all those reasons are tied to worth. Don’t be an extra.

Lesson 2: Son, you will be judged for peeing your pants even if it’s to keep warm in a life or death situation. Never wear khakis.

Title: “No amount of freezing and time will break our bond”

Lesson: Son, that’s a good question. I’m not sure if going Wookieface is racist.

Lesson 2: Son, if you add experiences to the beginning of your life after people are happy with what you have already put out, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way. But that’s ok as you probably already have them hooked.

Title: “Our spirit will always smell of togetherness”

Lesson: Son, there may come a day when you feel like you have to do certain things for money and that’s ok. I will only judge you if you do it for a bag of chips. Always remember – Cash is King.

Lesson 2: Son, most likely we have several naked baby pictures of you. We will use them against you if you turn on us.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my “Photoshop” exhibit. I assure you that these will not be the last artistic creations you see out of me and hopefully, one day, some kind person will bequeath me the Photoshop program and a few lessons. Until next time …

-Dr. Dino

p.s. If you would like to hear more interesting things from me please check out my Mental Health Comedy podcast, “Open Miked with MikeQuinn Jr. and Dr. Dino.” You can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fuck! I have Feelings.

Fuck! I have Feelings … thanks for nothing Myles …

I have been a professor of counseling for 10 years and a psychotherapist for almost 15. Knowing this about me, one would think that I’m full of compassion and feelings, but I’m not. Though I have a fantastic ability to work empathetically and caringly with my clients and my students (I know that sounds egotistical, but I also believe that every therapist should have a strong sense of self efficacy. Part of that is what gives us credibility in our clients eyes), I’m very analytical and would call myself more of a puzzle guy. You see, I entered into the world of mental health counseling because I find people extremely interesting – their behaviors, thoughts, feelings, reactions … I love it all. I didn’t enter the field initially because I had an extreme drive to help others; I just loved the journey and process.

My decision even baffled my friends as I was never the touchy feely type. One of my close friends, Rik, even used to joke that I did not possess tear ducts, and he was correct to a degree. I often thought of myself as Seinfeld in the way that he could just say things like, “good luck with all of that” or just shrug his shoulders without skipping a beat. I mean think about it, if Jerry did start feeling compassion what would that discovery be likeI do see the value in my analytical side though. For a portion of my career, I worked as a crisis counselor. In this job I worked with college students that were experiencing all levels of crisis and heightened emotionality: Students that had suicidal ideation or attempted suicide, have been assaulted, survived an overdose, lost someone close, etc. It was a pretty heavy job, especially since it was an on-call gig and most of the time I was doing crisis counseling at 3 in the morning, but I loved every second of it. My role was to make a connection with a student in crisis and create an intentional safe space for them to share their pain and story and discover hope. It took a ton of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence and I always rocked it. But remember what I said before, I am also a puzzle guy. This part gave me the appropriate amount of distance to see this horrible pain over and over, and because my main role was to keep them safe and assist them towards a process of healing, I could manage both very easily in every session. Now I’m making myself sound a bit callous through these first couple of paragraphs, but in all honesty, I love what I do for a living so much and do care about my students and clients – I’m just built in a different way. These last 4 months of being a father have been wonderful and exhilarating. I have shared many new and exciting experiences with Myles and, as a result, I think he’s turning me into a softy.

Today I found myself in court with jury duty as my sentence. My plan was to find any way possible to get out of it because my main job is taking care of Myles fulltime and I couldn’t give up more than one day. My in-laws were watching him and they do a great job, but in this daddy’s mind, no one is as good as him – I think this is probably a universal feeling for many parents. My ‘shot in the dark’ was to tell them that there’s no one to care for my child and see where that goes.

My number was called immediately and off to the court room I went. The judge did his thing and then the State started asking us (the potential jurors) questions. After a funny moment when one of the jurors told the State attorney that he thought she dated his friend (she did), the attorney started asking us if we were glad to be there. “Fuck no!,” I yelled … in my head of course. What I really said (in a kind tone) was, “I would really prefer if I wasn’t here today.” The State continued their questioning, “Well, why?!?” “Well State,” I said, “You see, my wife is working full time and I’m a stay-at-home-dad for my 4-month old.” This was met with an “Awww” from the entire courtroom. Fuck, I thought, now I look compassionate … thanks for nothing Myles. So I decided to shake it up and with a straight face I said, “Well, he’s with my mother-in-law and I kind of trust her.” They are laughed and found it cute. Fuck, now I’m cute … thanks for nothing Myles.

Now it was the defense attorney’s time to ask questions. After countless metaphors about trials and defendants he asked the potential jurors, “So does anyone know what’s the #1 fear of people?” The answer is Public Speaking (He told us #2 is death) and I gave the correct answer right away. Then I thought, “Oh shit, it’s another one of his lame metaphors to try and inform us about the normality for a defendant not to take the stand. Fuck, now I’m smart and sympathetic … thanks for nothing Myles (this one wasn’t really his fault, but I have to stick with this phrase for the blog theme – I’m sure you understand). At this point I had painted myself as an unbiased, compassionate, smart and sympathetic potential juror … I really screwed myself and, of course, I was selected. Now I forgot to mention this but the worst part of this interaction was the defense attorney saying, “Well you know what that means … If you’re at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than give the eulogy” as if he wrote it. Shenanigans! He’s a joke thief and of the worst kind! I mean stealing from a Seinfeld episode? Get your own material buddy!

I have never been a juror but I really enjoyed the process. As a puzzle guy, I had fun trying to piece together the testimonies and evidence, looking for connections and incongruities, and, of course, picking out where the lawyers went wrong with their questioning (and in this case there were so many missed opportunities on both sides of the courtroom). The State presented their witnesses and the Defense followed. The Defense put the defendant on the stand which I thought was interesting, and then her 11-year-old son. When this happened, I immediately wondered about the meaning of this outcome for him. And when the State said, “You don’t want anything to happen to your mommy, do you?” it hit even harder. This hearing was supposed to be about what his mother was charged with and not how it would make him feel if it we determined that she was in fact guilty, but now I had both on my mind. I’m a father now, so how could I not. Fuck, I have feelings … Thanks for nothing Myles.

The State and Defense gave their closing arguments and we were now deliberating in our quarters. My mind was caught between the evidence and that young child whose role it was to defend his mother and protect her from harm. I experienced us going back and forth for a while making no headway, so the counselor in me said, “I’m wondering if there is anything else that is preventing us from going fully one way or the other?” As soon as I said this, I realized I was asking this question for myself. That kid was on my mind. His mother’s charges were in no way his fault and he has no way of knowing what may come of him and his family if we found his mom guilty. I felt for this kid and began playing out scenarios of what might happen if we turned a guilty or not guilty verdict. Fuck, I still have feelings … Thanks for nothing Myles.

This was a very odd experience for me, because remember … I’m the puzzle guy! God dammit Dr. Dino, you should be focusing solely on the evidence that was presented in the courtroom. I decided I needed to honor my feelings about the kid and not fight their placement in a jury deliberation. Accepting that these feelings were an appropriate experience allowed me to focus on our role that day and ultimately offer up my vote. Fuck, I reflect on my feelings now … Thanks for nothing Myles

We filed into the court room for the 6th time that day, but this time was different. The verdict was set. Being a professor in the mental health field, I find myself quite fascinated with people’s reactions … I actually have all my life. As I sat down I was fixated on the mom and both attorneys. How would they react when the verdict was read? Would their reaction confirm or deny our verdict? Would there be happiness, relief, sadness, devastation? My mind was on fire with possibility and interest. And then, out of the corner of my eye I saw the 11-year-old son sitting in the back of the room. He was there to hear what would happen to his mom. I imagined him thinking, “Could this person I love so dearly, feel incredibly safe with and just need in my life be taken away from me or will I be elated and relieved because I get to hold her hand as we take the elevator down and go home? Maybe we can have pizza for dinner.” Fuck, I definitely have feelings … Thanks Myles, but in all sincerity, thank you Myles. Love you kid.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Rooting Effect: 2.0

So, we had a baby! I know I’m a little late in letting you know and in continuing with my blog, but … did you hear? We had a baby! Baby Myles was an early arrival (42 days in fact) but he is doing brilliantly. It was a very wondrous and scary experience that I will soon talk all about in podcast form. Why? Well, it’s easier – for both of us- AND I get to pimp my podcast. Stay tuned for a blog that leads you to it and for other upcoming blogs as I embark on my voyage as a stay at home dad (SAHD) for the first year of Myles’ life.

I decided to work my way back into blogging by updating a prior post I wrote for my wife’s blog a year or so ago (I know this the lazy way of doing things, but I’m ok with that). It was called “The Rooting Effect: A Sports Memoir” and some might say it was a bit critical and harsh. It declared the rules of cheering for college sports. Now, sitting over my keyboard I currently find myself a more compassionate person. Some have even declared, “Hey Dr. Dino! You seem less cynical.” It’s true, so I decided to rewrite this blog with that feeling in mind. You might believe that due to my Gators having an appalling season I’ve developed empathy for fans and you would be completely incorrect – you filthy animals. Why would you think that? I just told you we had a baby! Having a baby has indeed changed me and with that I bring you the softer side of me in “the Rooting Effect: 2.0” (Disclaimer: some of you may still find this critical and harsh, but trust me, I’m sweet now) - Here we go!

I wrote about the Rooting Effect (or Reflex) in my last post, but here is the gist. The Rooting Reflex a basic instinct that allows your baby (typically within an hour of being born) to communicate his need for sustenance. When hungry, the baby will turn his mouth toward a boob or a boob that places his finger next to the baby’s mouth. So what does this have to do with sports? A lot!

If you look around your local sports pub, shopping mall, or theme park you will observe countless people wearing sports regalia in support of a certain college … as they have the right to. My dream is that they will realize one important thing: Just because you root for a certain college team, doesn’t mean that your rooting has creditability and should be accepted by others. Now, non-NCAA sports … go for it and have a ball - this post in not directed towards you.

The rooting effect talks about an instinct for survival at its very basic level. Now, I realize that infants aren’t bearing collegiate apparel for their own survival, but isn’t parental acceptance, household affection, and socialization enough? Sure we clad Myles in Gator, Arkansas, and Michigan State onesies, but it’s not our fault it looks so darn cute and after all we did attend those schools.  As I mentioned in my last blog, “since a newborn’s rooting essentially leads to sucking, a child’s rooting, essentially, just plain sucks,” but it’s a completely natural behavior.  As infants begin growing out of the rooting effect this behavior becomes extinct – and this is a wonderful metaphor for life. Rooting should only occur as long as it is needed for "survival.” My point is this - You have until the age of 18 to suckle the teet of any college team you choose. After that, you must autonomously create your own journey towards rooting credibility. You may think you have 100% creditability in rooting for your college team, but let’s be honest, that’s not how the universe works. Hell, even our lovely Myles has to follow these rules. Here we go!

Your Rooting counts 100% - Congrats!
There are three definitive rules for this category. Either
  • (1) you attended the main campus of that school for a minimum of one academic year, completing two full semesters.
  • (2) you are under the age of 18, or
  • (3) you currently work for said school’s main campus (in any capacity).
  • Example 1: I attended the main campuses and graduated from both the University of Florida and the University of Arkansas therefore I can root for them with100% credibility.
  • Example 2: While growing up in Connecticut, I liked the Kansas Jayhawks Basketball squad. While misguided in my regional affections, this rooting had 100% credibility, until I was 18. I did not attend this school and I moved away, so if yell “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!” my rooting credibility is 0%.
  • Example 3: Our 4 month-old, Myles, is draped in Gators, Razorbacks and Spartans gear – hell, his whole room is and he has 100% credibility with these teams until the age of 18. At that point, he will have to make some very important decisions about what school he wants to attend or work at. Due to my professor gig he gets free college at a group of colleges which does not include those 3. He may have to change allegiances unless he earns a scholarship or pays his own way.
  • Example 4: You wear your oversized Tennessee jersey that has a Keystone Light and wing sauce stain on it, say something to me about my Gators and you do not meet the above criteria. You have 0% credibility and your attempt believe that you have a say in this is adorable.

Rooting counts 75%!
  • Your child currently attends or has graduated from the main campus of a school.
  • One of your parents played on the college team for the specific sport you are rooting for (e.g. you father was on the football team so your football rooting credibility is 75%).
  • Example 1: My mother and father who did not attend the University of Florida or the University of Arkansas can root for them with 75% credibility.
  • Example 2: Myles attends any school in the universe (Even McDonald’s Hamburger University) thus allowing my wife and I to root with 75% credibility.
  • Example 3: I played Rugby for the University of Arkansas. Myles can only root for that specific sport with 75% credibility. Which, to be honest, might be better as they are a much better team than the football squad. Oh, did I mention I scored a hat trick in a match in 10 minutes? Hashtag Humbelbrag and I repent the rest of my career.
  • Example 4: You attend a neighborhood block party clad in a new Alabama hat, yelling whatever that team yells and belittling my Gators. You also do not meet any of the above criteria. You have 0% credibility and NO, claiming, “But Alabama doesn’t have professional teams” is frankly a bogus and feeble argument. You have the Montgomery Biscuits (real team) … enjoy.

Rooting counts 50%!
  • You are in any form of domestic partnership with someone that holds 100% credibility. The domestic partnership does not have to be recognized by any state or nation – Screw those close-minded fucks!
  • You are in a relationship for over 8 months (not officially living together) with someone that holds 100% credibility.
  • You are in a relationship (with someone that holds 100% credibility) and have officially been living together for 3 months. You may ignore the 3 month guideline if you have been dating for a respectable amount of time prior to officially moving in together – Your call and you’re on the honor system.
  • Example 1: My lovely wife graduated from Michigan State’s main campus which gives her 100% credibility. When I yell “Go Sparty, Go Green, Go White and I miss Le'veon Bell I am knighted with 50% credibility.
  • Example 2: You are showing off your breathable FSU fishing shirt and FSU Oakley style sunglasses at a fair that gives awards to animals, do not meet any the criteria thus far and state that your Seminoles are going to beat down on the Gators this season. Your credibility is 0% and “No Shit,” the gators are 4-7 this season and on their third QB – Of course you’ll win. I would say it was your FSU education that helped you figure that out, but then again it seems like pretty common knowledge and most people get into FSU (UCF has a lower acceptance rate and they are HUGE).

Rooting counts 25%!
  • You are in a relationship (with someone that holds 100% credibility) for less than 8 months and are not officially living together.
  • You attended a satellite campus of this school for a minimum of one academic year, completing two full semesters.
  • You attended an online program for any amount of time.
  • You live in the county where the main campus of school resides for a minimum of 10 years.
  • Example 1: I currently reside in Orange county (for 6 years), the same county that holds the University of Central Florida (UCF), Valencia Community College, Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute, and ITT Tech . In 4 more years I can root for any of these teams’ athletic programs with 25% credibility. To be honest, I’m looking forward to it as I heart croissants.
  • Example 2: If I attended courses at one of Georgia’s satellite campuses or one of their programs online, when I make some sort of barking noise it carries 25% credibility with it. Actually, now that I think about it, you should get 30% credibility for attending a UGA program on-line as it keeps you away from their campus.
  • Example 2: Myles gets a full ride to the Curtis Institute of Music (which has a 6.8% acceptance rate), there he finds himself in a relationship with his vocal teacher. So far they have been making beautiful music for a few months and his vocal teacher graduated from Syracuse’s main campus. Myles can safely root for the Orange with 25% credibility and make as many “Orange you glad…” jokes as he wishes.

Rooting counts 10%!
  • Your parents attended the main campus of that school for a minimum of one academic year, completing two full semesters.
  • You are dating and/or friends with benefits, and/or got “lucky” you crazy chap or chapette with an individual that has 100% credibility.
  • Example 1: Ann Curry say’s “Yo! I totally crushed it last night with that rad sophomore from Gonzaga!” Ann Curry’s father says, “Well then you can root for Gonzaga with 10% credibility. When do we meet this fine young man?”
  • Example 2: Myles goes to a school that he can get in for free due to my professor gig and that school doesn’t have very good sports or any big time sports. The college I currently work at does not have a football program but does have an exceptional sailing team – I think. Myles can ignore all of that and root for the Gators, Razorbacks, and Spartans with 10% credibility. 10% is better than nothing, but you better not claim 100% you whippersnapper!
Rooting counts 0%!
  • You know if you’re here, but don’t feel too bad about it because you’ll always have professional sports and the Olympics.
  • You grew up in the city of the college you still root for, but did not attend it. Well, you should have because now you have 0% credibility.
  • You have said “Dance like no one is looking” as a way to help others or define yourself.
  • You wear spectacles with no prescription and you use the word ‘spectacles’ to commonly describe glasses.
  • People who think the first Thanksgiving actually happened.
  • “Two Broke Girls” aficionados
  • Parents who told me to stock up on sleep prior to Myles’ birth, because they have a remedial understanding of how sleep works
  • This list might get out of hand so I’ll take a breather.

OK, so maybe I’m not as compassionate as I thought I was when it comes to sport rooting but in honesty I am heavily scarred from this college football season. I’m a bit judgmental because my Gators were just horrible and I’m not used to that. Also, I realize that I didn’t update a lot of the parts, but I did mention that I was getting back into blogging on the cheap. Myles has made me a more compassionate and caring person in general. He is truly remarkable and it’s amazing how his laughter as he pees on me seems appropriately adorable and energizing. Stay tuned for future baby posts about all my adventures!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sample "Size" Matters: Part Deux

Raising a baby
And I Rant-ant-ant … I Rant so far A-Way-E-E. In the following rant I have changed the names to protect the guilty.  

I told you there would be a part two and like with any great sequel (e.g. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Babe: Pig in the City,) this one will leave a taste in your mouth.

There’s another very important type of sample size when it comes to babies and it’s directly connected to rearing the darn things. I will spare you the full geekyness, but there’s a little known fact (actually it’s VERY known, but there’s no saying for that, so you get the former) in statistics called "Sample Size." By the way, did I mention that “sample size” is the title of this post? It’s an important concept when conducting research (e.g. social sciences research) as it can assist in dictating how much validity your outcome has when generalized to the public arena. It’s the reason why we can pull out significance from scholarly research, misconstrue it and then dump it into the evening news, The View, or Parenting Magazine. Basically, the larger your sample size, the more certain you can be that your study outcome can truly reflect the population you're aiming it towards.

From this I’m sure you can delineate that when samples are too small, they can lead to inaccurate results. This is true. Unfortunately, when it comes to raising babies, people seem to forget this basic statistical concept. I’m sure many new parents have experienced this. The moment you let people know you’re having a child, they immediately offer advice. Why is that? Why is it that when it comes to babies people dart for their first amendment right?

I’ve already heard general unhelpful advice like, “You know that having a baby will change your life forever,” “Raising a baby is difficult,” and “Oh, you’re lucky you’re having a boy.” Thanks general public, I absolutely had no clue. I wish you could have been there to point out other obvious things with cliché throughout my life’s journey. It even extended to more personal preferences like “Hey when you breastfeed ...” when we are not breastfeeding. I’ve received perplexed looks from people when I disclose this. Looks that express, “You mean you’re planning to harm your baby by giving them fake boob milk?? Do you hate your baby?”

Now, I don’t mind advice. In all honesty, I often seek it and I’m going to need a lot of it in the next few years. But when it comes to raising a baby you better have sample size behind you. What I’m saying is that you need a sample size larger than N=1, 2, or even 3. Being a parent is a very individual undertaking. Sure, there are some universals like, don’t shake the baby, it’s beneficial to change its diaper, or nurishment is good for them, but those aren’t the things people offer up. It’s specifics like TV watching, breast milk, baby proofing, toys, how to put them to sleep, etc. In most circumstances these parents have raised one or two children and that hardly reaches any sample size viable enough to offer any statistical significance let alone meaning to me. Let’s be honest: no one likes it when you show up with your “I raised one or two kids. Now let me generalize for you" documentary. Let me offer you a couple of quick examples.
Example #1: Explicit
My wonderful wife posted the picture below on Facebook with the following tag, “Adventures in parenting. Today's lesson: How to install a car seat.” We received a lot of likes and nice comments. And then there was this one by Val Kilmer: “It’s suppose to be in the middle by the way!” Now let’s ignore the fact that Val forgot that the correct word is “supposed” for a second and let’s focus on the context more closely. Instead of offering commentary on the wonder that my wife and I are about to undertake with having our first child and how amazing that journey is, Val decided to insert unsolicited critical advice about how we were installing said car seat incorrectly, when in fact we were not.

Example #2: Implicit
My wonderful wife and I were at a friend’s house for a party. In a conversation with my wife, Donna Martin, and Andrea Zuckerman I was talking about how I’m taking a year off from work to stay home with the baby. The only caveat is that I have to work as a psychotherapist at my college one day a week through December to qualify for my paternity leave. No big deal and I love the work. I told the ladies that when my wife eventually goes back to work, I would be more than happy to get up through the night to care for the baby every time except for the night before I’m seeing a full caseload of clients – that’s 6 days a week for those who are counting. As I was sharing this thinking it was a very nice thing to do, I was met with dismissive smirks and looks that said, “Right, you have no clue how hard it’s going to be and it’s cute that you think you’ll be able to accomplish that.” Again, let’s look closer at the context. These women, one of whom has a baby and the other who has only conceived potato chip dip, decided to mock the idea rather than show support to someone who was demonstrating proactive care and compassion for his baby as well as his wife. I mean, no shit, it’s going to be difficult … really difficult and exhausting, but look at any single parent or any parent with a crappy partner that doesn’t help. They all have to do it on their own for stretches of time.

The above issues aren’t novel or rare. It’s just disheartening to have to experience them along with your excitement. I could just ignore them, but then I wouldn’t have any fodder for my blog and who wants to live in that world. I think one explanation is that a lot of people just really want to be acknowledged for their experience in raising a baby. From a social psychological standpoint, one can say it’s kind of like the persistent “look at me” condition that sadly rests all too comfortably in our society today. It’s what allows a sample size of one (N=1) to generalize to the world. I do want to help though, so I’ll leave those flawed researchers out there with this:
Only you and your family give a poop about how you raised your child.
And that’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because raising children is an individual, exciting, and personal journey. I hope that you’ll take this to heart and hold those moments to yourself as well as allow others to create their own. You most likely have good advice, but it means more to us new parents when we solicit it from you so that we can enter into a meaningful conversation. Now, if you fear that you may relapse and volunteer advice, just remember the Octomom has a larger sample size than you. You’ll need to catch up to her before you can submit guidance. You may not agree with her lifestyle, but she is in fact raising, feeding, and changing a hoard of babies without your help. And if you still think you want to share, I strongly encourage you to use this Sample Size Calculator first. Feel free to ask me for help. 
Whew! Rant over. That felt good. Sorry for the length.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sample "Size" Matters: Part 1

It’s absolutely true. Size DOES matter. Just ask any person in the world, hell even query the damn universe. I know for a fact that size matters (or rather 'Sample Size') when it comes to two very specific things:

1) Making a baby and 2) Raising a baby. Let me break this down for you.

Part #1: Making a Baby
I may have previously spoken to this, but my wife and I spent a large portion of last year going through fertility treatments. By and far she had the worst of it having to go through a daily routine which included self-administering shots. I can’t even begin to know the emotional toll this experience had on her … actually I can since I’m a caring husband and a psychotherapist. Let me tell you it’s a hard-hitting and draining road to do so much and be let down time after time. And it’s very easy to feel hopeless in this experience. My wife is an amazing person and she is such a remarkable woman for having gone through this (please read her amazing blog post on this experience).

For me, it was a bit different. My semen analysis was, well, eh. My instructions were to put no alcohol in my system, work out, eat better, get healthier, take daily pills, and give them samples upon request – which I did. The only odd part of this experience was trying to give my sample while hearing conversations in the hallway of the clinic. It’s not that I felt awkward with a 2-inch thick door separating me from the staff or that it was inferred that I was supposed to sit on a bench covered with noisy paper that everyone else has sat on before to … you know; it’s just that I’m a very curious person. Trust me, it’s pretty easy to get distracted and caught up when you hear how Gina’s boyfriend Jake was seen with LaTonya at the Olive Garden and Jake doesn’t even like Italian food.

My road was in no way as difficult as my wife’s but it still affected me. It’s hard to hear, “Dr. Dino, your sperm’s motility, morphology, and volume are not as fantastic as we would have hoped.” Basically the Doc was calling my sperm “adorable.” In fact, at a later time, when my wife was getting her IUI a different doctor said to her, "What company are you using for your sperm? You may want to switch to a different donor with stronger numbers." With all of this happening, I wondered how much machismo would get my way in accepting and talking about this. After all, I am half Puerto Rican. But on the other hand, I’m not that macho - Remember?? I both love to watch and cover my eyes during “The Walking Dead.”
I was ok with this from a genetic and biological framework, as this happens but, at the same time, I also blamed myself for making it even harder on us. My reaction was not the stereotypical He-Man response and I was not “Master of the Universe” (see what I did there?). I was filled with deflation. I didn’t want to add to our difficulties or the demise of any probability in having a child. So, I did what any loving partner would do, I sat in my deflated position for a while and then I reacted with purpose. I planned on doing everything I could personally do to increase our probability. It wasn’t easy though, especially after a couple of times of non-success. It can make a person wonder if this work is for nothing and If we’re doing this all to have the memory of not being able to make more memories. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s tough to be strong. My wife and I talked a lot during these times with reassurance, hope, tears, sadness and any other emotion on the feeling continuum. I’m happy that we had each other through this and we are very fortunate that things worked out. Our hearts towards each other were big and eventually so was my dashing sperm. Proof number one that sample size matters within these sample size matters.  

And stay tuned for Part #2: Raising a Baby.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Terms of Engorgement

I thought only my wife’s boobs were supposed to get big.

But, man, check out my moobs. I swear they weren’t this big before. Well, thus far my life has been closely following those daddy-to-be books, and weight gain has been no exception. Many books talk about how fathers will experience sympathy pregnancy symptoms, also known as Couvade Syndrome.
Couvade Syndrome is a condition where the father-to-be experiences pregnancy symptoms such as weight gain, morning sickness, insomnia, labor pains, mood swings, messed up sleep and even postpartum depression. But who gives a crap about that laundry list, I’m getting fat! In fat, I mean in FACT, some studies claim that men gain around 14 LBs during their partner’s prego state, and I’ve been steadily reaching that apex.

I would never have believed it could happen to me. On the one hand I’ve always been pretty active and watched what I eat. And on the other hand I’ve never really noticed any of my “dad-friends” gain this weight. I mean every sitcom dad, who was originally trim, stayed trim during their pregnancy. On “Scrubs,” J.D. didn’t become Heavy D, on “The Office,” Jim Halpert never became Fat Halpert and On “Fat Albert,” well … I never saw a kid so his situation might have been glandular. My point is that this weight gain has really snuck up on me.

To be honest, it’s off-putting. When I met my wife I actually had those diagonal muscles next to my stomach and now they have more of a curviness quality. In this state of my crisis I’m just trying to avoid having to buy new, bigger clothing, so I’ve been trying to hit the gym more and eat healthier. But it’s difficult. It’s tough to choose the gym over working on my kid’s room or on the house, but mostly it’s tough to work out when I don’t have the same energy that used to push me there. I actually used to love working out and now I sweat just getting changed for the gym. And, yes, my clothes situation has changed. I think I cut my wardrobe by a third based on what still fits.

It’s also very challenging to eat a salad when my wife suggests mac and cheese and tater tots for dinner (which I love), or we have the opportunity to celebrate “Burger Month” at Margaretville (which we just did). The one great thing about this experience is that I can feel and eat like a kid again. I also get to share these “too tired for the gym” and “let’s eat pizza rolls for dinner” experiences with my wife. In a way I get the sense that she experiences this as empathy on some level.  

But I know I’m not healthy and it’s time to turn things around. Gaining weight also has the ability to make people feel poorly about themselves and I want to catch it before it reaches that point. My thinking in writing this post is to call myself out. I want to be a ball of energy for when Baby Dino arrives. After all, I am home with him for a full year so I need to be on my toes. I also want to be able to run across the house to soothe him when necessary (because, let’s be honest, who wants a crying baby in the next room from you). So I begin a pledge to myself today of becoming a more energetic and active father for my baby. I will not be staring in “Who’s eating all of Gilbert’s Grapes,” or playing Rose DeWitt in Titanic (though I would still let Leo paint me naked … I mean, who wouldn’t?). My final promise to you is that you will never find me out of breath rocking the little one in my new stylish and contemporary rocking chair, rather you will find me rocking and rolling with the little one in my new stylish and contemporary rocking chair.

Celebrating “Burger Month” At Margaretville with the Ultimate Burger Melt
(Photo credit: My Awesome Wife)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Baby Hates Me

A magical moment occurred. My wife felt the baby moving around in her belly. How amazing is that!? There were mini- kicks and punches a la David Carrradine (Of course I’m referring to the Carradine from “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, not the one just “hanging out” in his garage). This indeed was a great moment for us in the development of our baby and family.

Up to this point we’ve only been able to experience a pixilation of our child as he danced around and flashed us on a computer monitor (which for some reason is only positioned for those laying on the gurney). It’s been awesome to see the little one move around and hear his adorable heartbeat, but it’s time to step it up a notch! For the past few weeks my wife has been grabbing my hand and placing it on her belly when she feels the baby. I felt nothing and then I felt nothing and after that, I again felt nothing. My baby must hate me.

In a book I recently examined, it talked about how the father-to-be may experience some jealously when it comes to their partner feeling the baby much sooner. Poppy-Cock! I know I have Womb Envy but this is ridiculous. Well, the book was right … color me green. Days and weeks went by with my wife feeling the baby and I nothing. I’ve tried singing, talking in a weird high pitched-raspy voice, reading, and even knocking on my wife’s belly to see if he’s home, but again I felt nothing. I came to the foregone conclusion that my baby does indeed hate me. This was a tough few weeks for me. I didn’t enter into a clinical depression or an adjustment disorder with depressed mood, but I was down and this was a weird feeling. This was something I was really looking forward to and it was difficult not to experience it when I wanted to.

Well, my 3 weeks of “the blues” ended one night while watching TV. As my wife placed my hand on her belly, I felt a punch and I let out a geschrei! Could this be the little whippersnapper!? It was indeed! My very own baby let me feel him. Now it wasn’t as strong as a donkey kick or that scene from the movie “Aliens,” (though it is true that in the womb, no one can hear you scream) but it was fantastic.

For the next week I was prepared to feel him kick like a machine. I kept my hand at my side Iike a gunner in wild west duel and … nothing. My baby still hates me? What! Now, I’m a patient man, but this was getting ridiculous. I have a friend that’s due on the same day and he can feel his baby kick all the time. Just as I was starting to doubt that the punch I felt was real, last night I felt an array of kicks from the nino. It was like the Rockettes were doing an encore (not Roxette, though they probably look similar at this point in his gestation), there were more kicks than a Stride Rite, It was a football game that went to 4th down every series, my wife had a “kick-me” sign on the inside of her belly, he was here to kick ass and chew bubble gum and was all out of bubble gum. I was so excited that I wanted to do a pratfall like a soccer player or an aspiring actor who’s probably in an improv troupe named “Harry Plotter,” “Home IMPROVment,” or “Cactus Vinegar and the Holy Peanut Butter .” I hope this great feeling continues and my baby keeps saying hello to me. I know that my baby loves me and of course I have similar feelings towards him. I’ll admit it though; it’s nice to feel his little kicks. It’s an added bonus and makes me want him to arrive even sooner. One thing for sure is I’m going to “Billy Madison” it up alot. I know my baby will love it, but my wife on the other hand, well ….