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Table for 9 please

A Fathers perspective of a huge family, finally…..

Could it be…….nah, not yet, but soon

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So today is officially 35 weeks and its getting a little bit crazy.  We had an appointment yesterday and her Dr.  proceed to tell us that she was dilated to 5ish cm and 80% effaced.  Now all you dads are probably wondering, yeah I am not really sure what all that means.  So typically 10 cm is fully dilated and, obviously 100% is 100% effaced, and all equals, its pushing time.  Now for my sweet wife, labor is a fairly quick ordeal.  She is not the type that is in the hospital for 36 hours, miserable, walking around, and trying to coax these babies out.  When we get the epidural, there is usually a baby in about 30 minutes.  All this past history makes me worry about her walking around being dilated to a 5!  Bottom line is we will be have a couple of rowdy boys in short order, and we still have not packed a bag yet.

Now the Queen of this 7/8 (if you include, which you should, me!) boy family is hanging in like the royalty she has become.  If you take a glance at the picture above and imagine two of them squished in to a 5’8″ 120 lb, model like frame, one can only fathom how unbelievably inhospitable that must feel.  Those boys have pushed her diaphragm so far north that breathing is a labor of love and now she has a head cold to top it all off.  Amidst all this torture her tiny body is going through, she continues to be the strong, type A, take charge, sharp woman I have grown to adore and admire throughout the 10 years we have been married.  A few years back I had the opportunity to deliver one of our beautiful sons, and since that moment I have marveled at the miracle a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, and the violence that traveling through a birth canal must have been for each of us.  For those of us that have kids, how cool is it to see the joy and emotion of your wife the second that baby comes into the world.  All the hard work and misery over in a few pushes and you get to hold your creation.  It is truly an aw inspiring and humbling event, to say the least.

This time, baby 6 and 7, will be a bit different.  There is no fairy tale delivery in a beautiful room, decorated impeccably and, truly, rather comfortable.  No, we get to deliver in a cold, sterile OR, with the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) teamS, standing there, with two incubators waiting for these boys.  My mom was a NICU nurse for some 20 years, and they have a saying for the babies we will be having: WWB or weenie white boys.  That doesn’t sound too flattering and it isn’t.  WWBs do not do well in the NICU, so we are hoping for 2 plump little strong men that avoid any stay in the NICU!  #chunckybabies

Today she will go for a measurement and estimation of the size of these boys and the amount of amniotic fluid around each baby.  This could gage when we go to the hospital to bring these boys into this wild and crazy family.  We still haven’t settled on names yet, but hope to narrow the search in the coming days.

The end is near, the light is here, this tunnel is finally coming to an end.  Soon these boys can breath in the crisp fall air and meet their big brother Quinn!

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The view from 10,000 ft…..how amazing!

As I zip around the house trying to take on as much as I possibly can to keep the “bed rester” actually off her feet, something hit me, wow I am so lucky.  For a guy that can’t dance and really has no “game” to speak of, I sure did land one gigantic and priceless diamond.  Was it the way I serenaded her from across the room, or the slight glances that ended up being a lock of eyes, or my witty humor, or maybe she just felt sorry for me, whatever it was, I will take it!!

I believe taking a look at yourself and your life from “10,000 ft” is the only was to truly access the life you have made, after all, luck is created and not happened upon.  This should be an exercise undertaken at least twice a year, but I try and do it once a quarter.  This can be quite the supernatural out of body experience that is bound to bring into perspective the little, and large, things that happen around each of us.  The other interesting thing about it is you start to notice things you might have missed otherwise.  Things, that if left unnoticed, might have cause your significant others to feel under appreciated and taken for granted.  If you do nothing else today do this, take a quiet moment to look the people around you in the eye and hold them tight while you tell them all the little things you notice they do. It will be a moment not soon forgotten and not soon overlooked by those people.

Since my super woman has gone on modified “bed rest”, she has taken charge of my short comings and done little things to make our life run smoother.  All those thank you notes we have put on the back burner: done, emails I should have answered 2 weeks ago: done.  She has contacted the exterminator, electrician, painter (gulp), interior designer (double gulp), locksmith, window people, made dinner, the list doesn’t end there, but is too long.  All while on bed rest, or some semblance of bed resting.  What would we do without her, ummm, not exist, at least not very well.

These are some of her art work that she has recently done, amazing……and I had no idea!

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And these are just a few of the things she has grown, raised, nurtured, and are growing…..

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First day of Pre-K, 1st grade, and 2nd grade..
This could be from 1950...
This could be from 1950…
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Yes…there are two little boys in there!

What a view from 10,000 ft…..live everyday as if tomorrow will never come.  #carpediem

A weekend for “nesting”

IMG_2070Finally the “nursery” is somewhat livable and ready for inhabitants.  It is far from done, as I am being told, but at least if two munchkins needed to live there, its ready!  If you didn’t notice, the puppy girl (only other girl in the house) has found the one soft spot to lay in the room, ready to protect.  Super mom has finally accepted the “bed resting” roll and has slowed down considerably, which puts my mind a bit more at ease.

Two of the boys, kind of mummified!
  Two of the boys, kind of mummified!

One of my favorite things about the weekend is I get to cook, which is a huge passion of mine.  Since the office is closed on Fridays, that is my day for meal planning and a trip to Whole Foods, which is one of other favorite things to do, weird I know.  How can someone have fun dealing with the grocery store, have you ever been to Whole Foods, it is an experience to say the least.  The fresh veggies, amazing meats and fish, cheeses, fresh bread, I could go on and on.  I am pretty sure if I weren’t a dentist, I would definitely be a chef.  I love the complexity of French cooking, even though time consuming to prepare, but most of all I like combining French style with modern Southern foods.  Growing up in the great state of North Carolina, southern cooking is something near and dear to my heart.  If you haven’t been to Atlanta or Asheville, you must go and go for just the cooking!  We go to Atlanta, or at least used to, about twice a year and have found some amazing places to eat.  Restaurants like JCT, Bacchanalia, or Southern Art to name a few that have delighted our senses.  I know all of you have heard of oyster bars, but at Southern Art, they have a ham bar, thats right a huge selection of hams.  Don’t you dare say you don’t like ham, especially salty country ham, its amazing.  Well last night we did some football southern barbecue.  The menu went something like this:  Slow smoked BBQ ribs, seasoned overnight and layered with bacon, Blackberry Farms (a bucket list place for us to visit) baked beans, and house made beer battered onion rings, and of course summer corn.  I know its the middle of Sept, but when its darn near 90 outside, grilling seemed like a great idea.

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Looks like everyone is destroying the food, a good sign it was edible.  Tonight will be Linguine with clams and white wine sauce, an eclectic array of food at this house!

As you can see it has been a weekend for “nesting”……

34 weeks……its getting kind of real now!

Uh oh #timestwo
Uh oh #timestwo
Going to need a trailer just to haul this thing around...
Going to need a trailer just to haul this thing around…

Today my sweet superwoman is officially 34 weeks.  What that means is in the next two weeks, or so, we will have 2 babies join this family…..OMG, this can’t be coming that fast.  We are definitely getting a little panicked at this point in time.  It just doesn’t seem right that we are that close, and I don’t feel ready, logistically, for these boys.  I have found, however, that life is similar to a game of hide and seek, ready or not hear “they” come!

It is now time for the Dad Checklist of, To Dos and Fix These and Put Together This:

Cribs:  Check,  Double Stroller:  check,  4 million diapers:  working on it,  2 wipe warmers:  really unnecessary,  Car Seats: bought, but not installed, etc, etc, etc, etc

Basically the prep for this is immense and immensely expensive since its all TIMES TWO!  I am really not sure how any of us survived life as an infant without wipe warmers, or bouncy seats, or spy camera baby monitors, the list is long.  Why do we think we actually NEED all this stuff for our babies?  Well, need it or not we got it all and then some.  I personally think John Lennon said it best for these boys, “all you need is love”.  Isn’t that what it all boils down too anyway?

As we get closer to the end of this journey I still almost daily recall the day we decided to take this journey.  We were on vacation at possibly one of the best places we have ever visited, Capella Pedregal.  It is one of the most tranquil spots on the earth that I have been.  We were laying on the bed one morning, doors open with the Pacific crashing in the background, and she looks at me and says, “Lets have one more”.  Of course I took a big gulp and said “lets do it”.   Little did I know in 2 weeks that dream will come to reality, except we will be getting TWO, not just one more.  And, honestly, I couldn’t be happier then I will be when those angels gasp their first breath.  I always dreamed of a big family, but never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be my life.  Job of my dreams, girl of my dreams, and a life I would have never imagined could come true with the past I have been through.  Carpe diem……

 

Day One…..I think it might have taken its toll!

Off to the new school...
Off to the new school…

This was a very proud moment as a father.  There is something special about watching your oldest make a passage towards manhood by making sacrifices.  Sometimes in life we have to go back in order to move forward.  Ahhhh, maybe all this gray hair over the years has actually meant something?!

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…..and after the first day at the new school

I guess this pic speaks for itself…..uphill battles build character, but can also take a lot out of you in the process.  Keep your head up son, and don’t drool on your shirt!

A day in the life of Dad….

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of tumultuous.  Two weeks ago to the day and hour (10:30pm), I went and picked up my oldest son to come and move in permanently.  This is a change that has been needed for awhile, but was a really tough decision by his mother.  Great kid, huge heart, but lost his vision of what life should be and took some wrong turns. Our house was immediately turned into bootcamp and his life was turned upside down.  He went from ultimate freedom, to relative lockdown.  Now he is making the turn. Got him transferred to a really great school, he even went so far as to repeat a grade he finished with a 3.4 GPA , to move to this amazing school. Obviously, a much more challenging program. I was so proud of his ability to realize, without me shoving him in that direction, that this was a life altering opportunity. It takes a lot of gumption to swallow your almighty pride and take a look at a bigger picture. I did not think he had it in him, but I’m sure glad he proved me wrong! The only problem with all of this is……he had to get accepted to the school, and that was no small task. Fast forward to today….. My day starts with a 5:15 alarm, we have an early morning start to a busy day at the office. My wife and I practice together in a bustling pediatric practice. I know what you are thinking, I am crazy to have 7 kids and work with kids all day, right? There is no better way to stay young then to surround yourself by youth!  By most peoples account I am what you would call……immature, or at least really goofy. I figure I have lived a few lives and seen a few things….nothing we do at the office can really phase me or make me whig out too bad. Life is way to short to live it on edge! Now with my lovely bride at home on bed rest, the office is all me and with 75 patients scheduled it was going to be pure insanity! The day starts with a 7 am patient, then at 8 the flood gates open up! We practically worked through lunch, never did eat breakfast, and I got done around 5:15. During this whole day my son got accepted to the school! I haven’t seen this kid this excited in a really long time. Well that meant my “bed resting” super woman of a wife has to get his physical and run around paperwork to get him started tomorrow morning. Not so sure we could function without that lady by my side, she is supremely amazing. Got home around 5:30 and got going on dinner…… IMG_2065.JPG IMG_2067.JPG IMG_2063.JPG Whipped goat cheese, braised and roasted cauliflower, and braised chicken with stewed heirloom tomatoes. Cooking is definitely my passion and an outlet of stress. It’s an amazing feeling to make a meal that everyone devours and says “that was amazing dad”. Next bathes, accomplished by the super bed resting mom, and a trip to the mall to get a new pair of shoes for the oldest to start his journey at the new school. I guess that was kind of a full day. We will start it again at the same bat time and same bat place in the morning!! IMG_1974.JPG #twinsacoming

The Mountain is about to get steeper…..#twins

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This was the view about 34 weeks ago.  And these two boys will be added to……

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Yes the chaos will increase just a bit.  I am unbelievably excited to invite these two new lives into our family.  It will be our first experience with twins.  The whole thing feels like a brand new experience and I have to admit seems a bit daunting.  The older boys and all, somewhat excited, and they have come up with quite a few fantastic names.  Of course the 4 year old wants the boys to be named Striker and Zoomer, which I guess could be appropriate for the 6th and 7th boys in the family!  We are still working through the final list, not so sure that those will make the cut.

The next couple of weeks will be crucial in the development of the babies.  My wife has been put on bed rest and hopefully will make it to at least 36 weeks.  That should keep us out of the NICU, but there are no guarantees.  I keep hearing stories of the WWBs(weenie white boys), a not so positive name given to the poor performance of caucasian males that are born too early.  I will stay positive and try to take everything possible off of her plate so we can make it to 36 weeks.  This means office, soccer practices, cub scouts, church, and all the other various activities that a house of 5 boys can possibly get in to, will be all mine to manage, and manage it I will!

For those that know my wife know that this will be not small task.  She is a powerful, independent, and driven woman that keeps this family on the road to success and happiness. All those attributes do not lend themselves to someone that just “sits/lays around”.  Time will tell……

Where it all began…..

The beginning is always the most difficult part of anything.  Whether its your first day of kindergarten, your first date, your first kiss and a whole series of firsts, including the first time you become a dad.  For those of you that take any interest in something fresh and new here is a blog from the other side, the fathers perspective.  A position often overlooked and stereotyped to be simply the “breadwinner”, but this is a new era and we are the “new” Dad.  One that is nourishing, caring, selfless, changes dirty diapers, wakes up with the baby, stays home with the kids (alone), plans and cooks dinner (I am an avid cook and will post pics in the future, see my Instagram, tablefor9)…….the image of the father is changing.

So here is my humble story from the beginning, just for some perspective.

Born in 1973, abroad to a proud soldier, during one of the worst conflicts this great country has entered, and his loving wife, of now 40+ years.  I grew up in a loving family, with one little brother, in mid Atlantic states, with little money, but lots laughter and happiness.  We moved when I was in the ninth grade and thats where the story really begins.  I was a rebellious teen with little regard to what I was doing or who in my family it hurt.  I got involved with drugs, my grades plummeted, and with it so did my drive to follow my dreams to medical school.  I graduated High School with a dismal GPA and proceeded to a local Community College, only to keep on achieving the same mediocrity.  Real success was coming my way at any minute!  I started working at a local shipyard, welding and pipefitting on Navy ships and rubbing elbows with some really great people and some really lowly people…..and that is when a light bulb went on.  One day on my way home….I stopped at the local Air Force recruiter…..and enlisted!  I spent the next 9 years becoming a man and learning how great we have it in the USA.  After spending the first 4 years deploying to a lot of fun beach front areas of the Middle East, the next 4 I spent teaching in a training squadron and pursuing my dreams.

My days consisted of, rising at 2:30am, flying a local mission, debriefing, and heading to college till 10pm every night.  While I didn’t have to fly missions every day, it was a brutal, yet determined journey.  Over the next 4 years I raised my overall GPA to 3.8, got married, and in 1998 my first son was born.  Then in 1999 my second son came trucking into my life.  The next 2 years consisted of more of the same schedule, but adding 2 sons to take care of as well.  I took the MCAT(Medical College Admissions Test), scored well, but after some research figured out that medicine was not a great place for me……took the DAT(Dental Admissions Test), scored well and in 2000 entered the Class of 2004 Doctor of Dental Surgery and ended my military career.  Another of my many lives ends and another begins……

Dental school was nothing short of grueling, both academically and physically.  I was one of the older students and having a 2 year old and a one year old, my mountain was very steep.  Around year 2 of school my marriage started to deteriorate and ended shortly after in divorce (a common occurrence in professional school).  Year 4 of my dental school career, I met my soul mate….the woman of my dreams….the one that is my partner for life.  After graduation we headed off to a residency, a fellowship and got married that fall.  All the while my boys moved and I missed the opportunity to teach them what is was to be a man and a father.  For 2 years there were nights when I cried and weekends when I drove 15 hours to come see them for a couple of days and 15 hours back…..just getting in in time to get to work.  They were 6 and 5, and had no clue what had happened or why.

In 2006, after a vasectomy(1999), a vas reversal(2004), we welcomed in our first son (my third son), but really our 3 third son.  What a joy to be a full time dad again, but I knew we had to reunite this new son with his brothers.  We found a practice in the city they were, bought it and found our home.  In 2007 we welcomed our 4th son….can you see a trend….hmmm….and in 2009 we brought into the world son #5!  The practice became ours, solely, in 2010 and it has been growing into something special ever since.

This year, our 4th official year of ownership of a 45 year old practice, we will have out best year…..an esteemed colleague, whom is semi-retiring, asked if we would take over the care of his patients….we will also welcome in twin boys….yes I said TWIN BOYS….that will be sons #6 and 7.  I think this will be an amazing year….a humbling year….a blessed year….and also a stressful year.

And now we make it back to the present day………2014 and I will be the father of 7 sons, both exhilaration and stress engulf my mind almost daily.  So now I need a different car or bus, a private dining room every where I go (hence the name Table for 9 please), I don’t have a choice on whether I leave gratuity, and the REALLY invasive questions that  ask, “You do know how this happens” or, the most common response, “Wow, thats a lot of kids”.   People should sometimes keep their thoughts where they originated, instead of allowing those synapses to travel to the tongue and out the mouth!

In the next 2-3 weeks we will welcome these amazing joys of life to the world and life will restart.  I will see you then…..

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