Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"How I Learned to Love Sleep Deprivation"

So Lil' Lucas is approaching the three week mark now, and some things have changed, some have remained the same. He looks around a lot now, and will occasionally carefully regard mom and dad with measured stares, but generally peers around a lot. He still sleeps a lot. Still gets a disproportionate share of my wife's mammalian bits as his personal playground. (An amused, sarcastic part of me finds this mildly jealousy-arousing.)

In some ways, Amy and I are becoming more adept at the parent thing. Quite by accident we stumbled on a talent I appear to have that moves me from "Semi-useless cheerleader" to "one-act freakshow." Seems as though I have a talent for clubbing my kid over the back until he imitates his dad with a great guttural belch. So Dad has a purpose that allows him to assist Mom in a way that isn't sub-par, and therefore lets Mom go do something else. (Fellas, here's the method: when you burp a kid, you're supposed to pat their back, right? Instead of patting their back with the ends of your fingers vertically, aligned with the spine, use them big ham hocks the maker gave ya. Don't pat vertically, pat horizontally and use your whole hand. Cup it slightly to conform to baby's body and there you go. Instead of patting maybe 10% of their back, you're patting about half their abdomen. Don't hammer the kid, but don't need to be too gentle, either - babies are medium sturdyish and they'll squawk if you're doing it too hard, but for some reason it soothes them - kid will curl right up against your shoulder and not peep, you do it right. For real.)

Unfortunately, this also makes for a frustrating situation whenever kiddo is upset and we don't succeed immediately at soothing him. Particularly for Amy, who has hormonal hardwiring that makes her judge her effectiveness as a mother on Lucas's happiness, this hits pretty badly. For me, it's a little less upsetting - I can accept that sometimes kids get annoyed - but I have my own Achilles Heel, as it were: I really dislike the fact that when he's upset because he's hungry,  I'm about as useful as a bumper-mounted airbag. Rationally, I know that on the rare occasions Amy's busy for a minute or five (guys, make sure you jump right up to take kiddo when wife needs to shower, and bitch not at all about how long she showers for - it's probably her longest break of the day) that Lucas will survive just fine if he isn't fed, and that he doesn't hold it against me that I have totally non-functional breastage. Rationally, I can articulate all of that and be just fine.

Emotionally, on the other hand, I do not as well.  Fatherly hardwiring is a bit different than mommy hardwiring. Theirs is to nurture and protect. Ours is to protect as well, but we tend to be more aggressive in seeking solutions. So to sit docilely with your son in your lap, screaming bloody murder, when you can't do a single thing about it - emotionally, that's very hard on a fella. You alternate between wanting to charge into the bathroom and berate your wife for daring to take a three minute shower, bashing your own head into the wall in frustration, or breaking down in tears because you're useless.  Funny thing; I'm a guy who controls his emotions very well for the most part. (Or so I like to think?) Baby-induced fatigue, though, combined with the fact that we DO have some primal reactions - not so much as mom, but some - to our child... brings your emotions RIGHT to the surface. Major way. Can catch a fella off-guard too, if he's unprepared for it. 

Dunno. This baby thing is tough. As I told a coworker today: "babies are hard." Really, the routine hasn't changed much since week one, as we now approach week three. We're trying to get things to the point where Amy can put milk into some bottles so that I can break up her hellish "two hours of sleep, one hour of feeding/burping" routine, but not there yet. We're examining more advanced/varying methods of keeping kid happy and getting his sleep schedule more aligned with ours. (Right now, Lucas's most active time is 11pm-3am...brutal.) Be prepared for the toughness, but supposedly it does get better. At no time have we regretted his presence, though. He's a cool lil' bugger, and seeing him wiggle and coo and snore (yes, babies snore, friggin hilarious) is a treat.

Besides, it does get better after awhile. Supposedly.

-MT out

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