Baby’s First Laugh … For Dad

Mommy was of course the first parent to get GT to laugh. But, she also had the privilege of 8 hours of intensive training each day with GT during her maternity leave. Then one day after work, while holding GT, he was trying to support himself on my chest. In doing so, he started to sway one hand and then smack it down. The swings began to get wilder and I caught a stray palm in the face. Of course, my reaction was say “ouch!” Man-o-man, you’d swear I just won Last Comic Standing because he thought that was the funniest thing ever and began laughing.  And that’s how Dad received his baby’s first laugh.

From that day, I’ve become the self-proclaimed King of Laughs in our house. It could be making animal noises (the monkey is his favorite), playing tease or tug-of-war, peek-a-boo, or tickling his back or legs; it doesn’t matter, he breaks out into a laughing fit. So, don’t despair if you haven’t been able to get your child to laugh, the time will come!

On a side note, during another Daddy Daycare stint, we were attempting dinner while Mommy was at work. GT was starting to get a little rambunctious in the high chair and I told him a stern “No!” He paused what he was doing, looked up at me, and instead of the tears I was expecting, the little apple of my eye laughed in my face. Staring at each other, one of us in a full giggle fit, it was impossible to not join in. Obviously this was a mistake because now anytime I try to tell him no, it’s giggles and he’ll just keep repeating what he’s doing.

Please leave a comment about your favorite laughing moment!

First Time Daddy Daycare

Shortly after Mommy returned to work, I had my first day-long “daddy daycare” session. Up to this point, the longest solo parenting stint had only been a couple of hours, most of which GT slept through. This was going to be a big milestone and notch in my parenting belt. It started out just like any other day, and then Mom left…dun dun duuuun.

A little background info on GT, he HATES to be pee wet. I’m not sure if what physically painful to pee for him, or if he just didn’t like the wet feeling. Poop, different story, because the kid could/would sit in his own feces for extended periods of time. But, as soon as the golden liquid erupted, screaming his head off. He is also notorious for letting us change a poop diaper, waiting for the new diaper to get put on, then peeing in it, and crying until he’s changed…again. So, to say there were just a few diaper changes on Daddy’s first official daycare day is an understatement, we had gone through 12 diapers by lunch and another 10 diapers by the time Mommy came home.

The day was spent in constant motion. Even when he took his naps, you don’t have time to just sit and relax. You have to wash bottles, restock diapers and wipes, prep more bottles, make sure he’s breathing, find time for yourself to eat, use the bathroom, keep the pet away from him, threaten to disown the pet if they wake the boy, fold laundry, and most importantly…check in with Mom and assure her that everything is going okay and that her baby is still alive.

Some tips for success on future Daddy Daycare Days:

  • Prep as many bottles as you can. Being able to pull one out of the fridge and just warm it, versus having to mix a bottle and still warm it will save you valuable minutes when your kid is hangry and crying.
  • Have an Itzbeen. It sounds stupid, “why do I need a timer to keep track of various tasks?” Because it’s a life saver in keeping track of time between diapers, bottles, and naps. Until you experience it, you won’t understand just how much time blurs when you’re constantly moving.
  • Realize that your patients WILL be tested. I had to keep reminding myself that GT’s actions are not voluntary, he’s reacting to instinctual feelings and impulses. There were several times I had to step back and count to 10…or 30 while GT cried with no foreseeable solution. But, since I was so caught up and focused on his crying that I was often forgetting the simplest solutions. It wasn’t until I calmed myself down and checked that Itzbeen that I would realize, oh it’s already been two hours since his last bottle, or he’s been awake for 2 hours so let’s try to take a nap.
  • Don’t hesitate to call Grandma. Grandmas can make anything better. They’re only second to Mommy.

Finding Child Care As A New Parent … The Definition of Trust

One of the more difficult tasks while you’re expecting will be finding child care as a new parent.  If you’re lucky enough to have a spouse able to stay home, that’s great!  But for the rest of us, finding a place where you feel comfortable enough to leave your child in the care of strangers for 7 – 10 hours a day will be one of the most challenging tasks before the baby arrives.  For us, to say we were caught off guard at just being able to find a place that had space for new kids, is an understatement.  Some places had a 4 – 6 month waiting list in order to reserve a spot.  We were lucky enough to find a facility that only had a 3 month waiting list.  Three months! The nursery hadn’t even been completed yet and we were already registering our child for daycare.

The Choosing Process

We did some online research to find certified child care facilities, both in-home and daycare centers.  We first tried to reach out to several local in-home places, but none of them returned our phone calls.  So much for Midwestern values!  So, we moved on to the daycare centers.  The first appointment we had left me unsettled because the whole facility smelled like pee and bleach, and the “teachers” looked so frazzled that they were just moments away from snapping.  Not the most ideal way to make new parents trust in their child care model and make us want to give you our child!  The Mommy-to-be had visited another daycare center, but wasn’t impressed for similar reasons to the first.  Our third appointment went much better.  The place was clean, no hints of bodily fluids in the air, the child to teacher ratio was low enough to make us feel like our kid wouldn’t be ignored, and their sensory and education plan was outstanding.  Never in my life up until that moment, did I ever know that such things would be a concern in my life.  Then the other shoe dropped, you definitely pay for what you see.  But, then no price is too high for the well-being of your child.

So, plan ahead, figure out if you want in-home or a daycare center, map out their locations, get those appointment schedules, and start budgeting.

The First Day

After finding your child care, the next hardest event will be the first day of dropping your child off at daycare.  The amount of trust that goes into leaving your child with near strangers is so extreme, that trying to describe it doesn’t do it justice.  Needless to say, emotions were high and some tears were shed.  But, the reward is at the end of the day when you arrive and you’re greeted with a smile and cheerful giggles.

Sleep for new parents, the most precious commodity

Soon after bringing baby home, most likely on night 2 or 3, you’ll realize that sleep for new parents is the most precious commodity.  I say night 2 or 3, because you’ll probably try to stay awake through night 1 just to make sure your new responsibility is still breathing.  In our case, our sleep plan had gone out the window while we were still in the hospital.  We quickly learned that our little guy was having trouble staying latched during his feedings with Mommy.  So, Plan B was rolled out for Mommy to start pumping and GT would be bottle fed.  This actually made me feel more useful than originally anticipated during feedings.  Even though Mommy would still have to wake up every two hours or so to replenish the food supply, I’d be able to help out a little bit by at least being able to feed him.

The Plan

I was able to take two weeks of “Paternity Leave” right after GT’s arrival.  So, I was able to help get him used to a bottle and get him on the initial “every 2 hour” schedule.  Initially, we tried to sleep in between the feedings and alternate the designated feeder.  I should also mention here that GT slept in our room at this point, not in bed with us but in a bassinet.  This just left us both exhausted the next day.  So, we decided to take shifts and move the bassinet downstairs for the time being.  I would go to bed between 6pm – 8pm and then wake up between 10pm – 12am, while Mommy then went to bed.  Yes, she still woke up every 2 hours to pump, but at least she didn’t have to actually feed him.  Then I’d stay awake until 4am – 6am and take then nap until 8am – 10am.  It sounds crazy, but we made it work and believe it or not we actually felt more rested than trying to sleep in between feedings.  This worked right up until I had to go back to work and then the plan changed again.

Back to Work

When the time came for me to head back to work we modified the shifts a bit.  Mommy would go to bed around 6pm – 8pm and I would stay up until around midnight.  Then I’d go to bed and Mommy would take over the feedings while pumping through the early hours of the morning.  By the time Mommy had to go back to work, she was able to space the pumping sessions to a 10-2-6 schedule (every 4 hours).  Also, GT was slowly spacing out his nightly feedings and eventually he got it down to just one bottle through the night.

So, if you take anything away from this post, it should be that there IS light at the end of the tunnel.  You’ll have to figure out what works for you, Mommy, and the baby, but you’ll survive.  Sure, you’ll be tired, grouchy, exhausted, spent, zombie-like, but you also adjust and things will get easier!

UPDATE: By the time he was four months, he was sleeping through the night without waking up.  YES, WE KNOW WE ARE LUCKY.

The Pregnancy Hospital Bill

If you’re a father-to-be like I was, several weeks after hearing the news that you’re going to be a father, the question of how much will the pregnancy hospital bill be will arise.  I checked with the insurance, I talked with the hospital’s billing department, I talked with other fathers in my office, and they all told me that it would be the price of decent used car.

So, we started to put a little extra into savings here and there, and cut a few meals out.  When the pregnancy hospital bill came due, we were close, but not 100% able to pay in cash.  Worried that they’d keep our poor child in escrow, I asked what the options were.  The hospital foolishly said we could set up a payment plan with no interest, and we’d be able to leave the car lot without paying in full.

I’m not in support of doing nothing, being able to pay anything upfront will help in the long run.  But, if you can’t pay the entire bill, talk with the hospital.  They’ll more than likely be willing to work with you.

Feel free to drop in a comment down below with any stories or advice you’d like to share.

The Golden Shower

At some point, the conditions will be ripe for a perfect storm of sorts resulting in your child’s first Golden Shower.  Here’s the tale of what happened to my wife and I when our son baptized us into official parenthood.

I began removing the protective gauze from his still raw baby-hood and cleaning up a particularly pasty diaper.  I was so focused on cleaning up the poop paste that I didn’t notice him starting to pee whilst in his birthday suit.  I saw a blur from the corner of my eye, which turned out to be my wife darting towards me.  I didn’t realize what was going until I looked down and saw her hand covering his baby-hood.  She said, “Oh my God, I think he just peed in his mouth.”  I looked up at him and his torso and head were covered in liquid.  In pure astonishment I began to try and mop up the liquid and give him a thorough wipe down.  But, there was just so much that we admitted defeat and decided it was bath time.  So, Mom left to wash her own hands and start drawing up a sink bath, and I was left to attend to the golden saddened child.  While I was trying to consolidate all of the pee-soaked diapers, clothes, and wipes, I began to feel a warm, wet sensation on my own hand.  I looked down and was amazed to see yet another 6″ liquid eruption shooting straight up into the air and then splashing down.  After scrambling to find any absorbent material, I looked up at my wife in awe and just started laughing.

After getting his bath, reapplying the protective gauze, diapering him, getting him dressed, feeding him, and then laying him down we heard the now all too familiar sound of a different type of eruption in diaper.

Heading home, but before you go…one last thing.

After a couple days at the hospital to ensure both Mom and Baby are doing well, you’ll have to venture out into the world as new parents.  The seemingly menial task of just driving home, a task you’ve probably completed a thousand times over, now has a new sense of pressure.  You’re now in charge of protecting this little person that is 2% reliant on you for survival (the other 98% is Mom).  As part of the discharge process, you essentially have to pass your first tests as parents to the nurse’s satisfaction, or else they’ll apparently not let you take the baby home.  So, you begin going over and getting quizzed on feeding, maintenance, and safety.  After passing all quizzes, the nurse will have one final question, “Have you heard of or know what SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is?”  We both stop what we’re doing and look up at the nurse and reply that we have heard about.  But, that’s not good enough for the nurse, she further insists that “You know that if effects some babies and there are no known causes, some babies will just pass away in their sleep.”  We are literally just moments from crossing the safety threshold of the hospital and you’re choosing now to lob this grenade at us?  At least you’ll have a topic to research and study during the sleepless nights to come.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there were approximately 3,500 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths in the United States in 2013, which SIDS accounts for almost half.  Also in United States during 2013, there were 23 lightning fatalities, 2 shark attack fatalities, 4,585 work related fatalities.  But these were all “older” humans and engaged in various activities, not just trying to breath in their sleep.  The hardest part to grasp about SIDS, is the experts don’t know for sure what causes it.  Sure, sleeping positions during the night help, but apparently even when sleeping on their backs, some infants just pass away.  It’s one of those things you’re going to worry about, and possibly lose some sleep over, but the best thing you can do is just know it exists and try as many recommended techniques to prevent it.

Tips to help minimize SIDS

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, the following are the actions my wife and I (mainly my over protected insistence) took to give our little guy the best chances possible.

  • Back sleeping – always lay your baby on their back any time they’re sleeping.
  • Keep the room cool – prevent overheating.
  • Use a sleep sack – will keep your baby warm without using blankets.
  • Don’t use blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumpers in the crib – these all present suffocation hazards for a baby that isn’t mobile.
  • Don’t share your bed – as much as your wife will want to bring the baby into bed, be strong and insist the baby sleep in a basinet or crib.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  So, please do some additional research to find tips or techniques that you’re comfortable with.  And, if you can’t find anything helpful, there’s always laying there at night listening to your baby breath, like I’ve done for several nights.

Please leave your comments, experiences, or any other sound advice you’d like share!

The Trifecta

If you have a son, and he is circumcised, there is a good chance you’ll experience what I call “The Trifecta.” Keep in mind, this naive father had The Naive Father - Ready for Battlezero experience in changing a diaper. So, when you add the stressor of trying to change the gauze bandage, then by Murphy’s Law your first diaper changing experience is doomed. I call my first diaper change The Trifecta because not only was it a pee diaper, not only because it contained pee and poop, but because it contained pee, poop, and a gauze bandage that was stuck to my poor son’s traumatized appendage. The only description of the feeling I can portray at seeing my son’s appendage still attached to the gauze when trying to remove the gauze is pure horror. I say horror because the only thought running through my mind was that I was about to maim my son. After making the humiliating call to the nurse’s station for help changing my son’s diaper, she arrived and shared the solution with how to detach my son’s appendage…a syringe of warm water. As I document this experience and watch a re-run of MacGyver, I’m reminded that if you can’t fix it with duct tape, then try WB-40…life’s other miracle product. I’m not advising you to spray your child down with WD-40, but I as I learned again, if you have a problem of something sticking together, your solution is a simple lubricant. In this case…warm water. Doh!

The First Moments

The first emotion/feeling right after the time GT literally popped out, was disconcerting. I hadn’t yet seen my son’s face and here was the Gorton’s fisherman palming my son’s head. Not only was his head being palmed, but this person decked out in doctor’s rain slicker apparel was wrenching on his head trying to remove an electrode. Because, unbeknownst to me, at some point an electrode was apparently screwed into his head. Once the electrode was out the feeling changed to bewilderment because all I could focus on was his head. There had been mention of the cone head from natural birth. But again, the birthing class fails to prepare you for staring down at what can only be describe as something that Sigourney Weaver fought in space. Next he’s swooped up by the nurses and given a thorough look over. Seemingly only minutes after he was born, I was being called over to the nurses where they were getting GT cleaned up. It was time to cut the cord. This was also the first time I had actually seen him in his entirety. So, with tears in my eyes I grabbed the scissors being handed to me and did the deed. It was only after I cut the cord, that my cutting was only ceremonious in nature because he had already been detached from Mom. Glancing up at my wife, I realized the sneaky nurses had called me over to get the naive father out of the way, so the rest of the bat crew could get Mom cleaned up. Once GT checked out he was bundled up and given to mom and the bat crew faded from the room.

The Main Event

For almost a month, yes a month, before the big B-day, the MTB was starting to have mild contractions. They were mild enough and had no regular timing that there was no need to head to the hospital, but it did start raising the level excitement. It was a great reminder that our son was nearly ready to join us. We started a walking regimen, started eating spicy foods to try and get the contractions on a regular schedule. After several weeks, he started to make his intentions known a little more seriously. Finally, after about another week of the MTB being completely miserable the contractions began to get closer and closer. I had gone to bed and the contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart, the same they had been all day. I woke up the next morning, asked the MTB how she was doing and she said they were about 5-6 minutes apart. I said, “What, for how long?” Her response, “Oh, for a couple of hours now?” “Why the hell didn’t you wake me up?” “I figured this was your last chance to sleep.” So, we went for one last walk, just to make sure they stayed consistent because we had heard horror stories of people going to the hospital and being sent home. To my delight and the MTB’s discomfort they started getting closer together the more she walked. When they were an even 5 minutes apart we grabbed the keys and headed to the hospital.

The week before on the local news, it was reported that a new record had been set for the number of births in a single week. So much so, that every hospital was “booked” to capacity and they had to send really pissed off MTBs to secondary hospital to deliver. While on our way to the hospital we were joking that thank goodness the record was set last week. We should have known better than to joke about the cosmos. We arrive at the hospital, get checked in, and they set us up in the triage room to check the heart rates, contraction strengths, their timing, and blood pressure. After checking everything out, the nurse said the contractions weren’t strong enough or close enough together to admit her. But, her blood pressure was elevated, so they kept her hooked up a little longer to monitor it. So, after another 30 minutes or so the blood pressure continued to stay elevated and crept up a little higher. I personally think she was trying to win the baby pool at work and was holding her breath to keep it elevated. She’s yet to admit it and I haven’t seen any proceeds, so I have no proof. Turns out it was a moot point, because Pregnancy water breakingafter being in the triage room for about 1.5 hours, the water finally broke. That sealed the deal, she was getting admitted and we’d soon be parents. Remember the cosmos though, turns out we were in the midst of another record breaking week for child births because there were no vacant rooms available. Thankfully, since the water broke they couldn’t send us to another hospital. So, we just hung out the triage room for several hours until a room was made available.

Once we got into the room, time seemed to slow down and things felt more relaxed. We had made it, the baby was coming, not much more to do than just wait it out. Eventually, things progressed enough where it was time for the MTB’s epidural. Remember the birthing class? The epidural procedure was briefly discussed with a few graphics in a notebook, but there were no videos. The MTB never saw the needle, but the naive father did. Having seen the needle and knowing they were about to jab it into her spinal area, I personally would have opted for the monkey bars. But, that’s why men don’t deliver babies. After the epidural, things got even more relaxed. So much so, that we both took naps. It’s kind of funny remembering back to the sleepless nights, that now on the day of and only hours before the main event, we’re both taking naps. The nurses would come and go, checking the monitors for heart rates, contraction strengths and timing.

In the early evening, they started dialing back the epidural so the MTB could start feeling the contractions and know when to push. Once she was ready to start pushing time sped up again, the nurse looked at me and said, “Grab a leg.” Eh…wait a minute, this was not discussed in birthing class nor is it part of the birthing plan. So, whilst holding one of my wife’s bare legs in the air I began the diligent role of counting out loud as taught in class. Up until this point, I had figured that the counting portion of the FTB’s training was equivalent to a trivial task you give a child that’s in the way. “You’re going to handle the counting, it’s one of the most important tasks during the delivery, now you stand here and just starting counting and throw in an occasional phantom breath.” “Duh, okay doc!” I can tell you however, though the counting may or may not do anything for the MTB, it sure as hell keeps the FTB calm, especially when he’s called to pinch hit in this case. So pay attention in class, if not for the MTB’s benefit, then for your own.Doctor's rain slicker

After probably the 50th round of counting and breathing, counting and breathing, the nurse finally said, “There’s the head.” It was like a bat signal was sent up, because all of a sudden, boom, there were ten nurses, equipment seemingly is coming out of the walls, my wife has apparently been laying on a Transformer because a button is pushed and half the bed disappears, stadium lighting is turned on, and the Gorton’s fisherman arrives and presents herself as the doctor. At this point, time feels like it is moving at the speed of light. To my wife’s credit, there was no taking my name in vain, no crushing of body parts, the only thing she really said during the pushing was after the Gorton’s fisherman told her, “Okay, there he is, just one more push!” Her response without missing a beat, “Don’t tell me it’s just one more push, you’ve said that the last ten pushes!” After a couple more pushes, I was apparently so focused on keeping the counts steady, that I recognized hearing a pop sound, but when the wife shrieked in surprise I must have let up on her leg, because she nearly kicked me across the room. After regaining my footing, the doctor announced GT’s arrival and we had become parents.