Another fun week is in the books with little miss Charlee, and my, was it ever action packed!
Charlee’s bubbie celebrated her birthday, we paid a visit to my office, Charlee passed the 6 week mark, and got ready to celebrate her first halloween.
My mum’s birthday was actually last week on the 22nd, but she’s quite the busy body and with a combination of concerts, dinners, and her day job(s) inundating her, we only had the chance to have her and the fam over for dinner on Sunday.
It was a blast! We made some delicious pastrami knishes from scratch and picked up a tiramisu cake from a local bakery. Everything went off without a hitch and the family got to spend time playing with Charlee and my nephew, Ethan.
Mum and I had a very good talk about my last blog entry wherein I discussed some of the different parenting methods out there. I had concluded that I would take the “all of the above” approach and aim for, what I had coined the Compassionate FAITH parenting style.
My mum likes to quote the poem by Robert Burns To a Mouse, where he famously says “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. In other words, she’s a big fan of best intentions, but in her experience she can attest to the fact that plans do change.
I believe the last time she mentioned these words of wisdom was right after I had sent out our birth plan to the family… two days later we found out Charlee was breeched.
Later in the week, we took Charlee to my office and surprised my colleagues with an impromptu visit. Charlee was perfect; she didn’t put up a fuss at all and was wide awake and engaged with everyone.
It was great to see the team. I have been off for over 2 months now, so it was nice to see so many of the people that I used to see on a daily. The reality that I have another 3 months off is very surreal.
I tell you though, I could get used to this whole ‘not working’ thing pretty easily.
Not that staying at home with Charlee is not work. Parenting is absolutely work, but it’s much more rewarding than anything in the world.
It’s timely that mum and musician, Adele was interviewed this week about her three year old son, and eloquently stated her thoughts:
“It’s fucking hard.
I thought it would be easy. ‘Everyone fucking does it, how hard can it be?’ Ohhhhh … I had no idea. It is hard but it’s phenomenal. It’s the greatest thing I ever did. He makes me be a dickhead, and he makes me feel young and there’s nothing more grounding than a kid kicking off and refusing to do what you’re asking of them. It used to be that my own world revolved around me, but now it has to revolve around him.”
I have so much to look forward to 🙂
I would say one of the things I’m really learning about is patience, and I’m finding out that I’m crap at it. If we weren’t blessed with a little angel like Charlee, I don’t know what I’d do.
I’ve read about colicky babies, crying for hours, days, and weeks on end. I genuinely don’t think I could handle that. Even Charlee’s rare, little spurts, push the limits of my patience and make me have to take a moment and collect myself, remembering that this is something that comes with the territory so get used to it and figure out how to handle it properly.
I’ll tell you who has the patience of a saint, and that’s Becca. She was made to be a mum; you can just see by her demeanour and the way she handles Charlee. I love seeing how naturally it comes to her – every element of it. She connects with Charlee on levels that inspire me, and I’m so grateful to be in this parenting partnership with her.
Becca also has the keen eye that picked this beauty out for Charlee’s first halloween:
I think you’d have to agree that the cute factor is off the charts!
I’ve been instagramming so many adorable baby pictures in their halloween outfits. Everyone from baby Hulk, to babies in pumpkins, to baby Red from Orange is the New Black. It’s hilarious what parents do with their kids for halloween.
From my experience dressing up Charlee, I’m still going to assume that for every one adorable pic that finds its way online, there are a dozen pics like this that happened along the way:
Lastly, this week would not be complete without me beaming with pride about my little overachiever. At just 6 weeks of age, we witnessed, on camera, the following feat:
Some call it a fluke, I call it Charlee at her finest.
With so much recently being written and discussed about parenting styles, I thought it would be interesting to summarize what I’ve read and get a sense of what my own personal style has been and get an inkling of what my style may become. On top of that, since this is a Dad blog, I’m looking at the fatherhood angle in particular, because I find that the role of Dad can have its own nuances that differ from the token ‘parenting’ style.
It’s been said that there are four primary styles of parenting all based off of what’s referred to as Baumrind’s Parenting Typology: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive (Indulgent), and Uninvolved (Neglectful). Even our ‘new generation’ of parenting styles, still relies on these as the fundamental principles.
Authoritarian parents are very strict and controlling – picture the old school Don Draper circa 1960’s parent who has the need for obedience. They’re big believers in clearly stated rules and if their kids don’t step in line and act as directed, they will be punished.
Permissive parents, while often warm and accepting, make few demands on their children. They very much take a back seat and let the child’s creativity and sense of self blossom by ensuring that they don’t interfere. The permissive parent is the one who tries to be more friend than parent, avoids confrontation, and is generally more nurturing and communicative.
The uninvolved parent asks for nothing and gives almost nothing in return, except near-absolute freedom. This style is practically non-responsiveness, and is even referred to as neglect.
While keeping authority and control, these parents are warmer and more communicative than Authoritarian parents. Authoritative parents look for a balance between their children’s need for autonomy and the parents’ desire to be respected and listened to. These parents walk the line of being demanding and responsive. For children who fail to meet the authoritative parent’s expectations, the parent is more nurturing, forgiving and responsive. Their idea of discipline is to be assertive but not restrictive, to support rather than punish.
Tough call eh?… I think we all know what we ought to be striving for.
Not that you’d doubt it, but it’s even documented proof that children of Authoritative parents typically do well in school, develop good social skills, and avoid problem behaviours.
So there you have it. Problem solved. You would think that this list more than satisfies the spectrum of parenting styles and immediately demonstrates how new parents need to adopt the Authoritative style with their children, as there is no other way….
But wait! Of course, modern day parenting would not be what it is, without a strong need to rebrand and relabel.
And with that, I bring you the New Generation Styles:
This can be called the old school method of parenting, wherein an instinctive parent teaches what they know and parents the way they were parented, whether brought up by their mother and father, siblings or another caregiver. It might be the old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, or as Paul Simon put it, ‘I know what I know.’
In attachment parenting, the parent and the child form a strong emotional bond and respond to their child’s needs while being sensitive and emotionally available for their child at all times. This is a super strong attachment, and this type of parenting is usually aligned with folks who often believe in natural childbirth, a family bed, avoidance of corporal punishment, homeschooling and may even be part of the anti-vaccination movement.
This is the one that’s been making headlines, as science continues to find faults in helicopter parenting and the long term affects on children. Helicopter parents constantly interact with and often interfere with their children’s lives, hovering like a helicopter. It’s an action that totally makes sense when you’re trying to ensure the safety and security of babies and very young children, but in later years, smothering your child in every aspect of their life can ultimately backfire. Helicopter parents rarely let their children out of their sight, but unlike attachment parenting, it isn’t to form a strong bond with their child, it’s an attempt to prevent any challenges or obstacles in their child’s life that they can foresee, therefore “preserving” their childhood. Stories of mums calling their child’s employers or college professors, are perfect examples of helicopter parenting gone awry.
Free-range parenting is the exact opposite of helicopter parenting where parents want to allow kids to have some freedom without constantly worrying something bad will happen. Free-range parents let their children walk to school alone and ride their bikes outside without supervision. In extreme cases, some parents have even reported allowing their very young children to grocery shop and ride public transportation alone. This is how kids used to be raised, but mind you, it was in a very different world.
This parenting term was coined in the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by self-proclaimed tiger mum Amy Chua. Tiger parents are strict, expect their children to follow rigid rules, and demand excellence in academics. The term stems from the idea that tigers are a symbol of strength and power, and generally inspire fear and respect. It’s reminiscent of authoritarian parenting, but perhaps with a more regimented purpose.
Still know which parenting style you want to adopt?
Perhaps you’re a fan of letting your kid be independent, but not until he’s at least 15. Before then, you’re going to hound him to be committed at school and get perfect A’s to ensure his entry into the best of colleges after high school. And of course, you will be super attentive and hover over your son from infancy until at least age 10…
So what are you? A free range tiger in a helicopter??
What exactly has this modern day interpretation done then? Expanding our labeling abilities, or confused a generation of new parents with silos and one-size-does-not-fit-all parenting models.
I watched a video by Dr. Stephan Poulter the other day, and he put into perspective another key finding that really encouraged me to write this blog entry. Dr. Poulter is a licensed clinical family psychologist based out of Los Angeles with nearly 30 years under his belt. He’s studied and written about the five most common fathering styles (super achiever, time bomb, passive, absent, and compassionate/mentor) and the impact fathers have on their child’s future relationships and career development.
Now we’re talking – here’s how he explains these styles:
The super achiever is someone who for the most part, probably did not get enough love from their own father. This dad has a biting, competitive edge; he is constantly critical and hostile to his son, implying that one’s value is all about what you do and how well you do it, not about who you are.
The time bomb dad really rules the family by fear; the fear of not knowing whats going to set him off, or when. Poulter calls it “parenting by volume – not by connection”.
The passive dad shows his love through actions, not through words. There is often a missing feeling of connection based on the fact that feelings were always assumed, but never stated.
Absent – Fatherless
The absent style can be literal but more often is psychological. Sons of absent dads find it difficult to form trusting relationships and it creates rage within them. Daughters can have a tendency of feeling desperation because of it. Sixty percent of dads fall into the absent or passive categories and most kids who abuse alcohol or drugs are most often children of this type of father.
Lastly, the compassionate mentor style, wherein these dads provide an emotionally safe upbringing yet encourage their kids to think for themselves. There is a capacity to tolerate difference, and these dad’s help you see your life for what it is and where it can go.
So there we have it. Parenting styles and all their glories, with a side of fatherhood specificity.
So what does that make me? What would I call myself in terms of my own personal approach?
First and foremost, I think that there are elements of my own upbringing that have been instrumental in my becoming a decent, upstanding person. My parents did a lot of things right with the way they raised me, and I will ensure I echo that methodology with Charlee.
I know that I will also push to form a strong emotional bond with Charlee, to ensure that she knows that she is loved and is safe.
For now, I’m very involved in everything Charlee does, and I want to ensure that she is happy, healthy, and nothing will interfere with that.
I want to also give her the foundation to become self sufficient and explore this world, taking in all of it and learning independently.
Once she finds her passion, I want her to be an expert at it and not treat something with that degree of importance inadequately.
And lastly, I will undoubtedly strive to be a compassionate, mentoring father, hoping to instil all the positivity in the world to Charlee, while at once encouraging her to become an independent, contributing, and active member of society.
So in the spirit of artistic freedom, let’s coin it, shall we?
I’ve come up with “Compassionate FAITH Parenting”, standing for:
I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been honoured as blogger of the week at www.thebabyspot.ca!
Please check out The Baby Spot website – its a fantastic online magazine for parents, guardians and grandparents. They cover all the bases of parenthood from both a mum and dad’s perspective, including articles on everything from pregnancy through to the toddler years.
They provide insight into travel, health, style, and product reviews, and are a great source of knowledge for parents and parents-to-be.
I’d like to send a huge shoutout to The Baby Spot team and look forward to sharing more stories in the weeks, months, and years ahead!
Not only did we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, but Friday was my father’s 70th birthday and today we celebrate Charlee turning one month old. This week was a biggie, so let’s take it from the top…
Thanksgiving is technically a religious holiday in Canada; aligned with thanking God for a bountiful, Canadian harvest. I like to think of it as the statutory holiday of which our country’s cultural melting pot gets to enjoy.
Ironically, being off of work this year for parental leave, the reality of statutory holidays, let alone a weekend versus weekday, is inconsequential to me… sorry to rub it in. But what that does mean for me, is that I can genuinely take the opportunity to reflect on the day and be thankful for so much.
For starters, I’m thankful for our nearly 10 pound bundle of beauty, known as Charlee. She is truly a blessing and this whole notion of fatherhood is certainly settling in. I’m thankful for Becca, the love of my life, without whom I would be incomplete. I’m most definitely grateful for Party, who keeps me on my toes, and shows unconditional love (as he’s parked on my lap right now while I type). I’m fortunate to have a fantastic circle of friends, a stable job that pays the bills and lets us enjoy life, and to own a home that provides comfort, safety, and room for our family to grow.
This year we hosted the Wong family for a Thanksgiving dinner figuring, hey, why not, Charlee is 3 weeks old (at the time), we can juggle her and dinner for 11.
First thing we did was buy a turkey. Google advised that you should factor 2 pounds per person, and without putting much more thought into it, I calculated that we needed a 22 pound turkey. Realize for a moment that 2 of the 11 attendees are Charlee, aged 3 weeks, and Charlee’s cousin Penny, aged 16 months. For Charlee is particular, 2 pounds is over 20% of her body weight… but I digress.
We went to the supermarket and found the frozen turkeys, all categorized by weight – 5-7 kilograms, 8-10 kilograms, and 11-13 kilograms, metricly speaking, of course. To put that in pounds, 11-15 pounds, 17-22 pounds, and 24-28 pounds respectively.
Of course, with my luck, they were completely sold out of the 17-22 pound birds, so in true Goldberg fashion, I erred on the side of overfeed-my-guests, and purchased an 11.5 kilogram turkey, or roughly 25 pounds.
My buddy Jason is a chef and owns a butcher shop around the corner from the house. He put together a fantastic brine recipe for me, which meant that I would need to immerse the bird in the brine and refrigerate it overnight. Because of the sheer size of this turkey, I had to empty out and clean a plastic file box and fill it with around 7 or 8 gallons of brined water, take out all the shelves in the fridge, and let her soak for 24 hours.
The next day, Becca’s mum and her boyfriend came over and helped wrangle the dogs (her’s too) and prep the house for Thanksgiving dinner. I nearly broke my back carrying the turkey and water bucket out of the fridge, but I dried it off and prepared a cheesecloth soaked in butter and wine to help it be even more moist once cooked.
Finally I made some stuffing, filled the bird and popped it in the oven for nearly 5 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
My hat goes off to Martha Stewart, cause the recipe was brilliant and the bird turned out succulent and tasty.
Becca’s family helped with side dishes, gravy, desserts, and wine, and the dinner went off without a hitch. Charlee was a champ and let us enjoy dinner while she slept, then fed some more and entertained the family with her innate adorableness.
In the end, we had approximately 20 pounds of turkey left, so with that and the abundance of side dishes and desserts, 11 people made off with a weeks worth of leftovers each.
This was our first attempt at a dinner party with Charlee in tow and we were thrilled with how well she did… and I guess how well we did too! It’s nice to test the water by doing a family event. There’s less judgement and more helping hands!
The next test was to come Friday night in celebration of my father’s 70th birthday.
Fortunately, dad only wanted a small get together with friends and family. I often forget that ‘small get together’ from my dad and step mother’s perspective, is often what others would see as a huge get together. This was no exception, with around 30 people in attendance.
This was also going to test Charlee’s car ride endurance. The longest ride we had done to date was probably a 20 minute stretch wherein she just slept the whole ride away. This was going to be minimum of 30 minutes, but with traffic, it ended up being just shy of an hour.
Charlee was great, and not because she slept through it – on the contrary! She was wide awake, taking in everything along the way. The lights, the sounds, the smells – all the sensations of a drive up from downtown Toronto, to suburbia.
When we arrived, she was inundated by family – not in a bad way – just in the way that family pours over newborns. Everyone wanted to hold her and pass her around. Charlee lately has been having a mild skin irritation, and now knowing the source, we told ourselves that we would ask whomever was holding her to wash their hands first.
That idea was short lived.
I guess on one hand, you want your baby to be free of any toxins, and with Charlee having been in the NICU for the first 4 days of her life, we were a tad shell-shocked when it comes to her health.
On the flip side, you also want her to build up immunity and sometimes the best way is to get elbow deep in people squishing cheeks, and kissing foreheads.
Regardless, Charlee was again, an absolute dream, engaging with people, taking it all in, feeding with Becca, pooping up a storm, and then sleeping it off.
My dad was a very proud Zaida (grandfather) and you could see it on his face. It made me realize that when my father was my age, he had me as a newborn, and now 35 years later it’s my turn with Charlee and his turn as Zaida. May we have many years ahead for Charlee to get to know her Zaida and learn everything he has to teach her. Having visited with my 90 year old uncle over the summer, I realize how we often take our parents and grandparents for granted, when we should be really maximizing the moments we have with them, and listening to the stories and life experiences they have to share.
My father definitely has stories to share, but is very much to himself and you have to ask the pointed questions to get the answers you want. At times though, he will bring up stories from his past to relate to a conversation or situation we may be discussing. Much of his youth was spent in California in the 60’s where he lived in the Bay area and attended Berkeley. He and my mother were married in 1970 and nine years later they adopted my brother. 11 months later, yours truly came along.
My dad is excited about my blog and twitter feeds, and I look forward to collaborating on some blog entries in the near future. I think based on his own childhood, he wants to play a much more active role in Charlee’s life, and I look forward to that wholeheartedly.
And that brings us to the other milestone event of the week, Charlee is celebrating one month since her escape from the womb!
Not to sound too cliched, but wow… where does the time go!
This little angel is at the top of the charts in terms of weight and length (nearly 10 pounds and 23 inches…nearly the size of a 3 month old), and we’re really gunning for her to be the tallest Goldberg to date (anything over 5′ 8 and she wins).
At this one month milestone, I can see the following in Charlee:
She definitely recognizes our voices
She can see and focus on things, be they people, pictures, or the puppy
She is in a routine and we can plan our days and maximize our time around that
She has a sense of humour… trust me, I can tell already
She can communicate, you just need to figure out her cues
She’s most definitely a daddy’s girl… and I’m not complaining!
I have just over 3 short months left before I head back to work, but based on this last month and all that it’s had to offer, I am stoked that the next few will bring lasting memories and huge events that I’ll get to see first hand.
Shopping for Charlee has, in all honesty, been a treat… with a side of dear-god-this-is-insanely-overwhelming. The sheer magnitude of toys, trinkets, and teethers is staggering, let alone the plethora of clothing conglomerates and their offerings.
When it comes to a newborn, you have to remind yourself that the marketing for any and all products for this age range is actually aimed at you, the parent, and they’re trying to tug at your heart-strings and poke away at your cutie-pie buttons.
Thanks to this, and more importantly, thanks to much of the reading we’ve been doing, our focus for Charlee’s early days, weeks, months, and years, is to really focus on more of the learning and development tools and toys to truly capitalize on Charlee’s flourishing mind during this incredibly important window of time.
Ironically enough, we had no idea about Infant Stimulation Cards until just recently, even though we’ve had them in our possession since Becca’s baby shower back in August.
At the time, we had no clue how to use them, when to use them, or how important they can be for baby’s development. We came to learn that vision is one of the least developed senses at birth, and so it can be valuable for parents to offer stimulating images to aid in the baby’s development. At birth, a baby’s retina is not fully developed and while an adult retina can distinguish many different shades of light and colour, newborn retinas can only detect large contrasts between light and dark, or black and white.
As totschooling.net explains, Infant stimulation cards are black and white patterned cards that you hold up in front of your baby as a visual stimulation tool. Research shows that infant stimulation cards will help calm and soothe your baby as well as increase concentration skills, enhance natural curiosity and stimulate the creation of brain cell connections.
The best distance to place the card is 8 to 12 inches (30 centimetres) from your baby’s eyes, or about the distance of a piece of paper. You can tape the cards to the side of the crib, the wall next to the changing table, in front of your car’s baby seat, or just show it to your baby and let the baby look at it until she loses interest. These cards are good for newborns up to around 5 months; just make sure baby is alert and active while showing these cards.
For our little Charlee, it was undeniable.
We began by sitting her in the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Mini, and arranged the cards at the appropriate distance, propped up just beside her.
I kid you not, she could sit like this for 30 minutes or more! She loves it… we call it her ‘reading time’.
Since then we’ve taken a recommendation we found online, and laid them out to help stimulate her curiosity during tummy time.
It works like a charm and really gets Charlee to raise her head and try to look at the images.
I’ve found many cards online that you could technically print on your own and then mount on cardboard or the like, but if you’re looking for some nice quality prints, Wee Gallery offers a nice selection at affordable pricing. You can buy direct at http://weegallery.com/store/art-cards/
Have you invested in Infant Stimulation Cards? Share some pictures of your setup and what’s worked for you and your little one!
So here I am. Not even a full three weeks in to fatherhood and I’m creating my first top 10 list.
I must admit, if I waited any longer, this list would be MUCH larger, so I figured, why not strike while the iron’s hot and propose a list of my findings over the course of the last three weeks and, of course, the nine months leading up to it.
So without further ado, here are my top 10 tidbits of wisdom to potentially help you through early fatherhood.
1. Expect the Unexpected
I still find the fact that there is a book called “what to expect when you’re expecting”, laughable. Our approach to pregnancy and parenting has been so methodical and planned, yet regardless, countless times, the best laid plans go awry.
Therefore, our new mentality has been to simply expect the unexpected. Recognizing that on one hand, you cannot control everything in life, and on the other hand, the likelihood of you coming across a situation that has never been encountered before in the history of man is so unbelievably unlikely, that you sometimes just need to rest assured that everything will be ok.
2. Midwives, Midwives, Midwives
I’m sorry folks, but for a moment I need to direct my comments to my Canadian audience and reiterate to them the fact that our tax dollars pay for a service that we should all capitalize on; Midwifery.
Even the vision statement of the Canadian Association of Midwives is that midwifery is fundamental to maternal and newborn health services, and that every woman in Canada will have access to a midwife’s care for herself and her baby.
This is a free service.
Let me repeat that: THIS IS A FREE SERVICE.
By signing up, you potentially could have up to three dedicated midwives, who themselves are registered nurses. They will be there throughout your pregnancy, hands on through your labour, and then provide postnatal support until they are comfortable to discharge you to your family doctor or paediatrician. We were blessed to have the most fantastic midwife team, and even when plans changed and we scheduled a C-section, they were still involved in every step, including in the operating room for the procedure and were literally second to have hands on Charlee after she was born.
For more information, you can go to the Canadian midwives website here: http://www.canadianmidwives.org/ and of course, please check your provincial college of midwives for more detailed information.
3. While she’s pregnant, you may struggle to connect
It’s a tricky principle, but totally logical. One day you have a pregnancy test resulting in some great news and almost instantly she begins (or has already begun) feeling the changes that are happening within. Meanwhile, Dad is thrilled with the news (hopefully), and then goes into a stage of waiting… months and months of waiting. During that time it can be extremely difficult to keep the same levels of excitement. Your partner changes. Hormones can run rampant. Intimacy levels change, and social activities are down to a minimum.
My recommendation: Keep yourself as involved as possible. Help out with setting up the nursery. Attend the doctors appointments (all of them!). Communicate with your partner and try and share in the feelings that she’s having. Most importantly, put yourself out there. Tell her that you’re there for her, whenever she needs you, for whatever she needs from you.
4. When baby arrives, you again may again struggle to connect
As if getting through the waiting game wasn’t difficult enough, all of the sudden you are officially a new dad. Baby arrives and she is just the image of perfection, looks like the mrs (thank god), and in every way has stolen your heart. But over the course of the next several weeks, your role, again, becomes uncertain.
If baby’s being breastfed, there’s not much you can do in terms of providing nourishment or sustenance . You tend to the housekeeping chores, make meals, and walk the dog so that your partner can rest when she needs to, feed when she has to, and recover from labour.
The worst tease is that the baby doesn’t even genuinely demonstrate an emotional bond with you or affection until around 2 to 3 months old, if you’re lucky!!
So what to do?!
As mentioned in a previous post, the Dunstan Baby Language was a great tool that I’ve been using, giving me an opportunity to understand what Charlee needs and when she needs it. Also, I’m up and in the room for every feeding. I’m doing a good share of the housekeeping, and I’m keeping strong communications with Becca.
A combination of all of these things seems to genuinely help me feel as much a part of Charlee’s upbringing as can be, and as the days go by, I’m sensing more and more of who she is and how she and I can connect.
I’ve done my fair share of reading in preparation for Charlee, books that I figured would come in handy regardless of what you can find online or what you hear word of mouth. However, I’m still shocked when I read blogs and articles from people who are flabbergasted when they realize how little sleep they’re getting, or how ill prepared their home is, or, my favourite, how they assumed that things would just come naturally to them.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of books for expectant parents, some better than others, but each should highlight some fundamentals of having a baby.
In the future I’ll be using this blog to review many of the books I’ve read, so do stay tuned.
6. Be weary of Dr. Google
When I mention reading, I recommend that you refer to published books and the odd website (like a babycenter.com or the like). However, as you should know, it can be very frightening to refer to Dr. Google, and downright dangerous to rely on it.
My most recent example is with Charlee’s belly button. It hadn’t quite healed, so I took to the internet to see what I could find. There is so much paranoia built in to all of these medical links, that I was truly overwhelmed and frightened, especially as a first time father.
My next move should have been my first – I had our midwife paged and spoke to her on the phone. She answered all my questions and put my mind at ease!
Bottom line – always refer to a specialist in their field before losing your mind referencing the interweb.
7. Talk with other Dad’s
Many of my very good friends are Dad’s. In fact… my Dad is a Dad. If you want to hear advice and guidance from folks who have been there and done that, ask a Dad. Remember, they are not trained medical professionals, so tread lightly. Stick to questions like “what did you find to be the most effective technique to calm baby down?” vs. “what kind of medication works best for my wife’s pain from a C-section but won’t be dangerous while breastfeeding?”
8. If possible, take time off work to be with your partner and child
It’s a very hot topic right now, especially in the United States, but if you have the ability to take parental leave, do it! I’m fortunate enough to be on paid leave for 4 months to be with Becca and Charlee at a time where quite frankly I don’t know how people do it solo.
I mean, I understand that you have to do what you have to do and in such a situation, we would ensure Charlee is cared for appropriately, but the amount of things that I help out with which otherwise would need to be done either when I get home from work, or somehow for Becca to do it all during the day, is insane.
For what it’s worth, it really makes you respect and admire the single parents out there. Kudos to you all… this ain’t easy!
9. Buy some stuff, but don’t go nuts
I’ll be the first to admit that the moment I knew we were having a baby, I wanted to spoil the crap out of this kid. We bought everything under the sun.
First and foremost, Charlee rarely uses her room. Granted she will soon, but so far she’s been between the change table, the bassinet, her stroller and a cool little Baby Bjorn rocker we got for the living room.
Clothing is a whole other story. Charlee was born 7 lbs. 14 oz. – already way too big for the majority of newborn clothing we bought or had handed down. It’s crazy to think that she outgrew things before even being born!
I will add that there is no shame in taking hand-me-downs, as a matter of fact, I recommend it … whole heartedly! Why bother spending money on clothing that otherwise is just getting crapped on and spit up on. Sure you should splurge and buy some outfits for your little one. But don’t go nuts – they wear them for such a short time anyway.
And lastly, buy Diapers… LOTS of Diapers. I read the other day that you should expect baby to go through 10-12 diapers a day, or roughly 320 diapers in her first month.
Let that sink in for a second.
Most diapers are sold in bags of 40 or so…. you’ll blaze through nearly two of those a week!
Think about this, especially if you’re going organic or even cloth – the prices can get up there and you need to do the math to see if it makes sense.
10. Don’t forget about YOU
With all this craziness going on, it’s easy to forget to eat, sleep, rest, and stay on top of your own health. Remember, your baby needs you now, but also needs you for the long haul. Keep healthy and it will help you be there for baby and wifey alike.
On that note, don’t forget Movember is right around the corner!! Get yourself in for a physical sooner rather than later.
Recently I was given the privilege of reviewing Andrew Swanson’s beautifully written and illustrated book Bella’s Magic Dream Glasses. While my own daughter is only a newborn, I have already taken the opportunity to read it to her, and no doubt will continue to do so through the years ahead.
Andrew’s telling of his seven year old daughter’s journey through dreamland exemplifies the innocence and imagination that are so prevalent in our children today. Bella’s visions of accomplishment, fame and stardom know no boundaries, and Andrew’s ‘dream glasses’ provide the view into this youthful imagination that we can all relate to from our own childhoods.
Meshed with Christobal Mikhovski’s dynamic illustrations, the reader truly gets immersed in young Bella’s dreamscapes and vicariously thrives off her vivid imagination.
Andrew is a full-time stay-at-home Dad for two wonderful little girls and a part-time beat writer/on-air personality for ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM in Albuquerque. After years of writing about sports and fantasy football, Andrew decided to share his love of writing and storytelling with children around the world.
You can find more of Andrew’s books through his website, www.andrewswansonbooks.com, and pick up your own copy of Bella’s Magic Dream Glasses or one of Andrew’s other enjoyable reads through Amazon.com.
Today, Charlee turns two weeks old, and the transformation has been unreal. Physically, she is truly growing like a weed, but of course, the most beautifully stunning, exquisitely gorgeous weed you could imagine!
Here’s a little before and after for you:
To say that time has flown by is an understatement, and I can only imagine myself saying this same mantra weekly, monthly, yearly.
These weeks have definitely seen their share of emotional highs and lows, each presenting themselves in a multitude of situations.
As mentioned in my previous posts, the hospital was a very trying time for us all, but we overcame and are much stronger because of it, and for Charlee in particular, this is a literal truth.
She came home from the hospital having lost only 2 ounces from her birth weight (far less than the expected 10%), and since being home has put on an impressive 11 ounces in 8 days! I know this doesn’t sound like much, but as far as babies go, she’s a pretty high achiever!
Seeing as it’s two weeks in, I figure at this point, I can highlight some of the takeaways and advice I can provide with my vast fatherhood experience. Kidding aside, regardless of the small window there is a TON I’ve learned, and my first hand account of what’s worked for us can hopefully benefit other new dad’s in the early stages of their adventures in fatherhood.
For this post, I’m going to highlight 4 items in particular which, I wanted to stress, have been a huge factor in our success thus far with Charlee, and they are:
Harvey Karp’s book “The Happiest Baby on the Block”;
Dunstan Baby Language;
Our newfound knowledge of breastfeeding; and
My own personal thoughts on communicating in your relationship with your partner when you have a newborn in tow.
First off, Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby book.
This book was recommended by a slew of new parents we know, as being an excellent reference on how to deal with a ‘colicky’ baby. Colic technically refers to a baby younger than 5 months old who cries for more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks. I know we’ve all heard babies crying – family members, acquaintances, or the crowd pleasing baby-in-a-public-space-who-just-won’t-give-it-a-rest. Imagine for a moment if that poor parent deals with that for 3 hour stretches throughout the majority of a week and the majority of a month – that’s soul crushing!
Fortunately, if you take the time to read Dr. Karp’s book and implement some of the strategies from the get go, you may benefit from never even having a ‘colicky’ baby… or so our experience has been thus far.
Dr. Karp’s book is quite extensive, but if you actually trim away a lot of the personal anecdotes and history of humanity, you get to the crux of his book being what he refers to as ‘the 5 S’s’ all based off the premise that after birth, your child enters the unofficial ‘fourth trimester’.
The principle of the fourth trimester is that your baby has been lovingly put up in this human presidential suite for three trimesters already, and the shock of entering a world so very different and inhospitable, is a shock to the poor little one’s system causing them to cry out in frustration.
The cure for this is to try one’s best to replicate the environment that they were so familiar with for the last 9 months, and thus we arrive at the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side (or Stomach), Shhh-ing, Swinging, and Sucking. Done in order, or sometimes in combination, these methods effectively ease your crying baby back into a feeling of zen, and all becomes right in the world.
Often, the moment Charlee starts crying, we’ll immediately start swinging her back and forth with a loud and stern shhhhh, and let me tell you, it truly works like a charm.
The one caveat, and segue to my next topic, is that with the ability to understand Charlee’s newborn language, you should rarely have to initiative Dr. Karp’s technique… and that brings me to my second gem, the Dunstan Baby Language.
Now, since I have no affiliation with anybody, I’m not ashamed to admit that the only interaction I had with this theory was via a video shown in our prenatal class, and then a subsequent youtube clip with the founder on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Priscilla Dunstan, a former mezzo-soprano from Australia, first developed the theory and then spent 10 years traveling the world and meeting parents and babies from all walks of life. Her conclusion and theory is that there are 5 universal words that babies use to communicate. Again, these words are universal, so regardless of where you are and where your baby comes from, they will use these words to engage you and communicate 5 specific needs.
The words (or sound reflexes) are: (excerpt from wikipedia)
Neh (I’m hungry) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Neh” to communicate its hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.
Owh (I’m sleepy) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Owh” to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like an audible yawn.
Heh (I’m experiencing discomfort) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Heh” to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that it needs a fresh diaper. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.
Eairh (I have lower gas) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eairh” to communicate they have flatulence or an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestines tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso.This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.
Eh (I need to be burped) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eh” to communicate that it needs to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.
I kid you not…. THIS WORKS!
We are successful in avoiding any lengthy crying bouts due exclusively to this theory. It’s fascinating – Charlee makes a noise, we translate and address the situation – bingo, bango – happy baby!
There have been times where we’ll hear her “neh” and know that she’s hungry, but Becca will need to organize herself and ‘setup shop’ to start feeding, so in the interim while Charlee is continuing to ‘neh’, I’ll rely on the trusty 5 S’s from Dr. Karp, and shush her back to calmness.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but our techniques are so far working like a charm!
Charlee happens to be a champ at latching and eating, so we truly have lucked out, but this also took work. This brings me to my next trade secret to success, Breastfeeding.
Now I probably don’t need to mention this, but my role with breastfeeding is fairly removed from the actual process, but dads, let me tell you, you can and should play a large role.
Our routine, is that regardless of the time, but especially for the overnights, I’m waking up and in the room while Becca is breastfeeding.
I’m the diaper man – changing Charlee before, after, and even sometimes during. I’m the water boy, the towel guy, the burper extraordinaire. I’m the conversationalist, the time checker, and the reacher for anything just out of Becca’s grasps while feeding Charlee in the glider. In the hospital, I was the cup feeder, helping Charlee sip away at the supplemented milk while we were trying to encourage her consumption – why? – because this was something I actually could do.
One of the key messages in the Dunstan Baby Language theory, is that dads in the first 6 months of fatherhood, tend to feel less ‘involved’ in baby’s life compared to their partners.
It makes total sense.
While Becca can feed this child, and needs to in order to provide for her, Charlee is not even capable of communicating any connection with me, regardless of what I do. The ability to understand her 5 words, and also to contribute to the feeding sessions, is a great way of making your early mark as a father – an engaged parent who is there to be a part of your child’s upbringing even when it’s not mutually beneficial.
And this point about working with your partner, be it regarding breastfeeding together, staggering nap times, or scheduling walks around the neighbourhood, brings me to my last point – communication.
I’m not gonna lie – two weeks is not a long time, yet within it, we’ve had our struggles with communication. Struggles spawned from lack of sleep, heightened levels of frustration, and an overall sense of, at times, being quite overwhelmed. We want to entertain guests so that they can meet Charlee, yet also set boundaries so we don’t lose our minds. We want to be a team and parent united over our child, while also taking time to individually connect. We have other dependants, like Party, who needs to have the same level of attention as before, but also needs to be disciplined with the understanding that he’s sharing his house with a new addition. We have each other, and we need each other more so than ever before.
Two weeks in, and all of these things can be difficult to navigate.
I don’t have all the answers, and everyone has their opinions. But truth be told, communication is the fundamental basis for anything and everything.
Telling your partner that they’re acting crabby and shouldn’t be taking out there lack of sleep on you is justifiable and needs to be done the moment the feeling is recognized. If it’s pent up, a snowball of anger starts rolling downhill, and you know it’s just moments away from crashing. Trust me, you can tell your partner that their tone is shitty, or that they are busting your chops for no reason – you’ve had a baby with them… I know they can take it.
You both should know that the underlying theme of your togetherness, your parenting methods, your approach to each other, is love.
And there you have it… my little pearl’s of wisdom as a dad celebrating two weeks of fatherhood.
I know there are going to be new challenges and amazing events in the days, weeks, and years ahead. If these first weeks were any inclination as to what is to come, I know that Becca and I will be stronger and better parents for it, and Charlee will grow even more into the little masterpiece she is.