Friday, October 5, 2012

Off to the races.

So, Sidney is mobile.  It started off innocently enough, he went from “getting into the crawl position” to “dragging himself to a new location” (previously discussed) to “oh look, he’s crawling!”.  This was all very exciting, and The Wife and I were beaming with parental pride at our son’s development … then he learned how to teleport.  I know what you’re all thinking, “oh, Ed, you and your colorful hyperbole!”, but there is no other (comedic) way to describe the staggering speed at which Sidney gets from point A to point B when you are not directly watching him.  It’s not unlike observing an Uncertainty Principle experiment on a macro scale: you either know that Sidney is moving, but can’t spot him immediately, or you can pinpoint where he is exactly, but you have no idea how, or more importantly how fast, he got there.  Heisenberg, you had no idea how deep your theory ran. 
Now, Sidney’s adherence to quantum laws creates some additional problems as well.  First, unless you are staring right at him, you have no guaranty he is going to be anywhere near his last spot if you take your gaze away from him to do something else, like, for example, blinking.  He’s playing with a toy near the couch, you blink, he’s now in front of the bedroom door, you sneeze and suddenly he’s at the wine rack pulling at a bottle.  Your eyes were shut for a total combined 6 nano-seconds (might have been longer, and I might have left the room momentarily, but who’s counting) and he’s traversed 15 feet, making 2 stops.  Come to think of it, it’s the Uncertainty Principle wrapped around Schrödinger’s Cat: Sidney either is or is not teleporting to some new spot in the apartment, but you can’t tell until you look up and yell “WHERE DID YOU GO!?”
Second, Sidney can force objects through Einstein-Rosen-esque worm holes and/or extra-dimensional pockets, rendering them, at least temporarily, un-findable.  To illustrate, he has a set of nestling cups that he loves playing with (Nana, Abuela and the Admiral have spent countless hours building towers with them for him that he gleefully knocks down).  Sidney grabs the nestled stack of cups and within seconds half of them are nowhere to be seen.  They have been found whole rooms away from where he was playing with them during the day.  The only possible (not really) explanation is that he is holding onto one just as he teleports (because you blinked) and the thing is dropped off in some Calabi-Yau nook from which it emerges later.  I’m starting to think early quantum physicists were participating in an elaborate “bring your kids to work” program when they made most of their discoveries.
All of this aside, watching a whole new world open up for Sidney is fascinating.  The smile on his face when he races to something he was staring at, or having him crawl from one end of the couch just to snuggle with you, brings a warmth to the heart that words do not adequately convey.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish work on a multi-dimensional tracking device.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat ...

It is difficult to describe the joy I feel watching Sidney learn something new, observing him discover his world.  Despite its richness, deep reserve of synonyms and ridiculous ease of metaphor, English may simply not be equipped to accurately convey this euphoric melange of pride, happiness, excitement and amazement.  What it can readily describe, however, are the emotions that follow this medley of merriment, the emotions I feel as I realize exactly what Sidney's particular discovery means for good old Mom and Dad.  Here is but a smattering of my post pride realizations, and what caused them:

1. We've been had!: We recently had a very nice trip to Ocean City, NJ.  The Wife, Sidney and Nana were there for the start, and the Admiral and I joined later in the week.  During this trip Sidney discovered sand, the ocean, frozen custard and the Boardwalk.  Now, at home, when Sidney is fussy around bed-time we will take him out for a walk as the motion will usually put him right to sleep.  Well, he quickly discovered that in Ocean City this meant another trip to the Boardwalk.  That's right, he'd fake cry and fuss until we found ourselves strolling up and down his new favorite place.  It was the Wife that first made the realization, before the Admiral and I had made it down.  In what was a very poignantly written chat message, I was informed that our adorable 6 month old son was playing her and Nana, shamelessly.  I witnessed his act for myself later that week, and sure enough our little Three-Card Monty player was pulling in us rubes.  On the one hand, this is an amazing leap in cognitive function, predicting the behavior of others and realizing that he can affect outcomes with his behavior.  On the other, we've been had.

2. I've been taught to fetch!: Sidney has been playing with toys for a little while now, and it is always fascinating to watch him examine the objects, turn them in his hands, inevitably shove them in his mouth, and occasionally have them go flying when his exuberance outpaced his grip (l figured he was being a typical physicist and assuming zero friction for purposes of his calculations).  The toy would fly in a random direction and someone (usually Mommy, Daddy, Nana or Abuela) would go retrieve it and give it back.  For a little while it would be a different toy that would go flying, so I assumed (silly me) that we were still dealing with random vector equations; then came the rings.  Sidney has a set of stacking rings that he will meticulously take apart and then play with the rings, mostly throwing them.  I know, great!  He is engaging spatial relations to enable his removal of the rings from their stacked position; full three dimensional reasoning.  You know what else he was engaging in?  Making us get the rings and bring them back.  That's right, we were playing fetch.  I had suspected this much, but it took having him look at a rattle he was playing with (which he until then had not intentionally thrown), look at me, throw the rattle and then look back to me for it to fully sink in; he had us trained.  And, because he is my son, he smiled right at me as if to add an exclamation point to his lesson.  Well played Sidney, well played.

3. Holy crap, we have to move everything!:  This one just happened this week, so it is fresh on the mind.  Sidney had been sitting up for a while now, but only when you put him in that position.  If he fell over, he usually either rolled around, did his half-crawl/half-military drag, or complained until you sat him back up.  Sure you had to keep an eye on him, but once he was down, he was staying down.  Then I received the phone call from the Wife: "Sidney just sat up on his own.  We were on the couch, he was laying there, I turned around, turned back and he was sitting up."  He didn't repeat the feat immediately, so we thought this was a one off ... until the next morning.  He had just been put down for his morning nap when he did it again ... he slid his right leg underneath himself, pushed off and was sitting.  This was amazing.  He had figured out his body position, what limbs needed to bend and move in what direction, how much pressure he needed to lift himself, not to mention the acting on his desire to be sitting up.  This was huge!  So many systems involved and he was doing it at 6 months!  This was great!  If he could do this, he was just a short discovery away from pulling himself u...OH CRAP WE HAVE TO MOVE EVERYTHING.  At that instant our apartment went from wonderful home to baby death-trap.  We have to drop the crib to the lower mattress setting; the coffee table has to go, that thing is just the right height to be dangerous; the wine racks, he might try to pull himself up on them!  We had always known we would need to baby-proof the place, but it was something we had to do down the road.  Well ... it's down the road. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to move everything ... and fetch two rattles that he threw.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the baby food aisle ...

As I mentioned in the last post (cue flashback visual), Sidney is now eating baby food in addition to his formula.  Relevant to this (and to set up this week's humor), I have decided that I will try anything I am going to give Sindey first, partly because I am an over-protective father, but mostly because I want to know the likelihood he is going to spit something out so I can prepare (read: dive for cover).  Let’s face it, if an adult is so repulsed by the flavor of something that it almost goes flying, there is a high probability the wee one is going to be nonplussed and pull a Vesuvius circa 79 CE (we save Krakatoa analogies for explosions out the other end).  For those unfamiliar with baby food, it is usually described as being simply “pureed” food.  Although this coveys the consistency decently, flavor is another matter.  You see, most people season their food, and there are no seasonings in baby food.  It is naked food, if you will (and in front of the children no less!)  We’ve been at this for a few weeks now, so I have sampled a decent variety of the infant offerings made by the various purveyors of fine baby dining (the names of the innocent, and guilty, have been omitted ... mostly because I don't keep track of who makes what).  But, given my hobbies as a Scotch aficionado, amateur oenologist, and general food snob, I could not help but keep notes (go with it people, work with me here) on the gustatory profiles of the different meals we have given Sidney.  So, without further set-up blathering, my blathering about baby food:
1) Bananas:  This tastes like the essence of banana.  Smooth, distinct fruit notes, clean finish.  Varietals include bananas and berries (the berries are present breifly at the introduction, give way to the banana, but return for a hint at finish), bananas and pineapple (the slight tang of the pineapple finishes on the palate) and bananas, apples and oatmeal (don’t ask, but it works).  Dad’s reaction: Mmm, bananas.  Sindey’s reaction: eager consumption.
2) Apples: It’s apple sauce, but smoother.  Varietals include apples and berries (the berries are forefront, give a broader sweetness), apples and pears (the pears and apples complement, but there is a distinct pear finish) and apples and insert random fruit of choice.  In fact, lets just leave fruits, because pretty much the answer is “it tastes like that fruit.”  Dad’s reaction: OK, fruit, I get it.  Sindey’s reaction: eager consumption.
3) Sweet potatoes: Consistency is softer than sweet potato mash, but firmer than the fruits.  Muted sweetness gives way to a bland finish.  Dad’s reaction: needs brown sugar.  Sindey’s reaction: I’ll eat it so long as I am really hungry.
4) Squash: Firmer than the last entry, but no sweetness to be had.  Not quite bland, but close enough.  Squash flavor is identifiable, but not dominant.  Dad’s reaction: needs butter and salt.  Sidney’s reaction:  We’re done after 5 spoonfuls; where’s that formula bottle?
5) Peas: peas.  That’s all I got; peas.  Dad’s reaction: peas.  Sidney’s reaction: pass.
6) Green beans:  Nightmares from youth revisited.  Canned, vaguely metallic introduction followed by hints of rubber, shrubbery and despair.  Dad’s reaction: But I don’t wannnnnt green beans.  Sidney’s reaction: Vesuvius.
7) Ham in ham gravy: The first of our meats, unfortunately, instead of pureeing ham they appear to have described ham to a first generation food replicator and packaged the result.  All of the flavors you would use to describe ham are present, but are somehow horribly wrong.  The best I can say is it looks like pink sludge and tastes only slightly better.  Dad’s reaction: Vesuvius.  Sindey’s reaction: not happening people. Not. Happening.
8) Rice and lentils: Upon opening one is assaulted by the smell of weeds, and it just goes down hill from there.  Dad’s reaction: this tasted like mowing the lawn smells.  Sidney’s reaction: I’m not stupid, I saw his face.  Good day.  I said good day!
9) Chicken and corn:  pleasant on the nose, hints of chicken and corn, gently sweet background.  Finishes savory.  Dad’s reaction: not bad.  Sidney’s reaction: OK, I’ll eat this, but there better be fruit for breakfast tomorrow.
10) Sweet Corn Chowder.  Immediate corn nose, initial sweet notes give way to a complex but hearty corn body, slightly rough finish.  Dad’s reaction: eager consumption.  Sidney’s reaction: why is Dad eating my food?
Depending on the reaction to this entry, I may share further tasting notes.  Management takes no responsibility for any independent tasting undertaken by you after reading the above.  Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When last we saw our intrepid crew ...

The Wife (and others) have recently asked why there has not been a blog post for a few months.  The answer is two fold: (a) I am fully aware there are only so many pee, poop and puke posts that folks are going to be interested in reading (certain corners of the internet notwithstanding), so until Sidney started in with new tricks I had hit a content lull; and (b) if there is any spare time on any given day, I pass out.  No, seriously, given the choice between almost any other activity and sleep, I’d take sleep 9 times out of 10.  The Wife, on the other hand, would take murdering me in my sleep half the time, and sleeping the other half.  Why?  Because she gets less sleep than I do, and the sight of me unconscious would rightly drive her to murderous rage.  In short, Baby = Sleep{0}.  It might no be as elegant as Euler’s Equation, but it is no less immutable (let’s call it Sidney’s Equation).  This being said, over the past weeks Sidney has hit some milestones that brought with them fresh comedy (but, not to worry, also poop) and thus we have a new post.  So, in no particular order:
1. Teething.  Let’s start with the symptoms: drooling, fussiness, crying and general irritability.  Now, the baby will also display some of these, in addition to: gassiness, diarrhea (told you) and the urge to chew on anything he can get into his mouth.  Teething is the largest contributor to Sidney’s Equation, or at least we think it is.  The problem being that the symptoms of teething are also the symptoms of indigestion, lack of sleep and general baby mischief.  Luckily, the same “treatments” are recommended for all of these: indigestion drops/tablets, soothing rocking, teething toys and Scotch.  The baby will also benefit from the drops/tablets, soothing rocking and teething toys.  So, what I am trying to say is that after a few weeks of random infant outbursts at all hours of day and night, everyone in the house is drooling, crying, fussing and being generally irritable.
2. Sidney’s First Plane Ride.  We recently flew down to Atlanta to introduce Sidney to the Admiral’s side of the family.  Now, we’ve all seen babies on planes before, but as with most things, actually being the people with the baby changes things drastically.  First, you are going to be bringing a lot of stuff.  A lot.  Our trip was for 2 days and we had the following: Car seat, car seat bag, travel stroller, travel stroller bag, large suitcase full of baby clothing, diapers, toys, spare crib bedding and breathable bumper (let it go), a smaller carry-on suitcase full of emergency baby clothing (in case he pukes or poops all over his current outfit), baby formula, more diapers, an emergency set of clothing for us (in case he pukes or poops all over us), and the Diaper Bag filled to capacity.  And this was just Sidney’s stuff, we also had another large suitcase filled with our clothing.  We weren’t so much parents as Sherpa.  Now, this isn’t even the stressful part.  The stress comes from having previously been the people that saw babies on planes.  We all do it, we see the baby and cringe, thoughts of an infant screaming for the entire flight running through our heads.  So the Wife and I, cognizant of this, were at DEFCON 3, looking for any sign of even a pursed lip so that we could spring into action and attempt to dam the melt-down flood.  As luck would have it, Sidney was absolutely fine and slept for much of the flight.  (Having typed this, our next flight will be a disaster because the Universe has a sick sense of humor.)   Of course, then we had to collect the 3 suitcases, car seat, stroller, diaper bag and metaphorical partridge in the proverbial pear tree.  I am amazed Nana and the Admiral haven’t shot us.
3.  Crawling.  To be fair, Sidney is not officially crawling yet, but he’s fully aware that he can move his body to get to something that is just out of reach.  That being said, his current method is to get on his belly, look up to see the thing he wants, plant his head back down and then thrust himself an inch or so in the direction of the object … dragging his face as he goes.  He plainly is not happy about the face dragging, but he’s determined to get to That Thing™ right now.  I am simultaneously amazed that at 5 months he’s figured out that locomotion is possible, and intrigued that “face dragging” has remained an option.  But, not to worry, any day now I’ll be posting that he figured out that keeping his head up made locomotion easier, but we had to raise everything in the apartment by a foot.
4.  Eating solid food.  This one is also going to get it’s own blog post shortly if for no other reason than I want to describe the flavor of different baby foods in great detail.  Spoiler alert: some of it borders on gustatory assault.  But, for now, let’s leave it at Sidney is eating small portions of “real” food twice a day.  The comedy comes from his almost immediate discovery that he could grab the spoon carrying the food and “help” us feed him.  Translation: baby now has a handful of food, a death grip on the spoon, and you have no idea how to: (a) get the spoon into his mouth; (b) get the spoon out of his hand; and (c) return the spoon into the food container to start all over without the tiny tot flinging, catapulting and/or otherwise launching baby food in some random direction (most likely at you).  The answer is, apparently: very carefully and with little success.  Oh, and solid food turns baby poop into “real poop” after just one feeding.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Has anybody seen my Scotch?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So You Want To Give The Baby A Bath ...

Let's give the baby a bath.  Could it sound any easier?  Any more relaxing?  Any more innocuous?  Of course not; it sounds like the epitome of  "cake walk."  Moreover, does not introducing a bathing schedule for your little bundle of joy make perfect sense?  I mean, is not cleanliness next to godliness, etc and so forth?  The problem is not with the concept (which my semi-rhetorical questions rightfully laud), but with the reality.  You see, no matter how much you prepare and stage for the bath, your baby is going to make sure it is an adventure.  Why?  Because no plan, regardless of how well conceived and meticulously drawn, survives contact with the enemy little bastards, whom just love keeping us on our toes (I keep telling people, forget the What to Expect series, just read Sun Tzu to prepare for child rearing).

The support for my only slightly hyperbolic, but wholly plausible, claim?  Glad you asked.  Behold my scientifically relevant (not at all) and mathematically sound (who are we kidding) listing of the potential outcomes of attempting to give your newborn a bath.  Please note that the list is in order of descending probability, because we might as well start with the sure things and work our way down to the item so unlikely that it has only ever been substantiated by anecdotal evidence proffered by weary travellers around a camp-fire (much like Big Foot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster and Reasonably Priced Gas):

1) Something will make the baby cry and thrash.  Now, this would not be anywhere near as entertaining if you knew what it was that was going to make the child cry, or even if the same thing made them cry each time.  No, it is a journey through the heart of quantum random number generation.  Being put in the water makes baby cry ... no wait, it doesn't.  Having water splash on the baby's face is fine ... no wait, it is cause for melt-down.  Being disrobed for the bath brings forth the sound of a banshee, no wait, only kidding, disrobing is A OK ... no wait, now it causes two banshees to have a shouting match while fighting over an air-raid siren someone left blaring ... no, never mind, being naked is fine.  Each day brings a new cause for the cacophony, except for the one day when he's absolutely fine for the entire bath ... but starts wailing the moment you take him out of the water.  Son of a ...

2) The baby will pee.  On you, in the tub, on the side of the sink, on the counter ... it's going to go somewhere.  When will the baby pee you ask?  I have no idea.  Sometimes it is when you first put them in the water.  Makes sense, right?  Warm water hits the privates and bam, the baby pees.  Except, sometimes the baby can sit there for a few minutes before peeing, so it isn't the rush of the warm water maybe.  But then sometimes he pees while you are disrobing him before ever getting near the bathtub, which may be caused the by cold air hitting the baby ... however there are also the fun times when he pees on Daddy when proud Papa is standing holding the baby waiting to take him to the bath and Mommy stands there rightfully laughing her head off.  Oh, and there are also days when there is no pee around bath time.  So, essentially, I have no blessed idea when or why exactly there is going to be pee, but there is going to be pee 85% of the time.

3) The baby might poop in the tub.  This one moved up the list thanks to an incident just this week.  "Unfortunately," I was not home to witness the event, but My Wife was (obviously), and so here it is: you put the baby in the bath, go to lather the tyke up, but before you can say "don't you pee in the bath this time" lo and behold ... he has pooped in the water.  Explanations for the phenomenon range from the sensible (the warm water hitting the baby's bottom and tummy relax the sphincter and ... poop), to the plausible (crying tenses the baby's intestinal tract and ... poop), to the paranoid (the little bastards want to mess with us and ... poop).  Hey, I warned you that an overwhelming number of posts would involve this stuff; truth in advertising is all I can say.

4) You could get soaked.  The trick to this entry is not the soaking, because, let's face it, you are putting a baby in tub full of water; if you have any sense, the thought "I may get wet here" has to cross your mind.  No, the reason for this making the list is that you are going to cause the situation more often than the baby does.  Sure, he may splash a little, but that isn't what is going to get you.  Nope, what gets you is that you will either: (a) panic that you may lose your grasp on the wet baby and consequently hold the soaked child tightly to yourself; (b) go to dump the water out of the tub, but miscalculate the amount of water and get a huge back-splash in the sink (oh, yeah, I'm the only one to do this); or (c) get peed on by the tyke as you stand there waiting to put him in the tub as your spouse laughs their head off (hey, soaked is soaked).

5) The baby gets bathed.  It's a pipe dream people.  You manage to get water and a little bit of soap on the wiggle worm, call it a victory.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Clean-up on Aisle 6 ...

Babies make messes, or, more precisely (given that babies do not intentionally create the situations … I think), messes happen in exceedingly close proximity to babies.  Useful as this aphorism may be, it is the more vulgar formulation that is familiar: babies poop, puke and pee all over the place (no, seriously, all over the place).  As I have previously mentioned, poop/puke/pee posts are likely to be plentiful given that for the first year or so of life, it seriously seems like humans produce an inordinate amount of all 3, and parents traditionally deal with the tsunami of waste in comical fashion (at least My Wife and I do).  Today’s post was inspired by a spectacular diaper explosion that not only saw Sidney’s poop and pee flying to and fro, but came within 1 or 2 psi of bladder pressure from making My Wife pee herself with laughter.  That’s right, my kid peeing all over the place almost caused My Wife to pee all over the place. 

It started innocently enough.  We realized Sidney needed a change (thanks to a wetness strip on his diaper, more below), and took him over to the changing table (indispensable piece of furniture).  Off comes the diaper, full of pee.  Suddenly - and I am not talking “oh my, that was unexpected” here, I am talking “SWEET BABY JESUS, ALL I DID WAS BLINK” – our beloved child decided it was time to imitate a Play-Doh Fun Factory™ being operated by Popey on a spinach, steroid and cocaine bender.  As My Wife wisely dove out of the way of the avalanche (poop-alanche?), I attempted to keep Sidney from slamming his legs into the pile of baby butt soft-serve (you’re welcome for the mental image) forming underneath him.  No sooner than we thought this was under control, he starts peeing … a lot.  So now we’re keeping him from getting the crap-sundae on his legs while simultaneously attempting to aim the lawn-sprinkler away from himself, us and the furniture.  When the reality of the situation hit her, My Wife starts laughing and mid guffaw announces that if she doesn’t stop laughing soon she will pee herself.  I initially thought this casual hyperbole, until I noticed she was bending over and fighting to keep her legs pinned together.  Mr. Poopy the Pee Sprinkler on the changing table and the Lovely Mrs. Don’t Let Me Pee Myself to my right.  Other than going for cheap potty humor, what was the purpose of telling you this anecdote?  Well, believe it or not clean-up of this fiasco was a snap thanks to the following indispensable items:

1) Housetraining/Pee-pee pads.  Hear me out people.  You know that awesome changing table I keep telling you about?  Well, imagine what would happen each time we had a poop and/or pee explosion.  All of this would end up on the changing table, necessitating numerous cleanings and replacements of the table tops/padded covers.  You know what house-training pads are made to absorb/protect against?  Pee and poo!  You lay one of these bad boys down on the changing table and if (and by if, I mean when) there is the poo/pee explosion, it hits the disposable pad.  You clean up the kid, wrap up the crap, diaper, and soiled cleaning implements (more below) in the pad and toss the whole mess (sans kid).  The icing?  These things are insanely cheap.   A low cost, high impact solution to an omnipresent (when you have an infant) problem.  Also, when people come over and see the box sitting in the nursery, you can always quip of course you have the pads, you’re house training an infant.  (Management of this Blog takes no responsibility for any calls to Child Protective Services made by your guests whom lack a sense of humor and/or common sense.)

2) Cotton Squares.  For the first few weeks, use of even the most gentle diaper wipes is not advised because you can (and will) irritate the hell out of the baby’s bits with all the changes/cleanings you’ll be doing.  Using cotton balls in place of the wipes is recommended, but only by people who have never tried to wipe the poop coated ass of a kicking baby with a wet cotton ball (or who have, but want to share their misery).  In a flash of inspiration (and luck), I picked up cotton squares reasoning that (a) they, like the cotton balls, were 100% soft cotton; (b) because they were square pads they would not ball up and fall apart like cotton balls, and could be folded so as to get poop out of baby folds; and (c) they are marketed as being sturdy enough to take 12 layers of make-up off of your average Jersey Shore wanna-be (I likely made this last part up).  In any event, they work like a charm.

3) Diapers With Wetness Indicators.  I have no idea if all diapers come with wetness indicators, but they should.  I cannot over-state the utility of these things.  Most of the time, your baby will let you know when the diaper needs changing (of course, you may not figure out this is what they are telling you at first … someone really should offer “infant” as a language course), but every so often they don’t.  Be it because they are asleep, in a position where they don’t feel the wet diaper, or simply in a mood to mess with you (this happens more often than you think), you don’t get the warning.  Aside from not wanting to leave your child soaking in their waste (that’s right, I just played the guilt card … I am well on my way to full blown parent mode), the more pee that soaks into a diaper the more likely you are to have an over-flow situation.  You don’t want an over-flow situation.  As I have previously commented, baby pee is rancid stuff.  I remain unconvinced that it is not in fact produced by his kidneys, but instead teleported from one of the seven rivers of the underworld (given the stench, I am thinking the Cocytus or Acheron) to the diaper.  So knowing that the diaper is nearing saturation is valuable information.  The line turns blue, you change the diaper.  No guess work, no false alarms and, most importantly, fewer spills of hell water.

4) Dreft Stain Remover.  There will be messes.  This cannot be understated.  Sometimes the messes will get on bibs, burp cloths, clothing, bedding, you name it; and you’ll need to clean it up.  Particularly troublesome are formula spills/spit up/stains.  You see, baby formula is wonderfully high in protein (a very good thing for the baby), which, as anybody who has ever watched a detergent commercial (or an episode of CSI) knows, makes for particularly nasty stains (insert dissertation on proteins' reactive nature and ability to make strong chemical bonds to carbon molecules here).  On top of its amazing staining properties, protein also coagulates very quickly when exposed to heat and enzymes (see: digestion).  This means that when a baby spits up, you get a clumping gelatinous staining mess that tenaciously adheres to fabrics.  To top it all off, urine and poo also have a high protein content (different proteins, obviously, but proteins none-the-less).  Sidney is 3 weeks old.  So far he averages 4 spit-up and/or pee induced clothing changes a day (have I mentioned messes spring up around babies often?), and at least 3 t-shirt splatters a week.  At any given moment there is baby formula, pee, poop and/or spit-up on something.   You want the stains lifted and the clumps washed off?   Dreft does the job.  Correction, Dreft eradicates stains.  Intellectually, I understand that as a detergent it is simply an amphiphilic (likely cationic) surficant (albeit an ingeniously formulated one).  But when you see a giant stain disappear in seconds, it might as well be magic.  Seriously, this stuff makes OxyClean look like seltzer water.  You have a baby?  Get Dreft.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Baby Ate My Homework ...

It should be no surprise (at least not if you have read prior posts) to hear that My Wife and I like to be prepared.  We research, read, inquire, analyze, poke, prod and experiment (and not always in that order).  Personally, this methodology has served me well in life, and I was relatively certain it would work with child rearing.  My plan was steadily bolstered as My Wife bought more books, found more web sites and otherwise dug up more information on all things baby.  You see, I am an academic at heart, thus having reference materials available gives me a sense of comfort.  The fact I am writing about this, however, obviously means this was a false sense of comfort (because, honestly, there is little humor to be had from “and the plan worked out perfectly”).  The post hoc “obvious” reason for the failure of my plan is that no matter how much reading and preparing you do, raising a child is the epitome of “you have to actually do it to understand it.”  Now, this is not because we are dealing with some esoteric art, bordering on ethereal knowledge, which is incapable of conveyance by something as clumsy and brutish as human language.  No, the truth is ridiculously mundane: every baby is going to be just different enough from every other baby so as to awry (go with me here) the best laid plans of mice and men (yes, a tortured use of Burns’s poem and Steinbeck’s title was the pay-off; sue me).   In short, apparently you learn to be a parent by being a parent.

Personally, this revelation, although very helpful, is a bit anticlimactic.  More to the point, given that we are still so early on in our parenthood, the urge to romanticize the process still grips me.  It is in this vein that I started thinking, what if there was a way to effectively study to be a parent?  A baccalaureate in parenting program, if you will.  What would the course work look like, knowing what I do now?  Well, I am glad you (and by “you” I mean “I”) asked:

1)  Milk/Formula Dynamics (Applied Chemistry).  For at least the first 6 months of life, your child should only ingest two things: Breast Milk and/or Formula.  In this class you learn how to store, handle and dispense these volatile substances.  Topics covered: Hungry Child Thermodynamics (a bottle takes twice as long to warm up if the child is hungry, three times as long if he is screaming); Inverse Fluidity (flow through a bottle nipple will slow the closer it is to the child’s mouth, but accelerate near clothing, furniture or portions of the child’s face that is not the mouth); and Variable Stain Setting (staining potential of the fluids is directly proportional to the value of the item spilled on).

2)  The Newborn Parent Mind (Abnormal Psychology).  You now are 100% responsible for keeping an otherwise helpless human alive.  This course will examine behavioral manifestations of this responsibility.  Topics covered:  Obsessive Hovering; Obsessive Breathing Checks; Obsessive Movement Checks; Obsessive Diaper Checks; Did He Just Cry Checks; and, No Seriously Is He Still Breathing Checks.

3)  Baby Lifting (Phys. Ed).  You will have to maneuver through certain activities holding a child from time to time, and this class teaches you the proper techniques.  Topics covered: Mounting and dismounting the couch with a sleeping baby; preparing the bottle one handed; speed eating; cleaning up one handed; and proper holding of a child with soiled diaper (the advanced extended arm techniques).

4)  Sleep Seminar (Classics).  Much like Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Seneca and Boethius, sleep is now an artifact of the past.  Topics covered: Remembering sleep; Just one hour … for the love of God; and I bet I can catch 10 minutes of sleep on that stool over there. 

5) Expulsion Mechanics (Applied Physics).  Fluids and solids of varying viscosity and density, respectively, will be expelled by your child at unpredictable speeds.  Although prevention is an impossibility, containment and damage minimization is possible through a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the “blow-outs”.  Topics Covered:  Urine Pressure Differentials (pee flows faster the further from the diaper); Secondary Poop Blast (the initial poop’s contact with oxygen can cause an immediate second poop); Puke Vectors (puke will travel along whatever non-linear path necessary to reach your shirt); and Catastrophic Chain Blow-Out Dynamics (cleaning up any one expulsion and cause blow-outs in any other system).  

Attendance is taken in all classes, with the exception of the Sleep Seminar, which gets cut with alarming regularity.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don't Delay; Order Now!

As I previously mentioned (once or thrice), My Wife performed considerable research during her pregnancy concerning all things baby (including Daddy Diaper Bags as you may recall).  At the time, I appreciated her thoroughness but quietly (for me) held the opinion that most of the stuff she was looking into was little more than gimmicky (dig the fancy lingo) versions of the crap (again with the fancy) we actually needed.  Now that we’ve had some time with the boy, I can report that I was right with respect to some of the products, but I was also very wrong with respect to others.  So as to make it manageable (and to give me the opportunity to make more posts, naturally), I am going to break my observations/reviews into multiple postings.  In the coming days we will cover the “wow, that was useless” group as well as the “these are ok, but we paid how much?” bunch; but for today we start with the “holy crap, these are sanity saving” items.  Cutting to the chase, if you are about to have a kid, get these, trust me:

1) Tommee Tippee Newborn Bottles: Babies belch; shocking I know.  More importantly, babies belch because they swallow air during feeding.  You know what else swallowing air during feeding causes?  Fussy, unhappy babies that scream bloody murder because they are uncomfortable; oh, and the built up air pressure means they will projectile vomit … we’re talking distance and volume projectile vomiting.  “He didn’t eat that much, how is he still spewing?!” projectile vomiting.  Breastfed babies swallow less air because when they latch onto the boob, there is a good tight seal; bottle fed babies may get less of a seal depending on the bottle top shape, fluid flow through the bottle nipple and/or other manner of air infiltration into the bottle.  Solution? Bottles with nipples that mimic boobs enough to create a tight seal, even fluid flow and otherwise limits air infiltration.  Tommee Tippee bottles are basically mini boobs (my understanding is that there are other brands that also do this).  In short, get your kid mini-boob bottles or deal with a screaming, burping, projectile vomiting child (and we all remember how that movie ended).  Bonus: you feel slightly naughty washing the bottles.

2) Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail: This one shocked me.  I was certain … certain I tell you … that this was nothing more than Arm & Hammer’s attempt to get into the garbage bag and pail business.  I was dead wrong.  Diapers stink; stop laughing.  For those of you that have children, you know what I mean.  To those that don’t: everything that comes out of your child’s waste management parts is noxious.  Pee?  It’s not urine, but rather some mixture of liquid ammonium nitrate, uric acid and devil’s sweat.  Poop? After the meconium clears out (an odorless, tar-like substance that babies pass for the first 24 hours or so of life, accurately described by Sidney’s Godfather in the comments below), what you get is a toxic sludge that smells not of familiar sulfur and methane, but some acrid distillate of butyric acid, pyridine and hobo’s sweat.  The situation is exacerbated by the fact that you will be changing your child’s diaper 10-12 times on a good day.  That’s a dozen bundles of mass olfactory destruction.  You want to have your regular garbage full of these things?  More to the point, do you think you can?  Unless you are suffering with anosmia, the rational answer is a stern (and nose pinched) “no.”  Enter the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail.  This thing seals off the diapers you deposit and automatically sprinkles a bit of baking soda on top (sodium bicarbonate, you absorbing wonder).  Each bag will hold around 24 Stage 1 diapers – and even if it was only 3, it would still be worth it.  Your nose (and your neighbors’ noses) will thank you.

3) Tommee Tippee Newborn Shield Pacifier:  “Pacifier’s are horrible, deform the soft palate and lead to speech impediments later in life; I will not allow my child to use a pacifier.”  Yeah, we read those “reports” from “experts” too, and despite my reluctance to allow the research of extreme cases (prolonged and persistent pacifier use long beyond the newborn and well into the toddler phase) to create an absolute rule, I was ok with avoiding the use.  The problem?  A newborn does not care one whit about your opinion and will scream his/her bloody head off until soothed.  Your child can be soothed by something else?  Hallelujah, congratulations and feel free to move on to the next item.  For the rest (and the realistic), odds are you are going to break down (unless you want to hear your child bawl at the top of his/her lungs) and agree to go with a pacifier during the newborn phase for soothing purposes (you can wean them off the things later on; 0-3 months is not the time for philosophical stands).  This being said, a pacifier that mimics the thing kids are sticking in their mouths at this point anyhow (nipples and tiny fingers) and that does not press against the soft palate is ideal.  Enter the Tommee Tippee Pacifier.  Tiny, flexible and soothing.  For now it solves his fussiness when he is falling asleep, soothes him when he’s antsy and over-all makes life better for the family unit.  Another benefit is that giving your newborn a pacifier will annoy sanctimonious pissants.  The takeaway: you are going to end up using a pacifier unless you are a sociopath/sadist/sanctimonious pissant, so use these.     

4) Badger Basket Changing Table:  In my ignorance I was convinced that any solid surface was going to be sufficient to change a diaper, so why in the name of Plank’s Constant would we spend money on a “changing table”?  The couch is a “changing table” I argued, as are the bed, the dining room table, the floor and the kitchen counter.  Hell, storing a changing pad was one of the reasons I needed to have a diaper bag I railed.  Then I changed a diaper … you need a changing table.  It puts the baby at the perfect height, keeps him/her from rolling around, stores all the supplies you need within arm’s reach (and trust me, it has to be at arm’s reach) and gives you a padded surface to bang your head after the changing is complete (and you will want to bang your head sometimes).  More important than all of this, however, is the fact that without a changing table you will be buying a new couch, mattress, dining room table and/or kitchen counter.  Why?  Because your kid will not necessarily be done “going” just because you started changing the diaper.  Pee will shoot out the moment you have the diaper off, as will poop; on particularly bad days it is like having a combined lawn-sprinkler/soft-serve pump assault.  All of that would be on your other furniture but-for the changing table.  Get one people.

Now, if you will all excuse me, I think we need to get Sidney to the changing table (he just finished the mini-boob).

Monday, January 30, 2012

This Post is Brought to You by the Numbers 1 and 2

When I started this blog, I suspected there would eventually be a baby poop/pee/puke post (let’s be realistic here, I knew there would be many of them), but the important thing for me was that it be more than simply rambling on about how much a tiny person can expel.  What I did not take into consideration when formulating this mandate, however, was that tracking how much comes out of your bundle of joy (and whether it is pee, poop or puke) is of paramount importance.  You see, My Wife informed me that in order to be certain that all of his plumbing is in perfect working order, Sidney needs to have X pee diapers a day, Y poop diapers a day and as little puke (technically “spit up”, but if it went down and then came back up, I am calling it puke damnit) as possible.  From what she told me, and as best as I can derive from the literature she cited (that I actually read), X and Y are limited dependent variables (god I am a dork), calculated as a function of his age, in days, for the first week or so and thereafter a function of how much he ate at the immediate prior feedings (forget dork, I just turned into my Calc II professor, someone shoot me).  Puke we want at 0, but need it to be less than “a good chunk” of his immediately preceding feeding (pun intended; loose definition necessitated by reality).  Long boring story short, we count diapers and what was in them.  Now, aside from making me think “wow, having a baby involves a lot more math than I had thought”, this basically means that I spend a good portion of my day concerning myself with what, and how much, is coming out of Sidney.  Best laid plans, blah blah blah, here we go with a post about how much a tiny person can expel.

Our boy is currently eating between 2 to 4 ounces a feeding, and feeds every 2.5 to 3.5 hours on average (mean, not median … dear god I can’t stop with the math).  Contrary to my initial assumption (based mostly on wishful thinking), this does not mean he is going to expel between 2 to 4 ounces in combined pee and poo in between feedings.  What actually happens the majority of the time is one of the following:

1)  We get around 3 diapers between feedings: 2 pee diapers which appear to have been filled by a college student half-way through a kegger, and one poop diaper which contains enough excrement to choke a toilet.  I have no idea how he does it, but by all indications he is violating the first law of thermodynamics.  Thanks to a generous Paternity Leave Policy, I am able to spend Sidney’s first month home helping to care for him (I cannot overstate how civilized this practice is; seriously major businesses of America, the only reason to deny your employees this benefit is abject greed).  I mention this only because being home means that I see what he eats … all of it.  I can state, with only enough hyperbole for effect, that he appears to be pumping out a good portion more than he takes in;  I don’t know whether to call CERN or chalk it up to the magic of babies. 

2) We don’t get a diaper between feedings and find ourselves asking the kid to please pee or poo soon.  Why, yes, this one does lead to “well, we asked for it” moments … how ever did you know? More precisely, what ends up happening in this scenario is that we get so obsessed with whether he is “blocked up” or not that we start checking his diaper every 10 minutes.  The whole “your kid is going to pee on you” aphorism that every parent tells you?  The one you get sick of hearing? Well, turns out that 9 times out of 10 the reason your kid pees on you is that you keep opening up his diaper at the first sign of moisture because you are happy he finally peed.  The problem with this is that he’s most likely not done yet, so you open the diaper, he stops peeing … then starts again.  Cue sprinkler.  The same goes with poo, and when this one happens, trust me you find yourself praying to multiple deities that he does not fart before you can get the diaper back up (I call these “back blast” moments).  However you look at it, “ask and ye shall receive” takes on new meaning.

Now, I am reluctant to broach the puke topic out of nothing deeper than rank superstition.  With the exception of one “projectile vomit” incident, precipitated by not burping him enough, we have had a blissfully puke free existence for the past week and 3 days.  Will this last?  Reality dictates that, no, this will not last in the least.  Truth be told, anecdotal evidence (tales from other parents, countless books and various scenes from slap-stick comedies) points to quite a bit of puke being in our immediate future, much of which is likely to continue Sidney’s track record of violating basic laws of physics.  That being said, why tempt Fate/D’jinns/Vengeful Gods/Imps/Gremlins?  Unless typing that sentence is enough to tempt them … in which case mentioning the relatively puke free existence will have no additional effect.  Superstition is hard … can we go back to math?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Week One

Hackneyed phrases about the relative speed and/or aeronautical qualities of time (when having fun or otherwise) aside, Sidney is one week old today.  Given that this short period of time we have spent together is not nearly enough for me to realistically discuss his personality, likes, etc. as of yet (oh, and there is the whole thing about him only being one week old), what we can discuss are the changes in my daily routine introduced by Sidney.  Some of them I expected, some were a surprise, but I will endeavor to make them all entertaining for you (I said endeavor; lawyers should always avoid stating absolutes ... oh crap).

1) I no longer have a committed relationship with sleep, but rather a clandestine affair.  "New baby? Say goodbye to sleep!" is what you hear from every Tom, Dick and Captain Obvious that finds out you are expecting a child.  However, not only is this formulation of the "fact" beyond purple-prose (which reminds me, is "purple prose" itself purple prose at this point?), but it is quite inaccurate.  You do not "say goodbye to sleep", because it is still in your life; what you do is start an affair with sleep.  Hear me out on this one.  No longer is it a certain part of your life, waiting for you at the end of a long day with a warm kiss and gentle embrace.  No, sleep is now something you sneak away with, hoping you don't get caught by the jealous and possessive Feeding Time, Changing Time, and/or I Want To Be Up Now Daddy Time.  What you now have with sleep are highly anticipated, but sporadic, interludes on beds, couches, and chairs, stolen moments during the day, and as euphoric and satisfying as each encounter is, you are constantly either fearing being interrupted or are burdened with a tremendous guilt for giving in to the desire.  You catch yourself day-dreaming about sleep, about the next time you'll get to steal away for a nap ... I mean tryst.  Sleep is still in your life, it is just something you have to sneak around for, make elaborate plans to get, and if caught doing it by any of the jealous Times, you will be sorry.

2) I see sunrises. I know there are a good portion of you that likely are up before the sun each day (*cough*the Admiral and Nana*cough*), but that generally was not me.  The Wife and I moved into the City last year for many reasons, one of which being that we'd have better commutes to work.  Case in point, I now walk to work in under 15 minutes.  This means that I have been able to stave off starting my day until 8 on average, and we wont discuss weekends.  Even before that, my day rarely started before 7, and you'd have to go all the way back to law school for when I regularly saw sunrises, and then it was usually because I had stayed up to sunrise, not woken up just before it.  My point? To me sunrises were things discussed by poets, weathermen and insomniacs.  Now, sunrises are what happen during a Feeding Time.  I am not complaining, because Sindey is wonderful company, I am just saying I need to brush up on my open verse because I can't track barometric pressure and I am not buying Snuggies(tm) at 3am.

3) I schedule everything around Feeding Times.  This one sounds obvious, and I thought I was ready for it.  The problem with my plan (aside from contact with reality ... thank you Sun Tzu) was how I had defined "Feeding Time."  You see, I was under the foolish impression that once Sidney ate, setting Feeding Times was going to be as easy as feeding him and then counting forward x hours to the next Feeding Time, x being a straight function of his age, stomach size and appetite.  Cue Family Feud Buzzer.  It turns out that x is, in fact, a wave function (although at times it feels more like a random transposition model or some other stochastic process) subject to multiple variables, only a few of which are knowable.  In simpler terms, a Feeding Times is when Sindey decides it is a Feeding Time.  This makes planning anything (showering, cleaning up, eating, writing a witty blog) interesting.  For the most part, the resulting schedule looks like this: do whatever it is you were planning on doing immediately after a Feeding Time, and make sure it takes two hours or less.  (Case in point, finishing this entry has taken 4 tries.)

4) Clocks, watches, calendars, sun dials and all other manner of reckoning time are baffling.  I don't know whether it is garden variety disorientation, exotic date/time term specific aphasia, or House M.D. inspired sleep deprivation induced psychosis, but I have no idea what time and/or day it is at any given moment.  Looking at a clock and/or calendar does not help either; all that accomplishes is that I stare blankly at the device and wonder if it needs to be fed or changed.  After a few moments, though, clarity occasionally sets in and I am jarred back to reality.  The whole experience is only relatively off, however, as I can still fathom distance and discern speed (who doesn't love a physics pun).

Sidney is stirring, which means it is a Feeding Time.  I am starting to wonder if Schrödinger was babysitting when he had his epiphany.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Insert Witty Title About Sidney's Birth Here...

As those of you that followed the Twitter feed already know, Sidney arrived on January 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm (and for those of you that didn’t follow the feed, he still arrived at that time).  I give the date and time not only because I am a proud new father who cannot help himself, but because today we will be discussing what I learned during Sidney’s birth (the highlights, anyhow), a series of lessons that began at roughly 8:20pm on January 18, 2012 (now you see why the time was important … 42 hours these lessons took.).  So without further ado (in this paragraph at least), here's (some of) what Dad learned on the day(s) he met Sidney.

1) There is labor and there is labor.  To be precise, there is passive labor and there is active labor.  Now, at the time, we (and by “we” I mean “me”; you know, the one who was not about to pass the medicine ball through his nether-regions) had no idea there were two types of labor, and more importantly, just how the two differed.  Passive labor started at 8:20pm on January 18 with  contractions that My Wife (at the time) described as strong and steady.  These went on, getting stronger, for the next 24 hours.  With each passing one she'd grimace just a bit more and then around 7pm on January 19, she had what she thought was a really painful contraction, and we headed to the hospital (for the second time, we’ll touch on this later).  After being admitted and brought to a birthing room, we thought birth would come soon ... after all, this had been going on for 24 hours.  It was at this point that we were informed that My Wife was in passive labor, and that she needed to get into active labor before the real party started.  The contractions, however, were bad enough to warrant an epidural (more below), so that was administered.  The pain kept ramping up and around 8am, January 20, My Wife made a sound I had never heard from her and followed it up with "YOWZERS."  Yes, the pain of reaching active labor is sufficient to knock the ability to curse out of a woman.  From that point to about 1:40 pm, it was a geometrically increasing curve of pain (she was hooked up to a monitor that graphed the contractions ... yes I was doing math during my Wife's labor).  At 1:40pm? Well, at that point the contractions started going off the chart, quite literally.  We reached the screaming, grunting, making deals with the devil portion of labor.  Then, at 1:49, after one final heroic push, Sidney was in the world.

2) I now know why kids end up getting born in cabs.  At about 11am on January 19, My Wife had a series of contractions that convinced us she was ready to go to the hospital.  She called her OBGYN's office and they advised that she wait an hour or so and then head in.  So we wait the hour or so, the contractions continued, we run down, hail a cab and go to the hospital (15 minute ride downtown).  Once there, a doctor whom appeared to be 15 (let's call her Doogette Howser) hooked My Wife up to a contraction monitor (I am telling you, this thing is cool), and after about 30 minutes announced that we were not anywhere near "ready" and should go home.  So hail another cab, go back uptown.  Fast forward to around 7pm and the aforementioned "serious" contraction hits ... hard.  We call the doctor, doctor hears the pain level in My Wife's voice and we are told to come back on down.  Hail another cab ... and proceed to have 3 huge contractions on the ride down.  As I sit here today I realize that we were still several long hours away from the baby coming, but during those contractions we thought Sidney was not going to wait for the hospital (and a few of you joked we should name the kid after the cabbie or some cab themed name had he come then).  Now, we were "lucky" in that Sidney was still hours away when we got in that cab, but given the "we are going to send you home until you are closer to giving birth" rule, and more importantly the inexact science of determining "you are closer to giving birth", some women are not going to make it to the hospital.  The point of my rambling? I can now very easily see how women end up popping out babies in cabs and subways.

3) The hospital at which Sidney was born sucks.  I am going to refrain from naming names (partly out of my gentlemanly nature, mostly because I don't want a letter from their lawyers), but that does not mean I am going to water this down.  From the moment My Wife was admitted at 8pm on January 19 to the moment we were discharged with Sidney at 3pm on January 22, the parade of incompetence would make for a Comedy of Errors but for the facts that: (a) none of it involved mistaking twins for each other (the Lit majors should at least be chuckling); and (b) THIS IS MY SON, WHAT ARE YOU IDIOTS DOING.  Keeping this brief, but accurate, the following happened: (a) the anesthesiologist needed 3 tries to get the epidural into My Wife ... 3 painful tries; (b) while we are on the epidural, they gave her the wrong dosage and drug cocktail on the epidural. Yeah, this one is a biggie, and they explained it several hours later as a "labeling mistake" (we're following up on this one because I am a pissed off Dad that happens to have a license to practice law). Luckily Sidney is fine, as is My Wife, so we are thankful for that, but JESUS CHRIST YOU MORONS; (c) My Wife's OBGYN never saw her (another doctor from her practice group did the delivery).  Three days, not one visit from the primary care physician ... brilliant; (d) they "forgot" to give Sidney his hearing test and perform his circumcision until just a few hours before we were supposed to be discharged ... seriously people?;  (e) the "deluxe" room we checked My Wife into was more along the lines of a seedy motel.  The water coming out of the faucets in the room was brown ... BROWN.  This is a hospital for crying out loud.  Moreover, the "Daddy Bed", the reason we went "deluxe" so I could stay with My Wife and Sidney, was designed by DeSade - seriously, a bed should not assault you (I am still bruised from the "springs"); and (f) did I mention the medication f*ck up?  Because that one is kind of annoying.  I know "things happen", and yes, we are all ok and that is all that matters, and platitude platitude, polite adage, grateful for what we have, if you can't say something nice ... blah blah too polite to be honest blah, but this is a goddamn hospital and having this many things to legitimately complain about is unacceptable.  The place is horrid, and if we are lucky enough to get pregnant again, our second child will not be born anywhere near, period.  So, the take-away from this one is GODDAMN HOSPITAL SUCKED.

4) There are no words to describe holding your new born child.  This is not hyperbole.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to describe what it felt like to hold Sidney just moments after he was born.  I cannot even come close.  Elated, over-joyed, overwhelmed, proud, serene, euphoric ... they all cover a corner of it, but even combined the totality of the moment is barely scratched.  In that instant, as I looked into his face and felt him close on my chest, every single thing in my life made sense.  An instant of clarity, a moment of Zen, an overdose of serotonin and dopamine ... call it what you like or will, but I felt it and I still feel it every time he looks up at me.  I am guessing this is an evolutionary mechanism, designed to keep me from killing him in 16 years when he wrecks the car.

More later, but for now I am going to pass out because there is a fifth thing I have learned: sleep comes not for parents of new borns.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sidney cometh...

Although I am not going to verify which item from yesterday's list triggered it (that's my story, I am sticking with it), I can verify launch sequence start and we are leaving for the hospital shortly.
The Wife began having serious contractions around 2am (as if they were comedic when the small ones started at 8). The grunting and grimacing are now at the prescribed separation. Of note, however, labor apparently triggers OCD because since the big ones started she and Nana have cleaned the nursery, made the bed and tried to clean the livingroom. On the upside, she has not yet started cursing me in dead languages.
Live coverage starting now on my Twitter feed.
(For the record, posting from my phone is not fun ... Autocorrect is doing its damnest to spoil the elegant prose. Hey, that wasn't that funny.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting ready for the launch ...

We’re sitting at T-Minus 4 days and, as you can imagine, we are getting antsy for Sidney’s arrival.  Well, to be more accurate, I am getting antsy.  My Wife, on the other hand, is ready for this child to issue forth so that she can get her body back.  It’s a subtle distinction, I realize, but one worth noting.  She has been absolutely amazing throughout the pregnancy, dealing with all manner of annoyances (as we’ve discussed) with aplomb, but she’s reached the part where this baby need not be inside anymore.  As it happens, however, babies apparently don’t care what you are or are not ready for, and will move at their own damn pleasure.  I know this not only from observing My Wife’s belly, but everyone tells me this every chance they get; I wish that last sentence were hyperbole (kids are hard work, I get it).  All of this being said, we being the stubborn, if not still idealistic, parents-to-be, research has been done (I know, you’re shocked) in to things that may move this whole “baby coming out” process along.  Here are the most popular (according to me).  Oh, and, yes, I also comment on each (the hell you say).
1) Having the doctor “strip the membranes”.  Now, I start with this one not only because it is the most scientifically sound (hey, it’s the only one performed by a doctor on the list, that makes it scientific), but because that is exactly what my Wife’s doctor is doing to her today.  It turns out that the procedure is just as disturbing as it sounds.  For the uninitiated, there a mucous membrane/mass develops during pregnancy and, to be simplistic about it, blocks the birthing canal.  Essentially, it separates the baby carrying uterus from the baby issuing cervix.  So, what the doctor does is … well … reach in and strip this membrane out.  I’ll wait here while you get that image out of your head.  To avoid re-inserting (yes that was on purpose) this grating (also intended) image from your mind, I will hereafter use a less sticky (ok, last one) metaphor for birthing.  So, this … launch pad readying procedure … usually happens naturally as the baby starts the launch sequence, but if the count is running behind, having the doctor do this can speed up the count-down.  We’ll let you know if it worked, or if we were just scraping the barrel with the thought (ok, I lied, sue me).
2) Eat spicy food.  Interesting concept if only because I have no idea how it would work for women whom already eat lots of spicy food and enjoy it.  Is there a sudden drop in curry sales in certain communities during pregnancies?  Does the mother have to increase the Scoville ratings of her foods by some particular interval to trigger the effect?  Do hot-wing eating competitions precede spikes in labor/delivery room visitations?  The questions are boundless.  With regards to my Wife, she is not exactly a spicy food enthusiast, so I don’t see this as being high on her list.  Then again, depending how long the launch sequence takes to queue up, she may say damn the heart burn and thrust that will follow (see, I can make fart jokes classy honey) and grab the bottle of Tabasco.
3) Walk a lot.  She’s already doing this, and to no avail (case in point, the doctors is … prepping the launch pad … today).  To be fair, she’s also not doing it alone.  She and Nana are walking close to 3 miles a day (Nana’s actually stuck with an extra 2 miles) thanks to Nana and the Admiral’s (Sidney’s grandpa; entertaining story for another time) two adorable dogs that have not quite acclimated to NYC living.  More to the point, they will only pee and poo on grass, and the nearest grass to our apartment is Central Park (about .4 miles from the apartment).  So 3 times a day (5 for Nana) they walk to Central Park, walk around Central Park until the puppies go potty (this phrase is taken verbatim from Nana) and then walk home.  For those keeping score, those are 3 long (5 for Nana) walks, in what has been very cold weather, a day.  No labor.
4) Eat lots of pineapple.  As with the spicy food, this one is wrought with questions of regular dietary intake and circumstantial evidence.  In any event, we have not tried it yet, but I may be getting a call from my Wife any moment to pick up 5 pineapples on the way home because this kid is still not budging.  Who knows, maybe a combination of pineapples and capsaicin produces the birth triggering hormone equivalent of liquid oxygen and hydrogen for booster rockets.  I also acknowledge this metaphor is getting a bit strained.
 5) Sex.  Right about now the Admiral has his fingers in his ears and is humming the first song that came to mind, Nana is asking “yeah, what of it?”, and Abuelo is telling Abuela that they are skipping this paragraph.  Worry not grandparents, we’re not lingering here for two important reasons.  First, nobody wants to hear about it (and if you do, I can have Uncle R send you some links to tide you over), and second, my wife is 9 months pregnant.  Now, this is not a “my Wife is 9 months pregnant, ewww.”  To the contrary, she’s as beautiful as ever.  No, this is a “my Wife is 9 months pregnant … her back hurts, her legs hurt, she gets insane heart burn if she leans back too far, can’t breath if she is on her back, is smuggling a 35 lb medicine ball that creates one hell of a barrier, oh and did I mention the raging hormones that take her from tears to laughter in moments.  I seriously think whomever came up with this suggestion did so exclusively by studying anatomical diagrams of a pregnant woman and concluding “yep, sexual congress is still a statistical possibility.”  Real world people, it would be a logistical nightmare.  This being said, if this kid does not budge soon my Wife may maul me while holding a pineapple in one hand and jalapeno in the other.
For now, we’re still waiting, but this kid better come soon because I am running out of material.  As a reminder, whenever he does decide to make his entrance, I’ll be live tweeting as much of the event as I can (meaning until my Wife grabs on to me and starts yelling to get the kid out of her) so be sure to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Fine Line...

As I was preparing the entry dealing with all the things my Wife puts up with, one or two items were left off to save space (I'm verbose as it is), but the intent was to share them as part of an ersatz sequel post.   So there I metaphorically sat, compiling part deux, and more so than the first list, this one was turning into "things total strangers do when faced with a pregnant woman."  The queue grew and suddenly it dawned on me, a majority of the list not only constituted irritants to my Wife, but under any circumstances other than her being pregnant, this stuff bordered on misdemeanor assault (trust me, we're going somewhere with this).  Now, remember, we're not talking about family members or friends here, we're discussing absolute strangers approaching on the street.  I considered whether this was simply my deep Cave-Man Brain asserting itself and triggering the "me protect family" reflex (I can hear my Mother-in-Law, Sidney's Nana, chuckling "or not so deep...").  To eliminate this possibility, I would imagine the same interaction sans the baby belly and, wouldn't you know it, an "encounter with a friendly stranger" turns into "call the police, this guy/gal is nuts."  Let's run the big ones down:

1) Walking up and touching the belly: This one is a no brainer. Think about it, you're standing on the subway/line at the supermarket/getting insulted at Starbucks by the barrista and someone walks up, says "ooooh, how cute!" and starts rubbing your belly. Is your reaction "harmless moment" or "what the hell do you thing you're doing?!"  I know, some of you are saying "but most people ask before rubbing the belly" or "Oh, come on, it is no more offensive than a hug."  To you I say, remove the baby and does that make it ok?  Asking for permission before you grope the stranger absolves the inappropriate conduct?  Hugging random strangers is ok because it is "inoffensive?"  Well hot damn, someone get me over to the supermarket the next time Charlize Theron is shopping, I'm going to ask to rub her belly, rub it and then ambush hug her.  You know what people would call me?  The defendant, that's what.  My Wife, bless her kind nature, smiles and declines (when asked) or tries not to freak out when it is Assault 3 ... er ... I mean a reach-and-touch-without-asking.  Personal space people, quit feeling up strangers.

2) Asking the baby's sex and name:  Hear me out on this one, because I can hear the objections on my criticizing this "harmless" question.  We're not talking about you seeing an adorable child in a stroller or walking with Mommy and Daddy, and the child looks up and makes eye contact and engages you in some level of human contact.  The child is in utero, the only contact you are having is with a belly.  You say "innocent question" I say "if a total stranger is asking questions about your child's genitalia, red flags usually go up."  The follow up question, since you are a polite person and answer the first (I still proffer wholly inappropriate one), is "what are you going to name him/her?" and is disturbing for a different reason: a total stranger is asking for information that generally is employed for identity verification purposes.  Should I tell you my mother's maiden name and the name of my first pet while we are at it?  Remember, this is not a neighbor that will see you and the child regularly, or a co-worker or an acquaintance, this is a damn stranger asking you about your kid's junk and their name.  Perverts and identity thieves, that's what they would be minus the gestating life.

3) Asking if you will have the boy circumcised:  This one flows from Number 2, obviously, and it gets asked more often than you'd think.  I give it its own entry, despite it falling squarely within "why are you asking about my child's sexual organs", because, well quite frankly, it boggles my mind.  Not content with simply finding out that my child has a penis, you now want to know an even more personal piece of information regarding it.  And if you say "oh, maybe it is a veiled attempt at finding out your religion", well I have three answers to that: (a) it's a really awkward way to ask a pretty straightforward question; (b) it is not a definitive way to tell religion, unless you ask if a mohel is performing the procedure, and even then it is not 100% determinative (we live in NYC, it's a melting pot folks), and (c) you're a stranger asking about my child's genitalia.  Ok, so maybe I was trying to get more mileage out of that humorous/disturbing thought, but seriously, stop asking about my kid's junk.

4) Asking if the baby will be breast feeding:  A stranger asking about a woman's boobs.  That's what this is, plain and simple.  While we are on this, let's add "are you going to have a Cesarean?" for obvious reasons.  If asking about either of these areas is ok, then add "asking about her boobs/hoo-ha" to my Charlize Theron supermarket run-in.  Now, I don't practice criminal law, but I am relatively certain "but, she's pregnant your honor" is not a defense to Sexual Harassment in the Third Degree.  So, I offer this simple rule of thumb: quit asking about the baby and  the mother's genitalia. 

As a closing thought, I just want to offer that we're down to the final week (T-Minus 6 days to be exact) and that if I miss a post it is likely because the Wife is in labor/has just had the baby.  Follow me on Twitter (button above) because I will likely be doing a live stream as we go to the hospital and Sidney makes his way out.  Also, seriously, stop asking questions' about stranger's kid's junk.