Wait…I have to entertain this baby?

September 3, 2010

I remember writing on this very blog that my life as a dad was hardly any different from my childless one. I take it all back. If it hadn’t fully hit home yet, it now has: I have a baby. Babies require attention (more than a blog), persistence (more than my fantasy football prep), and sacrifice (more than my…you fill in the blank).

So sometimes, though you feel I’ve lined up the timing perfectly, your baby won’t let you enjoy my cold beverage peacefully in front of a Vikings game. Sometimes you won’t eat dinner until 9, and it might consist of Cheez Its and grapes. Sometimes your near-flawless tardiness record at work takes a blow.

Sometimes, as in every night, I arrive home fully intending to blog, and in one way or another, Blanche thwarts those intentions. Perhaps Kristie is working late, and I spend three hours trying to trick Blanche into believe she’s not hungry at all, and that mom will be home any minute, just so she’ll nurse successfully when Kristie finally does get home. Maybe I play with her for too long, and by the time she realizes she’s tired, she’s too upset to let herself fall asleep. Of course, Blanche is responsible for many happier scenarios that prevent me from blogging too.

But let me paint a picture of a typical night alone with dad. Blanche is at a transitional stage now, and one that requires some adjustment for me. She now wants to be awake all the time, but can only entertain herself for short spurts of time. Thus, she needs constant, active attention. Every parent knows what I’m talking about, and I bet exactly none have any sympathy for me. I’m not asking for it anyway: she’s not a burden, you know. Of course not.

So, each night in which her responsibility is solely mine, I set up the baby amusement park in our living room…and all adjacent rooms. Our house is a giant baby playland. “Blanche,” I present to her, “for your entertainment, I have set out for you…”

Your swing, which rocks both sideways and back and forth, and plays either soothing nature sounds or lovely tunes that will stick in your head longer than the latest Gaga. Plenty of options. We have your Bumbo chair, which I can place to capture any of your favorite views: a clock, fan, light fixture or something yellow. I may be able to work them all into your sightline. Brag about me to your daycare friends. Over here, we have your play mat, complete with rings for grabbing and in turn sucking, a mirror, and a Spongebob-like cartoon man who makes the funniest sounds when you kick him!

When you tire of lying on your back, I’ll flip you over for some tummy time on your plush bear blanket. You’ll have access to an assortment of rattles, books and other things to put in your mouth during your stay here. If you’re lucky, I may even put you in front of the TV. The odds are better if the Twins are playing. You have your very own exer-saucer, a sort of baby command center where you can practice standing and spinning with a bevy of sensory experiences at your fingertips. Lastly, I’ve set up this gadgety door frame jumping harness, which, though you’re yet too short and light to fully operate, you seem to enjoy nonetheless. If you extend your toes, you can reach the floor enough to spin yourself uncontrollably.

Of course, when you lose interest in each of the obstacles of distraction, I’ll be here to hold you, bounce you, rock you or make noises with my mouth at you.

Atlas, please stop barking. I’ve given you a king’s buffet of dog treats already, and I know you’re not peeing when you go outside.

So you see, until I adjust to this new stage of fatherhood, blogging loses out more often than not. If a six-month baby can affect me so, how will I ever make it? Guess I’ll just keep adding distractions.


West Coast Action

September 1, 2010

Blanche the Traveler

August 25, 2010

Ten days, four cities, three flights, two weddings and an entire wardrobe of bagged, pooped-through outfits: that puts Blanche’s first vacation in the right perspective. We learned many things about her traveling capabilities and needs. Most of what we found out was fantastic: she was incredibly flexible, usually cheerful, and all her meals were free. But there was one tiny drawback.

Blanche has incredibly bad timing. That’s B and Grandpa Pete in the Minneapolis airport, 5:30 a.m. Of course, as we approached the security screening, we sensed it. I delicately plucked her from her car seat and tried to figure out the best way to pass through the metal detectors without smearing green poop all over the only shirt I had with me. (No airport carry-on lecture please.)

“Just hold her like you’d normally hold her,” the TSA officer said to me, noticing my fumbling. I turned her around. “Got it.”

This became a theme. I changed Blanche on bathroom floors, airplane tray tops, and a random bench as the bride’s father gave his speech. There must be some evidence or at least a Wikipedia page on the link between traveling and other-worldly blowouts. It’s a good thing babies are tiny, because we needed all 20 outfits we packed for our ten-day journey to Olympia, WA via Seattle and Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA via San Francisco.

Now, for the wonderful things we learned about Blanche’s travelability. This is critical, because travel is the rare passion that Kristie and I share, and it would be devastating if Blanche turned out to be little miss crabby on planes, buses, airport shuttles or any other local travel specialty. As it happened, not only was Blanche well-behaved on the airplanes, but she actually enjoyed parts of the experience. She loved the attention (especially from one over-the-top, hairspray queen flight attendant) and showed an environmentalist’s interest in the world outside the window. Plus, mom and dad get to be the first on the plane! What a tool this baby is turning out to be.

The next obstacle: hilly terrain. Both Seattle and San Francisco are full of steep hills. I guess this was more of an issue for the adults on the trip. The hills actually provided Blanche with her most upright view of the city. Unfortunately, no picture exists to prove how Everest-like Kristie’s and Grandma’s terrible six-block walk to the hotel in San Francisco really was. They painted quite the picture. Maybe it looked something like the picture at the bottom, but we’ll probably never know.

More pictures of the West Coast trip to come soon!

Four Month Milestones

July 26, 2010

Blanche is now well into her fifth month, and her personality is really starting to solidify. There was a time when we were able to say, ‘Blanche, it’s time to sleep now,’ and she would. Our will was stronger than hers. Once, we could say, ‘Blanche, just hang out on your comfy bear blanket while I take a shower,’ and she would. The sound of flowing water still held her curiosity. We used to say, ‘Blanche, this bar is a great place to hang out,’ and she agreed. Bars were cool.

But now, now that she knows there are things to be seen, heard, felt and learned, she is ultra curious. And not in sleeping, listening to the shower’s rhythm or hanging out in dark, noisy bars. So, I call it personality, but in my mind I’m saying so the disobedience begins…how early is too early to medicate?

Daddy kids

Kidding. You know, tone is difficult on a blog. But Blanche knows when I kid. See! So what are we learning about Blanche? Well, she is generally one happy baby. Smiles are easy to induce these days, and she’s really begun to discover how fun it is to giggle. Kristie gets automatic giggles when she buries her face in Blanche’s belly, allowing Blanche to death grip some hair in the process. Blanche also loves when I scratch my five-day whiskers on her tummy, too. It seems the stomach is a ticklish place.

So, she’s hitting some fun milestones. She’s doing things a typical four-month old might do, such as:

Rolling over. She hates ‘tummy time,’ and I’ll be happy when I get to stop saying it, so it’s just better that we all move on. I expect her to have this mastered in the next couple weeks.

So tasty

 Bringing everything to her mouth. She hasn’t quite yet realized what her hands are and that they are the vessel by which these items make it to her mouth, but it’s only a matter of time. If you put something in her hand, or close by, it’s going to her mouth, as this delicious baby paper illustrates. Her grip is vice-like. But we’re still waiting for that lightbulb moment where she sees something, realizes these magical ‘hands’ are connected to her body, and grabs it. There’s no telling what that will lead to.

How does plastic taste?

Loving things that make music and light up. Who doesn’t. All of these things play classical music, which is lovely, but why are there no pop music mobiles or bouncies or hand held toys? I’m not talking about Justin Bieber. I sang her Beach Boys songs last night and she loved them! So if I had to choose four artists, I’d skip Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, and go with the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Prince and Radiohead. Hit all the decades.

7:10 is Twins time.

Watching the Twins. OK, I had a little something to do with this one. It just so happens, you see, that I’m often cooking or doing dishes around 7 o’clock, waiting for Kristie to get home from work, and the Twins magically appear on my television! And Blanche happens to be sitting right there in her Bumbo, perhaps too close to the TV, but we’ll have her identifying players by face when she’s two by golly! I can’t help it; the girl likes baseball. I figure it can be our thing together.

I have a giraffe and you don't

Strolling the aisles of Target. They’ve got her in their clutches already! I prove it: On the left we have B inside

But giraffes make me cranky

Target, loving it. On the right we see her seconds after leaving the store, crying in the parking lot. These pictures were taken on the same trip, not a minute apart. Oh Target. However, there’s one aisle in Target that Blanche, dad, and dad’s friend agree is the most boring in the store:



The Fourth at the Lake

July 8, 2010

It’s been a tradition for Kristie since her first year, and for me for a decade, but this was Blanche’s first 4th of July trip to the lake for which she was named. Though it wasn’t her first time there, it was a little extra special knowing that this annual week on this specific lake is 90% of the reason why our girl’s name is Blanche. I say 90% because I can’t imagine we’d name a girl Ottertail, the lake across the road from Blanche, even if we’d had the most wonderful memories there. We do like the name on its own.

Beach babe

B didn’t like getting into her swimsuit, but she was quite proud of how cute she looked once she was in it. And at only four months old (this Saturday!), she’s yet to develop a body image issue. Thus, the monster thigh rolls can be considered cute and not unfortunate. I’ve been told they stay cute for up to three years, and at that point a parent can officially start to worry. Or at least switch from fries to apple dippers with their happy meals.

Aside from the obvious cuteness, several things about this picture are indicative of where Blanche is these days. First, she can’t get enough standing. Loves loves loves it. If she’s sitting, she’ll try to hoist her body up. If you give her the slightest assistance, she stiffens her legs and wavers rigidly until you virtually force her legs to bend and butt to touch down. She’s obviously unstable at best, but is adept at using gentle guiding arms to counter-balance her swaying.

Next: it may be hard to see clearly, but Blanche is a little redhead these days! Not fire orange, but more of an auburn. Though there’s plenty of red in my extended family, neither Kristie nor I saw this one coming. It’s her third distinct hue, and I’m sure there are more to come. I was told by an 80-something man I’d just met, on our last trip up north, that redheads are either frustratingly feisty or surprisingly docile. His words, but I guess I wouldn’t check the ‘docile’ box on the day care “My child is…” questionnaire.

Finally, if there were any doubters, this picture confirms Blanche as my daughter. The square head, acceptable pudginess and facial arrangement provide a striking resemblance, though none of the specific features are identical. Kristie says that in a room of 100 men, any fool would pinpoint me as her daddy.

Blanche in Blanche

So, Fourth of July 2010 will be a memorable one. Blanche dipped her toes in her lake for the first of the thousands of times she’ll do so in her life. No need to be overdramatic, and it feels more significant now, looking back, but it certainly was one of those moments I’ve talked about. Kristie grew up with lakes and their activities as a large part of her life, and I did to some extent, but Blanche will be a water girl. Those stiff legs will be perfect for skiing. She’s already endured a two-hour paddleboat trip and even nursed on the ride! Is that legal? The life jacket was strapped to the seat…

Some Firsts

June 21, 2010

I got real tired of people, before we had Blanche, making it their duty to tell us every event was ‘our last!’ as a childless couple. Maybe I didn’t get the point of it; yes, we fully realize this is our last Groundhog Day pre-baby. What would you like me to do on this momentous occasion? Make a speech? Get crazy? Are you trying to depress me?: “You’ll never be able to party on New Year’s again.” Excite me?: “Next year it will be so fun to dress Blanche up for Halloween!” For me, it was so blatant that of course, each of these occasions will be different this time next year, as will each ordinary day. You telling me so doesn’t make it any less or more meaningful. So, we had our share of lasts. 

Maybe it’s this: Lasts before Blanche are completely unworthy of recognizing, when just a few months later, we get firsts with her. Stop the presses moments such as: 

Her first Grand Old Day! 

Whatcha got in that Dr. Pepper mom?

St. Paul’s massive block party was a little intense for Blanche, but luckily for mom and dad, she shuts down when things get too exciting. And she clearly got dad’s sleeping genes.





   Her first time wearing a jean jacket! 

Red White and Jean Jacket

Dad had to get Blanche dressed in red white and blue for the USA’s opening match in the World Cup, and this jean jacket was the bluest we could do. I’d like to think that it helped secure that draw against England. 





Her first boat ride!

Lounging with Grandma Bonnie

This boat ride was not on just any old lake, this was on Lake Blanche, for which she was named!  Certainly the first of hundreds of boat rides in the coming years, though we hope she won’t scare her preschool teachers by talking about booze cruisin. 



Her first wedding! 

Blanche, you clean up almost as well as dad!

Blanche’s first wedding experience? A four-plus-hour round trip car ride with a two-hour stop in the middle at Jackpot Junction Casino in Morton, Minnesota. Kristie worked most of the day, so we missed the ceremony and dinner of her co-worker Ashley’s wedding, but arrived to do some showing off and a tiny bit of dancing. Blanche slept most of the night, including all four hours in the car. Kristie claims to be missing out on some of the ‘moments’ I’ve detailed here; the specific, unglamorous but memorable ones, but this night was a moment. The moment where we realized we were now parents–responsible ones–but parents whose choices are now controlled by the headbanded one. We left the wedding dance around ten, right when childless Kristie and Nils would have been hitting their strides. We’ll have a few more chances to be young again this summer, with five weddings still on the horizon, and grandmas and grandpas to babysit while we sneak away for some dancing.

Sports gal? Or girly girl?

June 15, 2010

Kristie and I share many loves, and have enough common interests to make our marriage completely satisfying and often intoxicating. One of my passions, most unfortunately, we will never share: sports. In our decade together, we’ve been to one Twins game together…and I honestly cannot recall another sporting event where Kristie was by my side. I’m sure her memories are more crystallized (terrifyingly) than mine, so she’ll be sure to correct me as soon as she reads that line.

I follow it all: the local teams rabidly, my alma mater (The University of Minnesota) regrettably, the national scene obsessively. I’ll wake up before sunrise to watch a World Cup soccer match between nations I know nothing about, stay up well past midnight to watch a college baseball game I have no rooting interest in, and don’t dare get Kristie started on a rant about the Olympics. I have learned some lessons: the ‘big game’ excuse doesn’t fly. There’s a ‘big game’ every night, Kristie has said. And she’s right, but so am I! This is the biggest game of the season (to this point…)! It’s the NBA Finals! The playoffs! An amazing pitching matchup! They’re wearing throwback uniforms! It’s a Thursday night! You get the idea. I can come up with a reason to call any event a ‘big game.’ Truthfully, it doesn’t always matter if the game is ‘big’ or not; I’d still be likely to pay attention. So why bother with the excuse. She sees right through that one, and I’ve quit insulting her intelligence.

I also must thank our DVR, which allows me to watch some events (Vikings games come to mind) after they’ve finished and in much less time. So, if Kristie wants to run some errands or go for a jaunt on a late Sunday morning, the Vikes game doesn’t have to take precedence.

It must be said: while sometimes I feel like I’ve come a long way with my ability to sacrifice some of my sports loves, much of the credit goes to Kristie, who has allowed me to keep most of my obsessions. And though I may see some things as sacrifices, from a perspective that doesn’t understand how compelling competition can be, I still seem insane. I swear I didn’t intend this to turn into a 400-word soliloquy, so let’s see if we can get to the point.

I don’t recall discussing it, but I believe it was tacit that if we’d had a boy, I would be free to submerge him in my sporting world, introduce him to everything athletics, and essentially give him no choice but to be a sports junkie like dad. Of course, if he were to try sports and spit them out, we’d find something he was passionate and explore that instead, but–well what am I even talking about? We didn’t have a boy. (Deep sigh)

With a girl, it’s trickier, isn’t it? Just as I would be excited about molding a son and showing him all the masculine things daddy loves, Kristie wants to spread her girliness onto Blanche. I’m all for that, but no fair!

Before we get too far into this molding, shaping, spreading thing, I’d better say that Kristie and I have no intention of sending Blanche down any path she doesn’t embrace. We will encourage her to explore anything she loves, aside from insane downhill skiing, ultimate fighting, fire breathing or glue sniffing. She may be nudged, as all kids are. 

Anyway…Blanche attended her first sporting event last week: a very competitive, very compelling slow pitch softball game. I seized the opportunity. “That’s called a can of corn,” I told her. “He’s not yelling at the umpire, he’s yelling with him.” It was fantastic! And Blanche was captivated, almost as much as she is by a lighting fixture or ceiling fan.

So do I want Blanche to be a sports fanatic? Not necessarily, but I want her to be able to share some of my love for it with me. I want her to enjoy stuffing a fully-condimented hot dog into her face, or lament a referee’s (clearly incorrect) call until the only thing that can make you feel better is Chipotle. I want her to be able to name all the positions on a baseball field and blare at the television when Adrian Peterson is being careless with the football.

OK. Maybe I do want her to be a fanatic. It is fun to think about. I’ll obviously be thrilled with whatever loves she embraces, and I hope that she, in the end, reminds me of her mother. That sounds pretty good to me.

Check out some new pictures of Blanche!

Daddy’s Big Day: A minute-by-minute examination

June 2, 2010

Today is finally the day: the day Kristie has, for the last three months, forced herself to believe would never come. Today she goes back to work, and leaves Blanche for the first time. I can think of a couple instances when they’ve been apart for an hour or so–never more–so the buildup to this moment has been incredibly emotional.

Thus, to attempt to keep Blanche and Kristie connected, I’ll be documenting my day with her, and updating this post throughout the day. Remember, not only is this a big day for Kristie, but it’s a big day for me as well! My first day alone with Blanche all day; I’ve mentioned my fears before, but mostly I’m excited. With my luck, though, she’ll pick today as her fussiest, poopiest and least smiliest. Nay, we musn’t pollute the mind with unhappiness. With that, let us begin the day.

7:00 a.m. I wake up as scheduled, but wait! I’m not alone! No more dressing in the dark, tip-toeing around the bed or wondering in the shower if I turned the alarm off or just hit snooze…Today we woke up as a family, and I got to play with Blanche in bed as opposed to my usual body-lunge over the edge of her bassinet.

7:20 a.m. After several minutes of play time, I change Blanche as Kristie gets ready. This will rarely be the routine, as I’m always out the door before Kristie in the mornings, but it’s good practice. It’s certainly not my first morning in charge, though. Virtually every weekend I’ve taken B in the mornings to let Kristie sleep in. I’m well-practiced. Kristie puts me in charge of choosing her outfit, though she can’t resist pointing me in a number of directions. It usually takes her a few times to get it just right, she says. I don’t know the difference, but my choice is met with positivity.

8:00 a.m. Blanche is sleeping again in her swing, her go-to comfort spot. I again play domestic dad, making breakfast and coffee while Kristie pumps. This whole bottle feeding idea is the part of the day I’m most unsure about. Kristie has a rhythm, and I’m afraid I’ll lose track of when she’s eaten, or screw up getting the once-frozen breastmilk slush into a drinkable form. Or forget a bottle when we go out (I have a convenient dentist appointment this afternoon). Or give her too much! Or not enough! Or forget to burp her and be confused when she screams because I didn’t burp her!

We know I won’t do any of these things. After all, in this relationship, one of us is regimented. Organized. On schedule. According to plan. And it’s not Kristie.

8:35 a.m. Kristie says goodbye to Blanche for the first time. It is a powerful moment, probably the second-most emotional minute since Blanche’s birth. The most emotional being a dramatic Twins win, of course. Kristie says she can’t remember struggling more with any other moment in her life. She feels “crazy bad sad,” she tells me as I walk her out to the car. I load the car; it’s an event now, with a diaper bag and breast pump accessories accompanying the usual purse, lunch and coffee. And then, she’s gone!

9:00 a.m. Blanche is still sleeping. This is easy! I’m surfing the internet, watching tennis, fighting allergies, texting–I can see how this might become a comfortable lifestyle.

9:23 a.m. Blanche stirs! Is it breakfast time? No. She’s back asleep by the time I get to her side. A Janell Monae song comes on the Current. I crank it up. Still she dozes.

9:35 a.m. The Replacements’ Kiss Me on the Bus comes on. I crank a little higher. Still nothing. This girl definitely got her dad’s sleeping skills. Maybe some clanging dishes will wake her?

9:54 a.m. Dishes do nothing. I check the cupboards for lunch options; I haven’t made lunch for myself on a weekday in quite some time, and our pantry is looking quite bare. I pull out a Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff. Expired December 8, 2005. I didn’t even know those things could expire! Canned soup is the favorite at this point.

10:11 a.m. Still sleeping.

10:20 a.m. I’m awake! And so well-rested and happy! After a few content minutes, I’m ready to eat. Here goes nothing. Oh no…she won’t take the bottle…breathe…maybe it’s too cold. I fill a cup with water and microwave it for a minute. Good job remembering how to correctly heat a bottle, dad. A couple minutes in the warm water and we’re ready to try again. Success! 3.5 ounces down! And we’re still happy!

10:40 a.m. Time to do one of our favorite things: sit in my Bumbo chair! Guess what I learned? If I rock my body a bit, I can make the rocking chair ottoman rock back and forth! This is so fun! Bumbo time lasts about 20 minutes, but then daddy has a bunch of stuff he needs to write on his blog. We transfer the bumbo into the sun room, where dad decides to switch it up and give Blanche a little time on her soft bear blanket…bad idea. Why move her when she’s content? Lesson learned.

11:10 a.m. Now I’ve really done it. Blanche is upset because I moved her. How to fix it. Pacifier. No good. Walk and bounce. A little better. Hold her and type with one hand. Difficult and unsuccessful anyway. The solution? Stash her in the Baby Bjorn, toss her a pacifier (I heard it called a wiggler recently and think I’ll be using that term. Way better than paci, nuk or whatever), bounce on the yoga ball and type away. Aaaaahhhhhh. That’s better.

11:45 a.m. Nothing like a noon shower. Guess it’s probably time to get out of my pajamas too.

11:55 a.m. Out of the shower, and despite my most cautious preparations, Blanche is crying in her swing. Lost her wiggler. Like a champion, I race downstairs, slide that baby back in, and she’s calm in seconds. What did parents do before pacifiers? I can only hold my finger there for so long.

12:15 p.m. Canned soup it is. And potato chips and dip. Hey, I’m not the one responsible for the baby’s nutrition. I can eat what I want. As a matter of fact, I’m going to have a can of regular Coke, too. A little too early for beer I guess…

12:40 p.m. As we get ready to leave for the dentist, my fears seem to be coming true. Blanche is in line to eat at 1:30, exactly when my appointment is. I don’t really know the protocol here; can I feed her while in the chair? Do they mind if she screams for a half hour? Can we just cancel this altogether and say i had no cavities? How often can I do this several-questions-in-a-row thing? Isn’t it getting out of hand at this point?

12:48 p.m. She’s asleep again after being awake but calm in her swing for the last hour. Maybe I can keep her sleeping in her car seat until my appointment is done…but first I have to put away the potato chips. Crap. I crumpled the bag and startled her awake. Nevermind.

12:53 p.m. Am I tweeting?

12:55 p.m. As we were about to leave for the dentist, I thought it might be a good idea to check her diaper. Good thing I did, because inside was a present potent enough to pop one of the snaps on her onesie. We were one spray away from a blowout, and I’d rather not have on in the dentist’s office.

1:05 p.m. We’re on our way, and Blanche apparently isn’t a huge fan of Arcade Fire. Probably didn’t help that the song Wake Up was playing. But, superdad that I am, I blindly reached back, found her wiggler and placed it safely back in her wailing lips. Crisis averted.

1:30 p.m. Just as she had with mom, Blanche sleeps the entire time I’m being probed. It’s a bit unsettling to be stuck in a chair, looking up at the ceiling, sharp things in your mouth, and unable to see what your baby is doing. Thankfully Anita was watching her and giving me timely updates. Everyone at the office was dumbfounded by her gentle giraffe, which played a soft and soothing waterfall as she slept. I wasn’t familiar with the old hotel beds the dentist mentioned that played similar relaxing sounds.

2:20 p.m. A visit to Hot Mama, where we were adored by customers, snuggled by mom and chugged a much-needed bottle. A quick visit to work and we were back on our way home.

3:10 p.m. Since it’s daddy’s day, I get to play whatever music I want and as loudly as I want to, so on the ride home, we blasted David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. I promised Blanche I wasn’t talking about her when I sang “Oh you pretty thing, don’t you know you’re driving your mother and father insane.” But I do agree with Bowie when, on a later track, he sings “If your homework brings you down, then we’ll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown.”

3:55 p.m. Get me out of this car seat! I’m crabby! Is this because we didn’t watch Days of Our Lives?

5:20 p.m. After an hour-long struggle, we finally fall asleep. And by we, I mean Blanche in her swing and me on the couch. This baby-watching stuff is taxing! I barely remember answering the phone at 6:30, when Kristie called to say she was leaving work. I’m sure I would have woken up had Blanche started fussing.

6:55 p.m. Finally, after nine and a half long hours, baby and mommy are reunited. No time for saying hello to dad! Must see my baby! Thankfully, I kept her intact and relatively happy. But I am ready for a beer.

Phase Two

May 28, 2010

This is it, our final weekend of Parenthood Phase One, the one where Kristie stays home with Blanche all day, sending me photos and videos throughout, and dreading this coming Wednesday: her first day back at work and away from Blanche. In reality, Kristie and Blanche have been ‘together’ every day since early July, and they’ve been at home each day since mid-January, when Kristie was put on bed rest. It’s going to be a very hard day for all parties.

Luckily, I get to stay home with Blanche for the first couple days without mommy, hopefully making the transition easier for baby and keeping mom’s worries under control. I know the second of those hopes is likely an unattainable one, but Kristie (I think) knows I can handle being alone with my baby for a day. I think I can too, but as the day draws nearer I’m less sure of myself. Here are the obstacles that immediately come to mind.

1. Nothing soothes like a boob. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but I ain’t got none. There are several other ways to calm Blanche down, and I’ve mastered some (though you can never really master the art of calming a baby), but the one that never fails I cannot perform. I do give a mean bottle, however, and Blanche does well with them, so here’s hoping those plastic nipples soothe as well as the real ones.

2. It’s OK to be a slacker. I struggle with this. When I’m home, especially on days off from work, I want to be productive. I already have a laundry list of mental tasks for the few days I have approaching. But here’s the thing: no chore comes before a baby, and many of them are difficult to accomplish while watching one. I don’t think she’d particularly enjoy riding along in her Baby Bjorn as I mow the lawn. I can’t imagine she’ll share my love of spending an afternoon rearranging the kitchen cupboards or color-coordinating the towels. So, some things won’t get done. Luckily, to this point she has shown at least a moderate tolerance of dishes, which are daddy’s go-to job.

3. My arm strength and stamina isn’t there yet. This is something that mothers master quickly, and I’d guess I will too. But as of right now, even at 10 pounds, Blanche tires me quickly. Holding, rocking, bouncing–can’t I just set you down and finish my sandwich? I’ve dared, and the consequences can be brutal. By the end of the week, I’m confident I’ll have the tricks of holding, balancing and bracing down. And sculpt those farmer-tanned arms at the same time.

4. I don’t do Days of Our Lives. But Blanche has watched it religiously since birth. We’re aware of the morning and evening ‘fussy times,’ but will there be a midday one if I somehow neglect to tune in? We’ll soon know.

Am I nervous about being a full-time daddy for a few days? (And basically every Saturday from here on out). Yeah, I guess I am. What if I can’t calm her down? What if she won’t look at me out of spite? What if she, in fact, doesn’t like doing the dishes? The potential horrors! In reality, I’m quite confident in my parenting skills and, more importantly, ability to adapt. And whatever hell I’m going through, it certainly won’t compare to the withdrawals mom will be having away from her. Frequent picture and video updates will help.

We’ll all adjust. A year ago, we weren’t expecting a baby. Three months ago, we didn’t have one. Today, we can’t imagine what it was like without her. And three months from now, we’ll have forgotten what the life of a stay-at-home mom was even like.

Really, all three of us are quite lucky.

On the Charts

May 20, 2010

Time continues to fly by, and Blanche has now been with us for over ten weeks. We made it to her two-month doctor’s visit without incident! Don’t you get a certificate or hand stamp from the doctor when you’ve kept a baby healthy that long? Or maybe that’s just what preschoolers get.

Here I am, big baby Blanche, two months old. I am 21.5 inches tall, weigh 9 pounds 7 ounces, and have a substantial buddha belly. Yes, at two months, I am still comparable to a large, but not uncommonly so, newborn.

I don’t really mind being naked, and do pretty well when the doctor pokes, prods and massages my pudgy body. I hang on tight to any finger or object that comes into contact with my tiny fingers. I will squeal a bit if you take my diaper off, but jeeze that air is cold.

I’m used to needles; My foot was pricked every day for the first week of my life, so the three injections I got at the doctor weren’t so bad. Mommy cried more than I did, but daddy was brave. And I got some yummy medicine to make me feel better. (Side note: why is baby medicine flavored? I understand flavoring children’s medicine cherry or grape, but what does a baby care? If anything, baby medicine should be packed with breast milk flavor. I think there may be a market here.)

I love to stand! Because I am such a tall girl. Dangle my legs for a bit on your lap or a table and I’ll push them out so rigidly you’ll think you might never get my knees to bend again. But this picture gives you an idea of how small I still am. Daddy can still manhandle me pretty easily. I’m in the 23rd percentile for height, the 13th for weight and the 2nd for head size. But I’m on the charts! And my doctor was very pleased with my growth.

I make lots of goofy faces these days. Sometimes it’s gas (yesterday my bottom sounded like it was brewing coffee for much of the evening), but I will react if mom does something extraordinarily hilarious. She and I aren’t yet on the same wavelengths, but boy did she think she was funny when we went to happy hour the other night. All in all I’m a very happy ten-week-old. I’m consistently sleeping for six-hour stretches at night, still love my car seat and LOVE baths. You must admit, it is a pretty good life.