Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Milestones

I think I need to stop reading about baby milestones. I swear I saw a smile this early morning but it could have been him just digesting. Usually I can tell if it's the latter because we get a little body wiggle, but this time it was just a grin-looking thing as I was looking at him and smiling. He didn't do it later, so probably was just a fluke.

But that made me curious about development milestones. I know his eyesight is good for about 18 inches right now and he can't even see in color yet. But I am wondering whether he'll be technically "behind" on his development progress because he was early. I don't consider him behind because he's not even at the due date yet, but I found myself wondering whether early babies stay on that same schedule. They can't right?

On the other hand, he's doing some things really well. He lifts his head a lot and does body turns side to side. He's sustaining some for 15 seconds or so, which I've read is unusual. So maybe late on some things, early on others. I know he's a fighter, has a lot of his grandpa White in him with super strong legs and arms.

The milestones and development timeline don't bother me too much because I know every baby is different, but it is fun to chart when these things happen. We have a baby book with his little footprints in it and will be recording all of his firsts as we see them. But it's amazing how much he has changed in only three-plus weeks.

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Post #77 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on myprofessional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phones and class

So I have this rule in my classes where I tell students to turn off their cell phone. I can't tell you how often I've lost my train of thought while lecturing while a cell phone went off in class. When you're on a roll, nothing puts the brakes on like a cell phone going off.

Enter Professor Twitter the hypocrite.

I had my phone on during yesterday's first session. My wife was at the doctor during the class, having taken our son in for some feeding issues. He was basically throwing up a lot of what he was eating and the doctor wanted to make sure there wasn't something major going on like a blockage. He had no fever so it was sort of weird. He's OK and we'll just switch up his formula, but that's not really the point of the story.

The point is that I couldn't keep the phone off, and sure enough I got a text giving me an update (which I stopped and read during class). It was weird to do this about 10 minutes after I'd asked for them to keep theirs off, but as I probably will do a lot this semester I asked for patience. Keeping it off would be a distraction, plus I need to be able to know I need to leave should something serious happen while I'm in class.

Thankfully it was nothing serious yesterday and I could manage it from afar. The utter lack of sleep this week, on the other hand, has been more of a problem. I did a couple brain freezes yesterday in class while trying to form the words in my head. I feel about as exhausted as I did during my comprehensive exams in PhD school.

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Post #76 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on myprofessional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Monday, August 29, 2011

Well this is off to a good start

So my pre-night-shift nap was shot to pieces tonight. I usually try to squeeze in a few hours before night duty so I can power through, but the boy decided to pick that time to have his digestion issues resurface. Spit up, we're used to, but this has been more like throwing up entire meals.

Called the advice nurse and they said keep an eye on it. Maybe a visit to the peds ER if it continues another couple hours.

By the way, I am supposed to teach my first class of the semester in 9 hours.

I've said it before that one of the great benefits of my job is the flexibility. I know if I have a sick kid that I have a lot more options than a kid with two working-class parents who are sapped in terms of sick and vacation time. So I'm grateful for that.

But I don't want to abuse that either. I realize that this flexibility is usual in university life, but in the back of my head I've still got that blue collar journalist mentality. It's a reason why I don't complain about academia in terms of pay or benefits; I know what it's like to punch in and out everyday and live paycheck to paycheck. And then there's the other matter that even if he is sick, we rely on my income to provide the food and health care he needs. So it's a balancing act, and one that easily pulses through my brain at midnight when I'm trying to soothe him while planning my workday.

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Post #75 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on myprofessional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First day of school

Tomorrow is our first day of the new academic year at Lehigh. I'm celebrating it by ... not going in to the office. But that doesn't mean I'm not working today, obviously, just managing things from afar.

Doing so means I'm going to be using every tech tool in my arsenal.
  • I'm using Dropbox to sync files across four computers between the home and office, which will help me stay sane as I find myself working on and off in different locations. I have a PC in the office, an iMac here at home, a MacBook for mobile work, a backup PC laptop, and an iPad. Lots of devices means the potential for chaos in terms of file versions, but Dropbox takes care of that.
  • Google+ has a nifty hangout feature that allows for multiuser video chats. I'm going to be doing virtual office hours on there for at least the first 2/3 of the semester, which will allow me to cut down time in my physical office as we make the transition here.
  • Email is good, but most students know that if they need to get ahold of me now that Twitter is the best option. I like Twitter because it forces students to be brief in their requests and focus on the key issues. You won't be shocked to know that simple email requests from students often turn into 5 paragraphs.
  • Keeping my reading organized is easier since I got linked up on Instapaper. It allows me to save reading across several devices for later and syncs across all my devices. Super convenient.
Some of this is about efficiency and some of it just allows me to create a new type of virtual office. Hopefully this will work as I get the system down.

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Post #74 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Messy house

Clutter is one of those things I don't like in my living spaces. I can put up with it in an office and such, but I've always been a person that needs the home to feel like things are in place. I don't do well with chaos. When the house is messy I find myself thinking of strategies to clean it instead of focusing on other things that are more important. I have a hard time working from home, for example, when the house is messy. It's a fault.

I've learned to let some of this go since the baby was born, but I can't go all the way. It might just be a character flaw with me or just how I'm wired, but I feel more at peace when the house is in order. And it's been pretty out of order of late. My wife and I are spending all our time feeding, changing, doing baby care, and generally trying to get a few hours of sleep somewhere in there. Plus he's at the stage right now where there isn't much room to lay him down and do some chores around the house. He still wants to be held a lot.

We're learning we have to be more efficient. If he is laying down and one of us is up, tackle that stack of bills or get some dishes or laundry done. This is the temporary end of leisure time, I think. I don't feel like I have the luxury of stopping and taking a breath. Throw in work pressures for me and it gets harder. My wife at least has the option of leaving work at the office, but I don't.

Some things I'm going to have to let go. But today I find myself worried about how I'm going to do the work-life balance thing. My to-do list for work hasn't really shrunk, as well it shouldn't. I'm adding more things to be doing and have less time.

I'll figure it out. It takes time. And getting through the early stages will help. Kid just needs to learn to be happy lying down, or we're going to have to learn to just let him cry it out. Something has to give.

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Post #73 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rock you like a hurricane

I believe in being prepared, but I don't go overboard. On New Year's Eve 1999, my Y2K emergency ration kit was a gallon of purified water and a box of Wheat Thins. Seriously, those are the special supplies I went out and bought just in case of a worldwide computer meltdown.

Generally I don't overreact. I'll take some sensible precautions without doing it. Living in earthquake zones have taught me to always have a pair of shoes by the bed (in case of broken glass. I've been in two of the biggest quakes California has had the past 25 years - Loma Prieta in 1989 (the one that delayed the Bay Bridge World Series) and Northridge in 1994. Scary as those were and as widespread as the damage was, I've learned to not panic.

I do try to keep a sense of humor, mostly to ward of panic. But I've also done more prep for Hurricane Irene than in recent memory for any other pending emergency. A box of Wheat Thins works fine when it's just me, but I have a wife and baby to think about too.

So we're storing up some tap water but I also went and bought some gallons from the local drug store. Since we're making formula and keeping my wife well hydrated for the feedings, we need all we can get. I also stocked us with the requisite snacks and such so we don't starve.

I'm not to worried about the house other than the roof, which is always susceptible when we're talking high winds. But we're kind of on a perch in our neighborhood and flooding thankfully isn't a concern.

If you're stuck in the valley this weekend, kayak over our way. I'll share my Wheat Thins.

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Post #72 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to school

Tomorrow I head back to campus, albeit briefly. I am slated to talk in a symposium for new students at 4 p.m. so I am going to spend part of the afternoon to do the lecture and also do a couple advising appointments.

Fortunately the topic is one at the heart of my teaching and research: digital media and social change. I'm planning on talking about the Arab Spring revolutions and a couple other projects where people are harnessing technology to change the world. Talking about something I know means less need to prepare.

I have gone out and run errands and such for a few hours on end since our son was born, but never without having help around. Tomorrow I'll be out for more than just the time it takes to go to the store, and I'm a bit nervous about leaving my wife alone. I'm sure she'll do fine, but as with other times I've expressed nerves on this blog bear in mind it's just a case of being a new parent.

And of course this was going to happen sometime. One step at a time. Fortunately he was in good spirits today and slept well in the bassinet. With a little luck, I might actually get a little sleep overnight!

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Post #71 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AloneAloneAlone

Tomorrow is the first day of a new phase for us. My mother-in-law has been with us since the day after our son was born, and for the past week we've also had my sister-in-law with us. What that means is that we haven't done the baby thing by ourselves yet.

It's been nice having the extra hands around here. Really, really nice. Because we weren't quite ready with clothes washing and such, the help allowed us to get caught up and ease into something of a routine slowly.

But some of this has been artificial in the sense that we haven't had to do this by ourselves, to figure it out, and so forth. We're both grateful for the help but I realize I haven't had a full taste of what this is like yet. And yet I'm still exhausted and sleep-deprived, even with four hands in the past week. I'm not sure how we would have weathered the first two weeks without the extra hands, and I'll admit I'm a little nervous about how things will go when it's just my wife and I to handle this.

Throw in the mix that the semester starts next week, and things are about to get a whole lot crazier.

We'll get through it, of course. People always do. Plus I am reminding myself that the baby was due after the term was supposed to start, so figuring all this out on the fly mid-semester would definitely have been more difficult. I've tried to prepare, and I know there are things I didn't think of.

But as it usually goes, the butterflies are there for a reason. This is big, bigger than anything I've ever tackled in life and the stakes are about as high could be. I am hoping my students and colleagues will be patient and understanding with this sleep-deprived professor. I pride myself on being there for my students and it's going to feel weird to not be able to be on campus much during the first month of the semester.

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Post #70 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tummy time

Because of his digestion issues, we've been avoiding the "tummy time" thing the past few days. This is pretty much what it sounds like, putting the baby on his stomach and letting him flail a bit. It helps build neck strength and motor skills, so doing it early is good for their development.

Fortunately putting him semi-upright at an incline on my chest also counts, so we've been hanging out the last couple days. Austin likes to move his arms and legs a lot (sometimes in sync) when he's doing this stuff, so it has the effect of him almost scaling me like a wall.

He likes being on my chest. I don't know if it's my heartbeat or what, but he seems more calm when he's being held that way. Sometimes when he's super agitated I'll curl him up and just hold him to my chest. When that doesn't calm him down, I know something really bad must be upsetting him and I know to start looking at other causes.

But we're seeing more personality every day, that is when he's not sleeping or squirming because of digestion issues. Which, actually, happens quite a lot. But we had a lot of eyes-open time today and I have come to love that chance to talk with him and watch him turn his head in the direction of mom's voice.

Tummy time helps wake him up, sometimes overly so to the point he gets cranky. But he's such a strong kid that I want to channel that energy to getting his coordination and such down. He sits on my chest and already is lifting his head for a few seconds at a time (he then looks at me like I'm ridiculous and puts it back down).

We're taking bets on the eye color. My wife's are a hazel-gray type color and mine are blue. Recessive genes FTW!

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Post #69 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Monday, August 22, 2011

First walk

We got outside the house today for the first time, just the three of us. It wasn't much, but we took our baby for a walk around the block. It was fun to be outdoors as a family without somewhere to be, like going to a doctor appointment or going to the lab for some blood draws. It was a nice night in Bethlehem, with temperatures in the 70s and very little humidity.

Our baby tolerated it pretty well, but he had started off a bit fussy because of a diaper change. Did I mention he hates diaper changes? H-A-T-E-S.

I realized quickly that our lightweight stroller solution isn't going to work for neighborhood walking. We got one that lets us mount the carseat so we have something to take with us around the mall and such, figuring that he'd be arriving so late that we wouldn't get much walk time with the fall temperatures coming on.

Well our sidewalks are bumpy and I quickly realized we needed on with shocks. We had been planning to wait on getting the nicer stroller until we felt like we'd be walking a lot, but since we probably will have a lot of walk time now I went out and bought the stroller I'd had my eye on. This is a bulkier stroller so we don't plan to take it with us anywhere, but it will be nice to have a quality stroller for neighborhood walks.

It was a sensible idea to try and save the money until we needed to spend it next spring, but as with most things baby related we're throwing out the plan when it's not working. The only other solutions were to carry him around on our walks or stay inside.

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Post #68 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Scaling the mountain

The one thing you lack with a newborn is time. He eats 8 times or so a day and you should be changing his diapers about that many times. He spits up on himself and so you're changing is clothes a few times a day (not with every spit up, mind you, or you'd be doing it every 20 minutes). He needs to be bathed every couple days. There's umbilical cord care, circumcision care, time on his tummy to develop motor skills .... and that says nothing of just time to enjoy holding him, interacting with him, and reading to him.

No wonder we're sleep deprived. This stuff adds up. There's a reason they say the first 6-8 weeks are rough.

Though I think we've held up OK for the most part, we've had some hard moments. I think we're turning a bit of a corner. Friday's meltdown made us go to bottle feeding sooner than we wanted. The classes told us to avoid bottles for 30 days so they don't confuse rubber nipples on the bottle with the real thing, but he had to eat and needed it fast. The good news is the milk is flowing better, so we're less shy about using the bottle; he gets the benefits and mom gets a break.

But the bottle feedings are letting us be a bit more flexible too. My wife got to sleep more than 3 hours in a row for the first time since he was born. And the set up and take down of feeding isn't as bad as it was early going. There are some nice benefits to no bottle, but right now it's working for us.

And as a result, I had a little more time today. I finally installed his nursery door, broke down the mountain of cardboard in our garage in time for the recycling truck, and organized the nursery closet to reflect an actual baby and not the idea of a baby. These are little things, stuff I didn't have to schedule pre-baby but now it feels good to knock them out.

I feel like I'm starting to catch up on neglected tasks around here. My email inbox is starting to thin out. I'm feeling more human than I did during the Epic Meltdown.

This isn't the end, of course. He still requires nearly round-the-clock care. And I'm terrified of the first time he gets sick. And he's still, well, a baby. But today was my first "wow we just might survive this" moment.

(knocks vigorously on wood)

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Post #67 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Integrating work

I've been trying to devote a couple hours a day to work even as we're in the middle of the early phase, which is much more intensive because feedings and changings are so frequent.

By the end of the first week I was trying to do an hour a day. This week it's been two hours, and starting on Sunday I want to take it to four hours. With the semester just a week away, I need to get ramped up on the work schedule and start work on integrating my work life with this new phase we're in, and so I want to make good headway on that before things get going for real next week.

The biggest challenge is time, or more specifically how to schedule things. We are having to schedule our own lives so much right now, including our own eating and sleeping (to say nothing of our baby's). So I am going to have to be purposeful about how to be productive in my work around the schedule our baby is giving us.

Fortunately Lehigh is a very supportive place for parents. My department has accommodated me in terms of schedule even before I broached the conversation, and I have amazing faculty colleagues who want to make sure I'm set up to succeed. I am learning as I go and there really is no way to prepare for it beforehand, so working in a supportive environment is a huge plus for me right now.

I did strategically alter my syllabus for the semester to reapportion my grading time. They will be doing more project-oriented things in my class and I cut out the three-exam schedule in favor of a midterm/final format. So there are subtle things I've done in my classes to help take some pressure off of me as I adjust.

I can feel myself become more efficient, which in the end is part necessity with a baby but also will be a good change for me personally and professionally.

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Post #66 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Friday, August 19, 2011

Failed experiment

We've been trying to wean the baby off the formula and go with natural milk, but it's been a struggle. We weren't sure if it was on the production end or the consumption end, so after seeing our doctor today we decided to do a test and cut him off from the formula entirely, let him feed only on breastmilk for a few days and then weigh him to see whether there are signs he is getting enough.

So we started that Friday afternoon. It lasted about 10 hours.

He did OK with it early on because he's been eating so well, but 10 p.m. our little guy was just miserable. Crying inconsolably, which he doesn't do, and so worked up that he wouldn't feed at all. It turns out that by trying to make him go entirely on breastmilk we were starving him, which I feel terrible about.

So we ditched the experiment and fed him formula through a bottle. We've been avoiding bottles so far for a few developmental and bonding reasons, but he had to eat (even when he was getting formula before it was being supplemented through a tube with his regular feeding). And he put down more than 2 oz of formula in 5 minutes, which tells me he was super hungry and wasn't getting much through breastfeeding. He went to sleep after that for the first time in hours.

This was a hard-yet-easy call. We want him to breastfeed because there are a lot of health benefits to getting that kind of food compared to formula, but he had to eat. The ideal world goes out the window when you have your child screaming because he's so hungry that he can't be soothed.

I feel awful though. We tried to do the right thing and follow the plan the doctor set out for us, which included trying to let him go 3 hours and then pump to see what production was like. But it wasn't realistic. Every bit of my scant dad instincts told me that scrapping the plan was the right call, so we did it. Even when talking to the doctor I was uneasy about it because I suspected the problem was on the production end, not his ability to feed. I should have spoken up; I hate making that kind of mistake. I want him to feel safe with us, not starved.

I know my wife wrestles with it too. Some people seem to be able to breastfeed really easily so I wouldn't blame her if the lack of production makes her feel bad, but she shouldn't feel bad. It takes time and this is her first baby. And we're still learning all the ins and outs of feeding and production. I'm trying my best to support her in this but I don't want her to feel like this is a burden. He's eating, and when he's eating he's happy. That's about all I can ask for here.

This post might make me seem like a neglectful parent. It's not. I hope these are common trial-and-error things in raising children. We really do want the best for him.

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Post #65 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scheduling everything

We've had my mother-in-law in town to help out the past 10 days. It was a turn of good luck, in many ways. She had originally been scheduled to come and spend time with us pre-baby so that she could be with my wife before the birth. But when the baby came early, she became a helpful hand as we worked to get things up to speed.

Now the fatigue is starting to set in around here. My wife is sleeping in three-hour intervals due to feeding. I'm manning the night shift, handling all the errands, and trying to keep the house in working order so my wife can sleep. All while trying to mix in work, because the semester starts up in about 10 days and I have no choice but to find a work-life balance here.

People say you're always tired when you have a baby. It's true, but I've been more surprised about how we've had to really schedule things more finely. My wife isn't a big schedule-maker but we are going to try and schedule her days better. She has to feed him 8 times a day, find time to sleep, find time to eat, and figure out ways to ramp up the pumping so we can get more milk. But in the moments of fatigue, it's easy for us to just sit on the couch and be comatose, letting some of those important things get away from us. For me it's forgetting to eat. My wife forgets things too. And she's also not complaining at all.

The truth is we're on the baby's schedule at the moment. We have to plan around his life and needs and so that means we have to reorient the way we plan and go about our lives. As it should be. I'm learning to be more efficient with my time because I need to be; in many ways I'm thankful I'm not having to learn this lesson mid-semester when I have to manage a teaching schedule with all of this.

He has so many needs right now and depends on us so much. That's my motivation to fight through whatever fatigue I have at the moment.

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Post #64 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

About your middle name

We decided to give our little boy the middle name "Lawrence." He's named after my father-in-law, who passed away back in 2006 only two months after my wife and I were married. He was a really strong man, tougher than almost anyone I've ever met and had more fight in his left pinkie than I have in my whole body.

Cancer took him far too young, but here's a testament on how tough Larry was: it took cancer five tries to finally overtake him. Larry beat it back over and over again. Tough.

When we were talking about names should our baby turn out to be a boy, we both seemed pretty convinced that we wanted to honor Grandpa White. I didn't get nearly the chance to know my father-in-law as I would have liked, but of what I do know I see a lot of his spirit in Austin. It's sad to me that Grandpa won't get to hold his grandson and beam with pride over his first grandchild, but we didn't name Austin so we could be sad. To me it's a reminder that we, when we do it right, pass on the best of ourselves to future generations.

Yesterday was Grandpa's birthday. Grandma told Austin about him during the day, and last night I told Austin the story about how I asked for permission to marry his daughter. I'm sure that over the years he will hear more stories. His Grandpa was quite a character, but the kind of character you want to get to know.

It's been interesting watching how our baby boy's birth has had an effect on the family. There was so much sadness early on in our marriage, lots of kicks to the gut that aren't supposed to come with such a happy time. For a while it seemed relentless. We got through it because that's what we do, me and my wife. We get through things. But the sadness has lingered on and off, waxing and waning in moments as timed moved on.

You don't really ever get over things that sad. But our son's birth has been a nice bookend on that chapter of life. A new life will do that for your perspective. It doesn't heal the wounds, but it seems to be granting that one thing that's been missing for a long time: hope.

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Post #63 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

With a little help from our friends

Austin already has had a couple visitors in his first week. We have been touched by the generosity people have shown as we've been working on this new phase of life. Our house is a lot more of a disaster zone than I like it to be, although I've made progress on that front the past couple days; we were ready for the baby, but didn't have all the baby care stuff sorted where we wanted it.

So any visitor, whether there to say hello and provide some friendly face in the midst of what feels like a breakneck pace or to provide other kinds of help, are welcome.

My dear friend Silagh came to visit us the day Austin was born. We sat there and laughed about all the craziness of the past 36 hours, watched the baby sleep in the bassinet, and generally basked in the glow of our little boy's birth. And she got to hold him!


A couple days later Silagh, her husband, and her two kids came by the house. We're being super cautious right now about who holds him due to concerns about him getting sick a little more easily as a preemie, but the kids got to stroke the hat on his head and talk with him. The kids were super excited about Austin's arrival throughout the pregnancy and drew him pictures on the day he was born. We also got some computer artwork from them.

We've also had some help. Steph DeLuca, one of my students, and her mom have provided two wonderful meals to help us get through the day. Coming up with meals while trying to balance all these household chores, feedings every 2.5 hours, all the laundry, and so forth was pretty challenging in the early going. Last Friday they brought dinner to our house, and then the following Monday we got another.


I have to admit I was a little teary eyed at their generosity. You don't expect things like this from people because we all have busy lives, but that they were thinking of us like that is so amazing to think about. Steph is one of our 2011 graduates and I had her in a couple of my classes; she's one of those tremendous students a professor always remembers and now Austin will get to remember her too. Equally amazing to me was that her mom, whom I had never met before this past week but was so generous to help out. We had a smile on our face as we dined. Meals provided by great friends always taste better.

Those little ways of helping, whether it be meals or just sitting with you and talking, are so important to us in times like this. We are grateful and blessed.

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Post #62 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Monday, August 15, 2011

One week

Austin turned a week old over night. He's been with us here at home for five days now and it's been fun to see the changes every day. The most surprising part has been that we are noticing each day more interaction. He tracks us better with his eyes now and cranes his head to follow voices in the room. He's making more sounds and doing more of the baby babble as well.

The biggest change is he's feeding more. In the past day he's basically been begging to feed whenever my wife is in the room. He makes a suckling motion by opening and closing his mouth, and we've learned this is his begging-for-dinner face.

It's gotten to the point where he will take food from anyone. I was holding him on my chest this evening and he tried to latch on to my chest through my shirt. How terribly disappointed he must have been to discover I don't have the milk supply.

Anyhow, happy one week. Just in time to celebrate, I'm posting a picture my wife got this morning. Definitely the best one we've taken so far. He's sporting the famous (infamous?) Littau dimple. So much of his face looks like his mom, but that dimple is all daddy.


I also am noticing more things that he got from us. For example, on my right foot the toe next to my big toe has always been slightly longer than the big toe, and it's not that way on the left foot. Austin has the same thing going on with his feet. I find myself amazed even now that I can identify these physical features he has in common with my wife and I.

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Post #61 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Picking the right partner

I watch my wife with our son and realize all over again how lucky I am to be married to her. She's amazing, obviously, or else I wouldn't have wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. But watching her with my son has given me a new appreciation for who she is.

One of the great things about her is that she is so patient and kind. Those two qualities were the standout things about her that I have long come to love, and they sustain us in tough times. When we argue or when there are misunderstandings, we have learned to frame everything through the understanding that we love one another and want the best for each other.

This is knowledge we have in the background. Our little boy is still building this knowledge base. Everything in the world is so new to him and he doesn't have those comforting certainties built in his head yet. So when my wife is holding him and talking to him, she's giving him that kindness, understanding, patience, and love in a super concentrated form that he needs.

I knew she was capable of this (even when in those uncertain moments she, like any parent, wondered if she could do it), but watching her with Austin takes those things I knew about her to another level. I realize all over again, but through a new set of eyes, that I have the right partner not just for marriage but for raising a family.

So what's my secret to picking a great partner? Like I said, I lucked out, because she chose me. She puts up with a lot. We've joked for years that I'm a Tigger personality, and she provides balance. But she also indulges me when I need to let my mind wander or dream, because she's learned it's the source of the creative streak that fuels my teaching. Unconditional love, support, a personality that balances yours, and such .... those are all great, but you need reciprocal commitment. My wife doesn't quit, not on anything. That's how I knew she was going to be in this for the long haul.

I think my son sees it in her. He loves his mom so much, loves when she holds him and soothes him. I love it when I'm holding him downstairs and he hears her voice atop the stairs. His eyes open and his head cranes around. He knows who is going to take care of him. He is learning things I've known for a while, but it's so cool to see him understanding the nature of love itself.

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Post #60 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Late nights

We have settled into a pattern of sorts six days later. Amy is up to bat every 2-3 hours so the boy can feed, so it means she isn't getting much interrupted sleep. I feel for her so much. She is tired a lot and there isn't a lot to be done about it other than to rest a lot between feedings, which is hard. She has to literally schedule time for her to eat. And pump.

Moms get the tough end of these early stages, no doubt. Any dad who doesn't respect that is an idiot.

Complicating thins is the biliblanket treatment, which plugs in and has a few parts so Austin is hard to move. So we are keeping him in the living room, meaning mom has to come down to feed him every time, and that someone needs to stay up with him. he doesn't like being flat in the blanket so we are holding him through the night to be a comfort.

I've taken the graveyard shift, staying with him overnight. I play music for him to introduce him to classics (last night was Stevie Wonder night) and talk to him. I tweet out pics too, so if you are up then say hello. It is fun to get special father-son time. During the day, I try to run interference by keeping the household humming so mom can get max sleep between feedings. It's a tradeoff; I probably am getting less sleep than mom but I get more consecutive hours. And I wonder how it will be when school starts.

I am tired a lot and going straight to REM sleep since it has been sparse, but I'm coping. And again, mom has the tougher job.

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Post #59 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our little glowworm

Austin is doing really well in his first week home. He's eating like a champ and the pediatrician said he's looking good for the most part. Really strong for a full-term baby let alone one who came a bit early.

The only hiccup so far has been that he has a case of the baby jaundice. Apparently newborns don't always get a smooth start in liver function after they are born and Austin's test before he left the hospital was trending high. After a day he was tested again he was higher; I could see more yellow in his skin but it never got too terrible. Apparently this is a pretty common thing in kids, but we've been lucky because I know some folks who have had kids where it required extra time in the hospital. I can't imagine how hard that must be.

Anyhow, they have us wrapping him in a light blanket (not light as in heavy, but as in one that uses lights. It's a form of phototherapy but instead of having the poor baby under lights the whole time we wrap him in a blanket that applies light directly to his abdomen.

It's really not what I was expecting when I thought about having a child. I've been calling Austin "Mr. Freeze" after the character in Batman & Robin (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). The blue glowing thing (compare here) is sort of similar, minus the hacky phrases and German accent. Man that was one terrible movie.

Anyhow he'll be in the special blanket all day tomorrow and maybe some of Sunday. The thing that's making it hard is that it has a bulky cord that plugs into a wall, and he has to stay plugged in all the time. So maneuvering around the house is hard. I want to take him out for a walk so badly but he has to stay plugged in for the mean time.

The cord comes out from under his sleep sack and it looks sort of funny, like we have him plugged into a wall. So other than comic book movie jokes, I've been talking about our Matrix baby. Yeah, you can't take the nerd out of this dad.

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Post #58 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First everything

One of the things that blows me away about watching Austin is trying to see the world through his eyes. Everything is new. Everything. Stuff I take for granted like breathing and eating (a.k.a. things I do while multitasking something else) takes thought and concentration.

When you consider all the stimuli he's getting from things he's never experienced before, it's understandable if he cries for no reason at all. It's overwhelming to me just thinking about it.

While I was driving him home from the hospital I was thinking about how his world was expanding already. He was making a short trip from Lehigh Valley Hospital to our home, maybe 15 miles or so, but already those 15 miles are a big world for him. There's a bigger world, maybe even a scarier one, beyond that. But one thing at a time.

Baby brains are little sponges. They have to be to absorb and process all the new things that are stimulating their senses every minute. How they take it in and don't freak out is beyond me, but they really do learn quickly. Austin has already learned that turning his head when he's being held by mom infinitely increases his odds of getting a meal. Connecting all that - this fact he has a head, that he can move it, that there's an external food source for him, that it's only there on mom and nobody else - is pretty amazing.

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Post #57 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We are home

Mom and Austin were discharged from the hospital today. Yesterday was a bit tough getting him to feed, but he's getting better at that today. Feeding is a trial-and-error process. Both he and mom are learning how to do something they haven't done before. In the movies they just latch on and go. It usually doesn't go like that.

Since he came a bit early they told us it might take him a while to get the hang of it. In the meantime though his vitals look great other than a bit of baby jaundice (which comes because of the feeding issues). Hopefully will clear up in a couple days.

I got a little teary-eyed leaving the mother-baby unit at the hospital today. No, not a freakout that OH MY GOD WE HAVE TO DO THIS OURSELVES NOW. It was more about leaving behind such a great group of nurses, volunteers, and staff at Cedar Crest Hospital. They gave great care in our first couple of days, but it's more than that. They are part of Austin's story, connected to him by those intimate things like helping him learn to feed and tending to his wounds and needs. There's something bonding about that.

He rode home without a hitch. Maybe a couple little sounds but overall he didn't mind the car. I hope it stays that way but realize that babies do change.

Bringing him home was a big treat. He's here with us, in the home we bought when we envisioned maybe having a family. He has a rockin' little playpen that is a bassinet for now. And he's charming everyone who meets him. That's my boy.

My mother-in-law is in town to lend a hand where needed, but my wife and I are trying to do as much of the routine baby stuff on our own so we can get a routine down. I'm helping her during feedings and trying to encourage her. I love watching her cradle him and hold him; she has such great instincts with him and that kind heart of hers that I love goes to him in concentrate form.

I like the moments when I get to hold him with nobody else around. Holding my son is the best thing I've ever experienced.

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Post #56 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meet our son, now in technicolor

Say hello to our son.



I'm learning a lot in just a couple days from watching him. He makes expressions that are a tipoff to what he wants, whether it's eating, diaper change, more snuggle time, and such. They are subtle, and I guess wrong about 95% of them because I'm a dolt, but I'm learning.

I have my moments when he's crying and I don't know what he wants. I'm learning to do my best and do the checklist, then just do my best some more if everything checks out.

Tomorrow we're doing this by ourselves for real. Checkout is at 11. No nurses or people to help. Amy's mom arrived in town tonight and will be with us a few days, so that should help the transition, but we're going to try to do the feedings and changing ourselves. It's important bonding time and we have to learn anyhow. But having Amy's mom here to help take some pressure off with cooking and regular around-the-house stuff will be nice.

So this is what it's like to be a dad. It feels good. And it feels scary. This kid is depending on me for so much and I still haven't figured out all the ways I can fail.

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Post #55 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Monday, August 8, 2011

Austin Lawrence Littau



Austin Lawrence Littau was born at 1:39 on August 8, 2011. By the time he came he was no surprise, but he sure started off that way by deciding to come a few weeks early. He was 20 inches long and weighed 6 pounds, 14.75 ounces. Had he stayed to the due date he would have been a monster baby, something in the 9-pound range.

Watching my wife push out our son was an experience unlike any other. The strain and suffering she put into it, giving every ounce of her being to get the baby out safely, was an act of sheer will. I tried to coach and encourage here, but in truth I was just amazed at her drive and determination to get the baby out.

When Austin's head started to show I could sense we were close. The top of the head, covered in the waxy vernix substance that protects the baby's skin in utero, gave the top of the head a look like an old baseball. But as the head started to emerge more, so did all the colors and sounds that come with a baby's birth. I could see Austin's eyes and facial expression, him trying to struggle his way into a world unlike anything he had experienced to date. There was oxygen, light, clear sound. There was no liquid environment. Life went from being protected to being one of struggle, and he had to adapt immediately to survive. Breathe in, breathe out. And soon, start sucking in order to get the food he needed to survive.

To call the birth experience incredible sells it short. It's nothing sort of a miracle, not just what happens but how life can survive and thrive in such chaos. They let me cut the umbilical cord as a way to welcome him into the world in a way that was symbolic. Austin no longer could depend on just mom to survive; it had to depend on mom and dad. We are a team.

I tried not to cry at the joy I was experiencing. I failed. Miserably. But I did a good job holding it in. When I cry, my wife cries, and she still had to deal with getting the placenta out and all the cleanup. She needed her head in the game and she needed me to not lose it. So I cried behind her back.

Austin was taken almost immediately to the NICU (an intensive-care unit for newborns) because he was considered a preemie technically (if only by a few days). They observed him there for a while before letting him join us in the maternity ward. While he was there it was hard. They had to prick him with needles and shine bright lights on him as they examined him and kept a close eye out for infection and to make sure his lungs were working OK. He didn't care for it, but he didn't complain much. The most I could do was reach out a finger and let his little digits wrap around it, grasping me. I talked to him, telling him it was going to be OK and that we'd make sure he was safe.

I held Austin for the first time the next morning after he was released from the NICU. I cried a little. I was holding my son, my new definition of hope and joy. I rocked him, talked with him, and told him about the big family he was joining. I told him about all of the Twitter friends who were rooting him on with the #BabyLittauWatch conversation. I might have told him a little about the Giants.

I tried not to make it outwardly gooey. He didn't have a clue inside what I was saying. But I silently reaffirmed the prayer I've been saying since I found out my wife was pregnant, a prayer that I can find the will to daily be the best dad I can. Austin's birth was not the end of the pregnancy but a beginning of a promise I made long ago, long before he was conceived, that if I had the honor of doing this someday I was going to do it right.

I'm going to fail. But I'm going to do everything I can to make you proud, and show you that perfection is overrated compared to being a compassionate, thinking, learning, and growing person. That's the kind of son I hope to raise, and the kind of father I want to be. Hopefully we can do this together.

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Post #54 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Sunday, August 7, 2011

An early surprise

Well we got an early surprise on this fine day. I am writing this by my wife's bedside at the hospital, and this day isn't even close to being done.

My wife came in this morning and woke me up, saying she had felt like she was leaking fluid. Called the doc and they said to come in. We got here at 9:30, about 90 minutes after I woke, and by 10 they told us we were having this baby today. Ish.

Its a couple days before full term and 4-plus weeks before the due date, but the vitals look fine. I'm not worried and trust the docs. It's 6 p.m. here now and it's 50-50 this kid is born before midnight. But given all the factors involved, which I can't get into now, this is going faster than it could. A lot faster.

So there's a shot I might be a father by midnight. Until then, radio silence.

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Post #53 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do we know?

So at the 20-week ultrasound we made sure to look the other way when they check out the baby's sex. We didn't want to know.

A lot of people thought we were crazy. Why not know? Technology has given us all of these wonderful gifts, including getting to know your baby as a boy or girl halfway through the pregnancy. I was a little surprised that I didn't care to know given that I like a good tech tool, but life is too light on surprises these days. We didn't ask.

That said, I've had a sense this baby is a boy for a few months now. There isn't much in the way of evidence, it just feels like a boy. My wife has thought similarly at times, although she probably wouldn't say she feels as strongly on this. Several people in her department at work seem to think she's carrying as if she's having a boy. So the conventional wisdom, probably based on old wives' tales and a complete guess, says it's a boy.

We've been preparing for both. Shopping is a pain, as there is a lot of pink and blue. So what do you do when you don't know? Lots of beige, green, and yellow.

Anyhow, that's where we've been headed. Friday we got an unexpected curveball. My wife was in for her 36-week checkup and had an ultrasound to help determine a few things, including the baby's position. During the ultrasound, the tech accidentally let some information slip that could be a tip on the baby's sex. My wife quickly interjected that we don't want to know, but the tech's comment is out there.

It's not definitive that we know, but it's more information that we had before. I find myself thinking about it now but trying not to. We don't know enough to plan or anything, but it's in the back of our minds.

I've said all along that I don't have a preference about a boy or a girl and I mean it. But given our experience, a word to the wise if you have a kid someday: every time that ultrasound machine fires up, make sure to tell the technician you don't want to know about the baby's sex if you're keeping it a surprise.

We might now, or we might not. At least it'll be a surprise to everyone else.

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Post #52 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Friday, August 5, 2011

A big weekend

It's a big weekend for us. No, not because of Musikfest, which is what everyone else here is attending (the festival started today). It's just that this is the weekend we just have to make headway on the large list of things we want to do before the due date.

It started as 3/4 page and then just kept growing. We've been crossing things off, then adding more. It's like a game of whack-a-mole, where one task goes down and another pops up.

Because here's the thing: after this weekend, we have only three weekends before the due date, and one of them will be taken by my conference trip. So we're all hustle and bustle around here to get things set up and ready to go.

The one thing I've realized is that parenting makes you good at assembling stuff. I've assembled furniture and such over the years, but this is a whole other level. Strollers, bouncers, activity mats, rocking chairs, cribs, changing tables, and so forth. It's all so compressed that you start to feel like Bob Villa until you realized you aren't actually making any of this stuff, you're just putting it together.

But I've gotten so I don't even keep the screwdriver in the toolbox anymore these days. Every day the UPS guy seems to come with something for me to put together. So that's the first thing I'd tell a dad-to-be at this point: have a small set of assembly tools around the house.

The second: invest a small fortune in Duracell. You're going to need it to pay yourself back for all the batteries you'll buy. Holy cow.

The thing is that we haven't gone too nuts with the buying. I feel like we've gone pretty minimalist and there still is a lot to put together. I feel sorry for the parents who go on buying sprees, both in their pocketbook and for all that work.

But as for this weekend it's time to tackle some things. I have a list of about 10 things to accomplish and hope to knock them off by Sunday night. Look for me at Target, I'll be the guy throwing random crap like alcohol pads into the cart.

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Post #51 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baby update

I realize I've written a bunch of things about the baby and progress but haven't given much of an update. So here goes:
  • Baby is head down (this is good)
  • We find out tomorrow if baby is facing the right way
  • Right now it's the size of a crenshaw melon, whatever that is (pic for comparison vs. a quarter)
  • At this point, organs are pretty much formed. The baby is adding about an ounce a day until it is born.
  • The countdown for us starts next Wednesday. At that point it's full term, which means it won't be a preemie and shouldn't have to spend much of any time in the NICU if it comes before the late August due date.
  • The baby is active in a healthy way. Likes to kick and prod my wife's tummy and we watch the little bumps form and then recede.
  • Everything height and weight-wise are on target as far as we can tell.
All in all, I was expecting more ups-and-downs this pregnancy. My wife has been more tired of late but she has marveled at how drama free the experience has been. Maybe we expect tougher because everyone has one of those stories, but so far nothing has been out of the ordinary.

We're thankful for that. I know every pregnancy is different and so there's no one experience out there, but knowing that my wife hasn't struggled through this has been a blessing and I'm thankful. We're excited to meet our little one, but we hope it stays inside just a bit longer so that we're sure it's coming at a time that's best for its own health.

Plus I really need to weed the planter before the birth. Our yard is looking terrible and I know it's not going to get easier when the baby comes.

That reminds me, if you know someone in the Valley who wants to make some extra cash raking leaves, send them my way.

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Post #50 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Splat

So the last 24 hours or so haven't been all that great.

I had a bit of a breakdown moment when I realized our door project wasn't going as well as I had hoped. I finished the staining on a couple doors and had started the polyurethane coating, but it was turning out to be more glossy than I had hoped for when I finished a coat on the basement door.

I've never done stain and poly on a project this big so I don't know if it was technique or picking the wrong product. I followed the advice I was given and the directions.

I'm doing this on four newly installed doors in our downstairs (basement, guest room, nursery, coat closet). The problem really isn't the work, it's everything attached to it. Four doors that cost us a not-small sum to have installed, trying to get this project done so it's finished before the baby comes (because it won't get done anytime soon after that), trying to make sure I'm devoting time to research and other job duties this summer, trying to get all the other things done around here that need to be done, etc.

In other words, I have a lot on my plate. Were the door stuff the only thing there, I'd have time to tinker and redo, do some trial and error, figure out what's wrong. But I'm feeling pressure to get this done lest it start cutting into all the other things I need to accomplish.

I tend to be a perfectionist, but in this case perfect is the enemy of good, good in a lot of other areas of my life that I feel need a lot of attention.

I hated the feeling that came last night when I realized the doors weren't going to look like I'd hoped. It wasn't my ideal, and it wasn't my wife's ideal. I feel like I'm letting her down, but at the same time I feel the need to be practical about what I can do without putting in jeopardy all the other things the family will be counting on from me. But at the same time I want to do it well.

It spiraled from there. Get the doors done well. But what about the other projects? What about tenure? What about making sure I'm doing my best in my work? But what about my need to make the home nice for the family?

For a week now I've started to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of everything I'm juggling. The doors are a minor thing, a blip on the radar of an entire lifetime, but last night they came to represent the unease I'm feeling with how I'm going to do all this, how I'm going to be successful as a parent while also being successful in my career. It might sound insensitive to our child to make those two concerns equal, but the truth is we have a lot riding on me getting tenure and having some stability in my job. A lot. That's pressure, squarely on my head.

So I shut down. I just couldn't move, couldn't decide. The truth is that there was no choice. I had to keep going on the poly application, possibly change my technique to get a less shiny coat, but time spent heavily researching new products and such was going to kill me down the line. And I knew it. But it didn't square with my ideals.

Like I said, shut down. I was like HAL 9000, who encountered a logical mobius strip from which there was no path forward.

Most of you who know me know I'm a bundle of energy, perhaps to my detriment. If there's one thing I've learned in my 36 years, it's that I hate - hate - feeling unempowered. Give me a problem and I try to see a solution and then I act. Sometimes the solution works, other times it's a loser, but at least I can learn from failure and improve on the solution. But when there's no choice that satisfies all the things I want to accomplish, and when there is no way to find a choice that will get me there, then I just shut down.

I hate that feeling. Hate it.

After 16 hours or so of self-loathing, I did what I had to do. Picked up a brush and put on a new coat. I tried a new technique to try and agitate the poly a bit more and it looks like the coat I'm applying now will be less shiny. Not what I want, but better than what I had. And the good news is that the only shiny coat is on the back side of the basement door that nobody will see. So here's hoping that the new technique at least helps make it better than what it was.

But it won't be perfect, won't be what either my wife and I envisioned. I have to learn from this, because I'm sure this is just the beginning of the kinds of compromises you have to make when there's a baby in the picture. And the truth is I'd rather be a good parent than have not-shiny doors.

Credit my wife for being patient here. I don't get into shutdown mode much, but when I do she tolerates it well and lets me work it out.

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Post #49 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mobile madness

Not a whole lot to say today other than that we're still working on finishing-touch types of things around the house. I'm now on a first-name basis with the UPS guy, who is delivering a package what seems like every day.

We did get a fun thing today, the crib mobile. When we registered for it, we quickly discovered it was out of stock everywhere. This. Was. The One. I searched everywhere on the Web for it and nobody had it.

Finally on Sunday night I noticed there were a scant few back in stock and I jumped. Probably paid too much, but it's super fun.




There's going to be a baby in that crib soon, watching that mobile. So weird.

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Post #48 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

Monday, August 1, 2011

One month

Today is August 1. The baby is due on September 1. Seven months ago we found out we were having a baby, and now we are 31 days until the due date.

Technically any time after a week from Wednesday is considered medically fine. The baby is considered "full term" at 37 weeks, at which point it a baby that is born is no longer considered a preemie. All the organs and such are developed and really at that point it's just adding pounds so it has energy to make it through the process.

So just hang on for another 8 days, kid.

We're ready. This past weekend and tonight we were starting to tie up the loose ends. I printed out the birth plan for the doctors tonight and have a folder for documents we'll want to take with us. The car seat is installed. This weekend I'm going to buy the baby care and medical stuff we'll need for the changing area so that is finished.

Most of what needs to be done is around-the-house stuff. Two remaining house projects to be done: I need to finish sealing the newly installed doors, and I need to do some work out in the front yard so our house doesn't look like Boo Radley's place after the baby is born. But this is all stuff that can be done on the side or put off if need be.

Left in the unknown is how I'll balance all of this. I feel behind already for the new semester. How I'll deal with lack of sleep and trying to jam all of this into an already-busy life is going to be a challenge. Most days I feel up to it even though I have no idea what it is going to be like. Some days I'm a deer in the headlights. I am committed to do whatever it takes, but I assume the concerns are normal.

Just hang in a little longer, baby, but we'll take you whatever day you choose to come.

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Post #47 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter