Tag Archives: Newborn

Thank You for Making Me Your Papa

thanksmain

September 22, 2013, was a pretty special day.

For those of you unacquainted with that particular day over two years ago, it was the day Isabel was born. It was the day Mama and I officially became Mama and Papa, and the day that our lives changed forever. And while we both have a ton to thank Isabel for, with Father’s Day around the corner, I am going take the mic for a bit.

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My Golden Hour

golden hour

Photo by Monica @ Shoots and Giggles

In photography, the hour around the first and last hour of daylight each day is the “golden hour”. The shadows are minimal and the colors are magical. There is even an app that indicates the “golden hour” based on your location.

The hour after our daughter was born was our “golden hour”, no app needed. The doctors and nurses were gone. The delivery room was clean and the huge spotlight was retracted back into the ceiling. No distractions, just pure joy. Our new life had begun and it was also truly magical.

Mama and daughter were skin to skin, forming a connection that would only become stronger as each learned to love the other unconditionally. I witnessed our new daughter experiencing the outside world for the first time, falling in love with her swollen eyes and petite body. And we spent the next hour staring, trying to figure out whose features she had inherited.

Fast forward eight weeks and I now have my own “golden hour”. It is the hour when I get home and it’s just the two of us. I look forward to this hour every day (as does my wife I’m sure). This is our time to “talk” about our day, admire each other, teach each other new facial expressions, and just stare. Regardless of whether she is happy, tired, screaming, cranky, or calm, it doesn’t matter, this is our time.

Well, the train was extremely delayed today (hey, LA, get your act together) and at one point I started worrying that I wouldn’t get home in time before bath time needed to start. (If this is any indication of how I will worry when she doesn’t call upon arrival at her friend’s house in 16 years, I’m going to give myself an ulcer.) And to top it all off, I forgot my phone today so communication was damn near impossible.

But when I got home, the previous two-and-a-half hours didn’t matter anymore. There were my two ladies, waiting for me. Mama and baby were ready for our new “golden hour”. Mama gets a reprieve and I get to bond. Our routine works great right now, and I wouldn’t change anything, but I am also aware that things will change as we all grow, and I look forward to it.

In a year or so, “golden hour” might be practicing walking and learning all the new possibilities that upright transport opens up. When she starts kindergarten it might be practicing letters and numbers. In middle school it might be arguments over algebra or explaining why she doesn’t need her own iPhone. And in high school there will be many days without our “golden hour,” and I’m sure that will be okay.

During that hour all the day’s shadows disappear and the light in her eyes is magical, and I’d like to keep it that way.

What is your “golden hour”?

Blurred line between day and night

blurred line sun rise sun set

I was sitting at my desk at work and realized that I didn’t feel much different than I did at 4 am this morning.

With my newborn sleeping in 1-2 hour stretches at night (and slightly better during the day…sometimes), it feels as if I’m always up (at night that is). Thank god my wife is breastfeeding because I can sleep during those long feedings. But  I still get up to change wet diapers, soothe our daughter back to sleep, and help my wife get situated with the necessary pillows to nurse comfortably.

Since going back to work, it’s almost as if the week has been one long continuous day broken up by small naps at “night”. The line between day and night, sleep and awake, feels blurred. You know when you are on vacation and you forget which day it is? I wouldn’t say it is quite like that, but perhaps something in between total awareness and complete exhaustion.

I’m actually quite surprised how I’ve been able to function with such inconsistent sleep as I am one that previously thought I needed at least 7 hours to breathe properly, let alone function at this clip for an entire week.

As a new father, your baby is still figuring things out, and so are you. Embrace the inconsistency and learn from it, just like they are. I’ve been told that my baby can feel my stress, so despite the frustration when she won’t go to sleep after 3 hours of nursing, rocking, bouncing, swaying, shoosing, and swaddling, I remind myself that if I am stressed, so is she. Namaste.

What happens in Vegas…

las vegas womb

Think back to the last time you went to Las Vegas. Was it a Hangover-esque bachelor party or a romantic getaway with your partner? Regardless of  the occasion, most Vegas trips usually involve lots of eating and drinking, little sleep, loud noise, and you usually end up feeling worse when you leave then when you arrived. But none of this mattered when you were watching Cirque du Soleil or winning at the craps table.

The second your baby enters the real world they have just left the fantasy of Vegas. But this is not just any normal weekend Vegas trip. It is 5 am and they have just been thrown out of Pure nightclub with its all-you-can-eat buffet, free bottle service, comfy booths, busy dance floor, and diligent security guards.

When we view the womb as a smaller and even warmer Vegas, it’s no wonder newborns scream bloody murder when they are hungry, don’t sleep at night when we put them on their backs, actually calm down when you sway/bounce/jiggle them, feel more secure wrapped tight in a swaddle, and prefer noise directly in their ear drum.  It also makes sense why I can vacuum directly next to my sleeping baby with no reaction from her whatsoever.

It will take them time to adjust to our world – where we eat, sleep, and play at certain times of the day, not 24/7. It will be painful when they are screaming at 1 am and all you want to do is sleep. Just remember that 1 am used to be their dance party. So dance with them and trust that you are doing the best you can to help them adjust. It won’t happen overnight, but they will soon realize that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

The First Two Weeks: Growth Spurt

milk monster onsie

Yep, you read it right. Growth spurt.

Your baby will go through it around 7-10 days, and you will definitely know it. While that first week isn’t easy, by the end of that first week a routine had started. Baby’s sleep pattern was kind of established, their eating habits were beginning to form, and you could pretty much start figuring out when and for how long they would sleep and feed.

But around day 7-10, things might change (it happened to us on day 8). Baby will become a milk monster and your usual consoling techniques become futile. She won’t sleep as well as the previous few days and might wake up every hour or so (assuming your child wasn’t doing this already). Granted, every baby isn’t the same, but it seems to happen to most, so get ready. If mom is breastfeeding, she might get abnormally sore or even tired from these more frequent feedings during this spurt, so be ready to help with anything.

There is no preparation, but you will know when it happens. And you can be rest assured that it will pass. Order will be restored into the chaos that was, and routines will be reestablished…until the next one in a few weeks. Tip: use mama’s magic touch.

The First Two Weeks: Pooping Bili Baby

bili light bilirubin jaundice light

Many babies are born with jaundice and it is pretty normal. The “accepted” level is somewhere around 13 (although hospitals will be more cautious than that).

Our baby had a bilirubin (the yellow in jaundice) level of only 8 in the hospital – yet they still had her sleep one night in the phototherapy bed (see above). Essentially, the bilirubin can be reduced with the phototherapy or more commonly by just pooping it out.

After the leaving the hospital, we were instructed to try and feed our baby a little more than usual to “poop the bili out”. So we essentially poured milk down her throat in hopes that it would reduce the levels and rejoiced when her butt would explode with a “bili poop”. Also, don’t be surprised if the hospital or doctors recommend formula to help eliminate the bili. Apparently the formula helps accelerate this process. We did not want our baby on formula and so we did this the couple days in the hospital but stopped once we came home, hence our need to feed, feed, feed (either by breastfeeding or bottled breast milk).

We returned to the doctor a few days in a row so they could check her levels. How do they check the levels? They prick the baby in the heel and squeeze blood out. Not very fun having to do this three days in a row.

Another fun fact – the eyes will remain yellow the longest, even if the levels are fine in the rest of the body, so don’t freak out if the whites of your baby’s eyes look like a black cat in the night.

The First Two Weeks: Mama’s Touch

mamatouch

The first two weeks with a newborn are a trip. We’ve all heard the cliche that you don’t get any sleep, that you have no idea what is coming, yada, yada. All that is true to some extent, but there are definitely things that nobody tells you.

One of these things is the magical “Mama’s Touch”.

Baby can be screaming bloody murder, but put her on mama’s chest and they will calm down fairly quickly. I suppose this is rooted in said child having spent the last forty weeks inside her (which still trips me out) and one can cite all the research behind the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom on a regular basis. But this blog is from the dad’s perspective, so…

My take away is this – giving your screaming child to your wife is not a sign that you aren’t fit to calm your own child or that your newborn doesn’t like you. And it definitely doesn’t mean that because you hand her over to mom now, she will always depend on mom for comfort. Your baby is not crying because it is upset in the way we cry when we are upset – it is crying because that is the only way it can communicate, it is talking to you. We raise our voices, baby just screams louder.

Right now, mama means food, warmth (moms are able to regulate baby’s body temperature unlike dads), and comfort. After all, the real world is harsh, wouldn’t you go back to your  comfort spot if you could? So if putting baby on mama’s chest for a few minutes enables you to hear your own thoughts, puts baby to sleep, and aligns the stars in your new universe, it’s ok.