Yeah.  38.  An obviously blind young woman who does know me actually thought I was 30.  I asked her if she really didn't see all my gray hair.

I'm hoping this child keeps me young.  I certainly don't feel 38.  In fact I do feel 30.

Is it clean living?  I don't know.  I spent a few years in my twenties abusing my body in so many ways.  It can't be "clean living." 

My body is like a roller coaster.  I've been a whopping 215lbs and then in a short three months dropped to a cut 175.  Within six months I'm back at a very puffy but strong 195, then skinny and a little soft and 180 pounds.  Why? Who knows.  Lately I've been sporting the slight pooch.  I'm back to working on it, kettlebell in hand, but it just happens.

So, it's certainly not anything to do with how I treat my body.

I would also venture a guess that my youthfulness has nothing to do with what I eat.  I do have a fairly firm rule that we only eat real food.  Nothing processed with stuff we can't pronounce.  Which is good.  But I can sum up my food philosophy in one fattening word:  butter.

So, it's not diet that keeps me perpetually 30.

I'm a bit of an insomniac, although that's working with the little one.

I don't smoke, so there's that.

I don't drink a lot and have not since I was about 22.  So that's good.

I don't drive but once every couple months, so there goes stress from road rage... but I do have to navigate the streets of the most stressful city in the country, so that might be even.

Maybe it's that I'm still just a kid.  I'm the oldest of three kids, but I maybe the youngest soul.

My occupation is to create plays. The word "play" is an integral part of what I do.  I play for a living.  So that must have something to do with it.

I can only hope that it lasts.  I can only hope that I can keep my youthful exuberance until he goes off to college.

And I have to keep working on other things, too...  I have to keep the knees healthy so I can get into a squat to catch for him as his Uncle Justin teaches him how to pitch.  I have to keep my back strong I can teach him how to post up and track rebounds.  I have to keep my heart healthy so I can keep up with him when Uncle Adam has him cross courting tennis balls at me.

And I have to keep myself from settling into the "adult" role too much, so I can dream with him, imagine with him and be open to play whenever the urge grabs us.

I only hope when I'm almost 56 and he goes off to college that I might look, and feel, around 45.

There's something to be said for having kids early.  You get to grow up with them. But having them later has it's blessings, too.  We feel ready, secure and surprisingly youthful.

lesson: Keep your eyes and ears open

There are a lot of things I want to teach my boy.  This is of them.  Keep your eyes and ears open!

I walked across Seventh Ave today, sans headphones.  I try not to wear them on my commute, unless I'm trying to drown something out.  I was privy to the best train conductor in the city on the V train today who is as entertaining as he is informative.  It's a treat to get on his train, so I was feeling particularly upbeat.

As I'm cruising across the street, taking it in, carrying my weekly latte (the coffee here at Le Showtime is horrid...) I step off the curb and I notice a lovely young woman so engrossed in her text-ing that she is completely oblivious to everything happening around her; traffic, other pedestrians zipping around her, a firetruck turning the corner... everything.

Nothing is so important.  No conversation is that important.

If it is... STOP.  Have the conversation.  Then move on.

The bubble of oblivion she'd created around herself cut her off from any interaction with another human being.

She probably got to work and immediately slipped into her cubicle and continued texting or im'd her bff about how she just couldn't seem to meet the right guy  OMG.  LMAO...  LOL.

Hello!  Look up!  He might be right in front of you!

I find myself running into friends on the street all the time.  We notice each other from up the street because we're active participants in the moment we're in. 

I've also heard from friends who say, "I was just there!  Why didn't I see you?"

"Were you on the phone/texting/im-ing?"


"That would be why."

So keep your eyes and ears open.

One week

I have been a father for one week. 

It seems like longer.  Seems like I've been doing it all my life.  Holding him is one of the great joys of my life.  He opened his eyes within the first hour, really opened his eyes and took in the world.  I'm amazed at how alert he is already. 

We are in the middle of a little experiment.  Since Angie is on maternity leave and her mother is here to help out, I went right back to work this week.  We thought it would be helpful for me to know what she's going to go through when she goes back to work and I stay at home with him.  My boss told me it was quite enlightened of us. 

Something odd happened this morning on the way to work.  As I walked to work today I realized how much I enjoy mornings in New York.  I stopped and grabbed a coffee, walking with the early morning work crowd on this crisp sun soaked spring morning and wondered how my days would soon change.  No more solo walks through midtown, skyscrapers towering over me.  Soon it will be me and a little one, bottle feedings, into the stroller and maybe heading to a cafe to write while he sleeps in his carrier.  All very suburban in our little enclave in Queens.  It's going to be a big change.  This little role reversal will make me appreciate these mornings but having had them, I can't wait to start spending my mornings with my little man. 

Day Four

What have we learned so far?

Labor and Delivery:  Stay flexible.  No matter what your birth plan, it's not going to matter.  When we walked in, water broken and no contractions, we expected to just come in and follow the birth plan.


We don't want to be tethered to the machines.  They tethered her to the machines. 

Can we not be tied to an IV the entire time?  Nope.  You're hooked to the IV and we're going to spill some blood on you when we do it.  Don't worry, it'll be yours.

We'd like our doctor there.  Sorry - she's not on call this evening and the doctor from the practice who is on call will never show up.

Do you have all our paperwork?  Nope.  He's come three weeks early - we're going to have to do all the blood tests again and while you're going through active labor and having contractions, we'll be asking you questions about your insurance.

Do we go through the phases of labor?  No.  Water breaks and straight to active rolling contractions.  Bummer.

No epi?  Not after four painful hours of laboring.  GIVE US THE EPI!

Trying not to vacuum?  No, he needs some help coming out.  He'll only be a cone head for a couple days.

What DID go as planned? 

No C-section.  Check.

Perfectly healthy and beautiful baby?  Check.

Healthy mother? Check.

In the end that's all that matters.  They're both healthy and he's active, alert and perfectly fantastic.

We've been amazed that as early as 8 hours old he was alert, eyes open and taking in the world.  He rolled over on his side by day three. 

We've also learned that Angie seems to be able to breast feed, which is a huge feat.  The two of them are champs at it. 

Formula as a supplement is also not a defeat.  It can lead to a restful night. 

And again, we've learned that people are so generous.  From Angie's employer, Hunter College, to my employer, Merlin Temps and Showtime, they've been fantastic.  Our neighbors who threw their own celebration... Not that they need a reason, but they made this one, and they have given us so much.  Our parents and families.  Our friends.  We can't wait for him to meet you all.

I've also learned that becoming a parent is intense.  I watched with amazement as my mother in-law held her first grandchild.  I listened as my mother gave me quick advice and recounted the story of my own birth, comparing notes with my mother in-law.  I spoke to my father and said, "I can't stop looking at him."   He just replied, "I know."   And the connection hit me.  The flowing stream that runs from my grandparents to my parents to me and now to my son.  How Angie's stream connected with mine and we can reach back through family stories of how we got here and can almost see where we are going.  I saw myself sitting with this beautiful child and the image of my father sitting with me came to me, as did the image of my grandfather sitting with my father, the story of him ice skating outside the window of the hospital in Holland waving to my grandmother and my newborn father - his own private celebration. 

There is a thread, a common humanity that connects us all and I've always known it.  Until this moment, I've never really felt it.  I'm looking into this little boys eyes and seeing my own and I've learned that it's a powerful thing.

Liam Christopher VanDijk

Thirty nine hours ago I woke up and went to work. 

It was a fairly normal day and I made a call to my wife to propose we have our annual birthday bash a little early.  We’ve always celebrated our birthdays together since they are a day apart.  We knew this year’s celebration would be tough with the wee one due April 7, a mere week from our birthdays. 

I should mention that our favorite place, the place we have dreams about, is BLT Steak.  Pop-overs and Porterhouses (or one Porterhouse shared…)

Now, when you go into labor there are things they ask you not to eat: red meat, cheese, tomatoes and citrus…  too hard to digest or too acidic.   So avoid them.

So I ask my wife if she wants to head to BLT Steak after work and have our little celebration early.  We waddle down to 57th Street and walk in, thinking we’d just sit at the bar. 

It’s packed.  We can get a table at 9.

I ask her what she thinks and she looks at me and says, “I just don’t think I’ll feel up to it tomorrow.” 

That’s called foreshadowing.

We waste some time in Borders and head to dinner at 9 pm. 

We relish our pop-overs with butter and sea salt.  I want to bathe in the duck liver mousse with port wine jelly… my wife not so big a fan of the duck liver.  No biggie, more for me…  We are dazzled by the hen of the woods mushrooms.  And of course, we slowly savor the perfectly crusted, melt in your mouth Porterhouse with a Gorgonzola cream sauce.  Of which we have leftovers that I’ll attack shortly.

As we look over desserts some patrons next to us notice Angie’s gigantic belly. 

“Order the pineapple.  It induces labor.” 

We all laugh. 

We take the subway home, pleased that we’ve had our last hurrah before becoming parents. 

We get home and I sift through the mail and pull out the 2010 Census.  “I’ll wait for him to be born before I fill this out.  Then I can put his date of birth on here.”

15 minutes later Angie jumps up off the couch.  She bee-lines toward the door. 



“You have to throw up?”


She looks suddenly flushed and then slips into the bathroom. 

“Oh no.”

She’s standing in a puddle of clear water. 

“Oh God.”

And it just kept coming.

We call the doctor and are told we should go to the hospital. 

It’s 11:45 pm.

We take our time, shower, grab our already packed bags and head out, ready for the long night.

She's having no contractions when we get to the hospital.  Within moments she's in full active labor with heavy consistent rolling contractions.

Four hours later she finally asks for an epidural.

Things calm down until around 8:30 when I pull out my trusty workhorse, the Canon G9... and it breaks.  Lens Error... won't even turn on.  (Insert expletive here.)

A quick run to Duane Reade for a disposable is a quick patch.

At 10:51, after much pushing and much hard work, on St. Paddy's day,  Liam Christopher VanDijk takes his first breath and is welcomed into the world three weeks earlier than expected.

21 inches, 7lbs 11 ounces.  (I previously wrote 10 lbs 11oz.  That would make him a giant. Sorry.  Blame it on my sleep deprived brain.)

Mother and child are doing fine.

Evidence is below... shot with the Canon PowerShot I bought for Angie... at 3:30 when we were moved to postpartum and the boy was being bathed and checked and the wife was napping.  Thank you Best Buy.

39 hours later, Dad is sitting with a celebratory shot and ready to finally get some sleep.


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