Third Trimester

Man, oh man, we are in the third trimester.

I just read a few of my older posts, back from when we were trying to get pregnant, and not having an easy go of it. Back then, I really felt like we’d never get to here, and now here we are! Last Thursday marked day one of our 27th week.

Our baby now opens its eyes, can hear sounds, and hiccups (according to various internet sources). I was able to feel it through Julie’s belly several weeks ago, but get this, yesterday I SAW it move. That kid has some guns! Julie was just sitting there, and said, “You have to check this out!”. I did, and from accross the room, was totally able to see the side of her belly bulge out and go back in. Very Ridley Scott, but in a good way.

Being pregnant is fun and awesome and terrifying. I’ve wanted to be a dad for a long time, but I am also aware that the full experience of having kids can’t be explained in a conversation or a book. I am always amazed at friends who have become parents, and what effective people they have to become to rise to the occasion that parenthood presents. I’ve often wondered how they do it all. I guess I am about to find out.

It’s a little bit weird being the dad half of this equation in our culture. It used to be that expectant fathers were supposed to continue as normal, until the day the baby arrived. Then, they were supposed to sit in the pub and wait for the call to find out if it was a girl or a boy. At that point, they were supposed to hand out cigars. That’s the story anyway. I’m not sure if it was ever really just like that, but it isn’t like that now.

Men these days are supposed to take an active role. We’re supposed to be better partners in parenting. We attend prenatal courses, and show support, and are present to help at the birth. Again, that’s the story, but is it really like that, and if so, what is that like?

What does it mean to take an active role? How do I show support? I’ll agree that drinking at the pub and handing out cigars doesn’t really enhance the experience of my family. It doesn’t really help my spouse nor my child, but at least that’s a role that’s definable.

I have a very strong desire to be a good dad, and I am really excited about the coming of this child and I feel I am and should be a part of the pregnancy, but just what I am supposed to do is frequently lost on me. I find myself inventing things. For example:

  1. The first thing that occurred to me after Julie told me we were having a baby was, and I am not kidding – I said this out loud: “I have to vacuum!”. At the time it was true. Our carpet was filthy. I didn’t like the idea of a baby crawling around on that. Let alone that we had plenty of time to clean up, and have in fact moved since then.
  2. I have changed my handwriting. I think I am getting this one from my dad. He didn’t change his handwriting, but his writing is very elegant and legible. Mine never really was. I think for lack of something else to focus on, my brain decided that this was imperative to do before my kid arrived. While this might seem futile, and I don’t think it’s actually enhanced the experience of my family, I am happy to report it worked. My scrawl used to consist of crude block letters, all capitals, drawn from the bottom up. I now have perfected a cursive script that is legible, and actually takes me less time to write.
  3. As I mentioned in my last post, I recaulked the tub.
  4. I’ve also been filling in more domestic roles lately. I do most of the cooking and the cleaning these days, as Julie is, at 27 weeks, much less energetic and mobile than usual. Much to my surprise, I’ve been finding I really enjoy that, particularly cooking. I’ve been cutting back hours at the office, which hasn’t been great for the pocketbook, but when chores like those aren’t done late at night, after working a day that’s extended well past the standard 8 hours, I’m finding they can be very enjoyable.
  5. I’ve gone to every doctor and specialist appointment with Julie, except for one (we double booked before consulting with eachother). I don’t have much to add to the conversation usually, but Julie says she appreciates me being there.

And maybe that’s “showing support” and “taking an active role”. Apparently that’s how I am defining it. That works for me just fine, and so far as I can tell, Julie thinks I’m doing alright. I frequently say “we’re pregnant”, and that’s how I like to think of it.

Still, there are times when it’s really apparent that I am not pregnant. I was the one who coordinated getting into our prenatal classes, for example, (at an outfit called Mothering Touch – perhaps this was a clue). I entered my information on a web form, and they called me back the next day. The person who called was flummoxed by the fact she was dealing with a me, a male, to set up the course. The first thing she did was to ask to speak to “Mom”. I was on my cel at work, so I told her I could give her another number if I had to. She was willing to let me tell her when our baby was due and what course dates would work for us, and it all worked out fine, but but it was apparent in that moment what was expected of me, and it wasn’t to have a role in this part of the pregnancy.

And that’s the weird thing I am finding in the experience of expectant fatherhood in this day and age. There’s a desire and a hope in this culture that men will be more active as parents, but the expectation is that they probably won’t. There isn’t a defined role for us to play – it’s a choice at every turn. There’s also biology at play here – Julie is very definably pregnant right now. I have to opt in to identify as pregnant. Once I do, I get to define that role as I please (with some help from the other half of this equation).

I can remember wanting for us to be pregnant, and thinking I’d blog about every detail, but I find myself a little short on details. I’m kind of making them up as I go along, and they don’t seem exciting enough to blog about. Seeing the baby move, that was a remarkable detail. Making a casserole last night, not so much. That said, it was mighty yummy!

How to Recaulk a Tub

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One thing I keep on meaning to make an entry about one of these days is the current mindset of this expectant father. The theme is something like this – “I know I need to do something, but I don’t know what”.

Well, I’ve been finding myself motivated to do stuff – all sorts of stuff, and once I get it in my head, it seems really important I get it done now, lest I be a bad, bad father. The other day, that thing was recaulking the tub. As you’ll see in the pictures, though it really was no place for an infant before the recaulking.

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I should point out that the following documentation is based on instructions I found here

What You’ll Need:

  1. Utility knife with regular blades and hook-shaped blades
  2. Vacuum Cleaner with Crevice Tool
  3. Silicone Remover
  4. Isopropyl Alcohol
  5. Masking Tape
  6. Caulk
  7. Caulking Gun
  8. Paper Towel

Step 1 – Buy a Property with a Really Gross Tub

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This part is harder than it might seem. Not all properties will have a tub of the required disgustingness to really make you feel good about doing this job. If you get a place with a tub that is only mildly disconcerting, for example, you endanger yourself to the risk of never getting around to it. My standards are so low, we managed to live here for 5 months before I motivated myself to get this done.

Step 2 – Remove the Old Caulk with a Utility Knife

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I found a few techniques that worked well in different spots. In most spots, I could carve out a V shaped groove and just whittle it out along the seam.

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Along the edge of the tub, there was frequently thin film of caulk on the tub. In those cases, scraping at it with the edge of the utility knife blade flat on the surface worked well to remove it.

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In other spots, the old caulk had gotten very hard with age. (Ahem.) In those places, this hook shaped knife was helpful in loosening it off, and then pulling it out. Otherwise, it had a tendency to get pushed in further.

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When I was done, the edge looked messy, but void. There was just a big dark gap between the tile and the tub.

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Step 3 – Clean Up The Old Caulk Bits

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After going at it with a knife, there was a satisfying amount of grody old bits in the tub. They’ll just get in the way for the next few steps though. I used a vacuum cleaner to remove them, and then with the crevice tool attachment on, went at the join. There were a lot of bits in there that the vacuum got out that I don’t think could have been removed otherwise.

Step 4 – Use Silicon Remover

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I bought Dap Silicone-Be-Gone at Home Depot. It worked well to get the little filmy bits off that I couldn’t with the knife. The jar comes with a brush, and you basically just brush it on, leave it for a couple of hours, and then clean it all off with soap and water.

I think it is important to clean it off really well – this stuff is meant to dissolve silicone, and after it’s cleaned off, that’s exactly what is re-applied!

Step 5 – Clean the Edge Thouroughly

After removing the silicone remover, I washed the tub with comet scouring powder, and finally with isopropyl alcohol, just to be sure the surfaces were free of any residue.

Step 6 – Mask The Join

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Using painter’s tape, mask off on area about 1/4 inch away from the edge on both sides – the tub and the the tile. I rolled my eyes when I read about this step, thinking that I could lay a bead of new caulk down without making a mess, but found that to be completely untrue. Whoever did this job before didn’t use masking tape, and it showed. Filmy bits of silicone were everywhere. Masking prevents that entirely.

Step 7 – Fill the Tub with Water

Water is heavy, and the tub is flexible. Filling the tub with water will increase the size of the gap, and filling with it at it’s maximum size will prevent pulling on the caulk (ahem) later.

Step 8 – Apply the New Caulk

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I used GE Silicone II Kitchen and Bath in White. Make sure to look at the colour when you buy it. I didn’t – I bought clear and had to go back and exchange it. I also bought the gun, and would recommend getting the better model instead of the cheaper one. I’ve used cheap ones in the past, and trust me, it’s worth the $2-$5 upgrade.

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The nozzle should be cut at a 45 degree angle. After the nozzle is cut, poke the membrane in the tube with the poker on the caulking gun (mine is on the handle).

There is no easy way to tell you how to caulk the tub without making a mess – I’ll just warn you that it is a messy business and give you these tips:

  • have paper towel handy. It will help you to clean the tip of the tube after you are done, and any spot you might dribble while going through this process.
  • with the slanted nozzle cut against the tub, gently squeeze the trigger and move the gun along, with the nozzle pointing reverse to the movement of the gun
  • if you see you’ve left a gap, just keep moving in a long smooth motion. You can fix it later, but stopping to mess around mid-stream will apply the caulk more unevenly than going back now.
  • you can always lay down a second pass – don’t worry if you don’t lay as much as you’d like on the first one. It’s better to err on the side of not enough on the first pass.

Step 9 – Clean the Edge with a Wet Fingertip

I think the wetting is supposed to keep the silicone from soaking into your skin. I’ll be honest, by the time I was done, I don’t think it made much of a difference.

Having just applied a bead of caulk into the gap, now you’ll want to smooth that edge out and press the new caulk down to fill that gap more by running your finger along it. This is where the masking tape shows it’s usefulness – if you find you have excess, it can be squeezed onto the tape to be removed later.

Step 10 – Remove the Masking Tape

Wait about 15 minutes to let the caulk set partway, then remove the tape. Be sure to pause to admire your beautiful work!

The caulk should be tack-free in 3 hours, but isn’t fully cured and shouldn’t be used as a shower or bath until 24 hours has passed.


In my tub I went from this:

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To this:

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This was gratifying, but you might note the paint peeling off of the tile where I cleaned up the edge. I know what you are thinking – paint on tile? That’s crazy! It might be, but that’s how it was when we bought the place. I’m was too lazy to replace the tile, so I just laid another coat of paint on top. That’s another story, but if you are looking for paint to apply to tile, it was recommended I use Melamine paint, and I did, and it seems to have worked well. Melamine is actually a type of plastic. It’s oil based and therefore stinky, but it’s very, very sticky, and was a lot easier than replacing the tile!