Why We Decided to Bank Our Baby’s Cord Blood

September 6, 2012 by  
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by Daddy MD Guides blogger Wyatt Myers

When my wife became pregnant with our first child in 2008, I was like most soon-to-be-dads. I loved the idea of having kids, and my wife and I were both very excited about what the future would bring. But the reality is that I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

The next eight months, of course, turned into a crash course on baby basics. We took all the classes, read all the books, and stocked up on all the supplies. I still believe that nothing can truly prepare you for being a dad until you actually are a dad, but we did everything we could to at least try to be ready.

Interestingly enough, it was my wife’s mother who first introduced us to the idea of cord blood banking. As a health writer by trade, I was a little embarrassed about my ignorance of the practice, but I just hadn’t written a lot about pregnancy and birth at that time. Once my wife and I started looking a little more into banking our baby’s cord blood, we were definitely intrigued.

Obviously, no dad wants to envision a future where something is wrong with his baby. But the reality is that it is your responsibility to be prepared for any eventuality, even the very sad. Once we looked into it, we decided cord blood banking was the responsible thing to do for this reason. Having a rich source of our baby’s own stem cells banked and waiting, just in case, was peace of mind for us, almost like a form of life insurance. It definitely wasn’t cheap, but it was an investment that we felt was well worth making.

Once we decided to move ahead with cord blood banking, the process couldn’t have been simpler. The banking company sent us all the collection materials by mail, and then we let our doctor know that we were planning on having the blood collected after our baby’s birth.

I knew my wife would have more on her mind than cord blood banking on the day of the delivery, so I made sure all the materials were packed with our hospital bags, and I reminded the nurses of our plans when we arrived at the hospital. Once the baby was born and the blood was collected, I made a phone call, and a courier was sent to our room at the hospital to collect the cord blood.

I hope that we never have to use it. But if the unforeseen were to happen to our son, we now have the peace of mind of knowing that our cord blood is available to us if needed.

It Is Magic

April 14, 2012 by  
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by Ruda Tovar

The crowd gathered slowly but with purpose, it was a small intimate amount of people.  We were the ones who had left early, the ones who stayed late enough for some of the night festivities, but not the grand finale.  Above us, the sky was dancing with the lights being cast into it.  Bright reds became blue, yellow turned to green as the night-sky was painted by the fire from below.  The exploding circles transformed into spiraling clusters of light, almost teasing the clouds for being so static.  I understood why people stopped and watched, why it felt so good to just stand there and look.  After all, this was Disney World.

That’s right Disney World, the place, better yet the culture synonymous with childhood, fun, and fantasy.  At least, that’s what they want everyone to believe right?  Right.  When I was a kid I watched Disney movies. Who didn’t?  What’s more is I watched them not because all my friends did (which they did), I watched them because my parents had and they passed the torch to me.  That’s how long Disney had been at it, since my parents were kids and even before that.  So it was no surprise that I came up watching Disney, that most of my friends did, and that pretty much everyone sub-consciously accepted Disney—anything to be one of the great backdrops to American life and more specifically childhood.  Now I had a child, a boy who had been exposed to those same movies.  To be clear: My wife and I never made our son watch Disney, we never made him watch anything, we didn’t need to.  Disney is everywhere. They can afford to be, their annual revenue routinely exceeds $30 billion dollars a year.  With money like that and a legacy that’s interwoven into “regular life,” Disney will probably have a part to play in the lives of my grandchildren.

Yet, all of that aside, here I was knee-deep in the Magic Kingdom, watching my son have the time of his life.  You could see it on his face, on the face of every non-screaming, non fit-throwing kid: All of this is for me.  All of these rides are for me, all of these little stores with toys and fun are for me, and all of this ice cream and cake is for me! That’s what my son was thinking; that’s what the other kids thought and that was the “magic” of Disney World.  I too got a little lost in the sauce.  This trip brought back memories of my own adventure into the realm of Disney more than 20 years ago.  I went with my Dad. Iit was just the two of us and all the fun a kid could conjure up. I drank that trip up with fervor of a hurricane and here was my son doing the same thing. Granted he didn’t know all of the characters, the movies, or the story of Disney, I’m not sure he’s ever seen Mickey Mouse cartoons, but he knew enough about some of the newcomers to have his literal day in the sun.  So my wife, her parents, and me, we did it all.  The long lines, the Florida sun beating down, the screaming babies who were trying to say “SYSTEM OVERLOAD,” and the screaming kids who were actually saying “SYSTEM OVERLOAD,” we waded through it all and came out as unscathed and intact as one could wish for.  As for my son, he was perfect.  I don’t use that word often when it comes to describing him or kids in general, but this time it’s the only one that came to mind, perfect.  He behaved well, he never argued, he didn’t fuss, he stayed with us, and he did it all with a huge smile on his face and the kind of enthusiasm we only see in kids.  I’d like to chalk this up to extraordinary parenting on behalf of my wife and I, but realistically this was the calculated design of the Disney World creators, at least the intended result.

As the night fell, we watched the sensorial buffet known as the light parade. Afterward we left immediately. As we exited the tram towards the parking lot shuttles, we stopped and gazed up at the sky, captivated by the distant booms and radiant spreads of light eclipsing the dark.  My son was dripping with a sensation, a feeling, it covered him, and if I stopped thinking about him, it would have covered me just the same.  That feeling is something distant to most adults: being young and having your mind filled with possibility, with an unknown future full of possibility.  Even if the kids don’t know it, they “know” it, it’s there swelling inside of them waiting for words and thoughts to express it.  That was the honey-like gel dripping from my son as the end to a “perfect” day was manifesting itself above us.  If there were ever any doubts as to the “magic” of Disney World, they were rapidly disappearing like the stars erupting over our heads.  I, as the part-time misanthrope/full-time adult still had a hard time grasping all of this, then my mother-in-law asked my son if he was enjoying the fireworks.  He turned to her and with the warmest of tones reflecting the joy permeating his body replied: “Those aren’t fireworks, that’s dreams come true.”

Did You Get the Joke?

February 20, 2012 by  
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by Ruda Tovar

Everyday I drop my son off at pre-school. This is one of my jobs, a small contribution to the workload of my family. Since the onset of this school year, I’ve been graced by the scent of decay inside my car. Naturally, I looked under the seats for a rogue banana or other fruit, but my search yielded nothing. I checked my a/c filter, and I looked for any spots in the upholstery where there may have been a yogurt or milk spill, but still no results.

One day, it occurred to me: Just as my son is exiting my car, he concocts a subtle mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen. He then waits, until right before the door is shut and silently releases the flatus into my vehicle. Yes, the kid I’m raising farts in my car right before he gets out for school. Call off the search dogs, we’ve found the culprit.

What’s even more intriguing to me than the action is the motivation. This certainly seems like a systematic, calculated operation. How do I know? Because all of the toxic fallout thus far has been muted, which is in stark contrast from the norm. This is the careful fashioning, the methodical planning, and the brainchild of my child. But, why? My theory: He knows me. He knows that yes, he could draw me a picture or write an illegible “I love my dad” note, or make some thoughtful and creative train-wreck of a gift. But again, he knows me all too well, he knows I would thank him and parade his token around like all good parents do, but he knows it would be a semi-perfunctory act. So, what does he do? He drops some organic tear gas all up in my ride. It is as if he’s saying, “Look, Dad, I know this is going to stick with you much longer than words or a picture, so here it is: my calling card, my intestinal essence.” And if my dubious theory is correct, then son, you are right; those little inaudible gnat-killers you leave make my day, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

All jokes and bizarre conjectures aside, what does this mean for us as dads, us parents? I suppose it could mean that we should strive to find the laugh, the humor behind the surprises that our kids give us, because, well, we need those things to keep our sanity. Kids, jobs, an impending financial crisis, and the world in a constant state of social and political upheaval are just a few things that whether we recognize it or not effect our attitudes and make us all the more jaded and cynical adults we too often behave as. Our kids don’t know that, they just know that sometimes Mom or Dad gets that weird look in the eye as they stare off into the distance for a while. So, they give us reminders, memories, a life-vest to bring us back into our immediate reality and away from the worries and struggles we face. In my case, be it intended or not, my kid farts in my car, and it works, because here I am laughing while I tell you all about it.

 

You’re Not Ready—And That’s Okay

January 25, 2012 by  
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by Joe Lewis

It’s been five weeks since my first child was born. At just over a month into fatherhood, I find that I finally have the chance to sit down and reflect about all the wonderful (and stressful) changes that having a baby has brought into my life. And make no mistake: They are many. First, however, I would say this to any expecting fathers out there.

You are not prepared.

That’s not a slam on your manhood. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to handle pressure situations. It’s just a fact of life. You are not prepared for the deluge of changes that your life is about to undergo. But it’s okay. Nobody is prepared, really. If people had a real sense of the utter chaos and confusion that accompanies the birth of a child, they probably wouldn’t have children. That ignorance, the complete and utter inability (particularly of men) to contemplate all that being a parent entails is the very bliss that gives us the guts to bring those wonderful children into our lives.

For today, though, I’d like to talk about the birthing experience in particular. A reasonable man would expect that the whole ordeal to be difficult to watch. After all, your wife is pushing an object roughly the size of a watermelon out of an opening that’s about the size of a lemon. There’s bound to be some “collateral damage” involved, right?

You have no idea. You just don’t. It’s impossible to understand birth until you’ve actually been in the room. So don’t get all worked up about it now. You’ll just freak yourself out. Simply understand that the experience will be unlike anything you’ve seen before or will ever see again. It will be hard to watch, but it’s not about you. It’s about supporting your wife and making sure your child is born safely. So do it. Talk to her. Tell her that she’s doing a fantastic job. Hold her hand.

It’s okay to freak out a little bit. Admit to yourself in the moment that you don’t understand what’s happening. You might even get a little bit overwhelmed. This is normal. So try not to get all bent out of shape about the fact that things feel out of control. They aren’t. Just because you can’t control the situation doesn’t mean that the situation isn’t under control. Trust your doctors and nurses. Do what they tell you to do.

As traumatic as watching a live birth can be, there is a saving grace. Once your lay eyes on your child, you will immediately push all of it out of your mind. When you see that baby, you can’t think about anything else. It’s just not possible. So stick it out, Dad. The payoff at the end is exponentially more worthwhile than the uncomfortable feelings you’ll experience throughout the birth.

What’s the Hardest Part of Being a Dad?

October 8, 2011 by  
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by Ruda Tovar

I once had a non-parent friend of mine ask me what the hardest part of being a dad was. I laughed and told him I would tell him when I myself was able to filter out the difficulties to just one thing. I’m still not sure what my answer is, and honestly I’m okay with not ever knowing. What I do know is that the answer (if there is just one) is in a state of flux, like a pendulum oscillating, only the pendulum starts to swing in multiple directions at various speeds, hardly predictable. And maybe that’s the hardest thing about being a dad for me: the fact that its never just one thing, the fact that all the work you did on that other thing doesn’t matter because there’s another thing happening now, and you need to deal with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some ultra routine oriented person, I need a impulse in my life. I like a good charge-into-the-night like the next guy, yet none of that seems to help when it comes to my miniature counterpart. The constant shifting of gears can be a taxing process for even the most “successful” dads.

For instance, when I’m at the park and I’m watching my son run around on the playground harassing other kids with random one-liners and dead-end comments, there always seems to be “that mom” or in this case “that dad.” Lets be honest, we all know this parent, we’ve all at one time or another played the role of this parent, and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry that day will come. This is the parent who appears to have everything under control, an answer for everything, and some nouveau-trendy tactic for handling his or her child. Here’s what burns: A lot of the time, this parent succeeds. The parent succeeds in maneuvering the kid out of a potential meltdown and convinces him/her to share something he/she doesn’t want to share. This parent is not a bad guy, it’s the parent who all of the other parents love to hate.

But, alas even this parent has those days when “it” is too much, and by “it” I mean the child. When that happens and you witness the countenance on their face fall and all of sudden they know nothing, it’s bliss for us struggling landlords. I’d like to clarify that, I never wish for any of this to happen, honestly I don’t even think about these people till I see them, but when it happens it is inescapable and I (it’s safe to say “we”) feel a sense of relief. It’s the moment when we have shifted through all of the gears multiple times, exhausted all of our fresh-off-the-market tools for child-rearing and for a fleeting moment we are lost, hopeless.

That’s the hardest part about being a dad, a parent. Sometimes, all this entropy just breaks you down, and you have to gather yourself however you do it and continue “striking out into the night,” raising your kid.

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