Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Dad Files 5 Month Insights: Daycare, Carseats, Overnight Solo Parenting

Handing over your most precious person in the whole world for the first time to essentially a stranger at daycare and hoping they take care of him is challenging emotionally. Over time, you and baby will get to know the daycare workers and develop a relationship with them as they partner with you in his development. 

While you'd love for baby to never get sick, entering the halls of this institute of care is also germ central and will almost definitely result in a cough and cold within a few days of starting. There's nothing quite like seeing a booger encrusted classmate crawl towards your baby and reach out a slobber and snot filled hand to welcome him to the cold crew. Baby will subsequently have essentially a continuous cold and cough for the next few months. 

Listening to your baby coughing and sneezing while you can't do anything about it is hard. Boogie Wipes will become your new friend in the next weeks and months. You too may share in the new colds passed along from baby as he coughs or sneezes in your face. On the bright side, baby should have a rock solid immune system by the time he starts kindergarten.

As you take on the responsibility of drop off and pick up from daycare, time should be allotted to get baby dressed, bottles prepped and labeled, extra clothing changes, and a well stocked diaper bag plus some extra margin as baby requires. Don't be late for pick up; they're strict about that cutoff time and charge by the minute if you're late. 

If you're heading to the office following drop off, you'll want to be especially careful to dodge any spit up that may occur between home and hand off and it wouldn't hurt to keep a change of clothes in the car just in case. This can easily occur on the pick up side as well especially if they've fed baby immediately prior to pick up. Also possible is a blow out that you realize when you first smell then feel the sticky wetness on your own clothing as the transmission from baby to you occurs while walking to the car.

Sometimes you may split drop off and pickup responsibilities with your spouse. If you only have one car seat, you'll want to coordinate in advance to not get caught without the seat. It's a surprise if your wife leaves before you with the car seat but you are dropping baby off at daycare. Hope that you can get some work done at home because you're not going anywhere till she returns to trade off the car seat. Alternatively, if you leave with car seat but not baby and she is in charge of baby, you may get a call shortly into the work day resulting in a return home to trade off car seat. 

The first multi night solo parenting experience will make you appreciate single parents and the challenges they go through even more with the weight of all responsibilities and care taking falling fully on you. You will be very thankful when your wife returns home.

Baby will increasingly smile, laugh, babble, and explore introductory motions towards crawling as he gets stronger with lots of tummy time sessions. You can have fun baby sound conversations with him even if neither of you use a distinguishable language. Laughing with him is also a joyful experience for all involved. 

He will begin watching you from across the room and pay close attention to things of interest like the milk bottle or favorite toys. You may attempt feeding baby rice cereal or other foods like sweet potatoes. It's an experience as baby learns about spoons and how to get food down the hatch rather than spiting it out on clothing and generally all over his face.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dad Files 4 month Insights: Slobber, New Sounds, and Paternity Leave

In addition to baby advocating loudly for more milk, around nap time, or in conjunction with a diaper change, he will begin to make new sounds. One of these includes blowing raspberries (or flatulent sounds proceeding from the mouth for those unfamiliar). Bonding with dad over impolite sounds begins at this age and may continue, peaking around the age of middle school. 

Another fun sound is baby making new quacking noises similar to The Count on Sesame Street. 3 clothing changes per day ah ah ah...4 naps...ah ah ah...6 bottles of milk ah ah ah....8 diaper changes ah ah ah.

Baby will increasingly put fingers, whole hands, and pretty much anything he can reach in his mouth and baptize them with saliva. Along with copious amounts of slobber, baby will increasingly spit up both at meal time and at random intervals. This may require adjustments to slow pace of feeding, quantity, or frequency. Consequently, baby may require additional wardrobe changes throughout the day. 

Bath time is also fun as baby learns about the water and splashes around. An extra bonus is if he lets a poop slide right in the middle of bath time or alternatively contributes bubbles to the water that when popped leave behind a smelly aroma.  

With bright eyed excitement at new discoveries, joyful laughing, and kicking his legs simultaneously I've loved watching as he learns more about the world. It's a lot of fun especially when he's not yelling at you. 

Over the past 6 weeks, I had the privilege of taking paternity leave and staying home with him. It definitely gave me an increased appreciation for full time stay at home parents as well as single parents. There are lots of great parts but also lots of challenging and tiring parts. It's possible to get things done during the day but you need to be very intentional about planning out the day. With awake and sleep cycles running every 3 hours, you need to constantly be planning the next session as well as getting anything done like house work, exercise, nap, paying bills, or even a little down time. 

I totally understand how someone could go all day or even multiple days in the same clothes or without showering. On the days that were the most successful, I had a goals list for the day and priorities which could be tackled similar to a regular work day. Of course, baby can totally derail that plan with plans of his own. I think it's also a good idea for stay at home parents to purposefully connect with others outside the home since it can be exhausting and isolating fulfilling need after need day after day without adult interaction. 

All in all, I'm grateful that the company I work for introduced this benefit for dads and that I was able to invest focused time in him over the past month and a half. 

I've also been finishing up a song that I wrote for him and hope to post a version of it soon so stay tuned!

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Friday, July 29, 2022

Dad Files: 3 Month Insights: Smiles, Swaddles, Spit Up, and Types of Cries

If baby’s other parent discovers a blowout and hands baby to you for cleanup, you are fully entitled to call foul and reject the handoff. Bonus points to you if you graciously overlook this violation of courtesy and endeavor on restoring baby to cleanliness.

Sometimes there are blowouts requiring both parents in order to properly change and clean baby. These involve fluids and poop covering essentially all parts of baby and a subsequent bath is recommended. No judgment if you opt for throwing away clothing rather than endeavoring to clean it.

By now you will begin to recognize meanings of various cries whether hungry, tired, in need of a diaper change, sick, gassy, hurt, or generally disagreeable to the current situation. Volume, tone, and length all play a part with tremolo vibrato crying reserved for the especially distraught times and commonly associated with the car alarm cry. The quicker you recognize these and take action where appropriate the better for all involved.

When you get fussy baby down for a nap and simply desire the same for yourself he will likely cry out just as you cross the sleep threshold. He may more or less get a full nap in but you will need to resign yourself to a few micro sleeps.

Increased frequency of smiles, snuggles, and baby’s recognition of you are tangible dividends for the hard work so far and make all those dirty diapers, interrupted or reduced sleep, and yelling/crying sessions more tolerable and worthwhile.

Holding baby aloft and zooming around like an airplane immediately following feeding, while fun, runs the risk of a cascade of spit up flowing down and covering anything underneath. Subsequent clothing change for you will be necessary. On the positive side, baby’s expulsion may miss his clothing entirely and allow him to soldier on in current attire. Needless to say, less aerial play options are recommended until adequate digestion time has passed.

Baby’s hair will have grown a fair amount over the past three months though a bald spot may develop in the back when he shakes head from side to side while laying down. 

When switching to zip up swaddles, baby may look like a whale flapping it’s tail when kicking or exercising legs. This is also observed if carrying while in swaddle with squirming baby resembling a flip flopping fish. Hold on tight!

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Dad Files: 2 Month Insights: Blowouts, Booger Picking, and Growing Strength

Baby will exhibit increasing strength. If you are doing skin to skin and have hair on your chest, you may consider shaving it or baby will rip it out by the fistful. With increasing strength, baby will also frequently break out of swaddles making you wonder whether he will pursue a career in escape artistry or strongman competitions in the future. This will heighten vigilance in proper swaddle technique particularly when desiring sleep. Baby’s head will remind you of a bobble head as he builds neck strength. Recoil in conjunction with burps may surprise you with increasing power.

When you arrive home from work, your spouse will hand him off after a day of fussiness so she can have a break. It may seem that all the baby is interested in when you get home is screaming at you especially if you’ve had a hard and stressful day at work. You will do anything possible to get him to go to sleep including beatboxing while assisting him with interpretive dance, bicep curls and triceps extensions with baby, tummy time, bouncing on knee, singing lullabies, whistling classical music, yelling back at baby (not effective), praying for relief, holding baby tightly, rocking baby, rubbing baby’s back, walking lap after lap around the house with baby, feeding, burping, changing diaper, changing diaper again, taking baby on walks outside, and anything else your sleep deprived mind comes up with.

You may sing popular songs on the radio to baby, worship songs, or even revert to your own childhood nursery singalongs. What comes out in your most desperate sleep deprived times digs deep to the core of your being.

If you keep baby with you during a church service, he may make joyful noises unto the Lord at inappropriate times. This will give you the opportunity to better acquaint yourself with the halls and parking lot of the church with baby while your spouse completes the service independently.

Doctors and nurses will poke, prod, and stick baby at checkups. You will need to take on faith that it is for baby’s long term good because short term will likely increase fussiness and screaming sessions.

A constipated baby will make you miss all those number 2 diaper changes. You will pray fervently for the bowels to resume normal function and with every passing of gas compulsively check diaper for poop. Once a juicy one finally comes to fruition, you will rejoice with songs of praise and thanksgiving.

On the other side of the spectrum, you will sometimes wonder if there is an immediate path from mouth to diaper and whether skipping the baby and pouring milk directly on the diaper would be more efficient.

The first public bathroom diaper change is an adventure. By this time you should be fairly experienced in diaper changes but the road game aspect adds a whole other dimension. If there are others in the bathroom, it can almost take on a public performance element. For my first one at Olive Garden, it was a major blowout with runny brown poo pudding covering all of baby’s lower half and exceeded the bounds of the diaper traveling half way up his back calling into question the wisdom of putting the onesie back on. He did well for most of the process with only three other patrons passing through until at the end the whaaaaaa alarm started going off and I was frantically rushing to avoid full on nuclear meltdown echoing through the bathroom chamber. I took baby back to the table with just a diaper on and with a harried look in my eye handed him off to my wife and went to get a new change of clothing from the car. Incidentally, my personal opinion is that just a diaper is a viable wardrobe choice.

Blowouts while traveling in the car will most likely be discovered as you are arriving for an event making an on time arrival shift to tardiness and a very messy cleanup in the backseat of the car. Probably in the range of a 12 wipe cleanup. You should always have a backup change of clothes for both baby and you. Woe to you if you don't take precautions.

You may never have picked someone else’s nose before. This likely will change. While snot sucking instruments can be helpful for the juicy ones, boogers on the dry side may need manual encouragement.

Keeping baby on a schedule and regular routines will benefit everyone involved. The feeding schedule in particular is similar to feeding a parking meter. You may skate by beyond the meter’s expiration but at the risk of a full throated rebuke from the pediatric parking attendant.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Dad Files: Father's Day Reflection

Having children has been a long time desire and goal and one that I didn't know if I'd ever have the opportunity to experience. I'm so thankful that God has blessed my wife and I with Joshua. On my first Father's day as a father, I have a new appreciation for the tremendous sacrifices that parents go through in order to raise children and have an increased respect for anyone who has brought up kids. Even though it can be really hard in the middle of sleep deprivation, night feedings, countless diaper changes, or when he just won't stop crying, I'm still grateful for the opportunity to be his father. 

Before he was born, I was nervous about the many new things to learn, the weight of the responsibility, and having very little experience with babies. Since he was born, I feel much better about the basic skills and have a lot more confidence in taking care of him. 

There is still much to learn but I've enjoyed the fun parts so far and am so appreciative to have my wife as a partner in the journey. I'm beginning to understand what it means to have unconditional love for a child. It only scratches the surface of God's love for us but there are many parallels between a parent and child relationship. I want him to be happy, safe, healthy, protected, provided for, well fed, rested, and to experience all the goodness that life has to offer.

As I think about his future, I pray that he will walk with and follow Jesus all the days of his life. That he will be filled with God's love and joy and show kindness to others. That he will be strong and healthy, smart and wise. That the Holy Spirit will empower him and guide him to do great things and to encourage others to pursue relationship with God. That God's angels will watch over and protect him. I pray for the girl he'll one day marry that God will watch over and protect her and give her parents wisdom in raising her. That she will love the Lord and that God will bring them together in His timing and bless their relationship. 

I don't know what the journey of fatherhood has in store but I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to be Joshua's dad, to love him and invest in his life, and pray that God will give me the strength and wisdom to do it well.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Monday, May 30, 2022

Dad Files: 1 Month Insights: Sleep Deprivation, Diaper Changes, and Goat Sounds

Baby can quickly go from calm or sleeping to DEFCON level screaming at the top of his lungs. This is common if not meeting previously negotiated feeding times with baby. He will make your ears pay dearly for tardiness.

Babies and goats can make similar sounds which may be why they’re both called kids.

You will frequently feel an insatiable desire to sleep. If friends, family, neighbors, or work colleagues are not interesting and to the point, you get a free pass for a few winks of sleep. Really it’s on them and will encourage more efficient communication.

You can get decent strength training done by lifting, holding and playing with baby who should be steadily growing and adding to weight resistance.

You will willingly allow another human to fart on you. Volume and length of flatulence is disproportionate to the size of baby. You will learn to distinguish between a dry one and a juicy one the later which requires a subsequent diaper change.

When completing diaper change and holding legs in the air to clean the backside, beware of the crack which can expel either more of what you just cleansed concurrent with diaper change or fart directly in your face. Bending down close to the danger zone is ill advised and done at your own peril.

When in public, you should always have multiple diapers on hand as well as additional clothing for both baby and you. Blowout risk is real.

Showering with the baby is an efficient way of bathing him. Having one parent hold and one bathe is helpful. When cleaning the front side, beware the water cannon which may go off at any time unannounced.

Grandparents, other family, or friends can provide a nice respite if you need a nap, eat a meal with hands unencumbered, exercise, shower, or to run an errand. Friends or family who offer to do house work or bring a meal are greatly appreciated and get extra bonus points.

Your wife will do some very selfless things. 

A happy, fed, rested baby with a fresh diaper can be sweet and a lot of fun.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Dad Files: Insights After Two Weeks: Bodily Fluids, Feeding, and New Skills

Bodily fluids flow freely at all hours of the day. If you change a diaper and feel a sense of accomplishment, you likely will have the opportunity to repeat that accomplishment shortly, like inside of five minutes. Boys come installed with a water cannon, when changing his diaper note well and plan accordingly, it may very well find occasion to spray you, baby, swaddles, formerly clean clothing, walls, and anything else within a close radius.

If baby is smiling, it’s probably because he’s passing gas or otherwise refilling his diaper.

Tiny humans are capable of producing loud noises for long periods of time. Be the adult and don’t respond in kind.

Sleep deprivation can be brutal and it’s a good thing God gives kids two parents to tag team and share responsibilities. Prayer will help get you through the tough spots.

When feeding baby, don’t race to complete a bottle but pause at appropriate intervals. Your over confidence at having finished so quickly will bite you in the form of wearing half the bottle when baby spits it back up.

Burping is an essential part of feeding.

It’s possible to be peed on, pooped on, and puked on within a short time frame. Don’t assume the outfit you and baby plan to leave the house in are the ones you will actually be wearing. The amount of household laundry needs will rise exponentially.

Babies have sharp fingernails. 

The precious baby pictures that people post only tell half the story, baby will be grumpy and rage demandingly when hungry, tired, needing new diaper, while changing, putting in car seat, or for no apparent reason at all.

There are lots of skills to learn that you never knew you’d need to know. Bottle prep and feeding, diapering, swaddling, putting on and taking off tiny outfits with superfluous snaps and zippers, securing baby in car seat, skin to skin contact as a calming technique, singing lullabies, making silly sounds, and rocking baby to sleep.

When baby is calm, content, or sleeping, snuggles can be a lot of fun.

Meal trains are a great idea. 

Other parents are genuinely happy for you and remember the joys and challenges of raising their own kids.

Babies are a blessing and a gift from God. He gives wisdom for the journey.

 In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Baby Blessings

So thankful for and proud of this beautiful lady. She’s been through a lot over the past year and has sacrificially taken so many steps in this journey. We’ve prayed for many years for the opportunity to become parents and very soon will be blessed to welcome a baby boy into the world. We’re grateful that God has allowed us this enormous privilege and look forward to seeing all the amazing things in store for the future! “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33

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