From the category archives:

Month 1

Swingers

by Milton on Tue, Jun 15th, 2010

in Baby,Baby Gear,Challenges,Design,Home,Month 1,Parenthood

Baby on one knee... iPad on the other.

With the exception of our nursing and napping enabler, the marvelous iPad, we’re both super sensitive to baby gear.  Most of it is junk.  I see it in the store and immediately visualize it in a landfill.  It’s pretty much all badly made molded plastic crap, and much of it requires a batteries.  Gross.  I cringe at the use of even a disposable water bottle or plastic shopping, so you can imagine how all of this other stuff makes me feel.

I tried to get around the baby gear issue by only registering for very few things and buying vintage.  The furniture I bought to house Axelrod’s little onesies and pajamas is midcentury stuff that matches all the blonde wood we have in our space, refinished a little with some fabric that will eventually translate well into his own room (someday, someday!).  Our pram is a fantastic mid-70s vintage.  We co-sleep when he’s not in the pram, and hope to totally avoid ever owning a crib.  The little books and toys we’ve gotten for him are stashed in bins on the blonde wood shelves.

The big, amazing, SUV style BOB stroller is the big item in one of our only big closets.  The ugly Graco infant seat was my one plastic concession in our living room, along with a vibrating chair that is on loan from another family.  We found that we could strap him into the car seat and rock the seat with our foot, creating a swing effect, OR put him in the vibrating chair.  They both work, depending on his mood.  I thought it’d hold out through the infant swing phase nicely.

And then he started to get fussy in ways that only a good rock would suffice.

He’s generally not a fussy guy.  He doesn’t cry unless he has a really good reason.  He cries when he’s hungry.  He fusses when his diaper needs changing.  He cries when he has gas.  The thing is, that whole gas issue?  Yeah.  That happens a LOT.  He’s always working something out, be it a man sized burp or a series of charming farts.  He grunts and pushes and cries.  I can’t blame him.  Digestion issues are the devil.  We use a little Gripe water from time to time, but this stuff certainly doesn’t put him down for a nap, hands free.

The thing about infants is that they get all worked up.  They’re happy and gorgeous and smiling, and then something will happen to tip the scales and you could be looking down a rocky road for the next few hours of family peace.  It’s not that he screams, really.  We are very fortunate to not have a baby with colic.  He just fusses.  He grunts.  He squeaks.  He squirms.  If it goes on for two long, the scales get tipped and his head gets all messy and refuses to sleep.  You’ve got to reset that baby brain with some white noise and swinging to lull him off to sleepy time, thereby lulling yourself off to some precious sleepy time.

For us, the worse time is in the morning.  It starts to happen any time from 4am to 6am and can sometimes (luckily not often) last until 2pm.  He starts to get gassy and he starts with the grunting and the squeaking.  Sometimes, this makes for parental shambles for the whole rest of the day.  A baby who nurses at midnight, 2, and 4 and then decides to be mostly awake until late morning or early afternoon makes for a parent who is trying to survive the day on only 2 hours of sleep.  Exhaustion makes everything worse.  We will start to snip at each other and argue about areas where we generally feel peaceful.  That’s not a pretty way for new parents to go!

Enter… my bratty foot stomping insistence on buying a baby swing.  I was lucky to have the backup of my mother and sister-in-law on the swing front.  They were all visiting- Milton was uncertain of this ugly plastic monstrosity, but it’s rather hard to argue in the face of so many mothers.  Our family needed a swing- it was decided.  We headed to a local baby gear consignment shop and put our fussy baby into some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen to test them out.  In the end, Milton and I decided to come away with the cheapest one.  His sister used the same model for her little girl, and it worked for her, that was good enough reason for us!  We bought it and brought it home.  My mother sent me to bed for a much needed nap and commanded absolute silence from my very young sisters and step-father.  She scrubbed the swing while I slept.  It now looks practically new and now doesn’t have that sweetly rancid other-people’s-baby smell that I associate with day care centers and baby consignment shops.  Phew.

Today is the first day we’re getting to test the swing.  His little head flops around a little in it, so I’ve got him supported with an adorable purple elephant that a good friend of ours knit.  I put him in that swing when he was grunting, squeaking, and badly in need of a nap… and he went down for the count.  After 10 minutes, I moved him to his pram for a proper sleep and breathed a sigh of relief.

The swing will go right back to that consignment shop in a few months.  Our living room will look worse for the wear in the meantime, but we three will get some sleep in the meantime.  We’ve learned that a sleepy baby by day means a sleepy baby by night… so I don’t doubt he’ll be lulled to many naps in this thing.

Once he grows a little more and can focus on some different things, I’ll tell you all about the ugly playcenter hand-me-down that was dubbed by it’s previous owner as the “Neglector 1000.”  We’ll use that thing (currently stashed under the couch) and pass that right along to the next baby, too.

In baby world, the fussbucket motto must be, “By Any Means”. Even if those means are plastic.

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Family Week, day 3

by Esther on Fri, Jun 11th, 2010

in Month 1

It’s family week in our household!  My folks are visiting with my two very much younger sisters.  Milton’s sister, niece, and mum will be here on Saturday!  We will also be visited by an illustrious “uncle” on Saturday.

(Sadly, there is so much going on on Saturday that we’ll have to miss the party being thrown to end the long run of our local peep show.  The Lusty Lady is the latest victim of our bad economy- dozens of store fronts are closed in our neighborhood.)

We are settling a sort of routine here.  The Witching Hour is real and very much so upon us.  Thankfully, we don’t have a baby with colic!  We just have a gassy baby.  He needs to be burped multiple times after each feeding.  The only times he really cries are when he either needs to spit up or nurse, so it’s easy at this point to figure out how to soothe him.  The nurse cry is very distinct from the spit cry.  The nurse cry is a helpless wail.  Upon hearing it, my breasts wail right along with him, sometimes messing the floor, my shirt, or (very often) my infant’s face.  The gas cry, on the other hand, involves a whole lot of grunting and squeaking between frustrated cries.  I like to equate the gas cry with my pregnancy digestion issues.  If only I could stuff 5 Papaya Enzyme pills into our dude’s mouth and call it a day instead of trying, often without success, to catch every stream of spit up that projects out from his mouth.

The biggest familial loss to the gas grunt and squeak is that of the sleep variety.  He seems to go down pretty well between 11 and 4, waking once for a feeding.  After 4 he sleeps for a while, but spends most of this sleep time grunting and squeaking on and on and on.  As he sleeps right between us, there’s not much I can do to get sleep myself.  Too much noise from him fakes me into thinking he’s wanting to nurse too often.  There’s a part of me that thinks this grunting and squeaking might cut co-sleeping off a little early… and there’s a part of my heart that would just break to have to put him down without us.  He sleeps much better cuddled up to his mom or his dad.

Milton has just gone against my wishes and woken Axelrod up.  He seems to think he can soothe him after a 3 hour nap without a boob, but my boobs know better.  I gotta go!

Grandparents!

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The first 10 days

by Milton on Tue, May 25th, 2010

in Month 1

It’s been a beautiful and amazing 10 days.

Every morning I look at little Axelrod and he looks different. Bigger and smarter and more obviously a grand magic trick of the universe.

I’m really proud of Esther and myself for adjusting so well to this little guy’s arrival. We’re usually getting enough sleep, and whenever something comes up that we aren’t exactly prepared for, the help of our midwife, doula, parenting books, and the Interweb always seems to bring up the answer. The answer, most often, is don’t worry. It’s something I tell Axelrod all the time too. Not to worry. We have him covered. He can relax, because until he can take care of himself, we’re going to be taking care of him. It’s a new feeling, this feeling of not only a desire to help, not only a strong desire to take care of the little guy, but also a feeling of competence that we CAN take care of him. That the things he’s going to worry about (at least for the first part of his life) are things that may seem crazy to him but we know all about it, have been through it, and these are problems and challenges we can surmount, no prob limo.

Here are a few pictures from his first week or so.

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He’s here!

by Milton on Sun, May 16th, 2010

in Baby,Month 1

Little Axelrod was born on May 15th, at 7:43pm! He was 9 pounds 2 ounces, and 22.25 inches long. Esther did such an amazing job through the whole thing. We’ll fill in the details later but the short story is that Esther’s water broke at 12:15am on the 15th, latent labor started at 3:30pm, active labor started at 5:20pm, she was “complete” at 6:48pm, and he was born at 7:43pm. Which if you do the math (the midwives did it for us actually) 1st stage labor lasted 3 hours 18 minutes and 2nd stage lasted 55 minutes. Yes, that’s pretty fast. Esther was totally superhuman through the whole thing. And now we’re singing songs and playing games and napping with the product of all our hard work and hopes. We are totally stoked.

 Being weighed

More pictures and stories as soon as I figure out how to leak-proof my diaper strategy.

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