My wife and I are both the youngest of three children born in the 1970's. Both of our sets of parents have had some time to become good at parenting and for the most part, I think we turned out well. We both have college educations and for the most part we don't live paycheck to paycheck. I work for a medical device manufacturer outside of Pittsburgh as a Knowledge Specialist and my wife is a private piano instructor with a local university. We have a small three bedroom ranch that is about 40 years old and currently have a mortgage and a car payment. While our finances may not be relevant in regards to our parenting skills, it does give some background as to how we will raise our daughter.
Neither of my parents had a college degree and managed to raise three kids and send them to college, all without financial assistance, on one income. How? They put the needs of their child first. I say needs, not wants. We didn't have cable until I was 10, I wore hand me downs from my brother, and I don't think I drank soda in any regularity until I was 14. My parents saw to it that I had a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, and an education. We didn't go vacation every year to some exotic location. We went camping at the local campgrounds or at the beach. We didn't go out to the movies or dinner a lot. My mother cooked dinner almost every night. My dad is a member of the Lions Club and on Monday nights when he would be at a meeting; my mother would take the three of us kids to McDonalds. On rare occasions, my dad would go to a local Sports Bar afterwards for a bite to eat and would bring home pizza or breaded shrimp and we would share all share a bottle of Coke. We all enjoyed the time together and didn't go off to separate rooms to be on a computer or talk on a private line. Granted, times have changed. I have all of those luxuries, now. I have internet and cable and a Playstation 3. My wife and I still go out to dinner at least once a week and breakfast on Saturdays. But I've learned how to appreciate all that I have while not lamenting on what I don't because I never had to go without the things I needed. As for the things I want. They'll still be there after I finish paying off a credit card or fixing the car.
As I often do, I've digressed into a story about my upbringing and need to get back to my child's. So, I introduce to you, the one, the only...
Born July 5th, 2007, 8:03 AM
6lbs. 8oz. 19 1/2" long
Born July 5th, 2007, 8:03 AM
6lbs. 8oz. 19 1/2" long
She's a beauty, huh? It's OK to admit it. Of course, I'm biased. When I first saw her, I couldn't think of a more perfect baby. She was breach and had to be delivered by caesarean. Otherwise her due date would have been July 7th, making her birthday, 07-07-07.
As a kid, I'd always assumed that I would one day be a parent. I just didn't know when. At an early age, I had no concept of how old a parent should be. When I was in my teens, I figured I'd be in my early twenties when I got married and started a family. As I approached 20, I realized I was ready for neither. I didn't get married until I was 29 so that put parenting into my 30's. Perhaps I would be finally ready with three decades under my belt. Yeah, right.
You see, you are never ready for parenthood. I found that out the hard way. My wife got pregnant in October which put us smack dab up against the holidays for her first trimester. So, as we're getting the house ready for Christmas, we aren't getting it ready for baby. Afterwards, we tear down everything and try to reassemble some sort of normalcy which puts us into her second trimester. Now, she's starting to feel the effects of being pregnant, and we're rapidly losing time. When we first started discussing things back in November, we had grand plans of being totally prepared come July. The reality is that even though you're having a child, the rest of the world keeps moving and doesn't care. We have a three bedroom house, and until I started working on them, both rooms were pretty much storage. You couldn't walk into either without having to step over boxes. Unfortunately, we haven't really ever caught up to the workload that exists and now it's much worse. When we first bought the house, we gave two of the bedrooms nicknames. One was called the red room because of the blood red carpet and silly Disney wallpaper that had a red border. The other we named the Pooh room because the walls were either painted pink or yellow, reminding of us of Winnie the Pooh. Due to the amount of work required to make the red room suitable for a nursery, we choose the Pooh room instead. About a year before my wife got pregnant, we decided to repaint the walls white which was a blessing because we had a blank slate in which to start. Also, it would be a lot harder for a teenager to sneak out of it since it was directly across from our room and it had no nearby limbs or ledges to climb out and onto the ground.
Probably any good parenting book will tell you when you should start working on the nursery. I knew I had to at least have it done by July, so I wasn't exactly in any rush at Christmas to start working on it. However, I hate painting. I mean, I really hate painting. It's one of those things where I would rather listen to cats screech in my ears than to pick up a brush and start painting. I hate masking. I hate edging. I hate getting paint all over me and I tend to get it all over everything. The hatred aside, I did find it fun to plan out the nursery. Since the little one was shy through all 6 of her sonograms, we had no clue what we were having. We decided to go with a neutral color, so that if we had anymore kids, I wouldn't have to repaint the room a different color......because I hate painting. Did I mention that? We went with a nice sage green which was actually called quaking grass. How do I remember that? Because I kept thinking it was called quacking grass and embarrassed myself asking for a can of it at Lowes. We decided to go with a nice cherry finish because we were happy with our bedroom suit and thought it would look nice. Now, I don't know if it was planned or coincidental but we both agreed on a Winnie the Pooh theme. I wonder because, after all, we called it the Pooh room from day one and here we are planning a nursery around said character. We opted for Classic Pooh instead of the Disney version because we felt it was prettier and not as gaudy. By the end of May, I was done putting in new vent covers and had assembled all the furniture. I even printed out some nice Classic Pooh pictures and we matted and framed them for on the wall. Now all we needed was baby, and for that matter, a name.
For the duration of my wife's pregnancy we were never sure if the little one was a boy or a girl. She kept hiding the goods during the sonogram. The technicians gave us an 85% chance but would never say for certain that it was a girl. It was hard enough trying to come up with one name let alone a backup in case of other gender. Some of the biggest disagreements between me and my wife during her pregnancy came over what name to choose. If it was to be a boy, I wanted something with a little more flare than just Dave, Tom, Bob, etc. I wanted something strong, perhaps Eastern European. My wife on the other hand got stuck on a name that I threw out as a joke, Baxter. I said the kid isn't going to Hogwarts. The whole idea about naming our child was to give it something that wouldn't inspire others to twist it and make fun of it. I have spent the entirety of my life having to either spell or pronounce my last name because it is Czechoslovakian. It is pronounced Push-Car yet it is spelled Puskar, due to the fact that in the Slavic language, the s in my name represents a “sh” sounds. I've had every known variation, some funnier than others. It was bad enough; my child was going to inherit my last name. At least we could give her a break on the first name. After the Baxter fiasco, she moved on to Aidan and Ian. She also went through a phase with the name Ashton. I said flat out no, unless I could give him the middle name resulting in Ashton Martin. She thought I was nuts. So, while she went back to the drawing board, I held out for favorite, Braden. I really wanted to name my son Braden (Brady) Quinn, but the name became famous with the football player. We settled on Braden Michael using my first name as a middle name. If we were indeed having a girl, that was another story. My wife started off with Greenlee, after a character on her soap opera. We then had a spell with Sadie. We both liked the name and wanted to use my Grandmother's name as a middle name, Grace. Once we put it together we nixed the idea since saying her name was like asking for the blessing, "Sadie Grace so we can eat." Then there was Addison, and Abigail. Again, I wanted the middle name on that to be my wife's middle name, Rose. How cool would it be to have a daughter named Abby Rose? I don't remember which one of us actually came up with it, but I liked the name Bailey. Growing up a television junkie I was lumped into a certain category against other guys. You either liked Ginger or Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. I liked Mary Ann. The same went with WKRP in Cincinnati. You either liked Jennifer (Loni Anderson) or Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers). While Jennifer was the hot, stereotypical blonde, Bailey was the quiet, shy, brunette, who was easily more naturally attractive. It was also the last name of one of my favorite film character, George Bailey. We had finally settled on a name for our soon to be born child, Bailey Rose Puskar......or Braden Michael Puskar if it was somehow a boy.
Our next priority was making sure the house was ready. The last thing I wanted to do was to be working on something or cleaning the house and have her go into labor. Also, we knew people would be banging down our door to see the baby and help out and we didn't want the house a mess. What I didn't realize was that I would be scrubbing walls and cleaning carpets on the fourth of July. Looking back, we just want to cry. Instead of spending time together alone and just relaxing in a quiet house, we waited until the last minute to get things done and the whirlwind has never stopped. I took the week off after the fourth so that I could be at home with my wife and daughter. I found myself more tired than I had ever possibly been in my life. We didn't sleep for first three days as we were up every two hours to feed her. My wife was so sore and tired that she needed a step stool to get into bed. She fed her during the day but during the night I took over with an oral syringe. Once you fed, put her back down, and tried to go to sleep, it would be time to do it again. The poor thing wouldn't even sleep in her crib. She spent the first two weeks sleeping in her car seat. It just goes to show you that you spend all that time preparing things and you end up improvising on the fly. Eventually, my sister gave us a positioner which allowed us to snuggle Bailey up and make her feel safe.
After things calmed down, it hit me. I was a father. I was responsible for another human being who was totally dependent on me. Poor kid. Actually, as I said before I was totally in love with her the moment I saw her in the delivery room. She just has those eyes. Luckily, she got her eyes from either one of our fathers. We both have brown eyes and hers' are blue or hazel depending on her outfit and surroundings. We still have trouble figuring out who she looks like more because she's we both agree she's way prettier than we are. I like to think that she got the best parts of each of our genes. She's an amazing little thing and she gets more amazing every day.
Sometimes I can't help but just stare at her, watching as she figures something out for the first time. My wife and I both agree that as much as we love each other, we really didn't know what love was until Bailey was born. There are times when I'd rather be able to watch television or play a video game then have to attend to her needs but this is what parenthood is all about. My wants are just that wants. They'll be there tomorrow or the day after. My first priority is making sure my child's "needs" are met. Whether it is a dirty diaper or a bottle to be fed, I'm a full service father. Since I am the primary provider when it comes to financial dealings, we've worked out an arrangement where my wife is the night shift during the week and I take over on the weekend. Granted, I get the sweet end of that deal, but it's not without its shortcomings. Where I used to stay up until 2am or 3am on a Friday night, now I want to be in bed by midnight in case something happens. Most people are jealous of my wife because she has a husband that will change a dirty diaper or carry a pink bag around with the car seat. I don't care. It's a badge of honor to be carrying around my daughter and I make sure to show her off as I go by. "Look what I got!" A lot of seasoned parents get really jealous when we answer this question, "Does she sleep at night?" At or around four months, she began sleeping ten hours straight. Now, at eight months, we rarely have to get up at night to console her and she sleeps eleven hours. She's up for a couple of hours and we put her down for a two hour nap. Lather, rinse, repeat. Now, there have been times that she's got up fussing and has not been able to calm down. She started teething around five months and we're still waiting for the little buggers to break through. Still, for all the times she's woken up screaming in the middle of the night. I think I can count on one hand where one of us has had to go in and take care of her in the last 3 months. I'm usually the one who puts her down at night. Simply, because we've structured our evenings where my wife will feed her dinner while I get everything ready for work and fill up the bottles for the next day. Then we give her a bath and get her dressed for bed. Then she plays on the floor, crawling and squawking for maybe an hour while we try to give her a bottle. Then, finally, I take her to her room and just start rocking from side to side. My wife likes to use the glider, but I find it hard to get up from it quietly while holding a sleeping baby. 90% of the time I put her down awake, tuck her in, kiss her goodnight, and leave. She may talk or fuss for a few minutes but she usually goes right to sleep.
At two weeks. Her first professional picture.
At seven weeks
At 17 weeks
At 24 weeks
At two weeks. Her first professional picture.
At seven weeks
At 17 weeks
At 24 weeks
We've already established that I am the playmate and my wife is the enforcer. I can see that as she gets into her teenage years, her and her mother will clash over plenty of things and I will get caught in the middle. While I would defend her with my dying breath, I don't think I'd be willing to go against her mother. When she's old enough, I will try to instill in her that I am not an ally when it comes to war with mom. Also, I'd like to be able to teach her a lot of things about life. Maybe try and help her realize at an early age where the pitfalls are and how to capitalize on her youth. At least we can tell her about her time in the womb and birth, in hopes that we can keep her from boys until she's 29. After all, when you have a son, you only have to worry about one boy. When you have a girl, you have to worry about every boy. While, I know I won't be able to answer every question she has, I can tell her that she will make mistakes and that it is all right to do so. In the end, that's the only thing at which I am an expert at. Just ask my wife.