Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for July, 2008

The Odd Couple

Well, she’s here. In fact, she is lying quietly on my chest as I type.  Robyn Anjali Khaund.  19 inches, 7.5 pounds, 2.5 weeks early and bringing back memories about what you are supposed to do with an infant. It really is like riding a bicycle. And as Cherise saw on our honeymoon when I rode a bike for the first time in 10 years, it’s easy to look pretty clumsy at the very beginning. On the plus side, I’ve only been pooped on once! Our biggest challenge is actually mental.  We are so used to referring to the child in our house as Iris that we keep calling our new child Iris instead of Robyn. Given I spent my entire life getting upset with my mother for constantly referring to me as "Ricky" (her nickname for my brother), I can’t help but think that she is up in heaven laughing hysterically right now with her patented "I told you so". Sorry Mom, you win again. But hey, aren’t they cute?
So where I was borderline clairvoyant with Iris, Robyn has proven Daddy wrong at every turn. With Iris, I knew Cherise was pregnant even when she didn’t think she was. I predicted that she would be right on time or a little later (she was). I knew she’d be a girl.  I predicted the doctor that would do the delivery. With Robyn, I was convinced Cherise wasn’t pregnant, even when the initial test suggested she was. When Cherise was indeed confirmed pregnant, I was convinced the new baby would be a boy (oops).  I predicted she would be on-time or even a little late (hmm, 2.5 weeks early). And I never even met the doctor that delivered the baby before she turned up for the big event. I am hoping this desire to prove daddy doesn’t know what he’s talking about doesn’t extend to the teen years or I am in real trouble.
I was originally thinking we should change Iris’ name to "Batman" to complement the Robyn name, but I may have to go a different route. While it’s really early to make any sort of predictions, I watch the two of them and hear the Odd Couple theme song in my head, starring Iris as Oscar and Robyn as Felix (I love living out sitcoms! I also like to think of Cherise and me as the Jeffersons, though she doesn’t like when I call her "Wee-zee"). By all accounts, Robyn is significantly different than her sister. She weighed in at seven and a half pounds, a good 13 ounces less than her big sister weighed when she was born three years ago. While Iris showed up after her due date, Robyn decided to join us over two weeks ahead of schedule. Where Iris required 50+ hours from initial intense labor to birth, Robyn needed 10. Robyn has the floppy head, while Iris’ had an ultra-strong neck (aka the Woodpecker). And where Iris was loud and proud, Robyn has been quiet and stoic (though she’s picking up the pace). Despite their differences, they hit it off right away and Iris is already enjoying life as a big sister. As we were told a thousands times before, it is a ton more work to deal with two than with one, but there is one thing I am really thankful for: Iris is old enough to grasp the experience and share in it. In fact, from my perspective, the best part of this experience has been to watch it through Iris’ eyes as well as my own. She looks on with a combination of affection and curiosity. She is enjoying the learning experience as much as Cherise and I did the first time (and no doubt picking it up faster than we did). I always tell Iris she is my best friend under four feet tall (Cherise gets the 4+ honors) and she has really acted the part in this past week. She tries to help whenever possible. She is very respectful of Robyn and (usually) understands when we are busy tending to her. But perhaps best of all, she just seems to be a comic relief (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally) that helps the tough moments go by a lot easier and lot more enjoyably. Let’s face it–infants are cute, but they are a little boring. I can’t remember the last time I could describe Iris as boring. It’s hard to believe, but having the second child helps me appreciate the first child even more.  I don’t know much about what the future holds, but I am pretty confident that Iris is going to make this infancy a whole lot more fun than her own.

Welcome Robyn

Robyn Anjali Khaund was born on July 11th, 2008 at 4:34am, two and a half weeks sooner than expected. Iris’ little sister is 19" long and weighs 7.5 pounds. She has spent most of her first day sleeping, eating, and (most notably) not crying.  Mommy and Daddy don’t expect it to last, but we’re enjoying it while we can.
After about nine hours of serious labor (including three hours of a blissful epidural) and thirty minutes of pushing, Robyn made her grand entrance (exit?).  Cherise came out of this extremely healthy and in phenomenal spirits. The smile has yet to leave her face (ditto with Sandy) and we’re glad to say that this round was far more manageable than the last time. Once again, we are truly humbled by the miracle of birth.
The name may sound familiar. Sandy’s father’s name is Robindra (Robin) Khaund while Cherise’s father’s name was Robert, so we felt fortunate to find a name that would honor both of our fathers.
Stay tuned for more pictures, stories, updates, etc. Once again, the Baby Khaund website has a baby to talk about…

When Will Robyn Arrive?

Robyn is on her way!  I’ve had contractions off and on already –  a few nights last week and this week, and apparently they are somewhat productive, as I’m already 1cm dilated and Robyn is head down and as low as she can possibly get before labor (-1 position).  Wow!  So different than last pregnancy, where I felt nothing til my due date and I think it took about 24hrs of labor to get this far.  No prediction on when exactly Robyn will decide to be born, but we’re in the safe zone for it to be any time now, so we’re getting ready.
Iris buckled “Robyn” the little red stuffed animal bird into the infant car seat, and rocks her and carries her around.  Iris has been quite the big girl lately – she:
• potty trained with the incentives of cool underwear and Elmo stickers,
• was a star at her 1st dentist appointment at the “Snoopy dentist” where she sat still enough for them to do a full cleaning,
• has her graduation certificate from soccer class and is quite the little kicker now, pretending that she is “coach Ricardo”,
• is addicted to the library and wants to check out a million books each time.  Her favorites are anything by Doreen Cronin including Click Clack Moo, any of the Frog and Toad books, the If you Give a Pig a Pancake series, and a gorgeous book we accidentally discovered about India called Elephant Dance,
• loves legos including building towers, houses, chairs and airplanes with uncle Sean and Christina,
• has “jobs” now like getting the newspaper each morning,
• makes us read the comics to her each morning at breakfast, especially Baby Blues and Garfield,
• sings entire songs with daddy that even mommy can’t remember, like Elton John’s “Your Song” and the Turtles’ “Happy Together”,
• and of course, can have a tantrum as big as any 2yr old, prompting mommy to attempt to teach her things from prenatal yoga like the “flower” and “lion” to calm herself down.
So, Robyn, we can’t wait to meet you!

The Legacy of Tim Russert

A few weeks ago, the world suffered a great loss when Tim Russert passed away. While I wouldn’t describe myself as an ultra-political person, I’ve always admired Russert. He had this phenomenal ability to combine a intelligent, disciplined, non-partisan interviewing style with a down-to-earth genuine demeanor that would make you think he could’ve been the guy down the street. He lacked pretension and never stooped to the level of putting on an obnoxious act the way the majority of political pundits have done in order to generate higher ratings (O’Reilly & Coulter, I am looking at you). I recall the first "Meet The Press" episode I saw with Russert. He managed to sneak in a shout-out for his beloved Buffalo Bills in the middle of the telecast and I thought "What? Is he for real?" only to watch him pepper his subject with a litany of questions that brought out a healthy debate and useful information–something you just don’t see much any more in the era of the "liberal media bias" and the "conservative talk radio". He had guts (I love how he asked Dick Cheney if he brought a shotgun with him to the interview) and integrity. He was intellectual without coming off as an intellectual because, to quote a goofy cliche, he "kept it real". He never separated his TV persona from his true persona. He was proud of who he was and that was so refreshing. He was the guy that interviewed some of the most important people in the world and yet still he would talk with a child-like glee about going to an Orioles game, especially with his son (if you don’t think I am taking Iris & Robyn to Camden Yards someday, you are insane–and I don’t care of they don’t like baseball) and acted like a teenager when he talked in awe of Bruce Springsteen. In this election year, we needed Russert more than ever.

As I grew to be a Russert fan, one thing intrigued me. How did someone like that stay so humble and sincere? As it turns out, it was very simple. Tim Russert was a product of his upbringing and he never once failed to recognize that or share it. He wrote books about it. He constantly referred to it in interviews. It was specifically an episode of "The Daily Show" in 2004 in which he was promoting his book about his father that I first realized this. Of course, that episode aired over a year before Iris was born and I thought "isn’t that sweet?" It wasn’t until they re-aired part of that interview after his passing that it all came rushing back to me with a much stronger impact. It’s funny how things that barely affected me before being a parent now shake me to my core…
Inspired by that clip, I picked up a copy of "Wisdom of our Fathers", the book he published as a response to the many letters he received from his first book "Big Russ and Me", which was about his relationship with his father. What I realized is that beyond the interviews with presidential hopefuls and heads of state and beyond the fame and fortune of network television lived a man who truly cherished being a father and being a son. This book seemed more like pleasure than work to author, as if he was sitting on something special and was excited to share them with the world. As a father, I can’t recommend a book more. I couldn’t get through 20 pages without breaking down in tears, something that has happened with a book only once before. The stories were touching, but it went beyond that. Perhaps it was knowing the sad tragedy of a good man being taken too soon. Perhaps it was knowing that he’d never have the opportunity to extend this wonderful set of values a generation further with grandchildren. Perhaps it was seeing the similarities between the two of us and knowing we are a rare breed. Perhaps it was knowing that his wonderful writing style and unabashed appreciation of the wonders of fatherhood put this blog to shame (just when I was starting to think I was getting good at this writing thing). Or perhaps it was knowing that this fraternity known as fatherhood lost one of its true role models. In this world, we rarely revere fathers in a public forum. They’re not on currency. They don’t get the bug bucks and magazine covers. Heck, in some ways, fathers don’t even get the appreciation that mothers get (and we know how underappreciated they are). We love the legend of the "Working Mother", but no one talks about the "Working Father". In turn, we excuse fathers that shirk their responsibilities to their childen–and I don’t just refer to deadbeat dads. They are the constant punchlines on sitcoms and even the "successful" ones are disappointments.  I remember reading Jack Welch (former CEO of GE and someone often considered one of the greatest business leaders of our generation) all but admitting that he was a crappy father in his autobiography. Yet the world reveres this man. Apparently, it seems all is forgiven if you can muster a $300 billion market cap. I remember thinking "is this what it takes to be professionally successful?" The answer is no. The world needs more Tim Russerts. Someone who achieves great success, but never forgets to "pay it forward". Someone who recognizes the obligation of anyone who has a great father is to be a great father, regardless of your career success. He carried the mantle of fatherhood and waved the flag for anyone and everyone to see. There’s a quote from Russert in the book that was particularly touching in light of the recent events. "When my life is over, I know that the most important thing I’ll be judged on is what kind of father I was." Having seen his Luke Russert and his eulogy for his father, there’s no doubt in my mind that Tim Russert left this earth proud of what he accomplished.
I suppose I write this as a reminder to myself as anything else. The pursuits of paternal success and professional success are not mutually exclusive and I don’t dismiss what I want to achieve in my professional career as being unimportant or inconsequential in light of my aspirations as a father. Quite the opposite, I hope that what I achieve serves as some compass of ambition and desire to affect the world and the people around you that my children will use to follow their own dreams–but never at the expense of being there for the kids. In this world of disparate concepts of family values, Tim Russert was a shining example of the impact of the most wonderful family value–love–and its ability to persist across generations, all the while staying true as a shining example of being the best in your field. Thank you Tim. Your interview style and down-to-earth approach will be missed, but your work on behalf of fathers everywhere will live on in your books, your son, and those like me who were profoundly affected by the wisdom of your eternal message.

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