Having a New Baby

My wife and I went in for an induction on November 4th, just four days earlier than the November 8th due date. Things had progressed well and active labor began first thing in the morning.

We were ready as we could be to have a baby. We had attended all of the parenting and birthing classes, and had the baby’s room all set, car seats ready, etc. We were both mentally prepared, but being prepared and going through labor and having a baby are two different things.

I was calm cool and collected as labor progressed. This was our first baby after all, so I was prepared for a long day. Then things began to speed up a bit. My wife is now at a 5, a hour later a 7. The epidural that was suppose to relieve pain did not work and only one side of her body was free from pain. The contractions became more frequent and the pain more intense. All I could do from a husbands perspective was to hold on to my wife’s hand tightly and talk her through each contraction.

Another 30 minutes goes by and we are already at a 10. Now this is getting serious. My long day of preparing to have a baby has come to an end, and the time is now. My wife started to push with each contraction now trying to get the baby to drop the rest of the way down. Our doctor had not made it into the room yet, but the nurse was trying to get the baby into position. The nurse now can feel an ear and the baby’s head needs to straighten out. While the nurse is getting all of the gear ready for the doctor to deliver the baby she encourages my wife to keep on pushing through each contraction. A slight fear of mine at this point is that a push will now expel the baby onto the floor and nobody is there to catch him. I secretly hope at this point my wife is not doing that great of a job at pushing.

Then the doctor arrives. To speed up the delivery of the baby he is going to use a vacuum pump. I guess my worry of pushing the baby out onto the floor is unfounded. The vacuum goes in, and now we are really pushing. A head appears. Then another push, a baby is delivered and while being dried off is placed onto my wife’s chest. We now have a baby. The look of bewilderment on my wife’s face as she looked at the baby and then to me must have been a mirror of my own expression.

It did not seem real, and at the same time it was one of the most real experiences of my life.

The only other experience that I had that came close to this was the feeling of spiritual connection with the world while hiking a mountain range in Montana. I had climbed above timber line and was amongst the rocks of a weathered scree field. Being part rock hound I began to examine a few of the more interesting rocks and notice sea shell fossils within them. The rock on top of this mountain was laid down by an ancient sea that buried and preserved the fossils that had then been uplifted by the collision of continental plates, a process taking millions of years. It felt both unreal and the most real connection I had ever had with the universe.

Productivity and National Novel Writing Month Competition?

Start your typewriters, computers, iPads, pencils, etc. November is the national novel writing month, or NoNaWritMo for short. Each November would be writers attempt to write that novel within a month. The goal is to reach 50,000 words in 30 days. That is 1667 words per day.


The NoNaWritMo competition started in 1999 and only 21 writers competed. The competition has grown exponentially and last years competition welcomed 341,375 participants of which 38,438 finished the 50,000 word goal a 11% rate of success. Published novels derived from the competition include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.

The goal of NoNaWritMo is to just write. Lots of people have an idea for a novel, and if they just had that time to write they would produce a bestseller. This is also the problem with writing that thesis, dissertation, and journal article.

I encounter the dreaded writers block on occasion. It is also difficult to get back in the swing of writing after finishing field season. Writing is a different type of mental activity. This past field season I attempted to just write something everyday. I started an archaeology type novel, after all, I have plenty of good stories and people to base characters on. I also started writing this blog. It is difficult to do research based writing in the field, to much mental activity after a long day. So by writing, writing just anything, I was attempting to keep the mental activity of writing up in the hopes that it would improve and make me more productive in my research based writing.

The extracurricular writing has helped. Although it has been more difficult to keep up with fun writing while out of the field since there are so many manuscripts to write and finally finish. However, I think the idea of writing, and writing just anything, everyday, can help students with writing their term papers, and thesis or dissertations.

In honor of NoNaWritMo I started a writing challenge with students and colleagues. A few of my students and colleagues are a little past due in getting that chapter finished for a thesis, finishing a manuscript, and also finally writing that novel. For our competition, to keep it on a level playing field, I proposed that research base writing would count double. So to reach the 50,000 word goal for November a participant would have to write 25,000 words. Writing can consist of a mix of research and non research writing. The important thing is to just write everyday. My hope is that the participants will produce a few drafts of chapters, manuscripts, and a novel.

My wife and I are expecting our first baby the beginning of this month. Therefore it is easy to challenge my students, if I can write with a newborn in my arm than so can you! We will see how that works out! After writing this blog I can now add 601 words to my count for the day. Take that fellow NoNaWritMo competitors.

Keeping track of NoNaWritMo

To keep track of the competition’s progress, and to also provide extra motivation, I set up an iWorks Numbers spreadsheet within iCloud. Each participant has their on sheet to enter their word count for the day. I set formulas to add up the totals and I have an interacting bar chart to compare each participants progress. With the new iWorks you can collaborate together on the same document. Each participant is allowed to enter their own word count everyday. It is working great so far.