Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lucas Emmett Fletcher, Part Three: Or How a 1lb guy can kick YOUR ass

So Lucas - or I may refer to him by his affectionate nickname, the "Fuss Bus" - has been home for a week now. Despite my higher-than-it-should-be weight, I consider myself a pretty bad dude. Did some MMA in college at the local level for play cash, lifted way too many weights in high school, spent far too much time on blue mats learning the fine art of dealing out a beating. I'm not stupid - I still avoid the darker sides of the street, say "yes sir" to anyone with a weapon, and don't go looking for trouble. Having said that, I feel safe escorting my wife and child somewhere if need be. 

...especially now that I know that kid can whip my ass. Damn.

K fellas, here's another wee bit o' education for you. Kiddo, when he's still doing the scrunchy-in-momma's-belly thing, he's still affected by the laws of gravity. I mention that because if you imagine where he's sitting and all the things momma's doing - especially late pregnancy, with that preggo-waddle thing goin'- the kid effectively spends all day being held tightly and rocked. Translation: Kid gets encouraged to sleep a LOT during the day. Now I've since learned that newborns, even sleeping, are not entirely still, so that may explain why you still notice mom's belly doing the Alien thing during the day.

At night, though, momma's still and all stretched out, so baby's not getting rocked, and he's getting as much space as is available.  This means that kiddo is going to be as active as he's likely to be at night. Besides allowing you to view the Flesh Freakshow before going to bed (seriously - late enough in the pregnancy, you're going to see clear limbs; elbows, occasionally even the impressions of HANDS and FEET...mondo weird) this also means the kid's activity table is actually reversed. He's the ultimate college student from day one: party all night, sleep all day.

Here's the really fun part: that doesn't change after they're born.


Remember that partying roommate from college? Yeah - he's back. This time, you can't ignore him, though. For the first few days, it's quite possible to get 8 hours of sleep. Problem is, you don't get them in a row. You get an hour, then 45, then an hour, then two, then another hour... 'cause kiddo's going to wake up pretty often with a nasty diaper or an urge to feed. Funny thing, though. Normally, if someone wakes a fella up that many times in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder, you're looking for a club and a muzzle. When it's your kid, you wake up, roll your eyes, and smile - 'cause it's your kid, right? He's just fussing 'cause he needs something, and then he's more than happy to let everyone go back to sleep.  It's frustrating and annoying, sure, but you can't blame the lil' dude - it's not like he can hop up and get himself a burger, y'know? And how much would you be hollering if your entire lower half were covered in your own fecal matter? Yow. Here's the jaw-dropping part: kid may require diaper swap as much as a dozen times a day, and may require feeding nearly as many.   It's not that any of the times require a lot of effort - feeding is pretty passive, and diaper changes, while active, are actually pretty quick jobs. It's the fact that, well, we're used to sleeping in large blocks. Kid's fine with the pace, but we're very much not used to catnapping as a lifestyle choice. That can and will wear you out, FAST.

So the lil' dude's going to keep you awake a lot. For the first two days or so, the fatigue won't be too bad, but by day four, you're going to notice some pretty dramatic fatigue symptoms. If you're not off work, take advice: car pool for the first two weeks or so.  Fine motor skills are going to get very wobbly. So is coordination - you'll stumble more. I think I've nearly broken most of the toes on my left foot, which is exceedingly damned annoying. The obvious irritability and emotional insanity are going to be there, too. Remember that in all your interactions - especially with the wife. Remember that you don't hate each other, that you are on the same team, and that you both want the same thing: happy healthy kiddo. Silly as it sounds, you may even want to write it down somewhere you'll see it. We're guys - visual reminders help. 

But anyhow, you'll hear this elsewhere, but here it is again: babies only really fuss for three reasons: they're hungry, they've got a messy diaper, and they've got gas. (Let's NOT think about just how much that's like the adult male, shall we?) No real magic or mystery to 'em, fellas. The good news is you can do something about two of the three - all three if the wife isn't breastfeeding. (Not getting to that whole debate; that's out of our realm of ken.)

So anyhow. Here's a bit you can read to the wife, and my own wife agrees heartily with it, and we're doing a pretty damn fine job so far, if I do say so myself:

You should not be getting up with her for the late-night feedings. You, my fine fellow, should be sleeping. There's nothing you can do at those feedings, and she's got to be there anyhow. You are more useful getting what rest you can, so that during the day, you can take care of a lot of little things that normally would be in her purview - dishes, picking up, etc. (Hey dude. That's the trade-off. You don't have someone nom-nom-noming on yer boob at 2am, so don't bitch.) On the other hand, if you're not getting up, she DOES have the right to expect you to help out a little around the house, because she's going to be exhausted, and recovering from childbirth, and a bit dehydrated. Remember to bring the lady a lot of water - somehow that strange device known as the female body converts that to milk. Go figure. (If we could get it to convert water into other things we'd be set, neh?)

The good news is it does get better - and, for someone being beaten down by sleeping in one hour doses, it gets measurably better fairly soon.  The kid's dominant activity periods will, over a week or two, start to shift to daytime, and while they'll still have nighttime needs, they won't be nearly so active as in week one.  Lucas is 1 week 2 days at this point, and he's already showing some shift and we're getting a bit more (not a lot) sleep at night. Mind you, there is a condition called "colic" that makes all of the above completely moot. Short version is that if you're one of these unlucky fellas whose kid has colic, well.  Just remember that it doesn't last forever, and make sure you get a night a week to go and be a guy with your friends. (Colic - this is hearsay, 'cause Lucas doesn't have it - is basically the ultimate in gas pains. Babies need to fart. A LOT. Colic, in simplest terms, is the inability to fart; usually happens to babies. Lots of gas, no ability to cut loose with a wild and warbly one. You'd scream bloody murder, too.)

So anyhow. This blog entry has probably been a bit dull compared to the frank accountings of parts one and two, but eh, it's the Saturday before I go back to work. (Fellas - take a week off when kiddo's born. Seriously. Major brownie points with wife, and when the kid starts actually looking around with intent, and you can see the eyes are clearly watching things... you don't want to miss the one and only first time that happens, y'know?) Newborns are challenging, but your life isn't destroyed, uberdrama doesn't commence, you can still do most of the things you used to do, and one of you at a time can even leave the house and take care of things out and about. Babies are not soul-and-society-shattering beasties. They're just lil' dudes, lil' chicas, just need some attention, some boob,  and a clean place to sleep.

....and that really is an awfully lot like you, ain't it, bub?

Respect your peer - because he/she can kick your ass.

-MT out.

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