My 6 Month Epiphany

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We were over at a friends house, painting Easter eggs this weekend, when Becca asked our friend, a mother of 2, for advice on a feeding question about Charlee. Her response both amused me and made me think.

“I’m no expert, I’ve only done it twice.”

While she wasn’t trying to be coy, she did bring up an interesting perspective. Just because she’d done it twice before, successfully, still didn’t mean that she felt she was in any position to give advice.

And with that, I offer you my 6 month epiphany…

Don’t take anyone’s advice.

Huh??
Huh??

“What!?”, you say.

“But isn’t this blog, in fact, producing advice to help guide the new dad through their journey?”

Well, ironically yes and no. And by that I mean, that right now if you were to ask my advice on how to parent, it would be to not take anyone’s advice!

Allow me to explain.

After speaking with new mums and dads over the course of the last 6 months of Charlee and for years previous, everyone has their own story. From how they found out they were expecting to how the pregnancy elapsed, let alone how unique their birth story was.

Each of their little snowflakes is different in their own right and though you may find the ability to categorize them with terms like ‘spirited’ or ‘easy’ it’s impossible to assume that even the most identical of twins can be raised exactly the same way.

I think that we as parents, especially new parents, have put ourselves in the situation where we have created a forum of information so vast that the overwhelming sense of parenthood is only further exacerbated by the overwhelming world wide web of information.

The fact of the matter is that this information is just that; info!

It is not solutions. It is potential solutions. It is examples of what has worked for some.

For every person it’s worked for, there are another thousand for whom it failed. And those thousand have a hundred different ‘solutions’ that have worked for them. And so on and so forth.

So what does one do? What should be the best source of knowledge?

Some people just have a tendency of going with the masses. Whatever is the best selling book on the subject.

Many people are simply swayed by the trends. This, however, can have detrimental effects like the whole anti-vaccination movement that many have followed care of celebrities voicing their ‘opinions’ based on personal experience and incorrect medical backing.

Others rely on their own parents approach, as it worked for them just fine, so why not carry that methodology forward. For the record, some even approach this on the contrary, where they ensure that they’ll do nothing like what their parents did (or did not do) for them!

I’ve read some perspectives that it may just end up coming naturally to you; instinctive if you will.

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Personally, I’ll give you my approach… but remember, it’s not advice!

My current job involves working with the healthcare sector, centralizing patient information and broadening access; helping to establish and maintain an electronic health record for the millions of people in our province.

By going through this endeavour, we’ve been able to amass an incredible amount of data, and with big data, comes big responsibility and big opportunity to delve deeper and run analytics.

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“Bro, there are drawings in the sky”          “Dude, you’re tripping out”

One of the many perks of big data, is that with more data comes more confident decision making, which can then lead to greater efficiency and reduced risk.

It’s a pretty cool premise, that I find helps steer me in the right direction with my approach to parenting and quite frankly, to life!

I like to do a thorough review of a topic – anything from investment banking to sleep training a 4 month old – there is a ton of data out there to review.

The caveat being, that in order to make decisions with this method, it takes time. There are few knee jerk reactions when you are scavenging books, articles, doctors suggestions, friends references, parents’ thoughts, and mummy group input.

But at the same time, knowing more scenarios, understanding more opinions, seeing the ‘why’ behind peoples recommendations is crucial in forming an opinion of your own and choosing to go down that path.

What I’ve grown to find is that with all the information in the world, it will only form an approach for you that still may not be correct, because your baby is one of a kind, or as the book On the Night You Were Born beautifully puts it:

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
Has the world ever known a you, my friend,
And it never will, not ever again…

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Eventually it will be a combination of lessons learned, your gut instinct, and the repetitive trial and error that gets you to familiarize yourself with who this little person is that you made.

And this, believe it or not, is half the fun of parenting; Realizing that your little 1 in 7 billion is as new to your life as you are to hers, and learning everything about her is the greatest, most rewarding unknown there is.

VLOG – Charlee is 6 months old!

Our little munchkin is getting bigger… seriously bigger… like nearly 19 pounds of happy baby goodness!

Charlee is 6 months old and we couldn’t be prouder – eating solids, sitting up right, new bigger diapers…. oh the things we celebrate 😉

Enjoy the VLOG – short and sweet today, but much more to follow!

 

How Quickly We Forget – The Halo Effect and Dad’s with PTSD

Becca was telling me the other day about how she has been starting to feel a little… different.

“Different?”, I asked, “what do you mean?”

She went on to say that theres a certain amount of structure in our lives now, that she feels more prepared and in control of how things are. Yet at the same time, that preparedness is more in line with being prepared to be surprised… it’s such a paradox.

I’ve said it as advice and it may have taken some time for that advice to hit home, but its so true – you’ve gotta expect the unexpected.

We took a second to really reflect back on how much we’ve been through and what it took to get here. It’s ironic, but had I not been updating my blog as frequently as I do, a lot of our experiences and the details surrounding them would be quickly forgotten.

And with that, I bring to you my ‘topic du jour’ … forgetting.

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A few of my friends have been going through various stages of pregnancy and parenthood within the last several years. From my vantage point, it’s been instrumental in helping prepare me for my own parenting experience and what I could expect with Becca, including what she would be going through in her pregnancy and motherhood journey.

One thing that’s always proved interesting, and of course, kind of comical is the good old “mummy brain”.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term or experienced it yourself or with your partner, but the symptoms are something along the lines of when you walk into a room… stop… and have no memory of why you were heading there in the first place. Entertaining as it is, a colleague mentioned to me that there is actually a scientific basis around it and why it happens to pregnant women.

The assumption is that the hormonal change allows women to more easily forget the pain, discomfort, and overall physical stress that comes along with pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s an interesting premise that we, as human beings, have a natural mechanism that kicks in during a time of extreme physical change and strain.

It reminds me about so many of the other natural wonders that you come across with childbirth, such as the number of things breastmilk is good for. Aside from the obvious power pack of nutrients and sustenance, it also helps clear up baby acne and even helps clean out your baby’s stuffy nose (yes, we tried it – a few eyedrops of it did the trick!).

You figure we’ve been having children for millions of years and modern day medicine only really stepped up it’s game recently. It makes sense that so many natural and almost instinctual reactions happen in the human body to help keep us functioning, especially during and after a physically and mentally strenuous life experience such as birth!

By the by, I’m not by any means insinuating that mummy brain makes childbirth an easy thing for mums!

I mean, my god, I witnessed Becca go through it, including the recovery from major surgery, 4 days in the NICU with Charlee, and then trying to raise an infant as first time parents…. and as far as I hear from other folks experiences, we got off mostly easy!!

But on that note, what about us dads?

We don’t get the hormonal imbalance.

No ‘daddy brain’.

Ironically, science has shown that we get similar symptoms to some things mum’s go through, like post pardum depression… well lucky us!

I’ve actually read stories about new dad’s who actually get post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from truly extreme birth experiences. It’s not really that surprising if you think about it. There are some seriously intense labour stories out there, and dad’s play a role in support but are not at all the focus of the event. There is an expected, yet overlooked imbalance when it comes to postnatal care for new parents as the focus is primarily on mum.

Again, I’m not selling short what mums go through. You just pushed a person out of you – you deserve all the attention in the world!

All I’m saying is that I think we need to be aware of the fact, that as caring and involved husbands and partners, the amount of energy, focus, concern, and love we emote, translates into an incredibly stressful situation for us too.

I’ve attended a few of Becca’s mummy groups, and also had the pleasure of reading a number of blogs from new mums and dads alike. The most surreal commonality, it would seem, is that for the most part, nobody has had an easy labor. I swear… the odds have gotta be something like 1 in 8 or maybe even 1 in 10 birth stories where the outcome was a normal, natural birth. Otherwise, there always seem to be complications.

From premie babies, to haemorrhaging spouses, to gestational diabetes, to emergency C-sections. Let alone stories of infertility and couples struggling for months, years, and beyond to try and conceive. My parents went nearly a decade without being able to conceive. They then went through the process of adopting my brother.

11 months later, yours truly made an appearance… via C-section…

Whomever painted the picture of birth as it’s ‘supposed to be’ has a serious lack of regard for reality.

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The funny thing is that we do make it through the labour stage, albeit some of us in better condition than others.

We then make it into the newborn stage and deal with the sleep deprivation and the helplessness of this new little person who is wholly under your care now.

Then into infancy and trying to teach this little bundle of joy what a good night’s sleep is. You muscle through sleep regression and sleep training and you’ve already forgotten about the helpless newborn baby who used to fall asleep wherever and whenever she wanted.

I’m guessing at a certain point you’ve moved on to the toddler in your life, who explores the house and won’t sit still. This little child is starting daycare, making friends, learning and developing and demonstrating all the different traits that really make them your child, and before you know it, you’ve forgotten about how they used to wake up every 3 hours overnight and kvetch about nothing and everything all at once.

This, I’ve read, is referred to as “The Halo Effect”.

Aw shucks... how can I stay mad at you?
Aw shucks… how can I stay mad at you?

You can think of it as the happiness and the reward make us remember the pain… differently.

Usually the term is linked to a marketing ploy, but I think the idea that we innately have this tendency and subconsciously utilize it with our children is awe-inspiring. We reimagine the past based on how happy we are with what we now have; with what our mini-me’s have turned into.

And the beauty part is that to dad’s benefit, it affects us all equally and we too can relish in the act of forgetting.

Isn’t Mother Nature grand?

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