A Bowlful of Cherries

Celebrating Matty and Noah

Archive for April 2004

Still no baby and still no pain

We had been given a due date of 26 April, which was last Monday, so now we’re “four days late.” But it seems that most couples who think they’re late really aren’t — the due date is a ballpark figure with a window of plus or minus two weeks. No baby ever stays in there, so if nothing happens by next Wednesday, 05 May, we’re to report to the hospital at 8am sharp.

Whenever the labor does start, it’s not going to be a picnic. Millions of women are most likely saying, “Duh,” (assuming these millions of women read bowlful). Donna’s going to go through a lot of pain, and the epidural will be her best friend when she finally receives it. What about me? It’s not fair to assume that men don’t feel any pain. It may be only psychological, but it’s very real nonetheless.

I wouldn’t hesitate to run into a burning building to save Donna. If she needed a kidney or a bone marrow transplant, I’m first in line (should we match). But when she’s in labor, what can I do? Nothing. Her pain will be finite, for sure, and the end result will be a new baby, making it all worth it. And a few months from now, Donna may not remember the extent of her pain, especially if she has an epidural, which is likely. (How else to explain why many women have more than one baby?) Me? I’ll remember.

My boss gave me some advice: 1) Get the ice chips on demand, 2) don’t faint, and 3) be positive, but not too positive. He meant that I’ve got to keep exorting Donna to stay the course, but not be annoying about it. I also think being positive means that I need to remember that Donna, while she’s in labor, isn’t going to be herself. She’s going to be concentrating on the intense and overwhelming pain, and a kind word for me may be the last thing on her mind. If she wants me to get out of the room, I’ll do it — the last thing she needs to deal with (she’s got a bowling ball coming through a straw!) is my wounded pride.

So, whatever Donna needs me to do, it’s done. Whatever she wants and fast. If it’s not touching her, so be it. If it’s finding a frozen Snickers bar, I’m on it. The next best thing I can do, I think, is to curb my tendency to argue and “reason” with her. Most of all, I’m not going to pout if Donna lets loose with a couple of well-aimed cusses in my direction. Bring it on.

I won’t faint. No worries.

Written by Michael

30 Apr 2004 at 930pm

Posted in Misc.

Underneath the Green

A few years ago, I read about Bill Ford’s plan to completely renovate the Rouge River manufacturing complex (I read his interview with the Green@Work magazine).

Ford Motor Co. was going to build an innovative assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan, to produce the next generation of its F-150 and Ranger pickups as part of a $2 billion (!) renovation and expansion of the historic Rouge industrial complex. The project would serve as a template for Ford’s attempt to balance advanced, flexible manufacturing practices with environmental sensitivity. Over 1,100 acres, the Ford Rouge Center was the largest industrial complex in the world when it began producing the Model A in 1927.

Ford hired the architects William McDonough + Partners to introduce sustainable environmental practices at the Rouge to improve air and water quality while boosting employee morale and productivity. The assembly plant’s roof would be covered with 10+ acres of sedum, an ivy-like plant, to reduce storm water runoff, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and serve as natural insulation. A system of swales, or landscaped ditches, along with retention ponds would clean storm water, and natural plants would clean contaminated soil. Renewable energy sources such as fuel cells and solar cells would be used, and the coal-fired powerhouse would be replaced with a natural gas plant. It was ambitious, grand, and stunning, and there was no way Bill Ford could pull it off. Not after Ford Motor lost more than $5 billion in 2001.

But he did it. And it looks better than advertised. Both articles highlight the environmental design, such as:

  • The living roof, the porous-paved parking lot, and man-made swales slow storm-water runoff and spare the company huge sewer-building expenses.
  • A system that distills paint fumes into hydrogen-rich gas then uses fuel cells to create electricity is projected to save $100,000 a year.
  • The sedum grass growing on the roof insulates the plant, making it as much as 10 degrees more comfortable without installing or running extra heating and coolig equipment.

But the important part is the

showcase of Ford’s flexible manufacturing system that is being installed throughout North America. That’s the part of Ford’s Rouge that has to pay real dividends in terms of better quality, higher productivity, fewer injuries and cheaper, faster changes to models and features that customers will pay for.

Ford is definitely thinking long-term. The up-front investment is higher, but every decision (whether environmental, labor, or manufacturing-related) will save more money in the long run. Now, if only they applied that thinking to the cars and trucks they produced.

Written by Michael

28 Apr 2004 at 1013am

Posted in Misc.

Bra Sizes

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes? If you have wondered why, but couldn’t figure out what the letters stood for, we can help!

  [A] Almost Boobs…
  [B] Barely there
  [C] Can’t Complain
  [D] Dang!
  [DD] Double dang!
  [E] Enormous!
  [F] Fake
  [G] Get a Reduction
  [H] Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

We’ll find out about that special category for nursing mothers in a few days, I’m sure.

Written by Michael

27 Apr 2004 at 412pm

Posted in Misc.

Day 2 and … nothing

Today is day two of the Great Baby Wait. Nothing’s really happening. Donna takes issue with that statement, but she also understands that I’m not the one with the basketball parked in my abdomen, squishing internal organs into cavities not normally occupied. She’s handling everything so well that I occasionally think that there’s nothing to it. In a few days, I’ll be violently disabused of that notion, to be sure, as I stand in awe of what Donna’s doing and what’s she gone through. But now, it’s that calm before the storm.

People keep telling us to stock up on sleep, as if it’s something we can store in the freezer. (We stocked up on food, but repeated calls for more junk food and chocolate will not be ignored.) Since it’s the plan to breastfeed the baby, Donna’s body is going to wake her up when it’s time. She’ll probably never get more than four hours of sleep at a time for the next few months. Using a breastpump won’t help, since her boobs will be an internal alarm clock — when they’re full, the baby’s ready to go.

The added bonus that both of us will be in full parental mode: ready to drop everything if the baby so much as hiccups. That’s not real conducive for naps. The full parental mode will last for the rest of our lives. Children are fragile and klutzy, and you only have to look away for one minute.

I’m looking forward to it, even if it’s hard, ’cause Donna will be right there with me.

Written by Michael

27 Apr 2004 at 409pm

Posted in Misc.

Money, money, money

Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness.
   ~Henrik Ibsen, playwright (1828-1906)

Does Trump know?

Written by Michael

26 Apr 2004 at 842am

Posted in Misc.


Donna’s due date is tomorrow. On one hand, I can’t wait. What’s it going to be like to love two people so much I can’t imagine life without them? In the book, Where the Wild Things Are, there’s a line that illustrates how I’ll feel:

Don’t go … we’ll eat you up … we love you so.

On the other, well, I can wait. It’s not so much about our lives changing irrevocably and revolving around a poop machine, but that every decision will have consequences. When it was just Donna and me, we could figure stuff out pretty easily, but soon we’ll have a third person to worry about. This little person won’t be able to communicate in anything other than howls and shrieks. What kind of person will this baby be — does headbutting mean an angry child? Will the food we feed the baby cause massive allergies that we’ll miss until we make a PBJ sandwich? Will the TV shows we watch deplete our baby’s self-esteem? ‘Cause, you know, you can be voted off? Is that corner of the IKEA table really sharp or not? What do we do when the baby screams in the 10-items or less line? How do we ensure that the baby votes Democratic?

The entire pregnancy has been tough on Donna, and maybe caring for a baby is easier than going through another nine months full of people telling us we haven’t seen anything yet. I’ll be glad to see her feeling normal again, for her to stop cutting conversations short when something kicks, for her to get a decent night’s sleep without having to wake up to flip over. A night’s sleep may take a while, but the possibility is there.

There have been many times when we wonder if we’re fit to be parents. Like when we laugh at video footage of kids falling on their asses, or when the milk goes past its “sell-by” date and we still feed it to each other. Or even when we taunt the other person for putting down a four-point word in Scrabble. And our insane anticipation of a new season of Survivor means we can’t possibly be good parents.

The good news: no plants have died in our house in the past year, other than this small one that was dying anyway. Really.

Written by Michael

25 Apr 2004 at 1226pm

Posted in Misc.

Easter Clothes

This post is a bit late (!), but there’s a line in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Act 3, Scene 1), where Mercutio taunts Benvolio:

didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing
his new doublet before Easter?

It was bad luck to not wear new clothes on Easter (or wear them before Easter). Did your parents buy you new clothes? I can’t recall if my mom did, unfortunately, although we always changed out of our nice (new?) clothes before looking for eggs.

Written by Michael

23 Apr 2004 at 1122am

Posted in Misc.