…but it only took Garrett three and a half!
Without further adieu, the moment his mother waited 29 years for.
I have been at this dad thing for an entire 19 weeks and the thing that sticks with me the most is that your baby changes… constantly.
They are experiencing everything for the first time and developing new skills each days. It’s awesome and wonderful to see how my little man gets bigger and starts realizing stuff like he has hands… feet… and even crazier… he can control them! A lot of these new developments come in what has been humorously coined “wonder weeks” by researchers in the Netherlands. After experiencing a couple of these weeks I am not too fond of the misleading notion of this term. It makes it sound like a glorious time for everyone involved. Alas, it may be a wonderful time for your child but the periods of fussiness before and during these weeks will not always have you using those words to describe these times in your life. Maybe… Exhausted Weeks or Emotional Surprise Weeks or my favorite You Will Have No Idea What Your Baby Wants Week.
So, why am I making such a big deal about this for dads? Well because these new wonders and realizations for your child cause things to change in their brain and how they react to the world which means that technique you use to get your child to sleep… well, it will just piss them off. Holding him and swaying… oh he hates it now. Humming and the rocking chair… yup… hates it too. I have had to figure out on the fly what is going on with Mathias and try to find new ways to help him figure out the world. It hasn’t always been pretty either and it won’t be for you. This is the challenge out there for you dads during this lovely time in your child’s life. Learn to adapt! Try to read all those articles and books your wife will ask you to look at. Know what is coming… this article breaks down the changes and when they usually occur. Don’t think for a moment you have it all figured out because your kids like to flip the script on you in a heartbeat. So, remember wonder weeks are for the babies…
Wake up… feed… playtime… get ready for day care… get stuff done… pick up baby… feed… go to sleep. Throw in eating somewhere in between and you have as normal a day as you can with a little one in the ranks. As Lauren and I experienced this past weekend… that intricately simplistic equation cannot compute when both the parents are suffering from food poisoning. Yes… on the weekend I should have been saying “Hooray me for my service” (Veteran’s Day), I was instead finding acceptable receptacles for the food my stomach deemed not worthy to be in my system.
And you know what… Mats could care less. He still wanted to eat… he still wanted attention… he is still a baby and for all you parents out there, your kids will be no different. Don’t think like I did that your four month old will cut you some slack. They pity no fools…
Living in Florida with both our families in other states makes life being sick even harder. The best I could do was just call my mom for some pity. She couldn’t come baby me like she did when I was younger! It was an absolutely awful weekend but does our plight mean you are you just on your own when sick with a kid?
If you’re lucky, only one of you will get sick. So, first off hope and pray that’s the case. That way the other one can pick up the slack with baby duty.
If not… try our method. Make really good friends. Call in all the IOU’s, show them only photos of your kid smiling, and get them over to bring you some sustenance, to check in on you, or to just hold the baby for 15 minutes while you become way to familiar with the tile on the bathroom.
That’s it… no magic remedies or list to follow. Know good people, have cute kids, and then you can get down with (and over) the sickness.
After re-reading my first few posts I started thinking that I may not be making this whole dad thing sound so cool although everything I said has been true. Babies do make scheduling things difficult and they don’t care that the hockey game is on when they don’t want to sleep. They cry when they are upset, tired, annoyed, and sometimes when they seem to be happy. Babies also don’t like to sleep for very long periods of time during the early months so when I tell you that you are not going to get much sleep early on…. well, it’s true. All of that truth can lead parenting to be the most frustrating and humbling experience in your life. In a society built on winning it hurts when a baby has more determination to stay awake then you do to put him to sleep. When both parents throw up their hands and put a bottle in his mouth… it’s tough… it’s demoralizing… but what I haven’t talked about yet is those brief moments that make all the work, the lack of sleep, and the frustration worth it. It starts with a smile…
At the beginning your child seems to only have two modes. Sleep or cry. And they will switch through this quite frequently. Every now and then you’ll get a smile though which is mostly from them passing gas but it still will make your day. As they get older and begin recognizing you… nothing is better than coming home from work to see their eyes light up and their smile beaming up at you.
When your dance moves, bouncing, and rocking lead to a quiet, sleepy baby. Early on, I would leave Mats on my chest when I was able to get him to sleep mostly because I was scared that he may decide to wake up if I so much as thought of moving. When your son or daughter is content to lay their head against you or sleep in your arms for a nice snuggling session you’ll forget all the time it took for them to calm down.
My personal favorite and I love it so much I try anything to get my son to do it. He could spit up on me 20 times in an hour, have a massive diaper blow out, squeal and scream all he wanted, and as long as I could make him laugh afterwards… all is forgiven. I mean come on… you try to stay mad at this kid!
See… it really is completely worth it and it’s only going to get better as my kid gets older.
Fall has arrived in Jacksonville! For the past few days we’ve been sleeping with windows open, breaking out the long sleeves and enjoying the respite from a hot humid summer. The weather turned just in time for Halloween, which will be Mats’ first big holiday. We don’t have much planned this week for Halloween, except a lineup of themed outfits to dress Mats up in, but one thing I wanted to do was take him to a pumpkin patch.
The church attached to Mats’ new daycare is locally known for going all out for families around holidays, and the giant pumpkin patch they set up has been calling our name all week. This afternoon we loaded up Mats and his stroller for a quick visit. All of the pumpkins that were lined up Friday afternoon had disappeared, save a few that were better for photos than taking home. That probably worked out better for us, since carving pumpkins with an infant would have taken more arm-twisting of Garrett than is necessary. But we did snap a few photos of Mathias’ first pumpkin experiences to share…
As the last few weeks of Lauren’s maternity leave dwindled down, we had to figure out what we were going to do with Mathias as we both headed to work. This was a very difficult decision to make and it’s not a decision dads can treat like most others. Choosing daycare or in-home care isn’t just like shopping at the mall for guys. If you are anything like me you pick the first thing up that you like and keep moving so you can get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I don’t linger, I don’t compare, and I don’t wait for a coupon. Try something on in the store? Hell no, I like the color… let’s move! Well, I didn’t have that luxury this time. This is my only child (so far), my son, I couldn’t just say yes to something because it was the cheapest option.
Luckily, I have an extremely smart and diligent (slightly obsessive) wife who was able to scour the local area for childcare and there are plenty of options around Jacksonville. If you are looking for a basic rundown of the types of childcare and the pros, cons, and costs of each I recommend this article from Baby Center. It helped get us started with the search and thought process. We based our decision on three main factors, but these vary depending on the priorities for your own family.
For us, convenience was key. Lauren and I head opposite directions from our house to go to work. She heads east to the lovely beach and palm trees of Ponte Vedra while I head to west to the concrete jungle that is downtown Jacksonville. Having some sort of care at or near are house was important since that was the midway point from where we both our work. That way any drop-off and pick-up driving for each of us would not add much time to our commutes. Knowing we wanted to stay close to home, we started looking at the next factor.
It turns out you can put a price on happiness or at least the price of care. If you want your child to get one-on-one attention at your house…well, you are going to have to pay for that. We flirted with the idea of in-home nanny services for awhile due to our hectic schedules since I am finishing my last semester at Jacksonville University and working full-time. We even brought in a babysitter to watch Mathias while Lauren started back at work part-time, with shortened days or just a couple days a week in the office. In the end, although the care would probably be great, the price was too rich for our blood and we began looking at daycare providers in Jacksonville which leads us to the third factor.
Quality of Care
This is the tricky one. Where mother’s intuition, Google reviews, and daycare visits combined to help us decide where we wanted to send our son. Lauren looked at every aspect of the facilities and the personalities of the teachers/directors she met. We did eliminate a few based on our feelings of how well kept the buildings were or what the classrooms looked like but when we finally had to make a choice on what we thought would be the best quality care we had to trust that our choice was the best Mathias would get.
No matter what factors you use to decide on what type of care your child gets just know that you will have doubts, that you will feel guilty, and that is normal. Even after making the decision to place Mathias in daycare it has still been difficult dropping him off or picking him up. I know he is not getting the same attention he gets from his mom and I when we are both around but he is getting the chance to interact with new people, observe older kids, and it gives Lauren and I the chance to find a new normal routine.
Good luck on your own choices whatever they may be. There is no one right answer when searching for childcare. Find what is right for you and your family and if you do choose childcare outside of your house then here is am informative video on what to look for and questions to ask during your search.