Thursday, 16 August 2012

MCA, Nurse Grim and the BM from Hell

Hey, Owen.

Adam Yauch died the other day. “MCA”. One-third of the Beastie Boys. You’ll have to Google them son, or think it into your enhanced reality glasses, or whatever people do to look up stuff when you are old enough to read this… Actually, forget it -- just ask me and I’ll rap Paul Revere for you. The Beasties were pioneers who helped make rap accessible to middle class white boys like me.  Icons of my youth, they spat the soundtrack for most of my important milestones growing up.

So, it’s sad that MCA is no longer with us. He was a talented artist and philanthropist.
He was only 47 when he died after losing his battle with cancer (screw you, cancer).

When I first heard the news my first thought was, “Man, that sucks. What a loss.”  My second thought was, “Crap. I’m old”.

I know... your dad can be a bit self-centred.

In my defense, I was already feeling old when I heard the sad news about MCA. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror the other day and actually did a double-take – graying hair, wrinkles, bags under my eyes. Christ, is that me?!?! I have come to accept feeling tired and hungover most of the time, but looking it, too, is another unexpected and unwelcome twist to this whole parenting thing.  If anything, I thought having a kid would make me feel younger. After all, the world of parenting an infant is all "Jolly-Jumpers" and "Bumbos" and "playing peek-a-boo"…

Yeah, well… your Jolly Jumper is where I stick you when my old-guy arms are too weak to hold you anymore, and your Bumbo is where you go when I need to lay my head down on the kitchen table for a few minutes. And I pulled a hamstring playing peek-a-boo with you the other day. Pulled a hammy. Playing peek-a-boo. Your mom suggested I warm-up first next time. Warm-up. To play peek-a-boo.


Feeling old at 39 is a drag, but luckily the overall awesomeness of hanging out with you balances things out. Now that summer has arrived I can pop you in your Chariot and we can ride downtown to see mom at lunch. We can go for a run in the afternoon (I run, you snooze). I can bounce you on my knee while we dig some lunchtime polka music at “Arts in the Park”. I don’t take it for granted for a second that I get to do these things; They’re a great tonic for my general weariness and make it possible to get through each day without having to medicate myself with the Irish whiskey murmuring to me from the liquor cabinet (in lilting, Gaelic tones… like a delicious, delicious siren song).

It’s a fine balance though, Owen. The sleep thing continues to be a huge challenge. Things have improved; you go to sleep OK at the beginning of the night but you can’t seem to get over that 4 am hump. Luckily we can turn to the experts. Let’s see, Weissbluth says, “If baby’s waking up early you need to put him to bed earlier”. Check. Ferber says, “If baby is waking up early you need to put him to bed later.”  Yeah. Thanks, fellas.

Not having a good sleep for months and months takes its toll and affects everything else in my life in subtle and not-so subtle ways. I feel like I’m getting by each day, but there’s nothing left in the tank. There’s no physical or emotional reserve. So when some other, unexpected, challenge comes along it can really kick our collective asses.

For example…  we started renovating the hell out of our house this summer (I know, “Good call, dad.”) Then your mom got sick with a cold. Then I got even sicker with a cold. Then your sleeping took a turn for the worse again. If we were already just scraping by each day, suddenly we felt like we couldn’t even reach anything to scrape at. I was once again having to go in and see you many times a night, and because we’re determined to see this sleep training thing through I have to steel my resolve each time to leave you there in your crib even though you’re crying like crazy to just be picked up and comorted. It…really…sucks. I feel like my heart dies a little bit each time I have to turn my back on you and leave you there. It’s even harder on your mom who has to fight a few million years of evolution to not pick you up.

During this latest setback, whenever we went in you kept curling your feet up to your chest and grabbing onto them like you do when you want to play. My response was always to gently push your feet down, get mildly annoyed and suggest that you go to sleep so daddy doesn’t develop a drinking problem. This went on for a very long week or two when your mom and I had this conversation:

 “Say, uh… when was the last time Owen pooped?”

“I dunno. Come to think of it I haven’t changed any poops in awhile.”

“Neither have I. Like in a week. Crap. Is it possible he’s constipated?”

A quick Google search (like, first hit quick) confirmed that when babies start solid food like you did recently, some get so constipated that they can’t sleep at night and will curl their feet up to their chest to try and relieve the pain.

At this point, that caustically sarcastic voice in my head pipes up, “And the parent of the year goes to…” accompanied by a slow clap. Shut-up, head.

Luckily, Google also suggested a way to fix the situation so baby can sleep. It involved a Q-tip, some Vaseline, and a mild breach of trust…but it worked! Things started moving a little and you had a pretty good sleep.

Trouble was, the next day we were still dealing with a logjam. A call to the ol’ family doc revealed he was working Emergency at WGH that afternoon, so I bundled you up and headed over. Mom met us there. We were both feeling pretty self-conscious for showing-up at Emerg with a poop-related baby non-emergency, but we were willing to do it if it meant we could help you feel better…and possibly relieve our guilt over not helping you sooner….and possibly allow us to get more sleep…but MOSTLY to help you feel better (honest).

The grim-faced nurse with the Eastern European accent who admitted us did little to relieve our sheepishness.

“You brought your baby in because you think he’s constipated. What makes you think this?” she asks, brow furrowed.

Mom explains the symptoms and concludes with our definitive proof, “…so we Q-tipped him and that got things moving.”

The furrows on Nurse Grim’s brow deepen dramatically with this information. I swoop in to salvage any lingering parental credibility we have with her;

“Uh… we read about it on the Internet.” It comes out like a question.

I could have sworn I caught you rolling your eyes, son.

Despite Nurse Grim’s hesitation regarding which button to push under her desk – the green one that opened the sliding door into the doctor area, or the red one that hot links to Child Services so they could come and save you from us – we eventually walked out of the hospital 45 minutes later carrying a prescription for glycerin suppositories and a healthy dose of humility.

After dropping mom off at work and swinging by the drug store we were back home and  still faced with a gridlock. Initially I figured I would wait for mom to deploy the suppository, but your little grunts and cries were letting me know you weren’t exactly enjoying yourself, so I figured there was no point in prolonging your discomfort. 

At this point it occurs to me that I don’t really know what a “suppository” is but the instructions on the package told me just what was to be inserted where and how long to expect to wait for some action (15 minutes to an hour).

 “Oh….OH! Ohhhhkay. Maybe we should wait for mom after all, hey?” but your only response was to cry a bit harder and I knew I couldn’t leave you in pain when there was something I could possibly do about it.

“O.K, Turtle, we can do this.”

I unwrapped the suppository and paused. How far up do I push this thing? How hard do I push? Will it hurt him? What will happen to it once it’s in there? I had so many questions… and they were all answered in way less than “15 minutes to an hour”.

It was more like .07 seconds because that thing was only about a centimeter up when the dam broke in a big way. Full reverse.

Panic. Confusion. At least one of us was screaming. Due to the sheer force there was actually a propulsive effect on your little body, which was fortunate because as the available space on the change table filled-up you were propelled away from it until your head was basically hanging off the end where I held it in one hand while the other hand frantically mopped with toilet paper… desperately…uselessly. Sort-of like trying to mop up an overturned cement mixer with a wet nap. The whole time I was bawling, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! It’ll stop soon! It’ll stop soon! Oh god, please let it stop soon!”

And... eventually... it did.

Afterwards we lay on the sofa together. The house was quiet. On our backs, we stared wide-eyed up at ceiling. “That got weird, hey? Yeah. That got weird.”

On the up side, your constipation problem was licked and I now have a great story to tell your first girlfriend when you bring her over for supper.

In memory of MCA. Rest in peace.

                                               I want to say a little something that's long overdue
                                              The disrespect to women has got to be through
                                              To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends
                                              I want to offer my love and respect to the end

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Punk Rock Dad?

DISCLAIMER: The following post comes dangerously close to sounding like fatherly advice which, clearly, I am in no position to be dispensing.

Hey, Owen. It hit me today: I'll never have the same freedom and flexibility I had before you were born. I always knew this in the back of my mind, of course, but for some reason it suddenly felt real to me today and I got a sense of what that actually means.

And it pains me to admit it, but I’m grieving right now.

Grieving that this upcoming all-too-short Yukon summer I won’t be able pedal home from work, yell to your Mom that I’m going for a ride, grab the dog, switch bikes and head out the back gate. Grieving that when my riding buddies are gathering Saturday mornings building their form with long spins up the highway I’ll probably be home, fitness languishing, trying in vain to get you to go down for your nap.  Grieving that I’ll be reading the results of local races, wondering how I could have done if I actually had time to train… and actually had time to show up on the start line, of course.

OK…I  just realized that all these things I’m  supposedly grieving for are actually just one thing: pedaling a bicycle.

I’m SUCH a dick.

But I can’t deny that I’m feeling this way… and there’s a heavy sense of guilt that comes along with it. I’m assuming I’m not the first Dad to have these feelings, but you’re not supposed to admit this stuff. Especially Dads like me who dreamt of becoming a father and endured two years of disappointment along the way and grappled with the heart wrenching thought that we might not ever be able to have a child at all.

SIDE NOTE: I just had the sinking feeling that I'm using the term “heart wrenching” a little too much on these posts. I would hate to think that if someone ever Googled “heart wrenching” this blog about my son would pop-up as the first hit. So…


Where was I? Ah, yes,  grief, guilt, and heart wrenching disappointment…

My friend Breda asked me the other day if I ever regretted having you, and the truth is, I hesitated before I answered. But only because she was asking earnestly and out of genuine interest and I felt like she deserved an honest answer rather than the automatic, “Heavens, no! Of course not! I wasn't even a whole person before I became a parent!”

Here’s the truth: I feel happy, blessed and grateful every single day that you are in my life. But on some days I also feel resentful, and I grieve for my former autonomy.

Ouch. That hurts to admit. I'm pretty sure parents aren't supposed to say that kind-of thing. I might be in for some hateful comments if anyone actually reads this far.

The truth is these two things, my joy and my grief,  are totally compartmentalized – one doesn’t diminish the other.

I have a theory: Of course there needs to be some serious compromise when a person becomes a parent,  but I think what's even more important is the process of reinvention that needs to take place where you're still "you", but you're somehow also the guy trying to be a good Dad.

Having a kid can be sort-of like getting caught in an avalanche if you let it – where you forget about absolutely everything and everyone else and just try to survive. But I maintain that you need to still be the person you were before you became a parent.

I know by now this is far from an easy thing to do. You have to fight for it. You have to fight to be loving and respectful of your partner even when you can’t remember the last time you slept for more than 2 hours straight (yup, sorry prospective parents). You have to fight to still be involved in your community somehow. You have to fight to find time to read, write, follow your muse... And yes, you have to fight to find the time and energy to ride your bike. And you have to carry-on this fight without compromising the health and happiness of your child or your partner.

I recently finished the book, “Punk Rock Dad” written by the lead singer of the punk band Pennywise ( My brother, Steve, gave it to me probably as a novelty read than anything else; He and I attended our fair share of punk shows together. I had the obligatory “Sex Pistols” and “Dead Kennedys” markered on the side of my Chucks in high school and I try to hang onto some of  that “question authority” and DIY ethos today (and I hope you inherit a bit of it... a *BIT* of it).

 I was expecting the book to be a bunch of contrived anecdotes by the author, Jim Lindberg, lamely trying to prove that even though he's a dad now, he’s still a bad-ass punk rocker. In fact, I was stoked to realize he actually had lots of insightful stuff to say about what it means to be a dad. Especially what it means to be a GOOD dad while still holding onto the values that make you the person you are.

I appreciate this. Because, after all, if nothing else your kid probably deserves to know the real you.

For better or worse.


The other day I was pretty ticked-off at a harried store clerk who treated me to a special dose of rudeness and incompetence. I brought my bitterness with me as I carried you out to the parking lot in your seat. There was just something in how you looked at me as I buckled you in, “Oh, alright.”  I sighed. Quick stop at (unnamed major coffee retailer) and we were back at the store with a gift certificate for the agitated clerk of my contempt. “Seems like you’re having a busy day.” says I, “Maybe when you get a break you can grab a coffee on me.”  She pretty much melted.

If you let it, becoming a parent can make you the most bitter, exhausted, cynical person you know. But if you let it, it can also drag you (kicking and screaming in my case) closer to being the kind-of person you want your kid to grow up to be.


Where to start? In the last few weeks you have started eating “real” food (if mushed-up rice gunk qualifies), had a couple of teeth poke through, and in general seem to be using your hands and mouth to interact with and explore your world more than ever. But my favourite recent milestone by far is the introduction of your “Jolly Jumper”.  You especially like bouncing to Reel Big Fish cranked-up on the stereo while Dad *skanks in the living room. 

*Skanking (from the Urban Dictionary)  

The bizarre, wild dance done to the music known as Ska. Not to be confused with a, "skank" skanking resembles running in place while flailing your arms.  Unskilled skankers are sometimes mistaken for seizure victims.
Ex: Good Skanker: Most Reel Big Fish fans. Identifiable by their large sunflower sunglasses and festive attire.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Jack and the X-Man

Hey, Owen. Naturally I've been pretty fixated with all the attendant tribulations and anxieties with raising a baby of your age, but I got a nice reminder the other day to appreciate just how easy you are. As someone once told me, "Appreciate each phase, because the next one is not always better than the last."

My friend and fellow stay-at-home dad Jack and I do "the trade-off" a couple of times per week at the rec centre. One day he takes care of you and his 18 month old son Ximon (uh...they're Basque) while I swim, then later in the week I return the favour when Jack goes for a run while you and I and Ximon hang out. We've done this probably a dozen times so far and generally it works out great; You're pretty chill with Jack and I have no worries about leaving you with an experienced Dad who I trust,  and Ximon is a mellow little guy who seems happy enough to toddle along with us on the days his dad splits. It's fun.

At least it usually is...

I guess Jack was recently away for a few days and little Ximon developed a 'touch' of separation anxiety. At the next trade-off, when Jack tried to walk away from us Ximon got pretty stressed and howled for him not to leave, grabbing at his dad's leg.

"Yeah, he's been doing this a bit recently." says Jack, "Let's head down to the playroom and the toys will distract him so I can leave."

"Ah," I think to myself, "Smart".

Yeah, Ximon wasn't having that.

Apparently the over-sized charms of the playroom were not nearly as interesting to him as clinging desperately to his Dad. At one point,  Jack tempts Ximon to check out the  slide as he winks at me and gestures with his chin towards the end of the big blue cylinder. I comply and move into position. With Ximon poised at the top, Jack says, "Yeah, go for it buddy" nodding enthusiastically behind his back in my direction.

All-of-a-sudden it dawns on me what's about to go down. I panic. I shake my head vigorously at Jack, eyes wide with alarm. Too late. Ximon slides into the void. Jack slips out the door like a ninja.

Ximon pops out the other end where I stand, holding you in one arm. I freeze and smile big. He immediately smells my fear, wheels around for his dad and finds only a swinging door.

Well, you can imagine how things went from here. The mellow little 1.5 year-old I had erstwhile known laid-down what can only be described as a full-on "wobbler" -- anguished sobs, dramatic collapses, blood curdling screams for his Dad, even some head butts against the playroom door for good measure.

Now, with you, by now I have developed a meager set of tools and strategies to deal with the various crises that can pop-up in our day: Fussing in the car? Easy: rock the car seat with my elbow while I drive. Getting hungry but it's still 30 minutes before mom nurses you? Here, suck on my finger, son. No worries.  But at this point, with Ximon thrashing himself against the door, you sitting in your car seat and starting to cry, the terrible realization dawns on me that I have ZERO skills suited to this particular situation. There's nothing in the tool box.

I try to pick Ximon up and move him over towards you so at least my twin crises are within the same 10 foot radius. This only serves to ramp him up even more as he thrashes wildly in my arms. I'm suddenly terrified that he may actually seriously harm himself, so I switch from, "How can I happy him up?" mode to, "How can I avoid giving Jack his son back with a few fresh dents in him?" mode. Other parents (read: Moms) in the playroom are starting to stare. Look away, people, I think to myself-- surely you've seen this before? A few comment, "Oh, looks like someone misses mom." Sheesh. I can't resist retorting with, "Missing his other Dad, actually". I relish the palpable awkwardness that follows and welcome the brief respite from my situation. My other friend Dave who is at the playroom with his daughter comes over with a cartoon on his iphone and tries to distract Ximon from his misery. Nice try, but no dice.

At  this point you are full-on crying in your car seat, but I can't leave my position 'spotting' Ximon for fear of the harm he might do himself. I'm desperate. I start to sweat. My brain races, speed-dialing through my feeble mental rolodex for something that will rescue me. Nothing. I give up.

"Well, OK, Ximon. Let's just go find your dad, then."

I pick up your car seat and we exit the playroom into the busy hallways of the rec centre, Ximon marching resolutely ahead of me. After about 30 steps he is so distracted by all the interesting sights and sounds of  people scurrying around that he has completely forgotten about his Dad. After 10 minutes of walking the halls I suggest we head to the playroom. He thinks it's the greatest idea ever.

20 minutes later I'm sitting on a bench in the playroom watching Ximon play on the slide while you suck contentedly on my finger, reflecting on what a parenting genius I am. Super Dad!

A little girl of about 6 sits next to me a few feet down. I smile and nod. Her mom pulls off her toque and lets out an audible sigh. The little girl's hair looks like it's been teased, blown, hair-sprayed and lovingly coiffed into a long, frizzy,  spectacular... mess. It's impressive. Very '80's metal band. I suppress a smile. The little girl looks over at me and says matter-of-factly, "My daddy did my hair today."

 I tell her it looks great. Mom rolls her eyes.  Another Super Dad.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Trust. Forgiveness. Sleep.

Hey, Owen. I was prepared for the worst, but it was even worse than that.

We started "sleep training" you last night. Any recent parent  will know what I'm talking about. There's many wildly differing and contradictory theories on how to do it, but no matter which method you choose you're in for tears,  heartache, and confusion... and baby won't like it much either.

It's not important which specific method we've put our money on, but we purposely chose one that does not require us to leave you alone with your anguish and "cry it out". Therefore, for better or worse, I was and will be with you for every sob, every choke, every heart-wrenching minute of panic and anxiety. I guess we're "all in" little guy:  we can't let the scariest, most confusing night of your life be for nothing. I suppose we've got to follow-through now.

One of the hardest parts is the doubt. You can will yourself on if you believe all the terror and sobs will be worth it --  if this is truly what's best for you and will lead us to a better place. But at the worst moments the insidious doubt creeps in like a shadow: How do I know that I'm doing this right? How do I know it's worth all this heartache? How do we know this lady isn't a crackpot who's just saying something -- anything -- to sell books to anxious parents? Will you be OK? Will you ever trust me again?

By 6:30 am I had all I could stand. I took you to the sofa and we finally slept. I wrapped you in my arms, laid you on your back on top of me, and absorbed your forgiveness. Mended your trust.

Later in the day I bundled you into your ergo carrier, your head against my chest,  and we walked in the spring sunshine feeling the snow melt under our boots while you absorbed my abiding love and commitment.

Forgiveness. Trust. Love. Commitment.  I hope these things will be enough to get us through tonight.


Night #2 was waaaay better than the first night. Is there hope?

Night #3 your mom took over. Up from 12 to 3 am. What fresh hell is this?!?!?!

We agreed we would give it 2 weeks before we bailed on this process, but of course we secretly both hoped  you would be sleeping through the night A LOT sooner than that. We knew it would be hard, and it is. You seem no worse for wear (if a little overtired, like this rest of us). Hopefully we'll all find the resolve to see it through.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

First Tumble

Hey, Owen.

You fell off the sofa tonight onto the wood floor. Your mom had just propped you up in the corner and stepped away for a moment -- as we have done dozens of times before -- when we heard you land with a thud.

We later agreed It was the worst sound we've ever heard. We both knew right away what it meant.

We raced to you and I arrived first to find you face down between the coffee table and the couch, bawling. I was already saying "You're OK. You're OK. You're OK." as I reached for you, but the truth is I was terrified about what you were going to look like when I turned you over. Bruised? Bleeding? Dented?

It's too gut wrenching to wonder any further about how bad it "could" have been. You're OK. You bawled for less than a minute and then we had you calmed down. It took a little longer for us.

For her part, your mom felt awful. Holding back tears, she kept apologizing to you, to me, to you again... keep in mind this is not a woman who is given to wearing her emotions on her sleeve. I guess she kind of likes you. I tried to reassure her that it could have just as easily been me who put you there before you fell. It's not like she was doing something where she should have known better; Hell, I probably put you in the exact same position 2 or 3 times earlier today without incident.

That's why it was so crazy that it happened. You're not even mobile: how the heck could you have traveled all the way to the edge of the sofa? A little later, out of curiosity we put you back in the same propped-up position. Within  seconds you reached forward for one of your feet, morphed into a perfect little baby ball and executed a startlingly efficient shoulder roll. At least we were there to catch you this time.

We quickly started noting all the things we couldn't do (or not do) anymore to keep this from happening again. In one way it was lucky: your warning tumble "wake up call" for mom and dad could have been a lot worse; We've learned something important and you don't seem much worse for wear.

Now, I fully accept that you're going to get hurt sometimes. I never deluded myself into thinking I would somehow manage to prevent harm from ever coming to you. I'm also a firm subscriber to the "We need to fall down sometimes so we can learn how to get back up" philosophy. But I had 2 hopes for when you did eventually get hurt (1) That we wouldn't be somehow responsible, and (2) That when it happened I would be the one with the attitude, "Aw, he's OK. He'll go through worse. No worries."

Fail on both accounts, I suppose. Turns out I'm not that guy. I was seriously freaked out when I heard you fall.  I was actually on the verge of tears when I reached you and saw you lying there.

The haunting thought I keep coming back to is, "How am I going to do this? How am I going to live my life and let you live yours without constantly fearing for your health and safety? How am I going to become the reassuring foundation in our little family that I want to be?"

You will have many more falls and bumps and knocks (hopefully not due to our negligence!) as you grow into the little boy and then the man you will become. I can only hope I'll grow and develop with you and get better at dealing with it.

Stay at Home Dad Lesson #117:
When a 5 month old reaches for his feet from a sitting position he creates a perfect sphere that is capable of travel.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Baby Sandman

Hey, Owen. For 2 weeks now I have been trying to write an entry musing on society’s attitude towards stay-at-home dads, but it has just been impossible to find the time and necessary level of alertness. The weird thing is, despite trying to renovate a house, keep up some volunteer commitments, maintain some semblance of an exercise regime, and …what else? oh yeah…keep you alive, nourished, and hopefully happy, I haven’t really felt all that “busy” – at least not in the traditional sense of the word. What I have been feeling, is exhausted. Just totally, mentally and physically bagged. I feel hungover all..the.. time. Given the last few weeks, it seems silly to write about anything other than “sleep”.

Sleep. Sweet, sweet “sleep” – yours and ours -- is a topic that has pretty much occupied your mom and I to the point of obsession since you came along. “Man, I need some sleep.” “Should he be asleep right now?” “When did he go to sleep?” “Should we wake him up?” “Is it Ok for him to sleep there?” “Why isn’t he sleeping longer?” “Christ, I need some sleep” “Why won’t he sleep?” “Seriously, why won’t he sleep?!?!?!” “I would trade him to gypsies for a clean house and 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep” “Aw for the love of…PLEASE GO TO SLEEP!!”.

When you’re asleep, we’re wondering when you might wake up,  and what we might be able to accomplish before you do. When you’re awake, we’re watching the clock and your face for any signs of sleepiness so we don’t miss any tiny window that might open up for you to have a nap. We’re always asking friends and family about their experiences with their kids’ sleep.

And we read.

Books, websites, magazine articles.. there’s no shortage of opinions on how to raise baby healthy, well-fed, and well-rested. The awful thing is, so much of the “expert” info is inconsistent at best, and downright contradictory at worst. How do you reconcile the 5’s of having “The Happiest Baby on the Block (swaddling, side, sucking, shushing, swinging… of course!) with Dr. Weissbluth’s caution to “remove the disruptive effects of external noises, lights, or vibrations”? What to do when one book advocates “attachment parenting” by having baby right there in bed with you,  and another gravely cautions against it. You should nurse him until he sleeps. No! You’re doomed if you do that.

And on it goes…

I think what really kills me even more than a lack of total sleep is the unpredictability of it all. When you have a “good” night where we actually get 3+ hours of consecutive sleep, we painstakingly try to re-create the day leading up to it: When did he eat? When did he nap? Where did he nap? What songs did I sing to him? What was I wearing? What was I thinking about?... Only to discover that the exact same conditions leads to a terrible…terrible night. One of those nights when I could almost cry in utter frustration and the thought actually occurs to me that you may NEVER. SLEEP. AGAIN.

Our next door neighbours who have a little girl a few months older than you sagely pointed out that when it comes to baby’s sleep,  “The only consistency is inconsistency”.

I’m not even sure what we used to talk about…or think about…before we became obsessed with the concept of sleep. All I know is that my hair went grey this month (seriously) and your mom commented that how much she loves you is "directly proportional" to how much you sleep.

People keep telling us, "It gets better." and "The first 6 months are the worst".  I can't believe anyone chooses to go through this more than once.


Saturday morning. You had me up at 6:30 am. Your mom went to work at 8:45. Between 9 and 10:15 we slept on the sofa together. Morning sun filling the room. You on my chest making contented murmurs and stirring gently. Better than any drug. Pure bliss.


  • We went for your 4 month immunizations today. Our bewilderment at how big you’re getting how fast notwithstanding, apparently you’re in the 50th percentile for weight  and 85th for height…er…”length”. Worst part is when you get your shots. You bawl and fix me with a look that can only say, “Seriously, Dad?!?!? You’ve got one job: keep me safe and don’t let anyone hurt me. Where were you on that one, dip s**t?”
  • You're getting better and better at using your hands and you seem to marvel at the things they can do to help you explore your world like never before. We lined the edge of your change table with pipe insulation so you wouldn't bang yourself on it. Recently, and quite by accident, you managed to pull a piece off with your hand. Now every time we lay you on there the first thing you do is jab your little digits under it, yank it off and see how much you can fit in your mouth. Not sure what's more impressive -- the physical act, or the fact that you learned how to do this by yourself. Kind of begs the question, "Is it bad for a baby to eat pipe insulation?"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

How it's going.

Hey, Owen.

People I run into who know I'm staying home with you often ask me, "So, how's it going?"
Some seem to be asking earnestly and with genuine curiosity. When others ask, their mouths form into this nearly imperceptible smirk. I'm not totally sure what to make of the smirk. The cynic in me thinks it says, "You lucky YTG gravy-train riding lay-about: getting paid to play with a baby all day!" More likely, the smirk is subtly tacked onto the corner of the face of someone who's been there, and it says, "I know just how it's going for you: It's going sort-of like how the election went for the Liberals: You're shocked and bewildered. You're hanging on by a very thin thread wondering where it all went so wrong."

The truth is, I'm not sure how to answer the question other than to offer my standard, pithy, "Oh, well.. still standin'!" yuck yuck.

I don’t know how it’s going. Compared to what?

I know this is how I looked a few weeks before you were born...

And this is how I looked after taking care of you for a few weeks...

It is safe to say it’s not going  how I expected. What did I expect? I guess I expected to be sitting in coffee shops reading, writing, baby sleeping contentedly next to me in his car seat, accepting the well wishes of friends and strangers on what a cute, calm, well-adjusted, human we had created.

I know: What. Was. I. Thinking?
I know I expected you to sleep…at least sometimes. For more than a few minutes at a time and at predictable times so at very least I could anticipate when I might be able to perform some basic personal hygiene, rather than be left wondering IF I might be able to perform some at all.
The hardest part is still not feeling like I’m getting anything done. I’m not producing anything. It's weird that this bothers me. Is it possible that I actually do have some trace of a "work ethic"? Who knew.

Maybe it’s just that I’m conditioned to think that’s what makes a life meaningful – to be productive in some way, everyday. I need to change my perspective. I know on an intellectual level that caring for a newborn – feeding, changing, clothing, calming, stimulating – should be considered productive, but on a gut level it's hard to accept. Probably because it goes against the protestant work ethic we're hard-wired for. I think I understand why stay-at-home moms (and dads)  have long fought for credibility.
Raising a happy, safe, well-nourished infant does not appear to be rocket science, but it does require a generous dose of selflessness; a willingness to let go of some of your personal detritus and forgo the instant gratification you've become accustomed to. 

Selflessness. A higher calling. Maybe this is the change that I really need to make.

Damn it. I hate it when I talk myself into growing up.

Stay at Home Dad Lesson #221:

Baby fashion is not intuitive. Why wouldn't stripes go with other stripes? Yukon mom was not impressed.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Giant Baby Steps

Hey, Owen.

You had a big day yesterday. After 3.5 months of not being too sure what those things are that keep randomly hitting you in the forehead and scratching your plump little cheeks, you just realized that they're actually attached to the end of your arms and it turns out they're quite useful once you get the hang of them.

In one head-spinning day, you had 4 little accomplishments...

1. You have this little blue Fisher Price chair that vibrates and rocks. It has this loop attachment with dangling hard plastic, rattle-y bits that we sometimes hang in front of you. As of bed time last night, you mostly looked terrified whenever the loop hovered ominously over you -- especially when we pulled the tail on the one dangly, prompting it to emit one of those vaguely familiar, mechanical ear-worm songs that seem so popular on kids' toys. I stuck you in the chair this morning, scary loop dutifully installed over you while I tried to buy some time to make breakfast. With my back turned, the musical dangly bit suddenly came to life. After initially thinking it was a fluke, I realized you were batting away at all the dangly bits (perhaps in a fit of defiant retribution). Holy crap! You're deliberately using your hands! Apparently the concept of "cause and effect" is still lost on you though, because every so often when you batted a dangly away from you it would promptly swing back and smack you in the head, much to your dismay.

2. While feeding you, I briefly rested your bottle on your chest while I fiddled distractedly with the laptop (I often listen to learn-to-speak French podcasts while I'm feeding you. Not sure how much you are absorbing --  your first words may be en Francais). Apparently you are starting to understand the power of these "hands" on the end of your arms, because much to my surprise you suddenly had them around the bottle and were pulling it towards your face. I tried to resist but you're a strong little bugger. Once you start doing this with my beer I'll be worried.

3.  Your mom was playing with you in her lap while she laid on her back when she noticed you sort-of nodding your head forward and doing a little crunch with your belly. With just a little bit of support on your wrists you sat fully upright on your own for the first time. I guess now you can start doing core workouts with me because all those folds on your belly aren't going to impress the other toddlers at the pool.

4. Finally, and on a related note, your mom sat you in your "Bumbo" this evening and you sat up and supported your own head for the first time. You were definitely working hard as you struggled to keep your noodle up as it jiggled around like a bobble-head doll, but no additional support needed!

It's head spinning how fast you're developing. The good news is that in a few weeks we'll be able to cut down on clothing bills because you'll be borrowing my clothes. Plus, you won't be getting carded at the beer store so you can keep the fridge stocked.

Good work, Turtle. We're proud of you.

Now, about your sleep schedule...