I've found since having our son that my mood goes as his mood goes; if he is happy, I am happy, and if he is unhappy, I am similarly unhappy. Yes, it's a roller coaster for the emotions, and it often sours my day or night if my son's mood sours. I guess when he is upset I feel like I'm letting him down, by either depriving him of sleep or food, for example. I would like him to not want for anything, and my wife and I anticipate his needs before he melts down. Obviously this is an impossibility, but it's something that bothers me.
I worry if we don't let him nap long enough or if he misses a nap, or has to go to bed later than usual. He's been doing really well lately with sleeping through the night and I guess I don't want to do anything to disrupt that. So while I didn't think I'd become the parent who lets his kid's schedule rule my life, I have become that indeed. Want us to meet you at noon? No, thank you, but we can meet earlier/later. Inviting us over for dinner? Sure, if we can get the early bird special and get home by 6:30PM.
Apparently my bad mood coinciding with his doesn't help matters. My ranting while he screams supposedly causes ire. Although I complain (loudly) because I am concerned we are doing our son wrong, I've heard there's a better way of handling these situations. It's surely better to react positively or, at worst, be in control of one's emotions. Yes, I understand this. My hope is that I figure out how to do just that sooner rather than later. Also, I'm quite looking forward to the day when my son has enough vocabulary to let us know in words what is bothering him. Until then, I'll be writing resolutions and counting to 10 in my head next time Mount J erupts.
Last year we were turned on to this great Christmas tradition called "Elf on the Shelf." It's a story book and an Elf figure that you place in a different location around the house each day before Christmas (presumably not all year long, just like after Thanksgiving, I guess). The story of the Elf is that he (or she, since you can buy a skirt for your elf) comes from the North Pole, directed by Santa Claus to watch all the little boys and girls while Santa is hard at work making toys. Each night the Elf returns north to report to Santa how the kids are behaving, then returns to your home in a different spot for the next day.
The purpose of this, besides a sweet new Christmas tradition for the family, is to try and keep kids behaving during a stressful time of year. The children are also instructed not to touch the Elf or his "magic" will wear off and he won't be able to tell Santa how good the child has been, possibly negating Santa's visit on the 25th. To make the Elf more personable, the Elf should be named and you can even register the elf's name on the Elf on the Shelf web site.
The web site, by the way, is great, especially if you have Flash software on your computer (Who doesn't nowadays? You? Oh, then download here), and looks like those old-time Christmas shows created with stop animation, like the one about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. There's a lot to enjoy on the site for kids and parents alike.
Our son can't yet comprehend the reason for the Elf in our house but he picked up on the Elf itself rather quickly. For about a week now we've been moving him around the house and asking him "Where's the Elf?" Our son immediately starts looking around the room for the Elf, glancing in the spots he remembers seeing the Elf previously. It's amazing how fast he picked up on it and that he looks in those previous spots for his new friend. We tell him not to touch the elf, and I make sure to set the Elf out of grabbing height. Our son does, however, "wave" to the Elf, though since he's still learning to wave properly, I can't tell if he's really waving or reaching out to grab the thing.
We sent it to our friends Carrie and Steve for their son last year, and he immediately named the Elf "Elfie" and loved searching the house for it before school. This year we sent Elf on the Shelf to our god son Dominik. His mom thinks the Elf will help her keep little D on the "nice" list more than just the threat of Santa not coming because he's been "naughty." I'm sure we will be sending this gift to other families as time goes on, too. This sort of tradition is something that feels a less fabricated, I guess because I never knew about it before last year, and thus didn't think it was overhyped or mass-marketed. Obviously the day will come when the Elf will become passé as our children get older, but I like that this is something that can be kept within the family and passed on to the next generation.
Note: I am NOT getting paid to advertise/endorse this product. But, hey, if the makers want to toss me a couple bucks my address is...
This may come a week or so late, but in this time of giving, and giving thanks, I wanted to list some things I am thankful for this holiday season.
Being surrounded by family and friends who genuinely love our now 10-month-old son. As great as it has been to watch our son develop every day, it's been equally amazing at how much our family and friends have taken to him. Through holidays, family events, and now "play dates," so many of you have allowed our son into your lives, and for that I am thankful.
Having a wife who allows me to be me, even when parts of me act out in a manner unbecoming of my best self. I get easily frustrated when things don't go "accordingly" with our son, like him not sleeping through the night or seeming to be sick every other day of his short life. Somehow my wife has stuck by me, understanding my venting process (for better or worse -- mostly worse), and helping me realize not everything will go perfectly. I've learned a lot about myself during this process of being a father, and I admit I don't like all of it. I'm trying to use what I learn as motivation to change certain behaviors, and I think my wife realizes this process is sometimes a slow one...
Living in a country where I can speak my mind, at least virtually. Much to the chagrin of many of my "friends" I often use Facebook as a soapbox to air many grievances, mostly regarding religion and/or our government/politicians. I doubt I can change anyone's mind but at least I try to point out the other side of issues, or show that you can't always believe what you see at first glance. I don't like seeming like a snob, but I do feel people act in knee-jerk reactions, so pointing out what may not be obvious to someone at least makes me feel like I'm giving them the whole picture on an issue.
Traditions. I have been called a Scrooge in the past during this time of year, believe it or not. I do, however, enjoy Christmas, just maybe not the way it is "celebrated" nowadays. I am a purist when it comes to Christmas decorations, songs, and any meaning to be gleaned from it all. I love classical imagery, original versions of classic Christmastime music, and the stories that framed how the holiday came about (there's no mention of "Christmas" in the Bible, of course). I don't enjoy the crass over-marketing of the holiday by retail shops, the hijacking of right-wing religious fundamentalists who argue that atheists or the ACLU are trying to "take Christ out of Christmas," or ridiculous versions of holiday music (yes, I'm talking about your reggae Christmas CD).
Giving back. As many of you know, for the month of November I (and men all over the world) grew a moustache to help raise awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer. It was an organization called "Movember" and it was a pretty fun time. I had never really gotten involved in something like this, and I was really pleased to have stuck with it the entire month. It's nice to have my face back, but with the donations of so many friends and family members, it made it all worth it. I was able to raise over $1,000 for the cause, which was well more than I had ever imagined.
I'm sure there are more items to be added, but I don't want to get too sappy or too self-righteous, anymore than I already have. I look forward to celebrating the upcoming holidays with our son, creating new memories and holiday traditions of our own. It will be unlike anything else in my life, seeing the holidays through the eyes of my own child.
I am going to try and not over-hype this, but for the first time in our son's seven months (as of the 1st) of life, he FINALLY slept through the night! Recently he has only woken up once a night, around 1AM, taken a feeding, then slept until either he woke up at his usual time or we actually had to go in and wake him. But last night he went down around 7:15PM and nary a peep was heard until 6AM-ish, when my wife went in to soothe him and he went back to sleep for at least another 45 minutes. Again, I don't want to jinx it, but it is a pretty exciting development.
Speaking of developments, the boy has gone through a few of note. He cut his two bottom front teeth at the same time. He is eating his first solids (mush), and seems to like veggies more than fruit, so far. To my dismay, for reasons I won't recount now, my wife gives him little pieces of graham cracker or other crackers and kid "puffs" for him to munch on. He is drinking water from a cup, though not yet holding the cup or his bottle. His hair is finally coming in, for the most part, and so far it is blonde. His eyes are still somewhat blue, but sometimes look green, and we can't tell if they will stay that way or not. He can sit up really well now, and stays up, for the most part, without a lot of supervision. And while our son can get up on his hands and knees he still is not crawling. We're not too dismayed about that; maybe he'll be one of those kids who goes right to walking and skips crawl altogether. I'm not sure which is worse...
We seem to like his daycare, though we still scratch our heads about what actually goes on there. The new daycare he's in is a big step up from the original one, but I guess they all have their quirks. At least the energy level is much higher at the new one. And the staff/owners are pretty receptive to our needs, which isn't bad.
So we're having a grand time with the boy these days. We have a schedule and routine down for him. He looks at the correct person when we say "where's mommy" or "where's daddy" (the first time he looked at me after getting that question was a huge highlight for me). He loves to play with us and really enjoys laughing at the silly stuff we do to/with him. I guess this is what people mean by the "reward" of having a child. It's nice to finally reap! At least until the next monkey wrench gets thrown our way...
On June 29th we left for a week-long adventure in New Jersey to visit with my family and introduce them properly to our son for the first time. We were mainly excited to have our son meet my dad, who is going to be 87 in September, since J is the first grandchild in our family since 1971 (my sister's son, who is only 14 months younger than me...). The trip went really well, with only a few downs compared to the many ups we shared.
The plane ride out went well. We opted for daytime flights instead of our typical red-eye flights to help give us extra time out there. We didn't want to risk keeping the plane cabin awake with a potentially screaming child while people are trying to sleep, so the non-stop day flight was a good move for everyone. There was really only one meltdown, but a good rocking and bottle quelled it before the Air Marshals had to step in! The flight back home was even easier, minus a plane problem that made the airline switch terminals and the size of the plane. We almost got bumped (again) but my wife deftly played the "baby card" which may have helped us get a seat on the new plane. We thought we were safe until they realized a baby would be in an exit row (not allowed) and that he was check in as an infant without a seat though we paid the money to get his own seat so we wouldn't have to hold him for 5.5 hours. It all worked out in the end and J slept through a lot of the flight.
His demeanor while in NJ was up and down, with a melt down here and there to keep up in check. One happened in the car on the second night, and some later-night road work caused a traffic jam that only made his screaming bout longer and more frustrating. The kid just doesn't know how to cry, only yell! He was really overtired, apparently, so much so that he slept for EIGHT HOURS STRAIGHT that night, from 10PM to 6AM, the longest such stretch to date. We actually thought he might have died, honestly and morbidly as it sounds, because he was in the same position the whole night. My wife touched him to see if he was okay and he felt really cold so she got paranoid. I went to check him and felt his head, which was warm, thankfully, then moved his hand and he stretched his fingers out. We let out a sigh of relief...
My father and my siblings really enjoyed spending time with our son, and that was the whole point of the trip. Everyone got to hold him and J seemed to take well to all of them. He like grabbing my dad's ear and nose, and also gave him many slobbery kisses that my dad promptly wiped off with nearby tissues. It was really great to see our family all together for such an occasion.
We've moved into our new place, just emptying boxes now. It will take a couple weeks to be able to re-learn everything, like where the plates or glasses are now. But we have more room, and hopefully we won't feel the urgent need to FILL those spaces too quickly.
Our son seems to have gone through the transition pretty smoothly. He's finally over his cold and latest ear infection, and it has brought out more of his personality (just as I had hoped). He loves laughing at funny noises and has started to mimic our silly mouth sounds, like the "raspberry." It makes him spit and drool everywhere, but it's a riot to see/hear.
Also, lately he has even started sleeping better, maybe from finally being over all that sickness. Instead of waking up four or more times after putting him down around 7PM, last night he only woke three times. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's far better than him waking every hour after midnight like he has done in the past. He's beginning to eat more, which also could be attributed to him sleeping better. Where we used to give him four ounces at a time, we now start with at least five ounces in the bottle. He might not finish the entire bottle every time but at the end of the day he's still taking in more altogether.
Saturday night, however, our son started really screaming in pain when he was put down on his back, and he stopped kicking or grabbing his left leg/foot. We were at a loss trying to figure out what could be the cause. We had a babysitter over that day, a young girl that was recommended to us, and he was fussy most of the day with her, too, but not screaming in agony at any time. He did fall asleep that night but woke up often and uncomfortable. We were sure his leg could be fractured or his something happened to his hip. He could move the leg and his foot, so I didn't think that was the issue. But I felt his quad muscle, however, and it was really tight/hard compared to the other leg's muscle.
The next day he still wouldn't bend the leg even though he wasn't crying when laid down. My wife decided to take him to Urgent Care at a local hospital and find out what was the matter. The helpful pediatrician there felt the problem could be a fractured femur or a sterile abscess. Earlier in the week he had gotten four shots of vaccinations (two in each leg) at his four-month doctor visit, one of which may have caused the abscess. At that time my wife decided against X-rays because of the risk of radiation to our son's testes, so no more definitive answers could be given.
On Monday my wife took the boy to our regular pediatrician and he recommended the X-ray to be sure what was going on. My wife did allow it, as the doctor said X-rays aren't as harsh as they used to be and his "daddy sac" would be covered (see photo). The doctor analyzed the pictures and deduced it was not a fracture, thankfully, nor any other bone separation. It was figured that one of the shots given had nicked a blood vessel causing some internal bleeding that feels like a deep tissue bruise. He should hopefully be over it in a few days...
A couple days later and he still won't bend his left leg at the knee, keeping it stiff when we try to bend it for him. He doesn't seem to mind weight on the leg, like when we hold him standing up, but he still won't kick the it like he usually enjoys. Some ice and perhaps massage should help out. In any case, he isn't too upset about it anymore, and has been a pleasure lately, making us laugh and smile even more than we do to him. Hopefully soon we will get a few days with him being "normal" (no illness or injury), if that even exists.
The past several weeks have been a test in same-ness, at least when it comes to the well-being of our son (and us). Last week he was diagnosed with his THIRD ear infection, riding fast on the heels of a very snotty cold (which he lent to me for a week). He has received antibiotic shots and grape-flavored medicine to relieve the ear infections, but it just keeps recurring. He has had some sort of sickness for the past six weeks, though the past couple of days have shown some improvement. We go in today for his four-month check up with the pediatrician, and I'm hoping he has some decent news on the state of our kid's health.
Besides the stop/start sleeping, the unwillingness to eat and some crabbiness, our son has a pretty good demeanor and has shown he is putting up either a good front or he's giving it the good fight. Most times during the day he is quick to smile and the past few days has gotten his laugh back (he had sore throats that seemed to have made him clam up -- and not eat). He loves silly sounds and laughs easily to them. He's also gotten really good at reaching for things, including his feet which he can limberly put into his mouth (drives me nuts...). Drooling is non-stop now, as well as sucking on his fingers/hands, as well as the aforementioned feet.
What I'm trying to say is, "I wonder what his personality would really be like if he wasn't sick for so long." Would he sleep better? Would he be even more developed than he already appears to be? There have been times during the past one-plus months that were very frustrating because I knew the situation probably would be different had he not been ill. I am really looking forward to enjoy the "real" him when finally/hopefully gets over these ailments.
As much as I'd like to see it differently, we are blaming his entry into daycare for the sicknesses. Almost immediately after starting the daycare, even part-time, did he start feeling the effects of being around about a dozen kids. We've witnessed more than a few runny noses in the place, which obviously leads to being contagious. This could have happened anywhere, but we (as new parents) are a bit paranoid that the day care might not be as hygenic as it could/should be. We even have taken steps to get on a waiting list or two at other facilities, mainly because they appear cleaner (among other things).
To add to our "misery" we are also moving out of our apartment into a duplex, which will afford us more space and other perks (in-home washer/dryer, garage, lots more storage). Plus, at the end of the month we travel back East to visit my family. We have been thinking of doing some "Ferber-izing" with our son to get him to sleep longer, but the move and travel may put that goal off a few weeks.
Suffice it to say, it has been a long few weeks. The wife started work full-time last week, too, and likes to get home early to be with the boy. That is nice but because of that she often has to do some work after he goes to bed. Apparently this is life... I'm not complaining, seriously, but I am still waiting for all those "rewards" I heard that come with having a child. I admit I am easily won over by my son's smile, even when he breaks it out while in his crib when he should be sleeping. Again, I am very excited to meet my real son when he gets over his illnesses and finally reap those rewards!
This week marked a few milestones in our 14-week-old son. This past Saturday he spent the night with his aunt, uncle and cousins as his parents took a short road trip north to get away for some "alone time." Admittedly we spent most of our time talking about the boy and/or getting updates about his status. Not sure which of the three of us fared the best: we missed him, couldn't get any spa treatments and drank too much wine, while he had a big poop and slept pretty well for being away from us for so long. At the end of it he seemed pretty upset and wanted mommy, and she/we really wanted to see him. We spent our first Mother's Day together and vowed not to do that to him again (until the next time, of course).
He got back into our care with another first: his first cold. He could have gotten it anywhere, be it the day care, from either of his parents or at his family's. In any case he got it and is still getting over it. My wife is doing a lot of siphoning to get out the nastiness from his nose, much to the boy's chagrin. He has a cough and sneezes often, but apparently does not have strep throat or anything worse than his first common cold. Surprisingly the day care will take him with a cold (but not high fever), though we did keep him out yesterday.
Keeping him home on a day care day led to another first: Daddy's first real alone time with the boy. For an hour and a half the other weekend I watched him and for an hour of it (or so it seemed) he screamed and cried as loud as he could. He was probably overtired, but I could not soothe him until I started carrying him around in the football hold. He actually fell asleep on my arm, finally, and I was able to put him down until mommy came home to save the day. With this experience in mind I dreaded being alone with him, and this time it would be for at least 4-5 hours.
Not to toot my own horn but I think I did everything right, and the boy responded really well! I fed him ahead of him getting really upset and hungry and put him down for naps when I saw the sleepy cues. He played in his new (used) Exersaucer, had some good tummy time, and we even went out for a walk together. He only cried a little but I managed to figure out he was still hungry and not yet ready to sleep. Even his bit of fussiness before his first nap was easily quelled by some rocking and singing in his ear. It was like night and day, my tow alone experiences. I had nothing but good things to report when mommy got home. Sadly all this didn't help him sleep last night -- he was up at least four times after we put him to bed. It could be the sickness, but the night prior wasn't as bad.
Other recent milestones include the boy being able to reach out for things and grab them, like his toys and his mommy's dinner plate. His cooing vocabulary is getting more extensive and his "talking" bouts more lengthy. He can grab his feet with both hands, and I think this morning he was grabbing his right foot with his left hand. And he's also getting stronger lifting his head during tummy time. I know, not surprising to veteran parents, but this is all new/exciting to me!
This past weekend we took our first airplane trip with the boy. It was to introduce him to our friends in Portland and celebrate their son's (our god son) 2nd birthday. At just under three months old, I was pretty nervous at how our son would react to all the stimuli of flying. As it turns out, I was the only one with frayed nerves.
Packing for a weekend trip was usually a chore in figuring out what to wear, how many shoes to bring and hoping the suitcase was under 50 pounds (it has not been a couple times). But adding another human into the fold posed logistical situations previously un-dealt with. We had to really pare down what we might normally bring and create room in bags for diapers, breast pump and pacifiers. That meant only bringing what was needed, not what might be needed, like exercise gear, or a separate pair of shoes for each outfit (we are both guilty of that). We used a big suitcase for our stuff, but left room for some of his stuff and the pump. We also brought a carry-on bag for more of the baby's needs, and the airline lets you bring on a diaper bag in addition to the carry-on when traveling with a child (very helpful). Magically, it all fit and we didn't forget anything!
We left on Saturday morning, which helped reduce traffic. This also allowed us to have the entire three-seat row to ourselves, so we could bring on the car seat instead of holding the boy the whole 1.5-hour trip (same coming back, too!). We brought the Snap & Go for a stroller and I wanted to bring the car seat base instead of using the seat alone in the rental car, and that was a wise decision (in my opinion). Going through security was interesting since we had to take the boy out of the seat, break down the stroller, then put it and the car seat through the X-ray, along with our shoes, of course (groan). Going out it was a smooth-ish process because the terminal was fairly quiet; coming back at PDX was a bit more worrisome for me since we had people breathing down our necks behind us, but everyone stayed human and didn't complain. The formula had to be set aside and checked, which the wife thought was pretty cool, as the TSA guy tested the vapors from the formula to make sure it was legit. Oddly/scarily enough, this check did not happen at the Portland airport...
I really like that we can board the plane earlier because we're traveling with a child. I don't necessarily enjoy sitting around on a plane longer, but it's nice to have a couple extra minutes to get situated (not to mention some actual overhead space). I guess there is a flip-flopping rule about the placement of the car seat in the row because we originally put it in between us so we both could hang out with the boy, in plain sight of a flight attendant. A different attendant came and told us he had to be by the window because my wife wouldn't be able to get out of the row in case of emergency. It made sense to us, but it would have been nice not to have to go through the (admittedly not difficult) strap-in process again.
We knew to either feed him or use a pacifier to help ear popping, but our son got hungry before take-off and ate most of his formula before we even got to the runway. The by-product of this was him falling asleep and that made it all the more easier. He didn't wake up during the ascent and wasn't bothered when he did wake during flight. He was in/out of sleep again for the long descent or did a lot of yawning on his own, again with not complaints. (I forgot to mention that we were a bit worried about all this because earlier in the week he was diagnosed (early) with his first ear infection.) On the way home he fed on the ascent and sucked on his pacifier on the way down, with success both ways. He was a little fussy on the way home due to the flight being near his bedtime, but overall it would have been difficult to know that he was the youngest person on the plane (and the only baby on the plane for the ride home).
In June/July we have a bigger test for him since we will be flying coast to coast. To insure comfort we had to buy a seat for him, but that should let us have our own row again, depending on the plane. I can only hope the staff of this airline will be as helpful and accommodating as the one we used to go North. After seeing their fee schedule and the red tape we had to cut through to use our "free" vouchers earned from being unceremoniously bumped (again) from a flight last year, I am not so confident. But if this short trip was any indication of our son's capacity for travel, he will be the least of my worries!
I've been shying away from writing posts recently because I feel they will be redundant in nature. Also, I don't want to seem like I'm complaining. But the issues we've been going through the past two months with our little guy are only getting incrementally better. He's growing, he's really cute and sweet, but he still isn't maturing in some ways where I thought he might be given that he is closing in on three months old.
The good stuff first. Last week he was weighed in at 13 pounds, 8 ounces, which I correctly guessed prior to the doctor visit. I did change that original guess to six ounces after a little thought, because I couldn't imagine him growing at the rate he had been the prior two months. His weight is pretty average for his age, which was 10 weeks on Easter Sunday. His height, however, which I can't remember right now, is still in the 90th percentile, meaning he has the height of a 3.5-month-old child. So our boy is long and lean -- lucky him. Don't worry, he still has the requisite rolls and folds all babies get as they fatten up.
Also, we're getting some great smiles and a lot of cooing from him. His vocabulary of sounds seems to be growing by the day, with some high-pitched squeals thrown in here and there. It's really fun getting him to match our tones and smile when we beam at him. It is the reward of having a child, or so it is said.
On to the not so good... Our son is either normal in this regard, or we don't know what we're doing, but we still cannot get him to sleep for long(er) stretches at night. We have a routine of bathing him and/or reading to him prior to putting him down in his crib, and this is usually around 8PM. Often he will sleep to past 11 o'clock and sometimes until midnight, but then he is crying and seems hungry. He will get a feeding then goes back to sleep fairly easily, only to wake most of the time within an hour. Last week he would sleep for a couple hours at a time after that midnight feeding, then wake for good around 6AM. This felt normal and manageable. Recently, however, he'd sleep for the 3-4 hours initial stretch, but now he would wake every hour after that. This seems like a major step backwards...
He gets naps during the daytime, but I don't think they are for more than an hour at a time. Yesterday he did get a 1.5 hour nap before I got home from work, but mostly his naps are more like catnaps here and there. Because I don't see him during the weekdays, I could be mischaracterizing this. I don't even want to mention the major screaming attacks he has when he fights going to sleep! Since we're often on the go on the weekends he catches some z's in the car seat during our various errands. So I feel he's either not sleeping enough during the day, which messes up his night sleep, or he is overstimulated from a lot of activity during his waking hours. My wife thinks his room is too cold, though we do keep him swaddled with a blanket partially covering him and wearing a hat. So who knows?
We are attending a sleep class/seminar this Saturday so hopefully some light can be shed on what might be happening. Is his behavior normal? Are we trying to do too much with him, thus overstimulating him? It's very frustrating, though I probably have set my expectations too high. You tell me, please!
It's been a rough week or so, and perhaps rougher (more rough?) the past couple of days. By rough I mean it could be a lot worse, but for us being new parents, the experience of trying to get our son to get quality sleep for long(er) stretches, and at the appropriate times, has been, well, "rough."
The past couple of days/nights we've been trying to ween him out of his cradle and into the crib. Gone is the busy mobile and stuffed animals sharing space in the crib. The bumper is still there but we've discussed doing something with it, as well. All in the name of keeping our son concentrated on falling asleep and not interested in his surroundings. So far, it hasn't yet worked according to plan. We're not sure if he's happy sleeping on his back, though he did okay in the cradle. He sleeps well, however, in his swing and car seat, where he's on an angle. He also sleeps fairly well on his side, but we don't have anything to prop him up, if we even decided to do such a thing. Let's just say it's been a battle, okay?
We're trying to keep a schedule, or at least a routine, but our method has flexibility. He sleeps, feeds when he wakes, has some play time while awake, then goes to sleep again. Every other night we give him a bath to calm him, give him a massage with lotion, then read to him in hushed voices with the lights down before putting him down for sleepy time. At least that's the plan. Either because of gas, colic, or not liking being on his back, the past couple nights he has been really wailing shortly after he goes down. He lulls us into a false sense of security by being "asleep" in our arms only to scream shortly after laying him down.
The other part of the plan is letting him cry a little before rushing into comfort him, trying to get him to self soothe. We've only just started doing this, so we did try to assure him we were always there when he needed us. Now that he's almost two months old (already!) we'd like him to learn to calm himself down when he wakes during sleep. This process definitely isn't easy since our son isn't much of a cryer, but more of a wailer or screamer. His "cry" makes him sound like he's in pain but of course as soon as he's picked up he stops, so we know he's okay (since he doesn't show any signs of being sick or hurt).
The process will also take some time for him to learn, also, and is hasn't been easy for me. I don't know if it's the pitch, the volume or what, but something about his crying really works me over, almost to the point of wincing when I hear it. Last night I was slightly better about it than the night before, so hopefully I will get used to it and/or our son will learn better to relax and soothe himself. I'm also afraid our neighbors in the apartment next door will call the police thinking we're hurting our child (the wall of the nursey is adjacent to their living room, and vice versa). From what I can tell, our neighbors also use this cry-out method, since at 8:10pm every night their youngest daughter, who is perhaps almost two, cries herself to sleep. I don't consider it payback, per se, but our son's crying should be abated by some determination and effort on our part, while their daughter may continue crying at night indefinitely.
We know that a well-rested baby is a happy baby, so we will keep on truckin' with getting the boy to sleep through the night. I read too many books pre-birth to let our son get over on us and think he's boss (he is). The colic thing sort of throw's a monkey wrench into our routine or methods, but keeping his stimulation in check and well-fed and rested should help us stay on track. Last night, for instance, he slept for 3.5 hours straight (after a bit of struggle), then got a feeding, then slept another couple of hours. All this was while on his back, in his crib. There's surely room for improvment, but it's a first step!
Our little man Jack went to his pediatrician yesterday and weighed in a 11 pounds, one ounce, which we came to find out is actually normal for a baby at five weeks. We didn't know until yesterday that his head size was on the small size at the last appointment but has since gained size to become average also. His length, however, at over 23 inches, is above average for his age, which I consider to be pretty cool, for some reason. When is it good to start a kid in sports? (Kidding -- anytime is a good time, LOL)
He still has colic, though it is apparently on the "mild" side, since he doesn't cry for hours on end. There are a couple points during each day, mostly in the evenings, where he does have trouble passing gas and stool. When it (gas) does eventually come out, it's sort of comical but mostly just smelly. The pediatrician made a joke that smelly gas is hereditary, and since I wasn't at the appointment I'm sure he was referring to me, har har. Jack's crying isn't funny, true, but the outcome of all his red faces and squirming can be a little funny, especially when his farts last a few seconds at a time.
But enough about poopy and boom booms... We're trying to get the boy to sleep better during the night, creating some sort of battle plan with strategies and protocols, etc. We've instituted a bath ritual every two days but I don't think Jack realizes it's part of our attack to get him to begin the sleep process. We read to him and feed him afterwards, though for now he's more interested in the bottle than what's on the page. We don't expect him to sleep all night long yet, but we'd like him to get used to being in a bed, on his back, and maybe even self-soothe himself more. He's not a big fan of his lovely crib yet, so we still put him in the bassinet. Personally, I think because it's still cold he doesn't like all the open-ness of a crib, but rather the closeness of his cradle. Hopefully when it's warmer he will dig the crib. My wife thinks there's "too much going on" in his crib with the bumpers, mobile, and stuffed animal friends on the edge for him to ignore and fall asleep. I'm not in total agreement, but until he sleeps well in the crib, I don't have many other explanations.
It's definitely been interesting having a fussy baby. I mean, the more exposure and knowledge I get about his condition(s), the more I'm comfortable around him, even when he's screaming. Sometimes in the car he has serious bouts of crying and yelling at the top of his little lungs, but he cannot be consoled. I've only been witness to that behavior once (unfortunately not close to home), while the wife has been hit by it a few times now. The doctor told us there's nothing we can do but let him cry it out, that it might be the position he's in that puts uncomfortable pressure on his tummy. But it's completely nerve-wracking and heartbreaking, and I/we feel pretty helpless.
We can only be happy in the fact that this will be something he should outgrow soon, as his internal mechanisms mature and he learns how to deal with it himself, too. And as he grows so will we, finding new ways to soothe and comfort him. And before we know it we're getting a whopping four straight hours of sleep a night, ha ha!
Things with the new boy are progressing fairly normally. In three and a half weeks he has gained over 2 pounds and weighed in yesterday at over 10 pounds. He doesn't look fattened, but his cheeks are very squishy and his mom say his fingers have gotten fatter. He still has the skinny baby legs and arms, so I guess most of the weight must be in his head.
He already can move his head around and hold it up pretty well. He still smacks his face into my shoulder when I hold him, which of course causes his to cry. This morning mommy noticed how baby Jack has started trying to roll over, and he can at least get onto his side a bit. She had him in his bassinet so she could shower and noticed it was lopsided when she got out (it rocks and wasn't locked in a prone position). Jack rolled a little to one side, since he can, and made it tilt.
He sleeps pretty well during the day and seems to always be hungry. When he wakes he doesn't really cry to announce his hunger; it's more of a yell. A lot of times I think his hunger determines his mood: If he's not satisfied he will scream through diaper changes, baths, or other attention. When his belly is full he's a real treat to be around, especially when he's still awake and wide-eyed. Problem for me is, he takes SO long to eat and it seems to take so much for him to get satiated. I feel like he's overfeeding and we're on our way to having a very large (obese) boy. On top of that, I have a paranoia that giving him formula is like making him drink soda, though I know it's silly (kind of).
In the evenings, however, especially after like 9PM, Jack starts to get fussy to the point that feeding and changing him doesn't calm him down like it does earlier in the day. Apparently the gas inside him builds up and he finally needs to pass it, which gives him fits. When we told the pediatrician about his behavior (loose stool, crying/screaming) he gave his diagnosis: the dreaded COLIC. My wife knew this was my biggest fear (is there a small fear?), a colic-y child, especially after I told her how I read so much about its challenges. At least for now it's not too bad, only occurring in the evening, but it's right before bed time. During the day he feeds and falls asleep pretty easily, and stays asleep. At night he feeds then yells for a while before either needing to be changed and fed again, or eventually falls asleep after midnight. He sleeps for a couple hours before needing more attention, then repeats this a few hours later.
Last night we gave him an anti-diarrhea medicine which seemed to do the trick (I guess we will see before/after the next time). We tried Mylicon but it didn't seem to take all that well, though we know people who swear by it. I wish there was something more natural to help him, but at this point it's about him and us getting some comfortable sleep. Again, it could be (or might get) worse, and his colic could strike during the daytime too. We know this will subside eventually but also know it won't be easy going until then.
It's been very frustrating for me since I read all about this and learned how to help him cope, but when it came time to act my education seemed to fail, at least so far. Swaddling is nice, but he's gotten strong enough to squirm an arm out during his gassy fussing. The "shushing" in his ear has not worked at all. Holding him on his stomach only makes him madder. We have not tried white noise, but since he does get to sleep eventually, I only think it would just be noise for noise's sake.
Apparently I need to be patient, and attend to his needs as best as possible. Getting frustrated doesn't help anyone (mommy especially). It's not Jack's fault he ended up this way, so I'm definitely not mad at him. I admit I was really concerned/worried/dreading about having a colic baby, but now I have one and will still have to love him the way he is, maybe more even...
P.S. Please excuse the blurry quality of the photo. It was taken with my Smartphone on 2/22/09.
On Sunday, February 1st, at 10:09AM Mommy and Daddy in Waiting welcomed Jackson Race into the big, wide world. We knew he was coming around that time due to elective Cesarean Section. The fear from my wife was Jackson might be too big, any induction could be harmful to the baby and end in c-section anyway, or there may be shoulder dystotia in the boy and he could suffer a broken shoulder or worse. So my wife elected to deliver that way, and it ended up being a decent decision, as Jack had a loose knot in his umbilical cord. He must have jumped through it early on in the pregnancy but thankfully it never tightened. The nurses commented, however, that it easily could have gotten tighter during a vaginal delivery.
Anyway, he's here and, yes, life has surely changed. It's been five days but I'm still in disbelief, like I'm watching a movie of someone else's life. He's so tiny, making seem almost unreal, but hearing him breathe and seeing him stretch, etc., makes it hit home every time that this is the big dance now. I pictured this time of my life for months but now that it's finally here, I'm still in awe.
He's a bit fussy, which makes me feel he is definitely MY child, but each day that has passed has make me enjoy him more and get to know his tendencies better. Like almost any baby, he's surely no fan of getting his diaper changed, but the venom in his cries and screams during the changes really threw me off in the early going. I'm feeling pretty comfortable changing him, especially after NEVER changing a baby ever before, but Jack makes it sound like he's in real agony. This really freaked me out but the nurses and doctor haven't found any reason to believe his behavior is any concern. "He's a screamer" has been the answer. So now I make sure to have the changing table prepared to cut down the time he's "wide open."
The things we didn't want to do, like using a pacifier and supplementing his breast-milk diet with formula, has been invaluable so far. Once the wife gets her body used to his needs and can really get the milk flowing, we didn't see any other way around the formula needs. Our doctor approved so we did what we felt was the right thing, at least for now. The pacifier first became necessary during the boy's circumcision, which was sort of a late decision. I can't easily tell you how I came to the decision of getting the procedure done but I stomached it. The nurse gave Jackson a pacifier with sugar water to calm him, and it had a good effect. I told my wife that if I had seen the procedure prior to making the decision, I probably would have gone the other way. I wasn't disgusted but it just really seemed unnecessary. Oh well, he can replace it when he gets older if he wants...
But along with "screamer" our boy's also gotten tagged with the label of "sucker," hence our continued use of the pacifier. We knew he couldn't use my wife's nipples to pacify whenever he wanted so we gave it a try with some success. He hasn't lost his early ability to latch, so we're pleased, and we try our best to limit the pacifier use.
In later posts, now that the "in-waiting" tag of my blog sub-head is no longer necessary, I'd like to explore my feelings about this new chapter of our lives. I've found myself being much more affectionate towards the boy than I thought I would, and surprisingly comfortable with him in my arms. I can't get over how easily my wife has taken to motherhood, though I've known she would be since we got married. She's already able to multi-task effortlessly. Sometimes I feel I'm not doing enough when stacked up against her efforts in breastfeeding the boy. So I try and help out by making sure she has water to drink, changing Jack's diapers every chance I get, keeping the changing table ready to go, cooking meals, and other household chores. Last night I went to the store for some dinner items and ended up getting 10 times as many items on my list, just so we'd have things to eat that we'd both enjoy (Ben & Jerry's FroYo, e.g.). I still won't feel I'm doing enough compared to what she's gone through over the past nine months, and especially over the last few days but I hope I'm building a good foundation to build upon a strong fatherhood and marriage.
There's a rather long essay on Parenting.com where the author talks about her anger at her husband's lack of parenting skills. It's a long, but fascinating read, with statistics about the different angers women seem to have at their children's fathers. Read the story here:
I admit, my first thought was "It's your fault woman," and I know that will be a VERY unpopular stance. This woman seemed surprised at her husband's (and others') behavior, as if they hadn't been living together or married for any time prior to having the child. We get to pick who we have children with, at least you would think so, so it is logical to me that at some point one would ask themselves, "Will this person make a good parent."
The jury is still out on my parenting skills, obviously, since the baby still hasn't been born. I get a lot of "You're going to be a great father" encouragement, but who knows. I feel I have a certain grasp on what may be needed from the both of us, so I will be able to help as much as possible and do my part. According to this story, the way I read it, many women (including the author), might not have known what they were getting into. A selfish person may make for a selfish parent. Some people have very old-fashioned ideas on parenting roles, like the man makes the money while the women stay home to care for the kids, and dinner's done when he gets home. It's incredibly obvious to me that communicating about each parent's expectations PRIOR to the baby being born might be beneficial.
Not until the very last paragraph of the story does the author mention what might help women get over the anger: "The ones we also really need to talk to, however, are our husbands." This was only after suggesting mothers should talk to other moms, to see they are not alone with their anger issues. I'm sorry, but this sounds totally backwards to me. If you just bottle this anger up and not communicate your feelings, nothing good will come of it. I can appreciate the anger, but I can't be too understanding if I don't know you're harboring it.
I've tried to prove to my wife that I'm totally into being a decent parent, really giving it a go. I've had other delusions of grandeur, but I know the stakes are really high this time. I've read my books, paid attention and asked questions at classes, watched DVDs and recorded baby TV shows (Deliver Me is our new favorite), I've tried my best at helping around the house with chores or getting what the wife needs when she is unable (putting on her shoes is funny). If there's anything I'm missing I hope that she knows she only needs to ask, or remind me. Part of what the author writes about, where her husband can't remember certain details about their kids, I can understand. But I don't always know what my wife does or doesn't know, and vice versa, so I'm pretty confident we will communicate about those gaps.
I figured this was still an issue, given how many talk shows on TV still deal with dead-beat dads and the continuing onslaughtof TV "comedies" that have an overweight, oafish dad who is clueless about child rearing (yet somehow married to some hot woman). Whatever happened to the Ward Cleaver's of the world? Mike Brady hired help for Carol but they still have tiffs that resulted (tidily) in communication and resolution. Where are those characters today? If that's where people get role models (heaven help us), then a decent portrayal of good fathering would be nice. For every Cliff Huxtable or Race Bannon, we're stuck with a Ray Ramano or Peter Griffin instead.
Nobody wins when there's anger in a relationship, especially the kids. One thing I remember a lot of growing up was the hollering my parents did at each others. That was mainly due to their individual stubbornness but probably also due to lack of communication. Did I learn that's how to get a point across? Maybe, and I've taken certain steps to quell that impulse. I"m trying to communicate my feelings now, before there's a dust-up. When we're both sleep-deprived these next several months, that type of behavior will be very important. It seems so obvious to me, but maybe I got lucky in picking who I'm having a child with.
Still in the waiting phase for baby. Now the doctor thinks he may be on time, give or take a day. Or something, who knows...
Wife went to the doctor yesterday and upon exam was able to touch the boy's head (?), meaning her cervix may be dilated about 1 centimeter, I don't know. I feel like I'm quoting my wife but if she was dilated, wouldn't that mean labor would be upon us soon? Anyway, that's what I thought I heard, but in my defense my wife was on the Bluetooth and there's an incredible noise in my office due to reconstruction on the other side of my office wall (literally).
Wife told me last night maybe I should start driving into work starting ASAP, but we agreed on Monday (I take the train). So I bought some parking passes and I'm ready to bolt at a moment's notice. However, my cell phone doesn't get a signal where I work and I'm not always in my office. I've told my unit's clerk to perhaps expect a call from my wife if she has trouble getting in touch with me. I am Bluetooth equipped and have my phone on a nerdy belt clip so I can keep the phone on my person at all times (which I still forget to do sometimes). Now I'm expecting at least one false alarm, and I'm pretty surprised there hasn't been one yet. I finally got MY hospital bag packed with essentials like jammies and reading materials (no, no more baby books, gag). Also last week I put a few things in my Diaper Dude, the father diaper bag I got from my brother- and sister-in-law. I have the requisite diapers, wipes, blanket and burp cloth. I'll need a change of clothes, too, and I'm sure there are other things I can put in there. The bag isn't as snazzy as the wife's "designer" bag, but does the job and allows me to avoid having to carry hers around.
We will be having music in the labor room, but we're still deciding whether to do video during the birthing. Not the full-on close-up of the crowning and all, but maybe just taking video from a more respectful angle. Our friends have gone over the virtues of filming it, but I still can't figure out if it's for us or not. I liked their idea of filming when we leave the hospital and take him into the house for the first time, so we'll see.
Everyday I get asked if I think my wife's belly is dropping. Seriously I can't tell either way. Her belly is quite large anyway, so there seems to be a natural gravitational pull downward already. Also, can someone assure me that the snoring will go away after baby is born? Please?
If the baby were to come today, we'd be ready in the figurative sense (after the shock and awe subsided). On Monday we got the car seats installed by the CHP, who were very helpful and gave a bunch of information. Unfortunately they did not have Erik Estrada's glowing white teeth, but still... We took both cars in and the process went smoothly, even though we had a new style of base they had not yet seen. The CHP figured it out and I feel relatively safe about their installation jobs.
Now we can say we're done with the preparations. The wife's hospital bag is packed, we have diapers and wipes, we did about a dozen loads of laundry to clean all the boy's new and/or hand-me-down clothes, and now can bring him home safely. A newsletter I subscribe to actually helped remind the wife that she needed to bring an outfit to come home in, since I guess the hospital gown wouldn't look smashing in the photos. Admittedly, I still have to pack a bag since our hospital has private rooms and I can stay overnight. In my head I keep saying "I'll do it tonight" so hopefully this is the night the mantra sticks. The other thing I want to do is organize a few of the plugged in items in the nursery, either with a power strip or on outlet expander, then use our new outlet protectors to cover the unused ones.
Speaking of home safety, we attended a lame "class" on the subject the other night. The "teacher" just read off of her PowerPoint slides as we read along to ourselves, adding very little anecdotal or additional tidbits of information. From our readings and other classes it became dull very quickly since we were already pretty versed on the topic. When the teacher gave us a break with 45 minutes to go we grabbed our coats and made like a tree and blew outta there. We know we will have to pick up a lot of stuff around the house in preparation for when the boy starts being mobile, like candle holders, photo frames, our hanging wine glasses on the wine rack, etc. Setting up those chic bumpers for edges doesn't seem fun or attractive but I guess it has to be done (does it?). He's a boy, wouldn't he love just wearing a helmet around the house?
Also, to prepare for time constraints and lack of patience, the wife has begun to make food and put it in the freezer, with more on the way (she started her leave on Monday). Yesterday was split pea soup and lasagna with spinach, mushrooms and ground turkey. We sampled it and I look forward to sleepily re-heating the home-cooked goodies. She also has become quite proficient with a slow cooker, which will allow us to toss a whole bunch of ingredients into the pot and come home to a ready-to-eat meal, with leftovers. Makes me long for more freezer space!
Before I forget or miss the chance to do it more timely, I/we want to give a VERY heartfelt thanks to all the friends and family who have given us incredible support the past several months. We've received entirely too many gifts from you, many we never saw coming, and we cannot thank you enough. The support and advice I've gotten since embarking on this journey has made me more excited and anxious (in a good way) than I would have ever thought possible. I can't say I'm "ready" for the onslaught of (eventually rewarding) work that will hit us the moment our son is born, but I am quite confident that our friends and family will be there to help carry us through it all with love, care and guidance (cookies help, too).
P.S. Feel free to contact me with any "birthing gift" ideas either via the comments section or here. I have some thoughts but would like to know if it's cheesey or not... Thanks!
Here's an interesting/heartbreaking/happy-ending tale of a family who made themselves "poor" to help their disabled daughter get the proper care that the parents' combined incomes and insurance couldn't or wouldn't provide. Something seems to be wrong with the system...
We're in the "final throes, if you will," as not-soon-enough-to-be-former Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney once (in)famously said, and entering the last weeks of pregnancy. It's now 35.5 weeks and my wife's belly looks like it's read to burst. She looks great as she's all belly, though the little guy inside is making normal things even more difficult for her in these final few weeks. It's to be expected, of course, but the reality is always more difficult than what the stories may foretell.
Yesterday, the wife and sis-in-law went to the OB/GYN to get an ultrasound of the boy since last week the doctor had concerns that he may be getting too big and labor would possibly have to be induced. It seems some fears were allayed as the ultrasound showed him to be about SIX pounds (though the margin of error is an amazing +/- one lb.). So he could be seven or five pounds, but gauging by even my poor eyesight, I'd have to err on the + side!
All his parts seem to be intact, and no cleft palate was seen (which I didn't know could be determined in utero). He is definitely a boy, since the wife got a glimpse of his Balzac (inside joke), which she thought looked rather large. I can't claim responsibility for that, really, it's supposed to be common in babies. The ultrasound photos she got showed him looking right at the camera and you could see his little open mouth. He really looked a lot more "normal" than in other ultrasounds, though I was still looking mainly at his skull. We now know how he's situated inside so when we feel him thrust or parry we know what parts he's moving. It's all pretty cool stuff...!
I'm definitely getting antsy to start this journey. I think about the whole thing all the time and find myself daydreaming about scenarios with my son (though when I picture him in my head I see the kid version of me, for some reason. Any Freuds care to take on that?). We seem to be as prepared as we're going to get, except for the obvious onslaughts that come which we have no/little experience with, such as sleep deprivation and changing our entire lifestyle. I have grand illusions of trying to do things "differently" though I'm sure the boy will have a monkey wrench or two to toss into those plans. The idea of letting a baby sleep in a car seat, for example, goes against most of what I've read, but I know it's been successful and you have to go with what works, so I'm told. I also know kids love to run around in their Halloween costumes in April, say, though I abhor the idea. So while I'd love to re-write the "book" I will probably ending caving or being the "pushover" my wife thinks I will be (to her bad cop, haha).
So the nerves, anxiety, excitement and worrying has started to kick it up a notch. It's all for the good, though, and I welcome it. Bring it on?!