Parenting Magazine

Santa Claus Must Die

By Bigdaddycarlos @BigDaddyBlogger

I have a hypnotic effect on toddlers.

It seems that, whenever I encounter any kid younger than 4 or so, they can’t look away. They get a really good look at me and—suddenly—it’s as if I’m the only person in the room.

Baby Momma has seen this transpire enough times to figure out the dynamic at work. An innocent tyke looks at me, sees a smiling fat guy, with a white (mostly, anyway) beard and—Voila! Je suis St. Nick! It just happened to me last night at Babies “R” Us.

Santa Claus Must Die Big Daddy Blogger
Now, however, as we enter the gestational home stretch on the way to parenthood, one thing has been made very clear to me. I must kill the jolly old elf with my bare hands.

Santa. Claus. Must. Die.

Remember my tests, the ones that consumed a big part of my life last week? Well, they found something, and not what I expected or prepared for.

I was prepared to hear that I had minor heart disease. (Well, as minor as something like heart disease can be.) I figured it was time to pay the piper for a life of culinary excess and—though it’s something I’ve been able to leave behind—smoking too much.

It turns out I have something called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It’s a thickening of the heart muscle, in my case along my right ventricle, which makes the heart less flexible and therefore a less-efficient pump. Also, since the muscle is much larger than normal, the coronary arteries are not able to properly supply the tissue with sufficient blood when under stress. This is the cause of my angina.

The surprise was this: it’s congenital; I was born with it.

After hearing the name of the condition, and what it meant, I asked how I got it. In my mind, I was sure I had done this to myself. When my Cardiologist told me it was—in essence—a birth defect, I felt momentarily relieved.

“Well, waddaya know? It wasn’t my fault! That’s one less thing I need to blame myself for.”

It was at this point when I became the subject of one of those classic Hitchcock vertigo shots. One of those where the camera zooms in while it simultaneously gets pulled away. I felt my mouth get instantly dry, then came the copper taste of visceral fear.

“The baby. What if she has it?”

Isn’t it funny how—suddenly—you don’t matter anymore. I took a deep breath.

“Can my daughter get it?”

“Well, sometimes, it can skip a generation,” my doctor said. “but the fact is that there is a very high risk of your having passed it on. Your type of cardiomyopathy is autosomal dominant, and I need to consult with your wife’s OB/GYN on this to make sure they are prepared.”

As fate would have it, Baby Momma was just then at her OB/GYN, and we put the two MDs together over our personal cell phones. As a result, things are now moving quickly. We’re going to see a Perinatologist who will conduct a very detailed sonogram of BGV’s heart to determine if she has markers of the defect. If she does, a Neonatologist will need to be present at the birth to perform an immediate physical examination and in case resuscitative efforts are required. That’s going to happen in about a week and a half or so (the sonogram, not the birth).

Practically speaking, there is nothing that can be done about this except to respond accordingly to the findings of the upcoming medical examinations. We must take whatever steps are prescribed to address whatever there is to deal with. That said, the only confirmed case of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy we have here for the moment is my own. My heart is working very hard to keep my sizable bulk going, and it’s doing it with one ventricle tied behind it’s back, as it were. If I’m do “a Timex” and keep on ticking, I need to lighten the load, permanently.

I had a running start on doing this earlier in the year, but real life intruded. As a result, gaining weight probably saved my life, for once. (More on that to come.)

In the meantime Nicky-baby, I’m coming for you.

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