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09:26:23 - 2000-11-07

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS REAL LIFE FRIENDS?

Wow.

You guys are just TOO SWEET.

After about 12 minutes of sleep last night, I stumbled to the computer to write a column for this week. First, I decided to check my message board and email for any messages.

And that's when I found Andy Pooh. My son's first diary.

...Okay ... those four words don't set well with me ... "My son's first diary". It's okay for Pop to have a diary, because I'm pretty secure in my sexuality. I dunno if I want him having a diary just yet. A journal...sure. A diary...I dunno.

Anyway...if you haven't checked it out yet, do so. I got a little teary-eyed by the concept alone. Then while reading some of the entries there, I've gotta confess ... you guys made this old man choke up a bit.

...It could have something to do with the fact that I've had a total of about four hours of sleep in the last several days. But these days I'm an emotional train wreck anyway. I've got the hormones of a 12-year-old girl with a broken heart.

But reading those entries that obviously came from y'all's hearts ... man... a guy can't ask for better friends.

Thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart, especially Blarrg who came up with the concept. When the wife is able to saunter out to the computer room, I'm going to sit her down and show her the site. She's EXTREMELY emotional these days. She makes me look like the Great Santini of cold, heartless bastards compared to her.

Even those that didn't participate in the secret diary, but sent emails and left messages ... my God...you're all secure in my heart. It's people like you that encourage me to get up before dawn every day and keep this journal afloat.

...I guess I SHOULD be kicking your asses, huh?....

LEMME SLEEP, YOU HORRIBLE PEOPLE!!!

Not much news on the Andy front ... he's finally figured out the whole breast feeding scenario and now he can't get enough of that boobie stuff. Even if he's not hungry, he just wants his face near the nipple. This may be cause for a few awkward moments at church this Sunday ...

Mama's happy because her milk finally came in full force. So the whole household has breathed a sigh of relief.

Maggie has adjusted to the whole scene as well. She lays on the floor near wherever Susie and Andrew may be and "protects" them as much as an 11-year-old arthritic dog can protect.

Since I'm kinda in a hurry right now, I thought I'd leave you with the rough draft of my first post-birth column. It's not heartwarming by any means...it's just your typical Uncle Bob running on fumes. Hope you enjoy or at least tolerate.

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There are no words to describe the feeling of becoming a new father for the first time, so I will just use the word "persnickety". Not because it describes the whole process, but I just like the sound of the word. Persnickety. "How was the birth?" "Oh...you know...pretty persnickety..."

On November 2nd, my wife brought a healthy 7 lb., 9 oz., 21 inch long bundle of joy into our lives. After months of negotiating, we decided to go with her idea of naming him Andrew. My idea of naming the child in honor of the greatest professional wrestler of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, was basically the equivalent of flogging a dead horse from the start. Even with bribes of candy and beef jerky, my wife wouldn't budge on the name decision. This kid is going to really resent her when he gets to be a teenager and finds out that his first name could have been Stone Cold. I can just sense his disappointment already.

This little boy is now my pride and joy. And even though fatherhood once put the fear of God in me like a Chevy Chase film festival, I have taken to it like a fat guy to a pizza buffet.

That said, now that the boy is all of five days old, I think I can go ahead and start shelling out parental advice for brand new fathers. These tips should get any father through the first four or five days of birth like an old pro. Or, if you weren't fortunate enough to marry a woman as resilient as I have, they might send you straight to divorce court. It's all in how you play your cards, bucko.

Do not agree to cut the umbilical cord: They will NOT deduct any money from your final bill. Trust me, I asked. The simple fact is, you have no idea how tough that umbilical cord may be to cut. If you're an inexperienced umbilical cord cutter, you could be down there all night, sawing away. It could be like cutting a phone cable line or it could be like cutting hair. There's no telling. The doctor's not going to tell you what to expect. He wants to see you make a fool of yourself. It's his only joy in the whole procedure. Don't give him the satisfaction of turning the beautiful moment into a Lucy skit. When he asks if you'd like to cut the cord, simply say "That's your job, Hoss", fold your arms and then critique his methods when it comes time.

Buy your wife something nice to give her after the birth: I read this in a book and it makes sense. Your wife just endured the greatest pain she's ever experienced short of watching the new "Charlie's Angels" movie sober. She deserves something nice to commemorate the blessed day. Something along the lines of a gift certificate for a lifetime of oil changes for her car. Or even some snow tires. Possibly a new lawn mower. Think big. Don't scrimp. New mothers love the smell of video rental coupons. My wife pretended to anyway.

No matter how funny you think it may be, don't tell your wife that the baby is ugly: Let's call a spade a spade here...all babies (with the sole exception of my son) are born ugly. Their heads are misshapen, their skin is blotchy and covered in acne and many of them look like human frogs or "humanogs" as they're called in the animal kingdom. But whatever you do, as your wife is holding your newborn to her chest and crying, DON'T say "Did you get the license plate of the truck that hit this kid?" or "Honey...did you happen to sleep with the Elephant Man nine months ago?" Women are pretty emotional at this point and aren't up for personal attacks on the child she just spent 15 hours pushing out of her body.

Drink plenty of fluids: You're going to be in the hospital a while. Bring a cooler full of Budweiser. It's the king of beers and you should make friends pretty quickly with the other expectant fathers on the floor.

During the final minutes of labor, go ahead and turn off the ESPN: Women find it personally insulting when you're jumping out of a chair and screaming "War Eagle!" while they're crowning.

If you thought getting the dog neutered was bad ... : You may want to hop a plane to Europe if you plan on circumsizing a boy. After Andy's operation, he gave me the evil eye for three days straight. And I swear to you (you can ask the wife...if she's turned the ringer back on the phone), when I asked Andy how it went, he curled back all his tiny fingers into a fist...except one.

That's when I knew it was my boy.

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