Family, Football & #DadLife: Part One
“Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” – Reed Markum
It was New Year’s Eve 2016. Jen and I were about to hop into 2017 by enjoying a bottle of 1982 Dom Perignon and a bottle of a 1970 Rothschild wine, both gifts from a very close friend of ours, with my wife’s sister and her husband.
We had just recently decided kids weren’t in the cards for us. After eight years of trying and – for various reasons that were out of our control – failing, we booked our first Carribean cruise together and were having serious discussions about downsizing in the very near future. After all, we bought our 5-bedroom house with the idea that there would be kids roaming the halls, making messes everywhere, draining our bank account and depriving us of sleep for 18+ years.
Our vision for our family had come to a close, ending the dream we had been on since we got married. We started talking about kids on our second date, if not our first. We were at peace with it, however, after a long and difficult emotional journey. Continuing to try with the world telling you “no,” even when you thought it had finally said “yes,” seemed like an exercise in futility. We conceded to the world. We were certainly open to adopting someday, but that discussion was for another time.
This New Year’s Eve was the beginning of an era for JeNate – the nickname we gave ourselves very early on in our relationship. It stuck so even our friends refer to us as “JeNate.”
Five days later, we found out exactly what this new era would bring: Jen was pregnant! The excitement! The “what the f@$&!?!?” Then came the feelings of “We’ve been here before, and we know how this ends.” After six miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed Jen, the world seemed to be sending a pretty clear message. But, like every other time, we couldn’t help but believe this was the time.
The next nine months were insane. Because of our history and age, the pregnancy was considered high-risk. That meant a specialist for the entire first trimester. I had to administer shots to my wife daily. Every little cramp or weird feeling was terrifying. Jen was very close to being put on bedrest during her third trimester. It was nine months of being on edge.
I watched my wife get bigger and more uncomfortable. I cannot imagine being nine months pregnant in the sweltering heat of August, but she did it with a smile on her face. I cannot imagine the feeling of tendons painfully stretching and other manners of painful physical changes women endure to have a child. As a man, I imagine I would have immediately put myself on bedrest, but she never even complained. She never whined or waddled, of which she was the most proud in her pregnancy.
I was terrified. I was terrified I was going to be a terrible father. I was terrified I would end up being a bad husband. I was terrified because I had no idea what to do.
I read tons of articles, think pieces and editorials about being a father. It all seemed so unattainable. I shut down at points because I felt so overwhelmed. I had gotten so deep in my own head, I very nearly could have ruined everything.
On Sept. 7, 2017, our little man was eight days past due. The doctors finally convinced us to induce. We arrived at the hospital at 3 a.m. To make a long story short, the hospital had run out of beds for our original 8 p.m. check-in the night before. They rescheduled us…three times. By 4 a.m., it was pitocin time. And then we waited. We waited and slept, slept and waited. Jen certainly slept less than I did. Contractions are not easy, even the little ones, even the early on ones.
Jen is a badass.
Through all of it she never once complained. Even when her epidural “fell out” and she was feeling the full brunt of everything happening to her body, she was reassuringly steely calm.
We were also pretty excited that our little guy was coming on Opening Night for the NFL. It was fitting, really, given our love for football. We had completed our football war room in our basement two weeks prior, just in time to watch Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather on our HD projector with some friends.
Through the afternoon, it was obvious our little dude wasn’t quite ready. As the contractions increased in intensity, the Patriots-Chiefs game started. It was a great distraction. We sat – or lay in Jen’s case – and enjoyed the game. As the game came to end – and the Chiefs shocked everyone by handily dismantling the Patriots – things sped up, and two hours later, just before midnight, he arrived.
He was perfect. All of the obstacles we faced with this pregnancy, and all of the others along the way before, were all worth it for this one moment. We made this little human being. What could possibly be more incredible, humbling, overwhelming and truly amazing than that?
I’ll never forget the feeling that New Year’s Eve. The feeling of moving forward, putting the past behind, starting anew. We had no idea what was ahead of us. We knew we were going to spend more time in the mountains and travel like crazy, maybe even more than before. The funny thing is, the universe had the same plans for us, just with one more traveling buddy.
Now For the Football Part: Re-Draft Leagues & COVID-19
To my fellow league commissioners:
I don’t know about you, but I pray every single night that the 2020 season happens. With players already getting tested and reporting to camps, it seems pretty hopeful for the moment. However, one positive test in a locker room could drop the season like a house of cards. At best, we get through the season with no outbreaks and all is fine. At worst, goodbye season.
In the middle is the hardest part for fantasy redraft leagues. The policies set in place by the NFL could make managing a roster difficult with their current makeups. The COVID IR is certainly necessary, but how do you navigate that in fantasy? I have a few suggestions.
First off, increase your IR spots for all your managers. We currently have two IR slots per team in my home league and will be increasing that number to four or five.
In addition to that, we are planning to increase overall roster spots by a minimum of one per position.
Finally, waivers and trade deadlines. We will be eliminating the trade deadline for this season, as well as possibly the waiver wire. Making sure there are ample ways to acquire players, with as few restrictions as possible, seems to me to be the best way to keep your league happy.
Overall, I would recommend having an open dialogue with your fellow league managers to find out what will work best for your league. You can never go wrong with communication.
To my fellow team managers:
If there weren’t enough to worry about with stats and film, now we have to worry about something that’s almost completely unpredictable. Something that could sink a season faster than the Titanic. So, how do you account for a pandemic when you’re working toward the draft?
I would posit that this becomes an even more important factor than before in your draft considerations. Let me explain.
It’s fairly simple, really. The character guys are the ones we always assume will do the right thing, and this situation is no different. The character guys won’t put themselves in compromising positions; therefore, they won’t put their entire team in one either. We all know there will be guys who are going to put themselves in situations where they could be exposed and potentially expose their teammates and coaching staff. And most of us can pick these guys out fairly easily. We’re football people. We know. We already draft based on these things. I would urge you to take that into account this season when structuring your draft board. It just might win you a league championship.
And last – but certainly not least – a dad joke:
What’s black and white and goes around and around?
A penguin in a revolving door.
That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @jenatejack2017.