June 30, 2011

The 12 Most Common Ways to Successfully Hold a Baby

Holding a baby in your arms is like embracing a fresh bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. You don't want to squeeze it too hard, you don't want to hold it upside down, you don't want to drop it and, whatever you do, don't lick it.

Four years ago I knew absolutely nothing about holding a baby. I was terrified that somehow, someway I'd break our newborn child. After all, babies are wiggly and slippery. So I'd wrap those babies in bubble wrap, surround myself with couch cushions and then carefully ask my wife to stand under my arms with a pillow-filled laundry basket (just in case). It was tough at first, but after a few years of practice on my older daughters, my dropping percentage decreased by 72% —which was good because bubble wrap was getting expensive.

Now that I'm on baby No. 3, I'm a pro. I can hold babies with the best of them. I don't mean to brag, but if there were a baby-holding competition I'd be sure to receive a very lovely Participant ribbon. That's why I want to share my wisdom with you to make sure you know the names and positions of the 12 Most Common Ways Dads Can Successfully Hold a Baby. Many of you will know what I'm talking about. And for those who don't, prepare to put your learning cap on.

The "Rest Her On Your Beer Belly" Hold

The "Hide Your Beer Belly" Hold

The "Your Wife Is Going To Yell At You For Letting the Baby's Head Dangle" Hold

The "My Scoliosis is Finally Paying Off" Hold

The "I'm So Tired That I Accidentally Picked Up The Wrong Kid" Hold

The "My Other Kid Saw Me Accidentally Pick Up Her Sister
And Now Wants to Be Picked Up Too" Hold

 The "I Think She's a Football" Hold

The "Learning to Fly" Hold

The "Practicing Our Father-Daughter Wedding Dance" Hold

The "Oh My, Did She Just Crap in my Hand" Hold

The "We're Upset the Bullpen Blew It" Hold

The "Perfect" Hold

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June 13, 2011

Life Changes So Fast

My life has really changed over the last few weeks. My Dad died. I turned 32. I grew a beard. I shaved the beard. I ate a fresh Cheeto that I found on the kitchen floor only to find out that it wasn't fresh—and it wasn't a Cheeto. But the most profound, uplifting change I experienced happened on May 23.

It was 2:30 am. I was fast asleep having my usual "the Reds just called me up from the minors to take over at SS and I hit three home runs in my first game to help lead them to victory" dream, when my wife woke me up.

"I'm having contractions. I think this baby is coming."

"Can you wait a few minutes? I still have to hit my third homer."

"I'm going to hit something if you don't wake up now!"

Our baby was knocking on Brittany's uterus. We'd been through this routine twice before, which is why I was ready. Bags were packed. Doctor was on speed dial. We called our close friend—close because of her longtime friendship to us and her proximity to our house—to come over and watch as our big girls were still sleeping (and likely dreaming of playing for the Reds too). When we left the house at 3:40 a.m., I called our families.

"We're on our way to the hospital. Feel free to slowly start getting ready. I'll call you once we get checked into a room and we get a feel for how long this is going to take."

When we got to the hospital, they took my wife back to triage. I didn't joke around like I did the first time. I just stood in the waiting room patiently, like a box of tissues sitting on an end table waiting to be plucked when needed—so long as that box of tissues was also checking its fantasy baseball team on its Droid.

At about 4:00 a.m. my wife emerged from triage and was 4 centimeters dilated. She was shouting obscenities. Could have been because of the labor pains. Could have been because the Reds bullpen blew it that night. I like to think it was some combination of the two.

When we got to the delivery room, the doctor wasn't there yet and my wife was screaming louder than my 2-year-old does when I forget to give her M&Ms after she goes on the potty. So I offered my wife M&Ms, just in case that would help. It didn't. I took out the 5x7 high school photo of me for her to focus on. That didn't help either. The only thing my wife wanted was an epidural. But, apparently, there was not time for that.

"I feel like I have to push!"

"Just wait a few minutes," said the nurse. "The doctor will be here very soon. And besides you're only…well, look at that. You're 10 centimeters dilated and your water broke."


And just like that, a head was born. A head full of thick, dark hair. I couldn't believe it. Neither could the resident, who leapt across the room like a middle infielder diving to nab a sharp grounder.

"OH MY GOD ... Did I just poop on the table?"

"No. You just had a baby."

The rest of our third daughter's slender body slid out. She was beautiful and calm. She was amazing. She was delivered to us faster than we expected. She was the last piece to the Team Klems puzzle, completing our happy little family. I couldn't have been prouder.

Just then I got a text from my sister-in-law.

"We're getting ready & heading up to the hospital shortly. How much longer do they think it'll be until the baby is here?"

And that's the story of how Mia Marie Klems arrived into this world. People often use the word "surreal" to describe the moment their kids are born, but I won't—mainly because I don't know what that fancy word means. But I will say this: I most certainly, without a doubt, hit my third home run in what was a dream come true.

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June 8, 2011

Pictures of Mia Marie

If it were up to her sisters, she'd have been named Baby Bacon. Luckily, they aren't the decision makers in Klems Manor.