Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hazy days

Right now the hardest adjustment with the baby has been on the job end. For lack of a better way of saying it, I worry that I suck at my job right now. Being good at my job requires having my mind be sharp and focused, and I'm still learning how to do that.

Part of this is how my mind works. It's always been difficult for me to partition parts of my mind off from other things or ignore things that are going on in life as I attempt to focus in on one or two tasks. I've done as much as I think I can on the mental discipline end; at some point, this is how I'm wired.

Teaching has been tough. I don't feel as sharp in the classroom as I usually do. Explanations of concepts and ideas during my Media And Society lectures that once came easily now are tougher as I fight through the lack of sleep. On the negative side, these are ideas I know like the back of my hand so it's worrisome I struggle with the words to explain them. On the other hand, how screwed would I be if I vaguely knew about this stuff?

On reading and research, I'm learning how to do this. I do better with research when I have large blocks of time to write and work, and that's one thing I don't have right now. So I'm learning how to do this in smaller chunks and steal a moment here or there, but on the balance this has been the struggle. I feel like I'm making small progress on this, but it has been hard to adjust to this.

Mostly I am adjusting to the feeling that I'm sapped of energy all the time; not physical energy, but the kind of mental energy I need to rock it as a professor. I can deal with being tired, but when I don't feel like my mind is there all the time that is harder. I'm an energy guy and feed off the energy of those around me; not being at school is probably not helping in this regard because I'm not around that creative spirit as much.

In some ways I'm wishing I was teaching Multimedia Storytelling this term instead of M&S because at least I'd be around that creative energy in the classroom a couple days a week. The class I have is more of a lecture-based course so it's harder to tap into that.

All this will come in time, I'm sure. Perhaps when my wife returns to work and he goes to daycare three days a week. We'll figure it out. Thank good news my students and colleagues have been so patient with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ninety

Well, here goes #90. Ninety days ago I took the 90-in-90 challenge, partially as a way to jumpstart this blog (I wasn't posting enough here) and partially as a way to motivate my students to keep writing and stay vital. The idea isn't mine (it comes from Brad King at Ball State University in Indiana) but we made it our own.

Along the way we found a tribe. What started as two grew into a group of people who were blogging. Today I reach the finish line, and others will be trickling across in the next days and weeks. I think I might be the only one to actually do 90 posts in 90 days, but that's really not important. What's important is to keep writing regularly. But I want to encourage those who fell off the pace to finish. Doing it in 90 days isn't the point.

That said, I like to prove to myself I can do things. I was always going to complete this. I'm wired that way.

I've realized some things along the way. In part, my poor academic blog has been neglected due to time issues. Posts take a while to write. So I've realized that writing every day comes at the expense of other blogs for which you write. I'll be seeking more balance in the coming days; I won't stop posting here but it'll be more varied as to where I'm writing.

I've also rediscovered how much I love writing. I'm an emotional guy, as those of you who know me have learned, and writing is cathartic for me. My posts have been varied in these 90 days, from thinking and analysis of what kind of parent I'll be to fatigue-laden frustrations about how our baby wasn't liking what we were feeding him.

There was always a plan for post 90; I planned on highlighting my favorite work from these past 90 days. Not everything I posted was amazing, and I get this. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Some days you do the workmanlike post while working on a bigger one. But three stand out:

1. My post from the day Austin was born. This one is probably my favorite.

2. My post on 9/11. I wasn't sure what to make of it but other than the first one, this got a lot of good feedback and I've come to see it as a declaration of goals for this dad. Make the world a better place.

3. My post reflecting on being a dad in light of my own experiences growing up. This was my big-risk post during the three months because I shared some things that were pretty personal. I had a few folks with similar experiences write to me and thank me. I think it's good to reflect on the good and bad of family life. I do love my family a lot but that post had to be written.

And that's sort of the point. Writers write. They write things that are uncomfortable at times. They ruffle feathers at times. Writers have stories and observations in side that are begging to get out, and if you're doing it right you're figuring out how to let it out. Ideally you keep your sense of grace at the same time, and learn to balance it out with voice, humor, personality .... be, you know, interesting.

If you have a favorite post of mine from these 90 days, I'd love to hear about it. Leave something in the comments.

These 90 days, in my view, are one giant love letter to my son. Someday he can read through this and see what was going through my head the two months before he was born and the month afterward. Hopefully he'll learn a bit about his old man, what makes him tick, why he's so nuts at times. But I hope love leaps off these pages too. Even in moments where I'm tired, love is the overriding emotion for all of this.

Yeah, I'm a sap. Sue me.

Anyhow, this blog isn't going away. I came back from SXSW last March inspired to do this after sitting in on a great session about dad bloggers (how to connect and what a huge opportunity there is because of the dearth of dads actually blogging), and I'm more committed to it than ever. But I'm going to take a couple days off. Posts won't come every day, but there probably will be less filler.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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Post #90(!) 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, September 12, 2011

Distractions (the good kind)

Babies are such distractions. Especially ours.

It's hard to work upstairs when I know our son is downstairs. He makes cute sounds and he's so much fun to hold and interact with that I feel drawn to come down and hang out a bit every so often even while I should be doing other things. This leads to a more stretched-out work day and later nights.

This says nothing of sleep time either. When I should be sleeping I find myself awake, wondering what he's up to and whether I'm missing anything.

I saw his first smile on Saturday morning, for example. It was a real, legit smile, not some stomach churning or something. I was talking to him and grinning and he smiled back. It was interesting; it was like he was thinking hard about how to position the corners of his mouth and it was by no means natural, but the look in his eyes matched the grin. He was having to force it, but he was returning the look on my face.

I got to be there for that, so with every new thing the thought of missing some first here or there is hard. So my work is more strung out than normal and I probably am not taking full advantage of sleep time.

But it's worth it. These moments go by so fast and I want to experience them all.

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Post #89 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, September 11, 2011

9/11

I was living in Los Angeles when the 9/11 attacks happened. They happened early in the morning on West Coast time, and because I was still doing swing shift at the newspaper I was still in bed when my roommate Josh came in to tell us what had happened. The planes hit the building well before 7 a.m. our time, and by the time I had heard about the attacks both of the towers already had collapsed. Most of the traumatic footage of the initial attack and then subsequent collapse of the buildings, I didn't witness it in real time. Many of us out west didn't, so a lot of us have a more compressed view of the events in the sense that the attacks and collapse happened all at once for us.

That isn't to say we didn't feel it. The planes used in the attack had been headed for California and so we had some anxiety about whether we were next. In those early moments it's easy to jump to those conclusions while you're trying to make sense of it. We didn't find out until later that the reason for this was that the terrorists wanted maximum fuel in the tanks for their airborne bombs.

In times of crisis, journalists find comfort in the routines of the newsroom. I still believe this is the litmus test of whether you have the journalistic fire in your belly. When big news breaks - not just tragic news, but news that has big impact or will be widely followed - where do you want to be? We didn't have time to grieve that day; we had news to produce and put out. I went in early to help with the coverage, and my newspaper (the Los Angeles Daily News) put out a special section and then the regular edition. I was the layout person on sports that night. I remember thinking how trivial my section was; the news budget in progress before the attacks had the usual stuff: baseball notebooks, college football stories, a Lakers story, and so forth. I remember staring at the blank page in the newsroom and asking how sports mattered.

It would matter in a week or so when the games resumed, because sports is a ritual that helps us feel normal again. But on that day, I was disconnected. I desperately sought to do something important, so after I laid out and paginated our shortened 6-page section (full of perspectives and columns), I offered to pitch in on the news side. Thankfully someone took me up on it.

I remember going through the AP photo leaf desk and seeing some of the terrible images coming across the wire, some of them that had strong warnings about content from the photo bureau. I helped where I could; sifting through photos, updating newswire stories with the latest topped news, and so forth. It helped me stay numb, this journalistic routine. I didn't know how to process the events of the day, but I sure as hell knew how to be a journalist so I focused on things I knew, things I could control.

I think it took several weeks for 9/11 to really sink in for me. By then the special sections and daily "America Attacked" special pages were receding into the background. It's not like I didn't feel anything early on, but it was mostly limited to anger about the attacks and a sense of journalistic duty. America needed the news.

As time marched on I felt more guilty about the anger, or that it was all I felt early on. I felt like I was supposed to be better than that; bloodlust should not have been the only response to the events and we have to use our mind and emotions in full when things like this happen.

The events of 9/11 set off a chain reaction in me that led me to grad school, then teaching. The questions I asked that day about what mattered about sports led to to seek a life where I was doing more to make the world around me better. So while my first response was fear and anger, my next one was to make a better life for myself that could in turn help those around me. I'm a professor who is dedicated about his students and their intellectual and personal growth today because of 9/11; of that I have little doubt.

I think about where we are 10 years later and it feels like we have missed some opportunities. In our fear we gladly sacrificed freedoms for security, with very little noise made about things like the Patriot Act that invade our personal freedoms. Sure we have noise about the body scanners and pat-downs at the airport now, but I sympathize with the TSA folks that implemented them. We gave them a mandate to keep us safe, and bureaucracy rarely thinks about whether it's going too far. They don't market test a mandate first.

And then I think about things like the NYC mosque faux controversy. I understand the twinge of emotion that comes at the idea of it because I felt it myself, but then it passed for me. I realized I was blaming Islam, not the terrorists. I was doing the very thing the terrorists wanted me to do. That moment passed for me rather quickly, but I get dismayed that so many continue to spread fear about it, or pass laws that restrict building mosques in other parts of the country, or the ginned-up fear over Sharia Law becoming part of U.S. law.

The aftermath has come with a cost too in how we relate to one another in this society. I was raised in a conservative Christian environment but have found it hard to gel with my church brethren post-9/11. Too many Christian leaders, particularly of the Evangelical stripe, have endorsed some of our worst reactions to the attacks. Endless war, torture, racial profiling, and the like. Religion should shine the way for us, give us reason to hope and make sense of things. I see too many Christian leaders cashing in on fear and it sickens me, but it also sickens me to see folks I grew up knowing and respecting succumb to this fear themselves. I've lost the ability to know how to get along with these people.

I understand the strong emotions. I've felt them myself. But when I see some of the fearmongering in our everyday conversation and the way it affects policy, I can't help but think we're better than this.

And I wonder whether, despite the fact that we got Bin Laden, whether we've already lost this fight. The attacks that day were a starting point, an attempt to show the world that America would readily lose its principles to save them. We haven't always done so, but there are times I've been disappointed by our response. We sell democracy to the Middle East while limiting it here at home, and I'm baffled by the incongruence.

Most of what I'm thinking about today is in relation to my son. Ten years ago it was just me. Now I have a wife and a child. I wonder what kind of world I've brought my son into, and what kind of country I'm helping to pass on to him. He won't know a pre-9/11 world, and that's a shame. It will be harder for him to see what we've lost in our collective spirit as a result of the attacks than it will be for his father, who remembers days of no body scanners in airports and confusing terror alert colors.

So what am I doing to help him recreate that world? I want him to know there are just fights in this world, but that it doesn't excuse everything we do in the name of justice. I want him to know that people who do things in the name of their god don't always do it with that god's approval, nor does it mean we should demonize all followers of that faith. I want him to understand that sometimes people do terrible things, others do terrible things in retaliation - and that this cycle of violence is poison in a free society.

I want him to know there is more to life than fear, and that in fact fear is the type of beast that is never satisfied when you feed it. It's a natural response but it can't be a guiding light in times of distress. Fear breeds more fear, and we have to break out of it eventually if we want to be whole again. I look around and see beauty everywhere, good things worth fighting for if necessary. We can't let fear be a constant cloud over all those good things in life that are worth living for. After all what's the point of living if we can't focus on the good things about life once in a while?

I want him to know we don't have to become monsters to slay our own demons, and that sometimes the best response is to model restraint and liberty in the face of soul-crushing fear. I want him to know that American leaders don't do anything good or terrible in moments like these without consent of the governed, whether it be actual consent or by apathy. We have a part to play in what we become.

I want him to know we had real heroes step up that day, giving their life and long-term health to help people escape Ground Zero. I want him to learn to respect and thank first responders, police, firefighters who do those most thankless jobs but really model selfless care for others in times of crisis. I want him to learn how to see that in stark contrast to the selfishness that too often pervades our actions in society.

I want him to realize that the loudest voices are not always the most truthful voices, and that there's something to be said for quietly going about your life with integrity, compassion, and thoughtful purpose.

In other words I want him to see our triumphs and flaws, to see us as real people capable of great beauty and tragic mistakes when confronted by terror. It's important he see it all, realistically, so that he can help us grow from it.

You can't teach these things to a 1-month-old who has no concept of words like "terrorism" but I can model them in how he's raised. Little things about how he relates to us and to other people. Someday he'll learn about the big picture. In the meantime, teaching human kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, humility, and the basic value of human life all connect to that eventual lesson. They are the building blocks.

I don't expect all will be on board with all of these sentiments, but I have no control over that. Just like my days in the newsroom after the attacks, on this day I'm thinking of what we've become and making sure we pass on the good lessons we've learned without transmitting the scars.

Someday my son will ask about 9/11. I'm going to tell him it's a day when we were given a choice, a real choice, to grow and become better people. And I'm going to share how I and my fellow Americans tried to take up that challenge, even if we all made mistakes along the way. I think it's important to recognize both.

One person at a time, one life at a time. It's about the only thing that feels right today.

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Post #88 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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Experienced hands

We've enjoyed having my mom out and I know she's having a great time holding her grandson.

One of the things that's helpful is that she brings experience to the table. She has observed a few small things here and there about his behavior that are cues to things he wants or needs, and I think in our day-to-day care it's easier to miss these things. She brings a fresh perspective and her own history raising three kids, and the combination helps her be more cued in on what his mannerisms mean.

She noticed, for example, that some of his squirming seemed to come when he was uncovered and that he might be more cold than we thought he was at times, so I've been using blankets more and have shut off the air conditioning at times. She also noticed some feeding habits he had where he was sucking in more air while feeding from the bottle because he was riled up, so we've tried to get him more calm before giving him his food.

Little things like that make a big difference. He's a pretty happy-go-lucky kid for the most part, but even a little more mellow makes a big difference in things like getting him to sleep more.

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Post #87 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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cracking the code

We went in today for our 1-month appointment. Can you believe we've been doing this for a month? It feels so fast and yet there are times it feels like time has stood still, either due to lack of sleep or because I feel so out of phase with the world around me at the moment.

Anyhow he got a booster shot for one of his vaccines and we talked about feeding. Turns out he hasn't been getting enough food for a couple weeks now. Yes, we are the worst parents ever.

We had been following the guide handout that we were given when we checked out of the hospital, but apparently we were supposed to start upping his feeding doses a couple weeks ago. Nobody told us and of course since we're new parents we don't know what to ask. But then again we should have thought to ask because of course he's going to eat more as we get older.

Worst. Parents. Ever.

Well now that we have that solved, some other things are getting better. Even a few hours into this, he's way less fussy at diaper changes and he's actually sleeping better by himself. It's too early to tell, but I feel like we cracked one of those key-to-everything codes because a lot of little things that were going on have gone away at least in the short term. So we're taking advantage of it and getting him trained on the bassinet/crib being an OK place to be. Hopefully it will stick.

This is going to sound really stupid in hindsight, but a lot of what we were interpreting as not liking to lay down or not liking being swaddled was probably just a "I'm hungry, damn it!" cry.

In our defense, there were some things going on that made the idea of feeding him more seem not so good. He's been spitting up a lot of what he eats and so we didn't think he was tolerating bigger amounts, and it was getting worse when he was laying down, which obviously isn't good because he needs to do that. But we're thinking now that was a bit of reflux and so we are taking care of that too.

But yeah, worst parents ever. Gah.

It feels terrible because we should have known better. In the early-week haze it's gotten too easy to focus on individual problems as they crop up and we hadn't been looking for a root cause, probably because I'm generally skeptical of silver-bullet solutions to a set of problems.

So, lesson learned. Ask more questions. Pretty sure this won't be our last screwup.

(By the way, in case you don't read my sense of humor right we aren't the worst parents ever. It's how we're learning to laugh at our mistakes. Because right now that beats getting down on ourselves)

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Post #86 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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meet your grandma

My mom arrived in town this evening for her first chance to see her grandson. She'll be with us for a week and so I think she's looking for as much time to hold him as possible. Which is cool with us. Maybe she can help us refine the sleeping and eating schedules we're pushing more aggressively.

Her arrival ends a 2-week stretch of us doing this by ourselves. With him turning a month old tomorrow, that means we've done about half the time with just the three of us. That's actually a little less than we intended, but circumstances dictated otherwise and it was good to have the help early on.

Grandma came bearing books, and lots of them. She gave him a bunch of Dr. Seuss and Golden Books that were similar to what I had when I was a kid. We were light on books to start out but have gotten quite a few in the past week or so, and that's great because one of my favorite things to do is read to my son.

What's good is that she's here to help. We weren't dying or anything, but the little things along the way will be a big help. My wife and I were talking the other day that we haven't slept in the same bed in weeks because of his need to have one of us up with him. We can't do that forever, of course, and are working on converting him to something more sane, but tonight we actually napped together as my mom watched him. It's the little things.

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Post #85 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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rewired for sleep

One of the things that has surprised me most so far has been my sleep patterns. I was prepared for less sleep, but because of the feeding intervals (not to mention the need to relieve my wife so she gets solid sleep) I'm finding that in the early going I'm getting less consecutive hours too.

So basically I'm tired a lot but also getting less solid blocks of sleep. Pretty normal, I think, but it leads to problems because my body has gotten used to it even if it's telling me that I'm tired all the time.

Tonight is a good example. My wife was up and I had a shot of 7-8 hours of sleep in a row, a rare opportunity since our son's birth. But, as has happened every time I've had this chance, the rewiring of my sleep clock won't let me take advantage. I get to about 4-5 hours and then I'm wide awake and unable to get back to sleep. My body and mind are still tired and I want to sleep, but at the same time my body is saying sleep time is over.

It's weird to be simultaneously exhausted and unable to sleep when it's not because of insomnia. In this case, my body is just on this clock and I think it'll take several days of stretched out sleep time before I'm able to do 8 hours again.

So I'm looking forward to that in 18 years.

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Post #84 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, September 6, 2011

10 things

The first month is so cool with newborns because you see them developing every day. They change so much day to day and start doing new things all the time.

Our son turned four weeks old yesterday. I thought I'd list 10 things that bring me joy when I'm holding him, watching him, playing with him, and so forth:

1. I know it's traumatic for him, but he gets so worked up when he feeds and it's sort of adorable. He's breathing in and out heavily as he's sucking the bottle, as if he's sensing this might be his last meal. He gets these cute worry wrinkles on his head too. The whole package.

2. I love putting him on my chest and playing with him. Sometimes he's on his tummy and I talk to him to get him to lift his head. Other times he's on his back and just sleeping, or he lays on his side all curled up and resting. They're such fun moments. Sometimes I hold him without my shirt on because he likes that skin-to-skin contact.

3. His feet. Oh my they are big. Huge feet and long toes. Every indication is he got daddy's height.

4. He sucks on his pacifier like Maggie from The Simpsons. It's totally cute.

5. We're up together at night, or at least when he isn't sleeping. It's a good time to show him MLB Network (even though he can only see like 18 inches), talk to him about baseball, play music for him, and even read to him. Night time is sort of our father-son bonding time.

6. He has this awesome courtesy laugh sound he makes, sort of a "heh heh" that he does and often times right after one of us says something funny. He has comedic timing, we think. OK, so it's not real, but it's funny.

7. I like reaching out my fingers to his hand and watching him wrap his digits around my index fingers. He has a tight grasp and it's his way of connecting. Very cool.

8. I love that he's mellow. Like, anyone can hold him. We've had folks over and he's just happy as a clam in their arms. He's made lots of new friends too.

9. Watching my wife with him is so much fun. He brings out those mother instincts in her that I've never seen before. She's so good with him and he loves being with her. My wife gave me the gift of a child, but he's given the gift of seeing my wife in a new light. I'm very grateful.

10. I love comforting him. I hate seeing him cry, but to be able to be there and soothe him is a such an important job. I want him to feel safe and loved even if I can't do anything about whatever is bothering him.

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Post #83 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, September 5, 2011

Moments at a time

I realize I've been writing more about some of the challenges of late, but I'm not wanting to give off the impression that we're in distress here. We're trying to figure a few things out here and there, but that's pretty normal. And we were just talking today that we're grateful that the challenges have been few. We know folks who have been through much worse.

Some of it is just sleep deprivation talking, other parts not knowing what we're doing. But we're learning.

But all that aside, I'll gladly take the frustration and fatigue for times like this:


That's my son, asleep on my chest. I get moments like this several times a day. There's nothing quite as cool as picking him up when he's having a hard time and comforting him, then watching him calm down because he knows he's safe.

At least I think he knows. I am that evil father who changes the diaper and bathes him, both of which he hates. But afterward I tell him it's supposed to help him.

But all that aside, I can sense he's getting that he's loved. I don't know how I know, but maybe it's just in those quiet moments when he calms down from a huge cry with a big hug, a cradling, or a gentle word. Today I think I saw my first real smile. I'm not sure so we'll need to see if he does it a couple more times, but he reacted to my smile with a grin of his own that was matched by his eyes. We've gotten the facial movement before but that could just be digestion; I've read that the eyes tell you.

I hope it was a smile. It'd be that first response to a direct interaction from me.

So moments like that are unforgettable. I'm learning and growing so much into this new role and haven't lost sight of that.

I'm also extraordinarily grateful for the people that have surrounded us. Steph DeLuca and her mom have been consistently providing help in the form of meals (and the kid has taken a liking to Steph). Our friend Silagh has dropped by as well and it's fun to watch her son interact with Austin. I think they'll be getting to know one another well. And this says nothing of my friends online from near and far who've checked in, offered a few tips, or just words of encouragement. Or anything about the other great visitors who've stopped in to check up on us or bring us a random meal that always makes our day brighter. All of these things really do help; you know who you are.

All this is part of the narrative, even when we struggle. It's important to keep that in mind, that when we're going through the tough stuff we are always aware that we have support and people who care. But more importantly, that we have a beautiful baby boy who has brought a lot of joy to our lives. It's more than worth it.

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Post #82 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

Sleeping

The overnights are starting to get to me, I think. One of us is up with him at all times while he's transitioning into being able to get on a sleep schedule, but as I've written before it's difficult. He sleeps better by himself during the day, meaning that someone needs up with him all night. I'm committed to making sure my wife is resting up as she tries to physically recover, so that puts the overnight shift on me.

But it's starting to drag. I'm sleeping about 7 hours a day but never more than about 4 hours in a row. So the quantity of sleep is fine, but I never feel like I'm getting enough.

Part of the problem here is that I don't think we're asking the right questions of the doctors. We're told he sleeps better after about six weeks, but I've never gotten a straight answer as to whether that's because he develops or if it's because you do things to train him. Doctors tell us an approximate sleep schedule but I'm unclear as to whether we should be pushing him to a certain goal (i.e. from 2-hour intervals to 4). I know that's the goal, but do we promote that or will he just do it on his own?

So I'm realizing what I don't know. Internet reading and advice is good, but getting some doctor instruction would help us decide. And we need to decide something. Even if we're not implementing it now, I need to feel like we're working toward something. We have an appointment this week and I'm working up a good sized list of questions. I'm a goal person and I need to know what we're trying to accomplish with feeding and sleeping schedules.

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Post #81 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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Too much change

Right now we're trying to train our son on several fronts.

We're feeding more during the day and backing off at night in an effort to get his day/night orientation correct (right now he's wide awake more often at night, which of course is not good for those of us harboring dreams of sleeping someday).

We're trying to figure out how to supplement his feedings because he's getting more of mom's milk these days but we still need to add formula to make sure he has all the necessary nutrition, but we're still doing the trial/error thing on formula because he isn't tolerating much of anything well.

We're redoubling efforts on the sleeping thing, as he is finally open to being swaddled more and so we are giving him more time in the bassinet without a fuss. Problem is he's more willing to do this in the daytime than at night, but progress is progress I suppose.

And of course I'm trying to figure out how this baby life works with the life of the academic, which requires all the mental energy I can muster. For me physical energy and mental energy are tied together.

So we're trying to do four things at once, and I think for a newborn every new thing is a big thing. His life is eating and sleeping while dealing with the occasional discomforts of an upset digestive system or a messy diaper. We're pretty much trying to change up his entire universe here.

Four moving parts, and it feels like when we make progress on one we regress on another. A couple days ago it felt like we were flipping his day/night thing but then it's a step back today. He's wide awake in my arms as I write this after sleeping through most of the day despite our best efforts, but even with the day sleeping thing he was taking to the bassinet so we didn't want to mess up progress on that front.

Needless to say I don't know if we're doing anything right on these areas. Some days it feels OK, but I'm feeling more discouraged about whether we'll get there. It's not even a case of us being diligent or researching for more ideas or help. He's just not taking to it.

I have to remind myself that he's only four weeks old. He's still trying to figure all this out too.

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Post #80 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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Watching him cry

Of all the emotions I feel as a first-time parent, the hardest stuff comes when my son is crying. I don't like it and have realized I have more "fixer" tendencies than I thought I did. If it's just a random cry for a couple seconds here or there that's one thing, but when he's in prolonged agony over something that I can't figure out, that's harder. Worse, sometimes it's a thing I can't fix.

I go through the usual steps when he's crying a bunch. Check the diaper, take a look at the last time he ate or look for signs that he's rooting, or see if he's squirming a lot (which usually means painful digestion). Generally when I know what the issue is, I have an idea how to help. Even if my ability is limited, it feels like I'm doing something.

Generally he doesn't cry a lot, but he does do it in waves. Such as tonight, when he is hard to console because he's having trouble digesting even the gentle formula we have him on as a supplement.

I've gotten better at diagnosing problems, but sometimes it's a mystery. Those are the times that suck. Not only can I not help, I don't even know what the issue is. Babies cry for lots of reasons but it's his only way of telling me things. The folks in our classes said you'll figure out the meanings of cries, but so far I have nothing on that one. I'm better at body language when he's actually moving about.

This will get better as he learns to communicate with us in ways other than crying, of course. In the meantime it's a lot of sleeplessness and worry as I try to discover what's bothering him. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes I can't, and sometimes he needs to cry it out. I'm learning how to tell the difference.

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Post #79 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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A due date come and gone

Our baby was due to be born today. September 1 was the date we were given way back in January when they let us know that my wife is pregnant, and most of our prep and planning was centered around the baby being born this date if not a bit later.

So it's a little strange to be staring at our 3.5-week-old baby while I think about that. The little man missed that deadline in a spectacular way.

Because he was born a bit early there was some concern about development, but he's overcome all of that. He's a strong guy, he eats well, and he's very interactive. You couldn't tell that he's early other than that he's a little undersized, but even that is relative. He's small for a Littau baby because we're all born big, but he's a normal sized baby in terms of the population.

So given that he's healthy and all, I don't feel bad admitting that it probably worked out well that he came early. With everything we have had going on the past few weeks, I've been trying to imagine what this would have been like if he had come as the semester was only rolling. In a weird way he gave me a gift by giving me some lead time before the term started. I'm still exhausted and don't feel on my game right now in the classroom, but at least I had time to prepare.

But his early arrival set a tone for how we've adjusted to everything that's new in this experience. He does things on his own schedule, in his own way, and for his own reasons. We can coax and cajole, but he definitely has a mind of his own. Keeping that in mind has kept me sane in the early going.

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Post #78 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