Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Playing To Win

Sitting outside with Henry today, I realized something that I expect most experienced parents already know:  

It's easy to get lost in the "solving" part of caring for a newborn, to look at everything as a fire that needs to be put out. I suppose it's akin to what they say can sometimes happen to doctors; they can begin to think only about preventing illness and neglect the cultivation of health. But there's more to life than plugging the dam.

Henry's a person of course, one I happen to like. When he's up for it, there's no reason I can't just "hang out" with him. Today on my balcony he was nice and calm, just kind of looking around like babies do. I talked with him about our surroundings: "Hear that? That's a bird," "The wind is made of air," "Look at that plant," that sort of simple blather. I liked trying to see things through his eyes. It's impossible of course; babies are unfathomable. Still, it was fun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

KG's Dad

KG's dad and his wife came into town the day before yesterday, flying all the way across the country for a quick, one day visit. It was their first ever chance to get aquatinted with Frank's new grandson so we kept our plans fairly simple. In the morning, the two of them took us to breakfast and, afterward, we returned home and basically ogled HG for the remainder of the day. Debbie also took a moment to give us a gift she'd brought with her, a sweet little matching plate and bowl. Very cute.

I suppose it was a typical family visit by any practical measure but for me it was a standout. Frank lives far away and I don't yet know him as well as I'd like.  That said, I find him a genuinely nice, interesting guy. Spending the day together, I took the opportunity to ask him all sorts of things. He was nice enough to tell us a little about his time in the Marines, his experience during KG's infancy, and the fact that he nearly went to law school - something I'd never heard. We even talked music a little, with both he and Debbie getting a good laugh remembering the corny songs of Guy Mitchell. (In Frank's defense, the other artists he mentioned included Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, and The Beach Boys)

Best of all, though, was seeing Frank with the baby sleeping comfortably in his lap, the little guy as calm as he could be. The both of them - charmingly, when you see them together - are the long, lanky type. That and a couple other physical similarities served to remind me of the concrete nature of relationhip. I like that. There is literally a part of KG's dad in my son. 

Frank, Debbie, and The Boy

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Three Faces Of Poop

The General Patton

The Thousand Yard Stare

By Any Means Necessary

Late Update:

Post Poop (Yay!)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rough Night

Wow.  Henry fussed virtually all last night from about 10:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.  It was easily the toughest he's been so far.  KG took the early shift, I the later one.  Virtually the whole time he was squirming or crying, with a downright screaming jag or three thrown in for good measure. I could sometimes soothe him a little, but only so much.  I think he's got indigestion, poor guy, but it could be anything. We also put a different kind of diaper on him. Anyway, nothing seemed to calm him, none of the old standbys.

When he finally gave in to sleep at 4:30 - out of sheer exhaustion, I suppose - I was too tired and strung out to sleep.  I'm going to go try again now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Coming Of Age In The Milky Way

This post is more for myself than anyone else.  From the start, I've wanted to use this blog in part to leave a digital paper trail of Henry's young life.  Nearly every parent I've spoken to cautioned me about how quickly time goes by and how thoroughly memory fades.  During these first few weeks I've begun to catalogue some memories I'd like to preserve.  A few...

1) Earlier tonight, KG took over baby-watch while I got in a little nap.  Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard her singing to Henry in the next room: 
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine 
You make me happy when skies are grey 
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you  
Please don't take my sunshine away
She sang it over and over again.  It was nothing, really.  KG can't carry a tune.  All the same, her wobbly voice was so relaxed and certain.  It was the best thing.

2) Pedestrian Road Rage:  This is something that took place the day Henry was born, beforehand while driving to the hospital.  KG was in labor.  We knew we were close.  After driving along a bumpy side road, I stopped at a red light to make a right onto the main street where the hospital is located.  At that point, a man approached my car from the passenger side.  He had a round face, closely cropped hair and a four-day shadow or so.  He began yelling, I wasn't sure about what; maybe he'd planned to cross the crosswalk where I was making my turn.  Regardless, KG was sitting to my right clearly in pain, her shirt pulled up over her belly, and this guy was yelling and yelling.  I obviously needed to put a stop to it so I turned to him and said simply, "My wife's in labor," nodding towards her and hoping that'd do the trick.

The guy pulled up short, taking a quick glance at KG's naked belly.  For a moment he stood there looking dumbfounded.  Even in the midst of all this chaos it was pretty captivating.  You could see him turning over his decision: drop the tirade or continue yelling at a couple on their way to deliver their baby.  Then the guy did the most amazing thing:  He decided to keep yelling.  You could see it pass over him, the actual decision to keep going.  It was incredible.  KG and I, despite everything, just burst out laughing.  The whole situation was so absurd.  I made my right and headed off to the hospital.

3) HG's Suspicious Look:  Talking about this is SO new-parenty, but sometimes Henry busts out this sort of sideways, "you've got to be kidding me" look that just slays me.  It's so goofy in a baby.  Infants already sort of look like old people as is, then one of them goes and lowers his eyebrows at you.  I haven't been able to capture it on film yet.  If I do, I'll post a pic. 

4) White Noise:  This is perhaps the most ever-present thing in our lives right now.  Apparently, babies love it.  HG sure does.  Puts him right to sleep.  We've always got a fan running or something like that.  And loudly.  It's kind of maddening, actually, but worth it if it soothes the little guy.

5) Coming Of Age In The Milky Way: When KG breast-feeds the baby, I usually read to her from a book called Coming Of Age In The Milky Way, by Timothy Ferris.  Ferris is a popular-science writer, justifiably famous for his ability to render complex theories easy to comprehend.  The two of us are loving it.  It's funny to say this about a science book, but Coming Of Age is terrifically romantic.  Written as a history of mankind's relationship to "Time, Space, and Creation," it reads more like an adventure novel than a work of non-fiction.  It's also filled with great character portraits of some pretty dashing oddballs who've shaped scientific inquiry throughout the years.  With my life currently dominated by the most mulchy of things, it's been fun to spend time prowling around the heavens with a bunch of weirdos.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Oh, The Humanity...

It may not sound like much, but KG and I got out of the house today, in what to us felt like a honest-to-goodness miracle.  To start the day, we attended a meeting of new parents at the hospital where we'd had the baby.  It was, I have to tell you, so wonderfully humanizing to listen to other newbie parents speak, even about the most mundane of matters.  Many of them were the sorts of people we would almost never have come into contact with otherwise but, as my friend Eric pointed out later, at the moment all of our lives had become small in exactly the same way. 

On the way home, KG and I snuck in lunch at a local diner before the little guy woke up.  Later in the day - the absolute cherry on top - we swaddled the baby and took him for a walk around the neighborhood.  You can't imagine how quickly the outside world becomes a foreign place.  Just before we got home, we rested briefly in front of our next-door neighbor's little fountain.   The three of us sat in silence and listened to the water running.  KG explained to Henry what that sound was.

The past week had been a rough one.  Our pediatrician had put the baby on a grueling feeding schedule, hoping he'd gain weight more rapidly.  It ended up working (we returned to a normal feeding schedule on Friday), but in the interim poor KG had to feed the little guy every three hours and pump in between.  For five days, she rarely got more than an hour-and-a-half worth of sleep at a time; and those were the good stretches.  I tried to pick up the slack in every other department and we both ran ourselves ragged.  

So to simply engage in the world and feel like people again, as small as that may seem, was both a relief and a blessing.  Who knew: The world is full of lovely things.

Orchid (courtesy of Bill and Anita) and a youthful KG