Monday, February 21, 2011

The final countdown

We are down to mere weeks, and—like it or not—Lauren and I are going to be parents. I think we’ve got the toughest part out of the way—we’ve settled on a name for our son.  Unless the sonogram was wildly inaccurate and we end up with a baby girl, his name will be Elliot. There’s no family significance to the name; we just liked the way it sounded. That and I have a minor man crush on Detective Elliot Stabler on Law and Order SVU. I’ll deny that had anything to do with the final decision, but if you were going to name a child after a TV character, he wouldn’t be a bad one … right?

As any good parents would do, we’ve been trying to equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. I’m officially bordering on information overload! We’ve taken hours and hours of classes at Texas Health Dallas, where we’ve learned everything from how to time contractions to giving your baby CPR. I’ve changed diapers on dolls, given them the Heimlich maneuver and learned how to identify a wet diaper without taking it off. I know all the different phases of breast milk, for crying out loud! I now hold degrees from Lamaze, “Basics of Baby Care,” “Baby CPR and Safety” and “Breast Feeding Basics.”

I’ve learned so much that my new worry is this wealth of information is going to cause me to freeze up when it comes time to execute. Will little baby Elliot grow tired of me trying over and over to execute the perfect swaddle? At some point is he going to go, “Dad, I just want to sleep, I don’t care if the blanket has perfect symmetry. I know I’m not supposed to speak when I’m four days old, but this is really annoying me.”

Is he going to resent me for not executing the perfect “football” hold to help soothe him when he’s upset? Probably not. Of all the info we learned, which was fantastic (I highly recommend the classes that Texas Health hospitals offer to newbies like me. For a list of classes, click here.), I think the thing that stuck with me the most was what our teacher told us at the end of the last class. “Your baby is not going to expect you to know how to do everything perfectly. When they cry they just want to know that you are there for them 100 percent.”

I thought that was pretty cool. Newborns’ little brains haven’t developed enough to make causal relationships. Their way to alert you is to cry. So even if my skills could use a little real-life honing, one thing Elliot can bank on is that I am there for him 100 percent. He’s not going to think, “Last time I cried when I had a wet diaper, it sure took my dad a long time to figure out how to change it.” Nope. He’s going to think, “I cried and needed my dad, and he was there for me. Whatever happened after that really isn’t important.”

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. Elliot is expected to make his arrival on March 11.

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