It’s getting easier to read his needs before he bursts into tears. I’m discovering more nuances between stomach cramps and burps, sleepiness and hunger etc. I believe in the idea of keeping a baby happy and avoid him starting to cry at all. Then there are moments when he’s just fussy and I really need to go change my own diaper and I guess it’s no big deal to leave him crying for a minute or two. The important thing is to give an overall sense of security so he never feels abandoned or ignored. I think things like that only cause bigger and worse problems for all of us later on.
Last week we introduced the bottle for the first time, which has worked wonders on our sleeping habits. We’ve worked out a pattern where I go to bed as I usually do around midnight and by then Ana and Ean are usually already sleeping. If he wakes up (which he does after 3-5 hours) she feeds and changes him and goes back to sleep if possible (sometimes he doesn’t want to sleep and then it’s just cozy and cuddle time… which one should really enjoy while they last because they grow, FAST). At around 5-7 am she wakes me up and she goes back to bed. Usually he stays in bed with me for some cuddles and Zzz and eventually when he gets hungry we have extracted breast milk in the fridge which I give him. This little change enables Ana to get another 2-3 hours of sleep and since she’s Spanish… she also likes to squeeze in an afternoon nap on top of that if possible. I run just fine on 6 hours of sleep.
I think the biggest change for me at this point is the feeling of going back to normal, somewhat anyway. I have the bottle to thank for that.
On the subject of growing, he grows about 1.5 cm and 400 grams per week! I’ve met mothers with 6 months old babies who swear they can barely remember when their baby was as small as Ean is right now. That’s why I say, enjoy and savour it.
I don’t know if the numbers are accurate that I find online but when I check development times, this guy is all over the place. He already keeps his head up (for some time), smiles and can even turn over from back to belly (or if it was the opposite). Some of these things aren’t supposed to happen until 3-4 months into development. I don’t know if that means anything for his future development, but it’s a funny observation.
I think the biggest change for me at this point is the feeling of going back to normal, somewhat anyway. I have the bottle to thank for that (no not you Tequila, not this time) to a great extent because it gives me and the Missus more time apart, which means I have more time to get some actual work done. For her I guess it’s great because she can catch up on some much needed sleep on a daily basis and start to feel more human again.
I have no intention of being fanatic about it just because I want to make a general wise choice for him and the planet.
Challenges? None really, it’s pretty smooth sailing. He’s a solid kid, very calm and curious, only shouts for food and clean diaper. As you may now we went with cloth diapers and it does get a bit messy at times due to the liquid consistency of the poop but it’s in such small amounts and washes right off so it’s no big deal. It feels like doing a good deed every time we use a cloth diaper and whatever disgust you might feel in the beginning, it goes away after a week or two. Full disclosure, at night we prefer to use regular diapers to give both him and us solid sleep. Sure we could double up on the inserts of the cloth diapers but he’s so small that almost all cloth diapers look like fat suits on him. I have no intention of being fanatic about it just because I want to make a general wise choice for him and the planet, for now this will do.
I’m still not sure how I feel about how people view me when I’m out with my son, showing him love and affection. I feel a bit stared at but not in a negative way necessarily, it’s just as if they haven’t seen it before. In Malta, things are pretty backwards as far as gender rolls and equality so to see a man with his child in his arms, held closely might not be the most usual thing. Don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of smiles and I smile back at their “aaaaws” when uttered and those moments are nice, feels like I’m both being a good father and a role model and all without that pesky negativity I see Stay At Home Dads ooze with their self righteous t-shirts. If anyone disagrees with my parenting, that’s for them to deal with, I choose to focus on the smiles and awes. In fact, today we were at a restaurant and Ean had to be changed so I took him and the stroller bag and walked towards the bathrooms and a guy who was having lunch looked up at me and nodded, as if “I see you bro, I see you”, ha ha! Could all be in my head, no, that was totally it. It was!
This week I received a wrap from Oscha Slings. If you’ve never heard of wraps and slings, it’s basically fabric that you tie around yourself into a carrier for the baby. It keeps the kid close and cozy all while giving you free hands to work with, or to pinch his cheeks, which is my main hobby. It also does wonders for aching backs and arms from carrying and soothing the baby.
Whatever goes on, we just talk about it, complain about it and sort it out. What’s the expression? Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Today I tried it for the first time and it does require some practice in setup and execution but it is undeniably comfortable and cozy. We live in Malta, which means day temperatures of about 30 degrees (C) right now. I put him in a front wrap cross configuration which basically means he’s laying on his stomach against my stomach, in a frog like position. He fell asleep straight away and I loved to just slowly pace around the house with small bouncy effortless steps. It didn’t feel that hot to be honest, but when I put him down 30 minutes later, both he and I were quite sweaty. He didn’t seem to mind it, neither did I really because sweating is a part of summer in Malta but probably not great for prolonged stay during hot days.
Against advice I tried a different configuration while he was awake, to put him in a cradle position which normally is by far the most strenuous position for the back and arms so I really wanted to try it. The advice against it is based on the risk of suffocation when the head tilts forward and touches the chest, making it hard to breath. But in my case, I just left his head out and held it with my hand or arm all while his body weight was supported by the wrap. This was also less sweaty as our bodies are not in as much contact. He loved this when he was awake because he is really curious and always wants to see what’s going on around. Anyway, I’ll write a proper review on the subject very soon.
I think that concludes my first month impressions of this thing called parenthood. There have been some disagreements at home due to a combination of all the changes and lack of sleep but I’ve found that as long as I’m not too selfish and remain generous… I receive a lot. Whatever goes on, we just talk about it, complain about it and sort it out. What’s the expression? Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is true and in the grand scheme of things, the conflicts we are having in the morning are already forgotten by lunch.
One last piece of advice, whatever hobby or thing you liked to do together before the baby. Make sure you still do that, or a version of it because it will work wonders on your closeness, affection and communication, to not forget who you were before the baby and who you will have more time to be over the next year and as time rolls by. That’s it, don’t be selfish and stay connected and you’ll be fine.