Friday, February 10, 2012

FML - What I've learned so far in 7+ weeks as a father

Welcome back to CRAPOLA for today’s entry in the FML (Fatherhood Means Laughter) section of my blog.  It has now been seven weeks since my son Jackson was born.  In that time I am amazed at how quickly I have learned some things about parenting, and I have also become surprised at just how little sleep I need to function.  I still can’t believe that it has been seven weeks already, the time is really starting to move fast.  Maybe that’s because I’m in a daze a good portion of the time from sleep deprivation?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m having a great time being a dad.  It truly is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  I look at my son’s face every day with a sense of wonder and amazement, and I think it’s still registering in my brain the thought of “holy crap I’m a dad!”  I’m looking forward to watching him continue to progress and grow, and I eagerly await the future (see my post on what I’m looking forward to sharing with him when he gets older here) of this crazy ride I find myself on.

I’ve learned some amazing things in the past few weeks, things that no one told me about, often through trial and error.  In an attempt to help those that will become parents themselves in the future, I thought I’d share with you today some of the things that I have learned.

On diapers and changing – I have learned a lot of things here, things that they didn’t teach me or my wife Sittie in our newborn parents class.  One thing that I have learned is to make sure you never ever position your body below his feet when changing a baby.  Always have the baby perpendicular to you when changing a diaper.  Sittie found this out the hard way when she stood at his feet while changing him, and he proceeded to fart and poop at the same time, spraying her with poop.  I nearly died laughing when that happened.  Another thing I learned about diaper changes is to not rush and change him right away when he poops.  The initial passing of gas or small amount of poop can be the tip of the iceberg for a bigger poop, and if you don’t give it five minutes, you’ll just wind up changing the baby a 2nd or 3rd time in a matter of minutes as he keeps producing poop.  We wasted a number of diapers that way.  Speaking of diapers, the brand name ones are far superior to the generics, if only because of a really convenient feature they have.  There is a yellow line down the center of the diaper that turns blue once exposed to urine, so you can see without having to open the diaper to check if the baby has gone # 1 or not.  That’s a big time saver and really convenient in the middle of the night.

Read the rest of my discoveries, including a funny story that happened to my mother-in-law after the jump!

The funniest thing that happened when it came to diapers and changing happened to my mother-in-law.  Sittie’s mom Luz has had 4 children, but they were all girls.  Thus, she was not aware of the special issue that little boys have when you change their diapers – namely that they will pee in the air if you leave them exposed too long.  She was using the dry diaper as a fan to try and air dry him after using the wipes to clean him, and as we started to warn her that it was a bad idea, he peed everywhere.  The lesson in this story is to have a product like the peepee teepees that go over the boy’s crotch to prevent getting blasted with your son’s pee.

On feedings – slow and steady wins the race.  We learned rather quickly that you need to stop and burp the baby after each and every ounce.  If you feed a whole bottle without stopping to burp the kid, the minute you stop to burp them, they will proceed to burp and then spit up a good portion of everything they just ate.  That just results in them getting hungry again a lot sooner, meaning you’ll get a lot less sleep if you make this critical mistake in the middle of the night.  Also, even when the baby is extremely hungry, it is a good idea to pause every half ounce if they are drinking the bottle too quickly, because if they’re wolfing down the bottle too fast, they’re just gonna spit up that much more later.  The last thing we learned about feedings was that you cannot rush from the feeding straight back to having the baby sleep.  We’ve found that you have to wait 10 minutes before laying the baby down for either sleep or changing after a feeding, because if you do not wait that time the baby will spit up not long after they’re horizontal.  This is especially annoying if you go to feed your baby, then lay him down to change his clothes because you’re going out somewhere, and he then proceeds to spit up all over his new clean clothes.  Jackson has done that to us a couple times now.

On time management – sleep as often as you can.  I am a big sleeper.  I used to never be functional on less than seven hours of sleep a night.  Now I would kill for 7 hours of sleep a night.  What I’ve learned to do is to sleep as often as I can, whenever I can.  If the baby is sleeping, so am I, whenever possible.  Sittie is lucky that she can sleep later in the morning than me while she is still home on maternity leave, getting an extra hour to hour and a half, but soon she will be returning to work and will lose out on that extra sleep time as well.  So she’ll be joining me in sleeping as late as we can and napping as much as we can every weekend.  Additionally, Red Bull or other caffeinated products are the world’s best invention.  Seriously.  With our next kid, if we do a baby registry, the only thing I’m registering for are diapers and cases of Red Bull.

Also, the TiVo is your friend.  In the middle of the night for a feeding, when you are totally exhausted, it is actually a great idea to throw on a recorded show to watch during a feeding.  We’ve learned that if we don’t have the TV on, we actually fall back asleep while feeding Jackson, which doesn’t end well for any of us involved.  So now, when I’m doing a middle of the night bottle feeding, we have a show on.  The added bonus of this is that it has allowed us to keep up with our shows that we TiVo each week, and we haven’t fallen behind in our shows despite having way less time each day to watch them in a dedicated block like we used to.  (For a reminder of what I’m regularly TiVoing, see this post on my fall 2011 TV preview here).

Anyways, in the 7+ weeks of fatherhood, that is what I have learned so far.  I look forward to continuing this journey of fatherhood, and I will periodically update you with my thoughts and experiences as they occur.  Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed!

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