Archive | December, 2010

A couple of notes on fatherhood, two weeks in

27 Dec

Some notes on what’s being learned so far. Also, there are some things I ‘knew’ in the sense that people told me that they would happen, but that I didn’t know in the sense that it’s different when it’s your kid:

  • The breathing, or lack thereof. People told us that newborns can sometimes stop breathing while they sleep, even for up to 10 seconds. And, you know what? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ALL ABOUT??! What kind of insane evolutionary joke has the baby playing dead at, say, 4am, when I’m cross-eyed from lack of sleep and now poking vigorously at my baby’s foot to get some sort of response. There’s nothing quite so deadpan as looking back to my wife, who is now sitting up board-straight in bed, and giving her the thumbs-up: No problems, sweetie. He’s still breathing. Not dead yet!
  • The peeing. Changing the diaper of any newborn basically entails buying a lottery ticket, except here the winner doesn’t get projectile farted at, shat at, peed on, or poop all over your hands. A little bit of luck, indeed. But with a boy, you get the extra-super special bonus of having a rogue firehose pointed at you during the entire changing process. You with girls can laugh now, but we should talk again when your baby girl starts having her period.
  • The circumcision. I found the bris lovely, and the circumcision not at all harrowing (baby mama was just a bit more anxious than me). But the after-care is pretty harrowing indeed. Bacitracin, Aquaphor, and a little bit of hope. I’m expecting this to be temporary, but in this temporary moment, routine diaper changes are giving me stress dreams.
  • The sleep deprivation. Everyone talks about it, and I’m feeling it, but not exactly as much as I imagined. Or rather, about as much as I imagined. My wife, on the other hand, is doing what I’m doing, but also recovering from, you know, a gigantic head coming out of her vagina, as well nursing the baby about every 13 seconds around the clock. On the one hand, it’s kind of awesome in the classical sense, to see my MBA wife reduced to basic brain stem functioning. Her frontal lobe is chillaxing down in the Caribbean someplace; she’s basically living on 1-2 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time, and only has brain power for watching Disney movies and Party Down. Which, interestingly, she’s loving.

I’m trying to be social, but only intermittently succeeding. You should try to initiate contact with me/us. I want to talk and write and communicate, even on baby mama’s behalf. You could even – gasp! – comment on a blog post or two to remind me to call you or something. Because we will be back in the world before you know it, and not in a ‘baby did this, baby did that, aren’t babies fascinating’ kind of way, either. Well, maybe a little. But not wholly.



24 Dec

Not from me, really and truly. But from everyone else, yes. Something about having a baby makes you an intimate with people in ways you never would have contemplated beforehand. On my way up the elevator to postpartum recovery, a woman chats me up:

Complete stranger woman: So did you deliver already?
Me: Yes, yesterday at 1:30am.
Stranger-woman: Congratulations! Is mom breastfeeding?
Me: Um, yes. She’s trying to.
Stranger-woman: So, did she get a good latch? Are her nipples cracked?
Me: Um, not that I know of.
Stranger-woman: Great! I didn’t empty my left breast and now I’m here because I have mastitis and now they have to drain my breast here at the hospital.
[Ding! elevator opens]
Me: Well, good luck!

Some awesome friends had a baby about 2 weeks or so before us, and I’m talking to them today, and it’s like, Hey how’s it going? Great! How are baby mama’s breasts? Hurty! What about yours? Thrush! Oh damn, that sucks!

My sister-in-law calls me up to ask how things are going, and asks me if the baby has had an exploding poop yet.

I’ve been initiated into a crazy cult, where women suddenly feel comfortable talking to me about their episiotomy recovery and I’m giving tips on poking down little BB’s penis when changing diapers.

Once again, it feels like I’m taking crazy pills, man. Crazy. Pills.

The circumscision

24 Dec

So upcoming is the bris for our baby boy, a horribly barbaric, 3500-year-old mutilation ritual confirmation of Abraham’s covenant with God, followed by a celebratory meal. Our mohel is a family friend, weirdly, and this is one of those small world deals.

A colleague, who recently had a son, met the mohel while at shabbat services (to appease her mother). After services, a woman sidled up to my colleague and her partner, wanting to be extra welcoming to the new lesbians in the congregation. Turns out she was indeed a mohel, a medical doctor and lesbian to boot. All good things in our book. And so when we had our son, the colleague passed along the mohel’s contact info.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law passed along the name of another mohel, who was working in the NYC area, and who is the daughter of a super-close neighbor in Western Mass. Turns out, of course, that there are not two lesbian mohel’s hailing from the Pioneer Valley, doing circumscisions in New York City. So she comes recommended two different ways. So yeah, we have a mohel.

The only issue we had was scheduling the bris, which (to give the short version), consisted of 46 emails, 17 phone calls, near-tears, recriminations, hurt feelings, dire family inabilities to attend, followed by abilities to attend. All of this being of course about what time to have the bris. Which at the end of the day turned on whether we would have it at 11am, or 1pm. Two hours! So the small number of hurt feelings were followed by seven times as many soothing apologies and conciliatory emails. And at the end, we just about split the difference on the times. At one point, I actually stepped in to suggest that everyone just ratchet down the madness. Ratchet down the madness! Chalk another one up to a week of sleep deprivation.

So yes, BB’s wee willie has, even before anyone has done anything to it, become a boundary object, containing in its tiny cells the embryo of lingering and fraught family drama that stretches back to our wedding. Let’s hope we can discard some of that with the foreskin itself.

Meanwhile, all we need now is a nice challah and a brighter light so that our doctor-lesbian-family-friend-mohel can see what’s what. Which is great, because there’s a place down the street from us where you can get a lovely challah pretty easily on the day after Christmas. And we ordered a nice lox platter.

Oh, and Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it. More Santa, less Krampus, I always say.

Finding it hard

22 Dec

I’m finding it challenging to strike the right tone, now that we have our baby in hand. Wax too poetic, and suddenly it’s all ‘Aha, I knew it! You really are a softy, despite your hard candy shell!’ Too snarky, and I’m the asshole who doesn’t know how to show emotion even in the face of an adorable, love-filled baby experience.

Truth is, I want to write more and share more, but I don’t want to post 500 pictures of BB, or talk about how he is obviously the most beautiful baby ever to walk the Earth. Because, I tell you, it’s a tempting thing to do. And I’m also a little bit tired in my bones at the moment, so my brain is sluggishly chugging along at, let’s say, a leisurely pace. Eventually, posts will pick up.

In the meantime, read my friend’s blog. She is smart, and trying to figure out how to live her life less tied to technology. Since I’m basically have a techie/luddite sensibility myself, I sympathize a bit more than I empathize. But it’s always a good thing to support friends’ endeavors. Another friend is re-making his blogging life as well, but his site is currently getting worked out. I’ll promote his ass here as well, when I get a chance.

Clubfoot update

22 Dec

So, we brought BB to a pediatric orthopedist this morning, To see about his clubfoot issue. And lo and behold, he was cured! No, not really. But we did take first steps to correct the problem, which means a series of casts, followed by corrective shoes (eventually worn at night). So he’ll be in casts for the next couple of months.

Each one will be for about a week or so, but still, you should all totally sign them! Show some respect for the mighty fortitude of Bilbo. His leg is heavy but his spirit soars with the eagles of future mobility!

I tell you, man, he is wearing this cast.

See, little man? No protection money, no protection

Search for causation and explanation, newborn edition

21 Dec

One of the challenging things about having this newborn boy is that he just does stuff, and it’s left to us to figure out how to manage it, deal with it, avoid it, run around it. One feeding he takes the breast, eats his fill, switches breasts, then goes to sleep. The next feeding he falls asleep at the nipple, won’t feed, hiccups for 20 minutes, cries, eats, then makes smacking hunger cues 15 minutes later. He’s a baby, yes. A lovely, charmingly cute newborn. But man o man, these little things are unreasonable.

This throws me and my partner into fits. We are very rational, in that we consider stuff before we do it. Baby mama believes strongly in preference sets, which determine behaviors, which make outcomes relatively predictable. I believe that people are at least intendedly rational, that they tell themselves stories that make their behavior understandable to them, if not to the world.

Brooklyn baby does not live like this. We’ve tried one of most things, and sometimes the very same routine works totally differently. And so we search for causation and reason. He’s crying: hungry? dirty diaper? gas? something mama ate? I mean, at one week old he doesn’t have a lot of psychological needs. And despite knowing in my heart that babies cry because it’s one of the small range of things they can do, I’m a little concerned until I can satisfy myself with an explanation. Crazy fussy? OH NOES! Oh, wait, mama ate chocolate, well she’ll just cut out caffeine altogether for the duration of breastfeeding. Yeah, right. Oh, wait, says here in this delightful book (The 10,000 Things That You Almost Certainly Don’t Know About Your Child’s Development, and Why You Should Be Concerned About That) that babies go through growth spurts when they eat constantly. Whew, growth spurt, glad we solved that mystery.

Until the next one.

And though it all I am trying hard to slow down time, because I know he’ll be this tiny for just a quick hot second, and man he is the cutest thing. Despite the blow to our worldview, and the lack of consistent sleep, we’re enjoying the little guy tremendously.

I leave you, for your amusement, the delightful image of my thug life wife extorting our son for his milk money:

Just pay me my money kid, and no one will get hurt!

Coming home from the hospital

16 Dec

People have been telling us that having a baby will wreak havoc on your marriage, but nothing so far. Well, sure, the day we took the baby home we had about 10 arguments. Baby mama’s constantly telling me to wash my hands, my telling her to cut it the hell out, who cares if germs get on our baby. My wanting to dress the kid in something light for the ride home, her wanting him dressed as an Eskimo. A friend bringing a snow suit to the hospital, implicitly validating the mother’s perspective. My saying that the car seat was fine, no need for the base. Her wanting to rent an M1 Abrams tank to take baby home.

So we are going home, with baby dressed in 5 layers and a jaunty hat, the car seat in its base, with a fur-lined fleece, my hands 3 times washed…

We called a car service to take us home. Hi, how’s it going, could you pick us up from the hospital, we are bringing home a newborn, please make sure the car has the latches we can attach to the car seat base. And they assure us, no problem. Then send the one car in the city with no latches. I almost tore the seats down looking for the latches. Shouting at the driver, man, you sent a car to a hospital after us asking about the latches, and no latches? You are insane. Insane! This is crazy! I will rip off your arms and beat you with them! I will punch you in your hair!

Then I took a breath, reminded myself that I hadn’t eaten all day and that dude in car probably wasn’t the source of my testiness. Then I strapped in the car seat like a normal human being, popped baby mama and the baby into the car, all our hospital crap into the trunk, and home home home.

Where the first 24 hours have thus far gone well. Baby up every 1.5-3 hours, closer to eating every 2 hours. But so far so good. Pediatrician today, to tell us what a gorgeous physical specimen Brooklyn Baby is. I mean, hellooooo? Apgar score 9/9? Obviously headed for greatness.