Top 4 Things Parenting a 4 Month Old Has Taught Me

Sure its a bit of a ‘bait and click’ approach, but hey, who doesn’t like a good top something list?!

In order to celebrate 4 months of Charlee, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight 4 of the more crucial takeaways I have at this point in my fatherhood journey. I could easily have written a top 44 list, but I’m opting to stay away from the generic “my god how can such a tiny thing produce so much poop” approach, and lean more towards the “I assumed I had read everything about parenting, but I never knew about that” lesson in life.

So without further ado, here are the Hello, My Name Is Dad, Top 4 Things Parenting a 4 Month Old Has Taught Me:

1. Going back to work sucks, but there is always a silver lining

This past week was my first back at the office after my extended parental leave. Including the time I took off to help Becca with her moxibustion and inversion stretches, it was nearing the 6 month mark, the longest I have ever been ‘not working’ since I was 14 years old.

I don’t think there is ever a good time to return to work, but compound the fact that Charlee had just received her 4 month vaccination, was ill because of it and had a cold on top of that which she then infected Becca with, and of course was still on the tail end of the dreaded sleep regression I had mentioned in an earlier post, the timing was awful; the perfect storm, you may say.

The first day of my return to work… yes, literally Day 1, we were so concerned that morning that I almost skipped work to take Charlee to the walk in clinic. In fact, 3 days later, we did take her in and she was prescribed a puffer to help alleviate some mild inflammation in her lungs (just want to paint the picture of the severity of her cold). Charlee’s congestion led to difficulty in feeding and sleeping, let alone the several-times-a-day-choking-on-her-boogers-and-puking-up-her-feedings… it was quite the scene at the Goldberg household.

Becca on the flip-side, had the adult version of this cold, yet could not take anything other than mild throat lozenges and buckets of hot water with lemon and honey, as she’s still breastfeeding (and doing an amazing job at it, I might add).

Amongst all this, we were still adamant that the best way to parent our little boogery angel, was to stick with consistency, and therefore needed to introduce to her the new regiment also known as, “Daddy’s return to work routine”.

This would turn out to be the silver lining on an otherwise tissue laden, nose frida dependent, salinex fest of a week.

My mornings would start at 6 AM when my alarm would go off, and begrudgingly (at first), I would go to wake Charlee up. We were following the recommendation that you should have a morning and evening routine for your little one, and ours fell under the Dr. Karp proposed 6-6:30 window for a child her age.

My cutie pie would always do the most adorable stretches, as I sing a little good morning jaunt and undo her swaddle. We do some stretches in the crib, until she smiles up at me and we’re ready to get the day going.

I reach down and lift Charlee up to me, where she goes straight into a bear hug. The most sublime, soul smiling bear hug you could ever get. Then off to the change table to get her diaper changed, before I let Charlee have a bit of ‘air drying’ time back in the crib while I go draw a bath.

I give her a bath while singing songs and chatting about our day and what it will entail. She smiles and coos and chats up a storm, all the while I can’t help but have the feeling like we are the only two people awake in the whole world, and this time is only ours.

We finish up and I scoop her out of the bath and wrap her up in a towel. We head back to her room and she gets a coconut oil baby massage.

We pick an outfit of the day and get her dressed before heading downstairs to let the dog out together. We turn on the radio and play in the basement on her mat with Princess Crackle and Daisy the Cow.

Usually its about an hour that goes by before she starts to yawn, so I bring her back up and wake Becca for a feeding while I then go and get ready for my work day.

When I’m all washed, dressed, and prepped for work, I get a chance to give Charlee a quick kiss before her morning nap, another kiss for Becca, and I’m out the door.

I tell you that what otherwise I would have expected to be a draining experience, is actually the highlight of my day and something I look forward to in my sleep.

2. That smile has already won me over… I’m destined to be a push over

Her smile is the first thing I see when I wake her up, and the last thing I see before she goes down for the night. She’s the background on my phone and the screen saver on my laptop.

I’ve told myself that I’d like to be an authoritative parent, but at the same time, I’d love it if Charlee were a daddy’s girl.

All I know is that the other night, I was reading her a copy of Jimmy Fallon’s book Your Baby’s First Word Will Be DADA” and I put on a voice that got her giggling. That pretty much sealed the deal – I don’t stand a chance against this cutie:

3. There is no right answer to sleep training… pick a path and commit to it

I’m going to preface this next one with the fact that whatever path we’re going down, it hasn’t worked yet. I have faith that with consistency and a committed approach, we’ll figure out Charlee and get her into a sleep groove.

First off, this is where we are right now:

Charlee wakes at 6… and sometimes we wake her at 6. From time to time she’s right on the dot at 6, other times she pushes the 5-5:30 window, while still other times, I’m the one waking her up.

She usually back down around 7:30-8 for anywhere from 2-3 hours. Sounds like a lot, yes, and we’re thinking that this window is there cause it’s compensating for a sub par overnight sleep. However, for those of you counting along, mark down 2 hours on your notepad.

Next she’s up for another 2 hour window, usually lasting until noon or 12:30, then back down for what usually ends up to be 60-90 minutes. This nap fluctuates a bit, especially Monday’s when we try to prep her for a walk to one of Becca’s mummy group sessions at 11:15. (Total time is 3.5 hours so far… on a good day).

She’s then up for another 2 hours or so and then down for another 90 minutes, but truthfully more like 60 on a good day. Charlee then does the long haul until around 7-7:30 when we start her night time ramp down, and ideally she’s off to sleep around 8-8:30.

Over night, she’s up usually twice – once at 11:30, and then again around 3. Admittedly, the overnight varies quite a bit, but on average I would say she sleep for 8 of the 10 hours.

So how’d the math go? 8 overnight and at least 4.5 during the day… 12.5 hours at an age where she should ideally be getting 12-15 (so it’s said).

I look at that and think, HOT DAMN! we’re doing a great job. Becca is looking for improvement.

Depending on what you read and by whom, you’ll see that some kids at this age are getting 8-10 hours straight overnight. I envy those parents and also would like nothing more than to punch them in the face and call bullshit. But that’s just jealousy rearing it’s ugly head…

I know we’ll have to struggle through weaning Charlee off the swaddle, and maybe making more of a conscious effort to put her down more awake and let her learn how to fall asleep, but I say all in good time.

For now, I’ll relish in our 12.5 hours and call that a new-parent victory!

4. It is the most unbelievable emotional rollercoaster

As I rewrite this section for the fifth time, I’m going to try again and stress just how extreme your emotions can be during your first few months of fatherhood.

With regards to your little bundle of joy, it is most definitely true what they say. When you first connect with your baby, you know that you would do anything and everything in your power to ensure no harm comes to this little miracle.

The extreme highs you feel engaging with this little person that you played a role creating, are inexplicable.

She’s perfection.

She’s the cutest, the funniest, the loveliest, the friendliest, the sweetest, the everything-est everything that ever has been and ever will be!

You feel so proud of how much she’s grown. How quickly she is passing milestones. How her little characteristics are already shining through.

One of those characteristics is her energy and her passion… or as Dr. Karp calls it, how “spirited” she is.

It’s wonderful to have such a little ball of passion and you know that it’s because of this enthusiasm that her sleep is a little wonky. Sure she’ll do a long stretch here and there, but you chalk it up to her growth spurts and ever changing skillset and development.

After all, she’s still getting over a cold, which was emotionally draining enough; watching her sneeze and cough, and get plugged up with phlegm and boogers. No wonder she can’t sleep.

But now she’s on the up and up and you get to watch her continue to develop and hone skills.

You figure that at this point, 3 hour windows of sleep are fine, and soon she’ll catch up to “normal” sleep, whatever that means.

After 2 days of it though, you start to question your approach, but you and the wife tell each other to stay strong and things will work out.

Sure the lack of sleep is starting to get to you, but you try to rise above and muscle through, knowing theres a light at the end of the tunnel.

1 week in, and the lack of sleep is starting to make you turn against each other, and you are noticeably more snappy and irritable. You often find yourselves catching each other and apologizing, then getting back and level setting, agreeing again about your approach.

The days are fun. Time spent in awe, watching her grow and advance, learning new abilities and growing stronger and bigger right before your eyes. At night, you muscle through the wakings and feedings, straining to get up the next morning and coach yourself through learning the new routine.

You make your way through the work day, always eying the clock anticipating the moment you get to race back home and hug your family.

Gradually that light at the end of the tunnel gets closer, and your baby starts to show the signs of maturing; she’s sleeping longer stretches, and she’s starting to understand what you ask of her and learns how to fall asleep on her own.

You love your baby through the highs and the lows.

You love your partner, cause you have never needed each other more.

You are beginning to realize the change in your life.

You are turning into something, or rather someone.

Hello.

Your name is Dad.

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