Getting ready for the birth of my first kid has been an eye-opening experience. I never thought I'd learn so much about bowel movements and breasts.
My beautiful wife, Tara, is 37 weeks pregnant, so the birth of our daughter is right around the corner.
To prepare myself, I've gained 20 pounds (sympathy weight), done some reading on pregnancy and what to expect and taken an assortment of parenting classes.
One central theme that's shined through all of the above is that being a parent is the most rewarding experience one can have.
OK, while I'm excited about the arrival of the little bundle of joy, I find myself with more questions than answers.
The first: How is one expected to pay for all the diapers a baby will go through? My dear, sweet India is expected to dirty up to 10 diapers a day. That's a lot of cash. And it adds up. According to 2004 statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parents in my tax bracket can expect to spend $184,320 to raise a child from birth through age 17.
Adding insult to injury, not only will I go broke on diapers, I will have to help clean up some of those messes. As a parent, you must inspect the baby's bowel movements to determine they are healthy and properly nourished. What a crappy job.
Not all has gone smoothly with the pregnancy classes.
During one class, Prepared Childbirth, the instructor told my wife and me to give each other massages. Effective massages can be a lifesaver in labor.
I began to massage my wife's neck, using a "pinching" technique. My wife began to stiffen.
"Stop! You're hurting me," she said, loud enough for the entire class of about 10 other couples to hear her.
I responded to her by screaming out that she was frigid as we became a traveling version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
During a breast-feeding class, we were shown a video of a woman breast feeding.
I started to chuckle when I saw the tiny head of the baby who was feeding from the breast. I swear, I just thought it was a funny-looking baby. My wife shot me a sharp look of disgust.
During a break in the class she asked me about my chuckling.
"Are you 14 or 44?!" she asked.
Experts, family members, and colleagues have also taken pleasure in warning me to say bye-bye to the concept of a good night's rest.
Infants are capable of some of the most blood-curdling screams known to man, and many occur during the wee hours of the morning -- time I usually spend peacefully snoring on my back.
Early on, the baby has to be fed every two hours, and the feedings can take up to 45 minutes. Of course, I understand my wife will be doing most of the work with the feeding. Still, that leaves an hour and 15 minutes between feedings. And this goes on for a month.
I'm not complaining.
At this point, I just can't wait to meet her. I wonder what color eyes and hair she'll have? When she'll learn to walk and talk? I pray she is born healthy.
Life for me will forever change in a matter of days. No longer will I be able to just get off the couch, get in my car and drive to an Indians game, or go to the beach, or for a bike ride.
That doesn't bother me, though.
Those spur-of-the-moments don't compare to the moment I first felt little India kick in Tara's stomach, or the sense of anticipation I now feel knowing she'll soon be here with us.
Mike Fitzpatrick is a staff writer for the Sandusky Register.