GeekDad Twitter follower Andrew nudged us with news this weekend of his entry into official geeky dadhood (w00t!), and it occurred to us that there’s probably some collective wisdom those of us on the postpartum side of geek parenthood should pass on. While these are somewhat lighthearted points, the intent is honest.
When it’s your first go leading up to the magical day, and especially your first time in the delivery room, you may have some ideas that seem perfectly reasonable until your mate is screaming the worst Klingon invectives you’ve ever heard as the baby crowns (and she doesn’t even know Klingon). Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t record labor – Don’t plan on recording, either video or audio, any part of the labor. Do not set up your Flip Mino on a Gorilla pod from the headboard of the bed, nor your Red camera on a tripod in the corner. And don’t think you’ll be walking around the room with your Mark 7D during the delivery. Your job is to be there by your mate’s side, holding her hand (chain mail gauntlet may be advisable).
Understand that you would never be able to show the video to anyone. During labor is about the most difficult, painful and personal moments in a woman’s life (even if the room is full of people), and if you make the mistake of pushing a camera in her face during a contraction, you may see that camera torn from your hands and thrown across the room.
After the birth is another story. After the delivery, take as many pictures of your lovely mate and your beautiful new child as possible, so you can remember just exactly how perfect they both looked at that moment. Just remember: Timing is everything.
2. Gadgets are your friends – Gadgets can be your friends when it comes to communication and information about the joyous event (indeed, my wife and I bought our first cellphone just so she could call me when she went into labor). Any number of iPhone apps help couples pick baby names, mind what food to eat or even time contractions. There are books on natural childbirth available on the iPad.
Depending upon your faith in the research, there are also lots of special devices for sticking speakers to your mate’s belly and playing music for your fetus to make sure they’re Einstein-smart when the pop out.
3. Humor – Speaking of “popping out,” we should take a moment to talk about humor. Geeks like to make jokes with geek-culture references, and the tense atmosphere of the delivery room may create a strong temptation for displaying geeky humor. Remember, while your mate may have dropped some hilarious pon farr jokes in birthing class, making cracks about how the whole situation is just like John Hurt in Alien when the baby crowns is really just not a good idea.
It is perfectly OK to, in your best Darth Vader voice, say to the baby “I am your father!” Just do it when your wife can’t hear you.
4. Preparation – Preparation, overall, is key when it comes to getting ready for the delivery. Of course you’ll have a bag of clothes and other necessities ready and waiting for your mate’s trip to the hospital weeks ahead of the due date. So, too, must you be thinking of having things prepped.
While you won’t be filming the delivery itself, you need to have your camera ready ready and fully charged for the important first minutes after pictures. Indeed, you should have your tech bag with camera, laptop, 3G internet card (if possible), and phone charger ready to go at a moment’s notice. And all these things should be ready at a minimum six weeks before the due date. Because you never know!
5. DVR preset – Take a moment, well in advance, and make sure you have your DVR set for every important show for both you and your mate, just in case. Once you’re at the hospital, there’s no going back. Unless of course you can set your DVR from your phone or laptop. Which you might want to set up as a backup.
6. No tweets during labor – Similar to taking pictures during the labor, live-tweeting the duration of contractions and your mate’s dilation is not a good idea. However, it is your duty as geeky mate to broadcast the news of the time of birth, and drafting an e-mail message in advance is advisable.
You could set up a private photo set on Flickr so that all the post-delivery pix you take (which transfer through the Eye-Fi card in your camera to your laptop and then auto-upload) are instantly available to your family and friends without you needing to step away from the bed.
7. Geek indoctrination – It’s important to start the geek indoctrination early. When you’re packing that bag for the hospital, make sure you include Star Trek Onsies to bring your little navigation officer home in. Including a towel may also be a good idea.
8. Music – Music during labor can be very relaxing and comforting for your geeky mate. You should agree upon a playlist well in advance, and set it up on your iPhone or iPod (or other music device) with a plan for how it will be played out loud (some hospitals may have docks available, but plan to bring your own if you’re not sure, with plenty of batteries, extension cords and adapters).
It would be wise, however, not to include this song by Paul and Storm, and to only include this song by Jonathan Coulton if you’ve both heard it before and understand what it really means.
9. You and the machines – You’re a geek. You’re technologically sophisticated. You will probably have even done some research and be able to understand what each of the machines in the delivery room does. However, just because you can tell from the fetal/uterine monitor when your mate is about to have a contraction, doesn’t mean you should announce it with “jump to light-speed in t-minus…” for each one.
10. Caffeine – If you haven’t yet developed a caffeine addiction (as odd as that may be), there’s no time like the present to start. You’ll need it. Ask your coder friends about the magic elixir known as “Jolt.”
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