The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘baby’

The Little Bus, With the Little Passenger

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog then you are aware that my wife and I have a kiddo, and he was born about 7 weeks early. This has led to my wife and I being quite interested in all things preterm (we’re part of a select club you know).

Recently, an article in the journal Science talked about some findings … given that I’m not brainy or enthused enough to read every Science journal (a more ambitious and time-well-utilized version of myself would) … I read a dumbed down article about it from the New York Times.

It ended with this paragraph,

It is almost as though the molecular message being sent by RNA “is a little bus that travels back and forth and is letting Mom know what’s going on,” Dr. Cheng said.  “I bet you they’re going to find that the mother’s going to respond. There’s a conversation going on. That’s what’s cool.”

(RNA is what is looked at by this blood test.)

***

Hi, I’m Gary. I drive the bus that a mother and fetus use to talk to each other and it’s amazing and incredible and whatever, but guys. It is also disgusting.

You know how pregnant women have their ‘water.’ And when it’s go time the water breaks and oh a miracle and blah blah?

You know that water is partially baby urine, right? And that sick baby is drinking that urine?

Do you know what it’s like communicating with a urine drinker? I’LL TELL YOU! IT’S GROSS. Their breath is just … weird. And they have this distinct, ‘as soon as this conversation is over … I’m gonna drink more urine’ look on their faces. It’s weird.

And those little guys are INTENSE. Their hearts beat like … I don’t know, 160 beats per minute? Imagine the tiniest person you know on crack, drinking urine. That’s a baby. ‘Hey look man, I just discovered this, check it out!’ Then the baby goes and like strangles itself with the umbilical cord for a while, all the while staring right at me. Blech. It’s terrifying.

And you know who I haven’t even mentioned yet? The mother. My God the mother. ‘Oh I’m a dad and my wife is more emotional these days and wah wah wah.’ OH YEAH, PAL!? TRY DRIVING A BUS INSIDE SOMEONE WHOSE HORMONES LIKE JUST TOOK LSD AND HEADED TO THE TOWN CARNIVAL.

Seriously. It’s like, you show up and say, ‘hey, baby says maybe 7 weeks to go and it’s digging all the kale you’ve been eating lately, but also it wants you to eat ice cream out of a plastic bag.’ And the mom is like, ‘my little darling angel’ all cooing with love and then the mom thinks about all the plastic garbage floating in the ocean and she starts crying and then the mom thinks about how salty her tears are and wants McDonald’s fries and then she’s SO, SO ANGRY AND I DON’T KNOW WHY.

So you get the message from the mom which is … you know, mixed, and you take it back to old urine mouth.

It’s just.

I don’t know man.

I wish one of the white blood cells would hang out with me sometime, those guys are cool.

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Month 9 or Crawlington Station

Month 9 started off with a bang. The kiddo, wife and I headed to a pediatric urgent care to see what he had going on. He had a fever which drugs managed to keep from going up, but it was still there. And, in case you don’t know, babies can run higher fevers than adults. Their little bodies can really cook.

Urgent care took a while, but the news came back as positive – he’s got a fever, keep an eye on those ears for a possible ear infection, and he doesn’t have the flu. We said okie done, and headed on home.

When we got home my wife fed him, he yakked it all up which was unusual .. but then he seemed ok. The day continues, he manages to eat just fine. And then we hit bedtime … Before bed he definitely had a high fever, we had waited on drugs till right before bed so he would be able to get a good chunk of sleep. Unfortunately, his little oven body does not do well with food. It seemed like when he had a very high fever whatever food went in would come right back out. He ate dinner from dear old mom, returned it immediately to the sender and then I hung out with him while he was just in a diaper. His poor little self was tired, cuddly, and full of woes.

Eventually I got him re-prepped for bed and he went down ok.

Around 11pm or midnight he woke up crying and my wife went to feed him and I think we were maybe able to give more drugs at that point. Going in was a mild case of heartbreaking. Normally on the changing pad he is full of life and energy but his poor, dehydrated little sick body was lifeless. He looked up at us sadly, extra pale, hardly moving, and he hadn’t peed despite it having been four hours (which is a crazy long stretch). My wife fed him and thankfully it went ok, but after she put him down I think I was up another hour or two randomly going in to check on him. It was just awful to see him so sick.

The next day my wife and I took him to his doc and he did in fact have an ear infection. We got drugs and he began on that course. Phew. Solution in hand, right? Eh.

He was to have four millimeters of drugs twice a day, which sounds like nothing but four mL can be an annoying amount for a baby to swallow if they hate it. Which he did. That night he had about half the dose then vomited. The next morning, Tuesday, we tried a new routine which involved giving him one mL, then pausing, dancing around, toys and clapping to distract him. (He LOVES clapping … though he can’t do it yet, but he’ll happily put his hands on yours while you clap.) Fantastic. Tuesday evening I was driving home from work, updating my sister, feeling good about everything, open the door and … there’s my wife, holding our sweet baby, both of them covered in vomit. Crap.

After getting cleaned up my wife manages to call and get a new prescription, this one is only a one mL dose each time (phew) AND the kiddo seems to like it.

He was out of daycare both Tuesday and Wednesday that week, which was a hit for my wife especially, and I worked weird hours to compensate.

The first … one, or two, or three weeks of month 9 were weird with daycare. The sickness continued which meant both my wife and I (mostly my wife though) shifting work around to take care of the kiddo.

Another challenging experience was our first travel. My wife got a call on a Wednesday that her grandma was doing very poorly, quite suddenly. We are fortunate enough to both have jobs where we are able to drop things and go, which we did. Wednesday late afternoon we were on a flight to Minnesota to say goodbye. My wife’s dad’s side had gathered to lean on each other and say goodbye to someone who was a friend of every one of her grandkids. Which in my mind is a rare thing, and it was always amazing to see her and her grandkids interact and throw jeers at each other. I don’t have enough eloquence to really give someone their due, suffice to say I’m going to miss her, and I hardly knew her.

My wife’s cousin had managed to make the visit as easy as possible for us as far as baby logistics, getting a car seat and pack n play for us. The travel was not as bad as we feared it would be, our son mostly slept on both flights, although he had definitely come down with something (again). On the flight home the cabin pressure had changed a lot, and that with what we found out on Monday was a double ear infection (ho boy!) led to a sudden crying wake up. The guy directly in front of me, a classic manspreader (homeboy would stretch his hands up, then put them down on the back of his seat … aka inches from my face), looked back at my wife while the kiddo was crying and she stared at him, he then offered, ‘… you want some water?’ What?

Now, as per usual, I have rambled on and on about the unfortunate things and am going to give too little time and space to the fun developments. But here we go.

This month we got the beginnings of the B sound, all the way up to some classic babble. It’s now common to wake up to ‘bah bah bah bah … bah bah.’ It is wonderful to hear him chatter. He also will clamp his lips tight in an almost frowning face … seemingly really focused on that next bah sound. He looks shockingly like Mitch McConnell when making this face. While I disagree with his politics, and his integrity, and find him physically unattractive … I do think that my baby is adorable when making the Mitch face.

Another short-lived phase that was fun … And excuse me for not knowing a better way to describe this. The kiddo would stick out his tongue, then uh … sorta make a fart noise with his mouth. I would do this back and we’d both giggle. This lasted about two days but oh, what a glorious two days of comedy.

The REAL focus of this month was crawling. You go in to pick him up from a nap? He’s in the classic crawl position (on hands and knees, sorta rocking). Funnily enough, he did best with crawling when you put him down sitting … and then he would choose to crawl. If you put him down on his hands and knees he usually got upset pretty quickly.

But try, and try, and try he did. It was exciting to see the progress, although it seemed like he was on the same stage for a long time. One day he managed to go from accidentally crawling backwards to moving forwards … this was by: 1, a sort of Army crawl; 2, being in the crawl position and then suddenly lunging forward like a belly dive to get to the object of his desire; 3, having a dog. Oh how he loves the dog. She is his perpetual target of crawling. Unfortunately they don’t get along the best … The kiddo grabs with a purpose, and then pulls … Go figure, the dog isn’t a fan of having her hair pulled out. But, she has to deal with it, so uh … sorry pooch. I pet her gently on her face while the kid menaces her neck fur. It’s a real treat for the dog. Like some sort of weird massage. One day I went to work with him doing his usual crawling – one bit of forward progress, then laying down or fussing or getting distracted by … God knows what. And then I come home and he can ACTUALLY crawl. Like, there’s that thing four feet away and he would crawl, and crawl, and crawl till he got there. Weirdly enough, it reminds me of watching a robot with AI try to learn how to move. The limbs all seem to pause and think with great intention, and then they jerkily move forward. Sometimes a leg randomly kicks backwards while he crawls (picture an action movie with someone climbing up a ladder, and a bad guy in hot pursuit, so the person randomly kicks downward to knock the bad guy away … it’s like that).

Oh and my wife was delighted by the kiddo going from four naps a day to three. He’s been a slow go kid on the sleep front. We hear friends talk about sleeping through the night and question when that will happen for us. When the kiddo is not doing well, as happened a lot this month, he sometimes ends up sleeping between us on the bed. It reduces sleep, but I love hearing his sleepy coos and he is a huge fan of noses (much to the pain of noses) so he will reach out and squeeze your nose. One night when he slept in bed with us he kept sliding over to me, squishing about 20% of his body under mine … I would move away, not wanting to crush him, and he would just follow. Eventually I ended up waking up on the very edge of the bed, his tiny loud-breathing self smooshed up against me. I was flattered, happy, and sleepy. What a thing.

Ok. That’s enough rambling. Til next month.

Month 8, Or Get Up, Come On Get Down With the Sickness

I’ve done it again where I waited a bit to write about month 8 and now month 9 is on my mind (this funny new face he’s making! Oh and he’s doing the … stick your tongue out and … how do you describe it? Make a fart noise with your mouth. Oh and such progress on his crawl attempts!) … But no, this is month 8. (Also, as a reminder to myself, that means from day 1 of month 7 to day 1 of month 8.)

THE MONTH OF DISEASE.

The kiddo started daycare, going only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I dreaded it greatly … but he seemed to be ok! I will say, in the last 2 or so weeks, he is more inclined to be upset when I drop him off even though someone holds him pretty quickly. That’s miserable, but they do try to comfort him which is nice to see (yeah, I maybe loiter and stare through the window).

Here’s the timeline.

Daycare day 1 – ok, didn’t nap but survived, that night puked a ton, mom caught a fair amount adeptly using her body to absorb it (i.e. not intentional in the slightest) and dad hopped out of bed to help out

Daycare day 2 – ok, didn’t nap but survived

That Friday, my wife texted me around noon talking about how awful she felt and how she might ask me to come home early. I said ok, keep me posted. About 1:30 (?) I head home also feeling a little off, hoping I might be able to take a nap soon … nope, my wife has been yacking like a champ. Uh ohs.

I watch the kiddo while my wife rests/naps/showers/possibly yacks more? The kiddo and I had some low-key fun (read: I did as little as possible to keep him content because of feeling poorly).

About 5pm, I put him down, run to the bathroom, and appoint myself as mayor of yack town. My wife hears our dear boy starting to cry, comes downstairs, hears me and says, ‘oh no.’

I was on about a four hour delay of what my wife was going through.

Here’s how it went. First, you were off. Then, you were cold. Then freezing. Then suddenly very hot, and that was the sign it was time to make your way to your nearest porcelain pal. THEN! After that bit of fun, why, you felt GREAT! For about 20 minutes. Then repeat.

It was a miserable, miserable night for the three of us. The next morning the kiddo got up at … who knows, 530? 6? I got up with him and thank goodness he either felt off as well, or was the world’s most understanding baby, because he let me just lay beside the pack n play while he played or spaced out for almost an hour.

As the day went on I was able to eat, and Sunday I woke up feeling more human. Oh, but wait, is that a tickle in my throat?

DAYCARE. You … you factory of sick. You container of gross. You germ-infested cesspool with cute babies and sweet teachers. (I finally went to the doc after about a month of having a cough … turns out it takes a 6-week course, but I did get some drugs because my fever and sore throat were returning for round two.)

Enough whining. Let’s get to some fun stuff.

This month I had a hiking backpack that I bought for myself arrive, and we used it as well! It is about 3 times as wide as my profile, so I look a little funny when wearing it, but it’s got a big seat for the kiddo and he loves it! For the first week or two, battling illnesses and bad weather, we didn’t use it except to wander inside the house. Then, maybe two weekends ago, my wife and I went to a little hiking area which is all flat and I was pointing out birdies, and chirping, and trees, and the green coming back this time of year and … oh, he’s asleep. It was nice and toasty out and that rhythmic rocking must be soothing. Still, my wife and I got to do an hour or so walk which was great.

Also this month – we had our first tooth arrive! And shortly thereafter, tooth number two! There was a lot of drool preceding these little guys, and now that they are here, I have to say … good LORD. The chomp strength on this tiny human is no joke. Before I’d let him gnaw on my hand to his heart’s content, now it’s like some sort of weird Russian roulette. Because he’ll chomp, chomp, chomp, and then BAM, really gets his little teeth into you and they leave a mark. Prior to my kiddo having his two little teeth I always found it strange/slightly creepy looking when a baby had just their first few teeth. But with my son it’s of course adorable. This proves one of two things: my son is more adorable than all other babies (possible), or it is yet another case of being the parent is a blinding experience (also possible).

The kiddo is also now hitting things for fun occasionally. He’ll take a block and really just beat the snot out of it on the kitchen counter. He also will occasionally smack my arm while I change him …which is fine compared to … WRESTLEMANIA! (Credit goes to my wife on that name.) With the kiddo’s ever-growing desire to crawl it seems like we are getting fewer and fewer calm diaper changes. You put him down on the changing pad and boom, he’s flipping over and up on his hands and knees. You pick him up, put him back down, do one snap or two on his outfit and … gah, child, no, stop, stop … He’s back over. I don’t know how a little guy is that slippery but it’s really difficult to prevent the flip. He’ll also grab a hold of just about anything within reach. Have some drawstrings on your hoody? Boom, he’s got that. Hey dad, is that something covering my penis to prevent me from peeing on your face? Yoink! Looks tasty! It is an entertaining, adorable, and surprisingly not that frustrating battle.

The kiddo also began his crawling endeavors this month. He managed to get to the classic crawl pose (as mentioned above) … and then he sorta … stayed there. He is definitely making progress. It just seemed as though the classic crawl pose arrived all the sudden and then there was confusion with what to do with it. Do I fling out my legs and get frustrated? Hmm, let me try that for a week and see. Oh, how about I kinda just plop my head down between my arms so it looks like I’m doing my evening prayers? Sure, I’ll try that too. He is making progress, I am just so anxious (and terrified) of him making it to the grand next step of actually moving. I would love for him to figure it out, because I am looking forward to him being on the ground and excitedly moving rather than looking around with frustration at a world that’s just out of reach.

And this post is wicked long, so I’ll mention in passing he is also able to sit independently much more. Put him in the poppy and he’s golden … for a minute, maybe 2 or 3, then oooh I’d love to chew on the tag on this boppy or hey that baby in the mirror looks cool I’ll go attempt to headbutt him.

That’s all for this old man.

Until next month. If disease doesn’t kill me first.

March 2018 Haiku

March 1 (Thursday)
Hour long car ride
Nice to wander aimlessly
While the kiddo naps

March 2 (Friday)
Questions seem simple
Until you work with someone
Who is bad at them

March 3 (Saturday)
“Put on whatever”
I pick a fantastic film
“Action movie?!?” (….Duh.)

March 4 (Sunday)
I remember when
Sundays didn’t make me think
Of politicians

March 5 (Monday)
Skipping work out class
To keep working on my code
Yeah, it’s clear I’m cool

March 6 (Tuesday)
Costco with the kid
Tons to look at, lunch to go
For dad’s long nap drive

March 7 (Wednesday)
Rushed to finish code
Then it didn’t make the build
Great googly moogly

March 8 (Thursday)
Trip to library
Lady: “what a cute baby!”
‘scuse, you meant cutest

March 9 (Friday)
Wife got promoted!
Calls for flowers and ice cream!
(Ice cream’s always key)

March 10 (Saturday)
Early morning jog
I feel like I’m the Tin Man
Without his oil

March 11 (Sunday)
Daylight savings time
First time ever I’m for it
Kid now wakes at 6!

March 12 (Monday)
Last bit of wife’s jog
Head outside with the kiddo
Workout ends with grins

March 13 (Tuesday)
Came up with insult
Tell someone they’re a Tuesday
Means nothing, sounds harsh

March 14 (Wednesday)
Bunch of colleagues canned
Go from sad to my old pal …
Hi gallows humor

March 15 (Thursday)
It’s March Madness time
Which sounds like 20s slang for
Aunt Flo visiting

March 16 (Friday)
Is it just me, or
You, too, call guys named Gary
Gare-Bear? (Not out loud)

March 17 (Saturday)
Wild St. Pat’s day
Bought some clothes that were on sale
… And … That’s about it

March 18 (Sunday)
Vacuuming barefoot
One of life’s simple pleasures
Warn, clean (ish) carpet

March 19 (Monday)
No matter the guest
Arrive, greet the cute baby,
Then, to me, ‘oh, hey’

March 20 (Tuesday)
My mom is in town
To watch the kid, and bring gifts
And I got one, too!

March 21 (Wednesday)
Cheated sleep system
Kid woke at 5, rocked to sleep
Cute, snuggly cheating

March 22 (Thursday)
Coworker comes in
Someone discussing her code
Defense mode – ENGAGE!

March 23 (Friday)
My mom left today
She came, saw, and babysat
Then on to next gig

March 24 (Saturday)
The boy found his feet
Both limber, and frustrated
Review’s in: Tastes gross

March 25 (Sunday)
Kids first tooth coming!
An excited mom declares
Let pokes, prods increase

March 26 (Monday)
Wife’s mom is in town
Is my son also a sun?
With doting planets?

March 27 (Tuesday)
Opting out today
Asked for no updates on kid
Prepping for daycare

March 28 (Wednesday)
Reading Handmaid’s Tale
Nothing better than feeling
Depressed before bed

March 29 (Thursday)
Grandpa flying in
Grandparent’s ‘who gets more laughs’
Competition starts

March 30 (Friday)
Got a new backpack
Bulky and insane looking …
But I’m pumped for hikes!

March 31 (Saturday)
Bye to grandparents
Back to a quiet household
(Well, plus squawking kid)

 

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Hello awkward ride. Hopefully this weekend I’ll take it for a real test drive.

Month 7, Or Oh the Places You’ll Go (Developmentally)

It’s a few days until the kiddo is 7 months old and I thought I’d go ahead and get a start on this post. Hopefully, dare I say it, finish it today too.

This month I had a personal success which was abandoning the idea of reading a book. I had checked it out from the library and it was just eh. But I kept on. I would read a few pages before bed, feel disheartened at how much there was to go, and pass out. But then one day – BOOM – I said NO MORE. I re-read an old comic book series instead. This may seem like a non-accomplishment, but giving up on a book is a challenge for me. Now I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale.

Let’s get into month 7, shall we?

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I have also learned I am much more inclined to spoil the boy than myself. Frivolous spending ahoy!

I have mentioned this before, but the doc advised we keep the kiddo out of day care for a long time. Multiple docs at the NICU suggested a start date of April. And, with flexible work, my wife only working two days a week, and very helpful grandmas, we will accomplish that goal!

Part of that involved me taking vacation days on the two days a week my wife works for three weeks. One of those weeks was during month 6, but two of the weeks (four days of kiddo and dad time) fell during this past month!

One day the kiddo and I headed to the library, a little shop, and then a tortilla shop (they make delicious burritos) so I could load up on food before a long nap drive. The library was fun, the kiddo LOVES the front facing Bjorn (a new delight in life) and he will kick his legs and or give huge smiles when excited. And he is a little charmer and flash a big smile at strangers no problem.*

From the library we head to a few little shops (including buying my wife her Christmas gift – BOO YAH PREPAREDNESS) and the interactions with strangers continue. It is always ladies, or old men. Never men my age or really any male I’ll say between 10 and 75. This was ESPECIALLY true at the tortilla shop where I am surrounded by construction workers. Not one ‘aw look at the cute baby’ instead just stares like I am an alien. I will say that I don’t think I ever noticed another dad and baby. I noticed moms and babies, and moms and dads and babies … but no dude and baby. What’s the deal, fellas? Why so lazy?

That was a lot of chatter. Let’s do some quick highlights.

The sleep stuff continues to be pretty good … He had occasional nights where he would wake up and have a long cry, which is BRUTAL because of our ‘sleep wave’ method where you don’t really do much to comfort the kiddo. But for the most part it has been great.

My mom was in town this past week and my wife and I felt very nervous about the sleep. It’s one thing to feel bad for your crying baby when it’s just you … but to have your mom 10 feet away while your kiddo cries and you stare at a timer? Oof. We ended up ‘cheating’ a few times this past week which actually felt pretty great. My wife rocked him back to sleep and put him down in bed between us. Waking up next to his tiny adorable body was fun. Another night I went in about 5:15 am because he had woken up (and we prefer him to sleep till 6), I rocked him to sleep then just snuggled with his tiny head tilted 6am. And this morning my mom is out of town but he was having a rough go from 430-5 am, so my wife fed him then laid him between us. We all woke up naturally about 715am and he looked back and forth between my wife and I, taking turns reaching his little hands out to squeeze our noses. It was very odd, and delightful.

One thing that has helped and hurt his sleep is that he is now rolling from his back to his tummy. When he rolls onto his tummy and is happy about it, hello glorious sleep. When he rolls onto his tummy and feels regret … one of us slips into his room, rolls him onto his back, and then sneaks out. Generally this leads to a tiny brief cry and then calm. The odd thing is he KNOWS how to roll from tummy to back, but it’s like he suddenly finds himself in that position and says ‘WHAT HAVE I DONE!? WHAT IS THIS PERSONAL HELL!?’

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Semi-pictured and also a new favorite thing: the mirror! We have one on the floor for tummy time social hour.

He also often has a pretty intense workout regime before falling asleep. You go through the routine, put him down (described in last month’s post) and then he rolls around, chews on his hands, chews on his lovie, rolls back and forth a few times, sometimes onto his tummy and then off. It’s a lot of work going on. My wife said he’s like a gymnast making sure he uses the whole floor space.

Another fun and simple pleasure in life is discovering him figure out his thumb. Before he would generally suck on his middle and ring finger (I don’t know why). This month he has figured out, I guess, how to pop his thumb out because boom, that is a new favorite too. His thumb is basically a slightly large tic tac, so you generally hear a lot of slurping when he is using his thumb.

A funny thing that is happening this month (funny to me that is) – he is very easily distracted while breastfeeding. My wife used to be able to call someone or watch TV while feeding the kiddo. Now? If she even coughs while feeding him he’ll look up at her. It could be a blank look, or a sly smile, or outright laughter on a few occasions.

Speaking of laughter – his laughs are more common now. Here are his favorite things … my impression of a chicken, crazy chase games (where I hold him and pretend to chase his mom around, then she chases us back), and one glorious time where my wife dropped a toy of his (a ball) and then kept hitting it instead of grabbing it to pick it up. He laughed at her. Genuine, honest to goodness, I’m laughing at you, not with you. It was glorious.

I recognize that this post is insanely long but you know what? A few more.

I was at a Costco on one of my dad-and-kiddo days. I was wearing the Bjorn and had finished my shopping. (Including two slices of pizza and a soda to go for my lunch-nap-drive.) I headed to the bathroom with my happy shopping pal (he loves Costco … well, he seems to love about every location where he can people watch and/or chill in the front-facing Bjorn). I walked inside and, keeping with my constant chatter when walking around with him I said, “ok little mister, let’s do this.” I also happened to notice at that moment a stall door was closed. It delights me to this day to think a stranger was sitting on a Costco toilet, and that stranger thinks he overhead someone talking to his penis … and that the penis was nicknamed, “little mister.”

Ok a few quick hits: he’s had a bunch of different foods this month! Peas, spinach, green beans, and peanut butter. Not surprisingly, peanut butter was the only hit.

He has also had little slivers of solo sitting. Normally my wife or I sit like we’re doing the old grade school sit-and-reach (which I think I could usually reach about to my knees, I’m not very flexible), and then the kiddo sits so that he can balance on either leg and won’t really fall. He has probably hit up to a minute or two of solo sitting. Look out world!

And last but certainly not least this month were two visitors/babysitters/grandmas. Both my mom and my wife’s mom came out to help us extend the kiddo’s daycare free life to seven months. Pretty fantastic. It’s going to be heartbreaking to drop him off at daycare soon, especially since he has just recently entered a ‘stranger danger’ phase of life (previously anyone could pick him up, now if someone else picks him up he locks eyes on my wife or I). But, it is amazing that he got to spend so much time around family. And my wife and I are very fortunate to have such kind moms, and ones who are able to afford to do us such a big favor.

Ok sports fans. This one was truly a blog post just for me. Til month 8.

*Except today. This was pretty funny to me. My wife, the kiddo and I headed to a downtown area to check out shops, walk around, sip coffee, and just enjoy the day. The kiddo is in the front-facing Bjorn and we are in line at a coffee shop. Two college aged girls walk up and one of them gets relatively close and says, ‘your baby is gorgeous!’ She gives him a big smile and for the first time ever he does not smile in response … he gives her a huge pout and a little semi-cry. She looks aghast, seems genuinely hurt … and I start laughing. I kiss his little cheek till he cracks a smile. The rest of the day out smiles, and smiles, and smiles for any and all strangers. Random ladies stop and ogle and talk to him and he grins and kicks. The mystery of the sad-face girl will live on. I wasn’t laughing at you girl, I was laughing at the situation. (She was wearing overalls, maybe he thought they were his.)

Month Six, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Short Nap

That title is a ruse. I would love it if the kid would take a longer nap. But let’s forego the details for the moment and get a little reflective.

My wife and I were talking about sleep. (remember month 5’s theme? Sleep? Well, that has continued on to month 6.) Our initial strategy with nighttime sleep was to do a modification of put him down awake, pick him up as soon as he cried, comfort him, put him down awake, repeat till he slept. That had started out and we thought ‘ok! We get to hang out after we put him down!’ but it wasn’t really improving. That is, every night it seemed like he really only went to sleep after all his cries were out.

At the recommendation of a friend, we read (the relevant chapters of) the happy sleeper. This book calls for the ‘sleep wave’ which is all about predictability and stability. You have a routine that you follow precisely for naps and nighttime (different routines for the two) and you lay the kiddo down awake. When he or she cries, you go in after five minutes of crying and you say this particular phrase (ours is, “Have a good sleep. I’ll be right outside. I love you.”) then you leave the room without providing physical comfort. The idea is that your child knows you exist, and that by this age (we started this when he was about 5.5 months) they don’t think you have up and ceased to exist when you’re out of sight. The child is left to their own devices for self-soothing. Our son had become a whiz at finding his hand and sucking on it (strangely, his typical fingers are the middle and ring fingers).

The approach worked surprisingly well. But wait, it’s reflective time.

In last month’s blog I mentioned saying that I wanted to baby my son because … he’s a baby. But it struck me, later on, that my mom’s saying over and over that her children will always be her babies could prove true for myself as well. Pain and discomfort are good things – they are really educational. I’m glad I struggled at times in school, I’m glad I had my heart broken, I’m glad I lost at many, many things. And yet, it’s a struggle to knowingly allow my son to feel discomfort or pain. And then I bounce right back, come on, self, he’s just crying a little bit while going to sleep! Anyway, it was a moment of wonder realizing that I will likely forever feel his pain as though it is my own.

My wife and I have a system where, if the kiddo wakes up in the middle of the night and struggles to go back to sleep, one of us tends to him while the other stays in bed. We have a white noise machine in our room for just such an occasion. But occasionally, if the white noise isn’t loud or he has an especially upset cry, you still hear him. And then you lay in bed, not sleeping and not helping anything. It made me think of my mom, wondering if she did this same thing while her children were grown, after, say, one of her kid’s experienced a heartbreak. Somewhere my child is in pain.

Those aren’t particularly deep thoughts – but they were interesting to me. Suddenly I was generation-less, just a person in a line of parents and children, where each person has felt love and heartbreak for others.

/End reflection!

Back to the sleep thing. The first night the kiddo protested, of course, but it took hold and he slept 11 hours with only one wakeup to eat. Holy pleasant night of sleep Batman. That was incredible. Before that he was waking up 1-3 times a night, sometimes to eat, other times just … I don’t know. Because why not?

The next night he slept THROUGH THE NIGHT! MY GOD.

But, that day was rough on the kiddo and dear old mom and dad. Up to that point I would walk him around or dance in the Bjorn to get him to sleep. This meant sometimes two hours of constant dancing and moving in the Bjorn. Trust me when I tell you this is really uncomfortable and tiring. BUT! He was a happy kiddo. Tough to get to sleep, yes, but happy. That day he was a not happy kiddo. He began to recognize the sleep routine and he would start crying, and crying.

Our nap routine is simple – change his diaper, put him in a sleep sack, pick him up and sing to him while you/he holds on to his ‘lovie’ (Harry Elefante) and then you put him down. The last nap of the day I was putting him down and he started crying from go. Oof. It was heartbreaking. Putting him down on the changing pad the face immediately turned to a look of devastation and there was no coming back. When it came time to sing to him peacefully to soothe his little soul before putting him down? Forget it. I was crying and singing (quite a sight). I sang all of about 10 seconds because no words were coming.

The nap, not surprisingly, did not go well. It involved a lot of the going in to check every 5 minutes.

But … here’s the bright spot. For the most part the night sleep turned tremendous. Suddenly we were able to wake up feeling somewhat rested. Hurrah!

***

I’ll be honest … I started writing this about two weeks ago, so now he is about 6.5 months old (so grown up) and already month 6 feels so far away. As is typical of this past half year, it’s hard to remember last week’s woes because this week’s woes are all important. Two of the last three nights he has struggled to fall asleep, and we hadn’t experienced that since we started down this road, pretty much one month ago today. It is disheartening, and a little confusing. But hopefully things will be back on track soon enough.

Also, about the title. That’s a lie. I have not embraced the short nap. It is what he does, and that’s that … But we have done a number of car rides to create a 1 – 1.5 hour nap. A great joy of mine is taking the kiddo out to some shop or area to have strangers ooh and ahh and tell me how cute he is, and then buy some junk food, then cruise and listen to the radio while eating said junk food. Oh yessir.

***

Random thoughts, you say? Sure.

  • Sometimes when I blow my nose in front of my son I feel guilty. Like he is looking at me thinking, ‘oh if only I could do that.’ Imagine sneezing and then just sitting there … not having the ability to blow your nose. Torturous.
  • My wife and I have not been posting pictures on Facebook or any social media for a number of reasons. But, like probably every parent, I feel the world is being deprived of cute baby pictures. The other day a coworker stopped by my cube and said, ‘any new pictures?’ then glanced quickly at the ones I have hung up and said, ‘nope’ and walked away. Smart move, dude, because I was about to bust out my phone and put you through a three hour photo sharing session.

    IMG_20180318_103149350

    The spinny-thing has some sort of bug type creature on it.

  • We have a toy with a little wheel-type device with pictures on it. Sometime in this month he began to realize he could spin this. My wife likes to say he is looking through his rolodex. Spin, spin, stop, stare (we comment, ‘oh Bob, haven’t talked to him in ages, hmmm should I call Bob?’), aggressively spin (‘eh, Bob’s a loser’), slowly rotate, stop, stare (‘oh Jean, wonder how -‘), spin (‘FORGET JEAN!’).

***

Ok, note to self. Do month 7 on THAT day. I swear, last week is already a blur.

The Carousel of New Parenthood

I’m casting side glances toward my son in his swing, full of fear and dare I say hope? No. Because I have no hope. The theme, dear future self, of month 5 (by which I mean starting at 4 and ending when he turned 5 months) … is sleep.

Sleep. What do you talk about when both parents are awake at 3:23 am? Sleep. You talk about his sleep. You ask, ‘when did you last feed him?’ And the mrs. responds, ‘like 10 minutes ago …’ then you sigh and get up to dance the kiddo back to sleep and she says, ‘wait! No! I haven’t fed him since midnight.’ Then if you weren’t so sleep you’d smile, but instead you just plop back into bed and thank the good Lord for the fact that only women have a milk supply.

(And now he is glancing at me. I just looked up and I saw his little eyes staring right at me. Oh dear.)

It has been a huge month in terms of sleep development for us. Here’s the rundown, as far as I remember.

***

We hadn’t been anxious to do any ‘sleep training’ because his poor stomach had been a nightmare. But with that a little more under control we decided to start making progress on the sleep front.

First up, we started putting him down for naps in his swing. Prior to this his naps were on one of us. Cozy? You bet. Productivity inhibiting? Most certainly. Helpful for his ability to sleep without a warm body and a heartbeat to listen to? Perhaps not. This effort started on a weekend and at first resulted in quick wake ups. He’d be put gently, oh so so gently, into the swing and I’d sit down glance at my wife and smile and then a look of terror would cross her eyes followed quickly by a smile. The kiddos eyes were open, and he was grinning at seeing dear mama.

But in a short order, before the end of the weekend, he took a nap in the swing for over an hour. OVER AN HOUR! Do you know how long it had been since both my wife and I had been able to just be still at the same time? It was glorious.

From there we took an adventurous next step – naps in his own room! Well, friends, it felt like freedom (after it took hold). Such freedom.

But then it stopped. The progress vanished like that. My wife began holding him for naps again but no, that won’t do either. If you wanted him to nap for more than thirty minutes you needed to do more than just hold him – you also need to walk around bouncing gently. I have done this a few times (yesterday I danced gently for 2 hours while holding him in the bjorne). Great nap, painful shoulders. My wife found a blog post from a woman who experienced the same thing. We had so many things in common it was great to read – especially since she mentioned the nap woes were temporary.

Our son, and the fellow bloggers kiddo, were going through a big development jump. Suddenly way more chatty and tons of extra movement. This blogger talked about how the kiddo was so invested in being awake because there is so much to experience! Well, how can we fault our smily, quick to be fussy, overly tired, chatty, kick-punch champ baby for wanting to be awake when his parents are just so fun?

There really is comfort in seeing others having gone through the same pain, talked about it, and mentioned that it ended.

***

At night he was still inclined to need a lot of effort to get a nap in, but his bedtime routine was great … mom would feed him, I’d walk around holding him while humming and he’d pass out after some period of ‘hey dad! Let’s hang out! Hey dad? Hey dad! Hey dad! … Dad. Dad? … zzzzzz’

(Another live update – after ten minutes of intense, creepy staring he knocked back out for fifteen minutes. And then I heard a little noise and sure enough, we have eyes. I’m now intently staring at my computer. Meanwhile my wife is texting me from the basement wondering when the coast is clear for her to use the bathroom. The tiny tyrant rules all.)

Fast forward to about a week ago and my wife wants us to take a next step in the nighttime sleep department. It’s wise, and the right thing to do, but I don’t want to rock the boat. But what is parenthood (in my limited experience) if not a series of never-ending opportunities to feel comfortable for a moment only to realize this is exactly when things are needing to change?

The plan was to put the boy in bed at night … while he was still awake! Revolutionary! This is a modification of a plan we read about online where you would put the kiddo down drowsy but awake, he/she would begin to cry, you wait a minute, pick the kiddo up, put them down as soon as they stop crying. My wife was all for this. I responded, “he’s a BABY! Let’s do BABY STEPS!” (This made her wonder if she is going to be the one to punish the kiddo because I’m a softie. I think we will both have our areas.)

I had been cheating (unknowingly) and laying him down asleep. In my mind, ‘very drowsy’ is what he was after being asleep for a few minutes. Honest! This is how it would go in my mind – he falls asleep, you put him down, the movement wakes him up, he glances around, thinks ‘eh I’ll cry later’ and then boom he’s out. We did our first actual putting him down awake last night and it took a while, but after many pick-up put-downs he finally honked out for real. We celebrated by eating ice cream in bed. It was glorious.

***

Oh yeah and other stuff happened this month, too. He is grabbing stuff much better with his hands (reaching out to grab things). He is finally getting a better head of hair (not yet at birth level but close). He GIGGLED! MY GOD. How could I have forgotten that? Ok, sure, no one else would recognize this as a giggle … it’s a whisper of a giggle. Instead of a big grin you get a big grin and a … gurgle? Some happy guttural noise? How do you describe it? Anyway, it is my new motivating factor in life. One day he made this noise while sitting on my belly when I sat up making funny noises. This meant I ended up doing sit-ups for giggles. How weird is that?

140910083846_1_900x600Speaking of sit-ups – the child is making me fitter, I think. He’s the only workout I get, and my arms have benefited from his maybe 15 pound body.

Another fan favorite is ‘tree sloth’ mode. I have my arm under his belly, his legs on either side, his arms randomly pulling at my wrist, and he gnaws on my finger like a champ. It is essentially the world’s most adorable curl. I like to pretend that I am diseased and he is just some form of flesh eating bacteria that is growing on me. (My wife is perpetually delighted by my charm.)

***

As my wife said recently, ‘the pool of love is deep and intense.’ It has been a month of struggles and triumphs (as every month has been). Thus the title – parenthood truly is a carousel ride of ups and downs, and often, somehow, a smile throughout the ups and downs.

Ok well this blog post is so long no one except me will ever read it.

(And for completeness. He has been asleep for an hour! Thank the fickle God of Naps and Greying of the Hairs. Is this the sign of him re-embracing naps, or a random gift to toy with my heart? Time will tell.)

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