Hello, little one. It’s so good to finally see your face! You are, without a doubt, the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Up until your arrival yesterday, your mother has been a whirlwind of energy, and in the last month I’d estimate she’s made an entire grocery aisle worth of prepared meals, labeled, sealed, and fitted neatly into our kitchen freezer. She decided, during her bout with morning sickness, that she couldn’t count on me to feed her anything with flavor, so she took matters into her own hands. Between all of that work, she’s shopped for the final few items we need, organized the baby accessories, cleaned the room, and hung the animals on the wall.
We also finally moved everything downstairs and into the office, and the door to the old exam room is in, courtesy of Mr. Scout and his trusty pneumatic nailgun. Daddy loves you, he loves your Mama, and he loves chocolate cake. But Daddy LOVES the pneumatic nailgun. When I told Mr. Scout I’d installed all the trim and woodwork on the porch by drill and hammer, his eyes got big as dinnerplates. “That’s old-school,” he said, as he shook his head sadly.
It was a good thing we got that done on Saturday afternoon, too, kid, because mama woke me up at about 2:45 on Sunday morning with bad, bad cramps and contractions in her upper back. “I’ve never felt anything like this before,” she said. It was at this point I knew your arrival was near. Contractions were short, anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, but as soon as we started timing them, they got longer and averaged about five minutes apart. Mama paced the bedroom while I notified the doula, and she muscled her way through some earth-shattering pain laying on the bed. The breathing exercises we’d practiced seemed to help her get through a little easier, but I have to tell you girl, your mama is a strong woman.
The books tell you there’s a point when things are kicking into higher gear: it’s when the mother-to-be hits the first sign of doubt. When mama said, “I don’t think I can do this,” I knew I needed to get her into the car and on the road as soon as I could. but first, we needed to get down the stairs and outside. We timed the next contraction’s valley and she hustled downsairs to lay on the couch, while I ran outside and debated the wisdom of backing the Jeep up to the front door. I settled for parking it on the lawn directly outside the hedge, figuring you would not appreciate bouncing over two four-inch speedbumps as we came off the curb to the driveway. Immediately after another contraction, we hustled out to the car and sped off to the hospital as the sun peeked over the horizon.
When you’re old enough to understand, I’ll thank you for throwing the switch at 6AM on a Sunday, because there was nobody on the road other than the three people I almost hit while trying to dial the wrong numbers for both the doctor and the hospital. Opting for safety, I hung up the phone and we bombed into the hospital unannounced, leaving the Jeep in the valet spot, and raced up to the sixteenth floor to the delivery ward.
After wheeling your mama into the tiny Registration office, we had to fill out the paperwork they promised us we wouldn’t have to fill out while your mother did her best not to scream her head off or strangle the harried woman typing at the computer. Once we made it into our room, they got mama into a bed and had a midwife check your progress while friendly nurses offered epidurals. There was a brief glimmer of hope in mama’s eyes at the thought of drugs, but I asked them to give us some time and made her concentrate on breathing. When the midwife quietly announced “eight centimeters”, I could hear the gears click into overdrive, any chance of drugs evaporate, and we were suddenly surrounded by trays of instruments, monitoring equipment, and busy nurses.
The doula was driving in from Pennsylvania, so she got in about a half an hour after we did. She was great in helping me help your mama through the last hour of labor, especially when the doubt hit her again. This was at the point when she was having problems resisting the urge to push. Right about that time, the doctor came in, your water finally broke, and HOLY SHIT, WE’RE HAVING A BABY: you were fully dilated and at 0 station.
I will say this many times in my life, and you can always return here to read it in print: There’s no way in hell I could have done what your mama did, even if I was drugged to the gills. She did everything herself with no pharmaceutical aid, and after she squoze your head through her vajayjay, she was cracking jokes with the doctor while I was sitting on a nearby chair, trying to get blood back into my head. Someday you may have children of your own, and robots might deliver them painlessly with the aid of magic Star Trek drugs, but you can always tell people your mama is HARD-CORE. I imagine the only way I could come close to understanding that kind of pain would be to drag a car with no wheels from one side of the city to the other using only my penis. Oh, and NO THANK YOU.
When you finally popped out, little one, it was like the whole world just came to a stop while you took a good deep breath and started crying: I’ve never heard a sweeter sound in my life. And, a girl!
Holding your warm little body in my hands for the first time, I felt that cliched feeling where my heart felt so big and full of love for you and your mama that it about burst. You squirmed a little, you cooed a little, and your big blue eyes blinked all around the room as if you were checking out a hip new club. And then you looked in my eyes, and squinched up your face, and sneezed, and looked at me again, as if to say, What is that fuzzy shit on your face? you better not try and kiss me with that beard, Mister. It was that moment when I realized I’d have not one but two women in my life giving me a hard time, and I was in love.
For the last year or so we’ve been working on finding a good school to get Finn into so that she’s got the best possible chances in 9 through 12th grade. We looked at a couple of very pricy private schools, one of which seemed to be a factory for Stepford Aryan lacrosse players. She also tested for the local magnet school, which has a very good reputation in this area. We’d done a tour last fall and came away extremely impressed by all the programs we saw. Their graphic arts program was staffed and set up better than the facilities I taught at over at UMBC. Their Environmental Science programs all looked fascinating, all the technology programs were sharp, and even the cosmetology program was legit. Jen arranged for Finn to take the various tests and we waited nervously for the results. She didn’t wind up being accepted to the other expensive private school we looked at, but we found out this week she was accepted into the magnet for Environmental Science and she’s low on the wait list for the Graphic Arts program. I can’t express what a huge relief that was for our whole family.
Our local high school isn’t terrible—it’s rated #5,920 out of all of the high schools in the country, #104 in Maryland, with a 92% graduation rate. But in contrast, Western Tech is rated #366 in the country, and the #6 school in Maryland according to the US News & World Report ratings. And according to the Baltimore County report card, it has a 98.6% graduation rate. It’s set up to be a lot more rigorous, with a lower teacher-to-student ratio than the others, and the facilities and curriculum all look solid.
I’m so proud of her for working hard to get in. She deserves a program that will challenge her; I hope she digs in and makes the most of it.
I haven’t taken many pictures in the last year—something I’ve been thinking about is looking over the number of files in my Lightroom library to see what the falloff has been—but we had to take a picture of Finn for a church thing yesterday and I thought I’d post it here too.
Wow, look at that. Fifteen years ago this week I started demoing the old exam room in preparation for a renovation; I think it was this same day Jen came in and told me she’d just gotten a positive result on a pregnancy test.
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I’ve been using a cast-off MacBook Pro from work for email since before the pandemic; I have one good machine cobbled together from multiple out-of-service 2013 Retina models—this one has a drive from one machine, a replacement battery from another, and a screen from a third. It’s serviceable for what I’m doing on it, mainly email, photo selection/cataloguing, and other basics. But I’m stuck at OS 10.14 on this machine and I’d really like to upgrade to the latest version for security and modern features. It can’t talk to my iPad, which kind of sucks. It suffers from random 1-5 second freezes. There are some applications I can’t run anymore.
I think it’s time to upgrade my personal system here, given that the last truly new MacBook I bought was back in 2011, funded partially by the sale of my previous laptop. I’m looking at something ligher and slimmer (and cheaper) than a true MacBook Pro, which points at a MacBook Air: They’ve just updated the model to the new M2 chip and it goes head-to-head with the 13″ MBP with only a few minor omissions that I don’t care about at all. I’m waiting for a large expense report check to come in from work, and when that does, I’m going to pull the trigger.
Happy Birthday, monkey.
This is the first weekend in a long time where we’ve been home. Like, in our own house for two days. Jen has been socked in with work for several weeks, and a lot of it has come to a head, so we thought we’d take a break from driving south to Lexington Park and stay around the homestead. I’ve had a lot of things around the house piling up in our absence, so I took the opportunity to knock a couple of them out.
The first thing was replacing two basement windows that were original to the house. I’d ordered replacements back in March and they finally arrived about a month ago; I’ve been waiting for a solid weekend to tackle the project. Pulling the old windows was pretty quick work—they were only held in by two sets of ancient brass hinges and a hook and eye latch. I cleaned up the wooden surrounds, cut and installed baffles, and slotted them into place. With some careful carpentry the inside baffles got nailed into place, and they got caulked tight. Now we can have open windows and enjoy fresh air in the basement! A miracle.
The second project is one Jen has been asking about since last year: painting the garage to match the house. I started out by scraping the west side and got it ready for paint. After cleaning both my guns and consolidating the remaining paint, I filled the compressor and sprayed out the west side and half of the driveway side before running out. I’m going to have to repair some of the plywood on the front side and do a lot more scraping overall, but it looks pretty good so far.
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Finn has been binging a new videogame for the past month, and has been asking me to play with her. It’s a survival/exploration game called Ark, where you land on an island teeming with dinosaurs and have to learn how to gather food, build tools and shelter, and tame those same dinosaurs to help you advance. She’s been playing on her iPad, but I can’t load it on my phone and squint at tiny menus. I saw that it was available for the Xbox so I ordered a used copy on Amazon and installed it on the console. From there it demanded a 100GB update, so we waited days for the console to choke that down (it puts itself to sleep after an hour, so I had to constantly keep it awake) and then two more updates before we could play.
Once that was done, we picked up our controllers and started a new world together. And found, very quickly, that it was almost impossible to navigate in 2-player mode. They split the screen horizontally, so the top half is one character view and the bottom half is another, but they didn’t change the menu system to fit that resolution. So when you go into the menu system (and half the game is spent here) it’s still the size and shape of an iPad and you have to squint at tiny little icons smushed into the narrow space given. It’s like looking at the menu bar of Word 97 through a peephole: impossible unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. I tried for several nights but found it almost unusable.
She then found a new game called Albion and started playing that. Seeing that it was available for the Mac, I downloaded a copy and tried it on my 8-year-old laptop, which slowed to a gelatinous crawl, cooling fans struggling to keep the processor from melting. I thought about it for a day or so and decided I’d pull the trigger and finally buy the iPad Pro I’ve been looking at since they were released. Playing games with Finn was a big part of the decision, but the other reason was that I want to work in Procreate with the Apple Pencil and learn how to illustrate with the system. I bought a new 11″ unit with the Pencil and picked it up at the local Apple Store this past week. The early review is very favorable: playing Albion on it is easy and fun! We spent a couple of hours on Friday getting me set up in the game and understanding how not to die. Now I have to catch up to her character level.
This is the first device I’ve owned with Face ID, and it’s very slick. The Pencil is fast and responsive. I bought Procreate and started fooling around in the program but it’s going to take a lot of time to sort out how I use it and get the most out of it. Getting used to the way the brushes and pressure work is an uphill battle, especially for someone as picky about the tactile feel and orientation of scratchboard tools as I am. I’m going to start out trying to mimic what I know and love, and then see where the app takes me.
Luff. Crying. Luff more. Can’t wait to meet you, FINLEY ROSE!
Okay, you made me cry. That was awesome. She is beautiful!!! I can’t wait to see her.
There has been a whole morning of sniveling and cooing and awwwww and heart bursting and all of that. She’s gorgeous.
Best wishes and good health to you and your new daughter.
All our best!
Mommyrox and family
What a beautiful baby. We’re over the moon with delight. Your post is wonderful and Jen is indeed a strong woman. Hope by now you have them both home and can just admire this fantastic treasure you have produced. We’re in love with her name and can’t wait to meet our lovely Finley Rose
Ohhhh Congratulations! She is perfect, sweet, pretty, adorable…:) Name is lovely as well…
Congratulations! I’m so happy for both of you. Please give Jen my best.