Friday, February 16, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Sing

I started this post a month ago, forgot about it, decided to write a post about how much I sing to Emelia, and discovered that I'd already thought of the idea. Says something about both my mind, and how pervasive a subject this one is.

Everyone has different ways to soothe a baby, and chief among mine is singing. I rarely sing children's songs, in part because I don't remember most of them. Instead, I sing whatever tune pops through my head, and given my interest in music over the years, that can be almost anything. Indeed, one of the more frightening aspects of my free-association singing is that some of the time it's music that I don't particularly like. All the same, I rarely keep the lyrics from the original intact, instead automatically coming up with my own lyrics and rhymes. I do this partly because I'm silly, and partly because I have poor recall when it comes to lyrics.

Exhibit A: Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel has become Emelia when I sing, usually at times when she's crying or won't go to sleep. "Emelia, you're breaking my heart, You're shaking my confidence baby. Oh Emelia, I'm down on my knees, I'm begging you please, go to sleep (or please stop crying). Woe woe woe."

Exhibit B: In the wake of Emelia's tendency to suck on her hands, I've taken "If I Had a Hammer" and turned it into the following:
    If I was feeling hungry,
    I'd grab some green peppers,
    I'd grab some onions,
    Add them to two hands.
    I'd take a big bun,
    And some pro-vo-lone,
    Add mustard and then I'd put it all together,
    A great big sandwich of two hands.
And if I sing a song a dozen times, it's a virtual certainty that it will come out 12 different ways. Then again, sometimes I make up tunes simply to go with my on-the-spot rhymes or puns. Recently I sang to her that "Emelia, you make me feel like a million dollars" (Emelia near to a million).

But here's the thing: I sing to her constantly -- good tunes, bad rhymes, nonsense -- it doesn't matter, but I keep on singing. Now that I'm going to be at home alone with her, I worry that I'll forget how to speak without singing, sort of a very bad version of the Buffy musical (that's right -- singing until one spontaneously combusts is considered the less bad option). As frightening a prospect that it might be, at least Emelia generally enjoys my singing (for now). Whether I'm able to stop before she gets sick of it is another question entirely.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Disturbance in the Force

Congrats to my sister Rebecca and her family on the birth of their son Luke yesterday -- sounds like everyone is doing well. Luke's older sister is three, and going through a protracted princess stage, so I figure I might as well start referring to her as Princess Leynie. And they have two dogs, one of whom is named Wookie. But I'm not going there, and you shouldn't either.

Monday, February 12, 2007

SAHDism for Beginners

The silence has been deafening, to everyone else -- I received a bunch of concerned calls and e-mails from people asking if everything was ok. Truthfully, most of those calls were from my folks. And the answer is that yes, I have survived my first week staying at home with Emelia. Here's a brief recap --

Monday: Kathy leaves us around 8:30, and she's at least as stressed as I am. No tears, however, and she's out the door. I have Emelia for a little while before she sacks out. Our plan to head to Kathy's work for lunch is spoiled by the cold weather (which was the issue for the entire week), but Kathy comes home for lunch. There were long periods of time that I have no idea how to fill with her, but I sing and carry, play and read. I never do feed her, because Kathy's lunchtime appearance provides ample sustenance.

Tuesday: After Kathy complains that she can't continue with the lack of sleep during the night and working all day, I take matters into my own hands and decide to try again with getting her to sleep on her own. After two hours in the morning, she goes to sleep (I went in every 10 minutes or so in an attempt to provide comfort). Kathy comes home for lunch again, feeds her, and after she leaves, I go through the putting her to sleep routine again -- this time it only takes 45 minutes. I'm not sure which of us is more miserable during the process. I feed Emelia only one bottle during the day, and she takes it with no problem. I'm still at a loss with what to do to occupy the time when we're alone together.

Wednesday: We continue the efforts to get her to sleep alone. Again it takes two hours in the morning, but only fifteen minutes in the afternoon. Kathy has a 1pm conference call, so she can't come home for lunch, so it's just Emelia and I for the entire day. Damn the weather stinks. But feeding her takes a good chunk of the day, and there's something wonderful about her looking into your eyes while she's eating. Of course she only does this about 10 percent of the time, as the rest of the time is spent moving around to look at ceiling fans or anything else that catches her fancy, or focusing on the bottle. She's trying to grip the bottle, though often she'll just hold onto my fingers that are holding it. It's quite a challenge to hold it still while she's hitting it or digging her fingernails into my already winter-dried skin.

Thursday: She's in good spirits for most of the day -- she doesn't begrudge me my efforts to get her to sleep on her own. Fifteen minutes in the morning, an hour in the afternoon (after Kathy nursed her at lunchtime). I learn to do things a bit differently with bottle feeding -- she keeps moving her head to look at the fan across the room better, but that means she's facing away from the bottle and me. I accommodated her on Wednesday, but after a day of that decide it's better that she have to turn to the bottle rather than vice-versa.

Friday: She sleeps quickly when I put her down for a nap, no more than 20 minutes in the afternoon (she sleeps until 10:30 so there isn't a morning nap) -- it's not that she's now in the habit of sleeping when she's put in the crib by any means (as Thursday night attested). What it means is that I'm getting a little better at judging when to put her down. Kathy again joins us for lunch, and all of us wish she had more time to spend.

Monday: And now it's the second week, and things start rather differently. She awakes at 9:20 and I can't get her to take a bottle. So rather than wait, I bundle her up and we take our first trip alone together, to the supermarket. She's pretty well behaved for most of it, though she does start to fuss at the checkout. When we return I have to make the judgment call -- leave her in the house or the car while I get the groceries in? I opt for the car, figuring she's all secure in the child seat. I get her to take the bottle once the groceries are put away, but she doesn't drink much. The weather's nice, so finally we're able to go to Kathy's office for lunch (it's ~1.25 miles away) -- Emelia falls asleep within five minutes of heading out, but she awakes when we carry her upstairs to Kathy's office. We get more time to spend with Kathy since she doesn't use up her time traveling -- Emelia eats, we eat, the co-workers coo, and then Emelia and I head out. Within one minute she's asleep, and stays that way on the walk back home, when I bring the stroller up the steps into the house, and for the rest of the afternoon. In fact she doesn't wake up until just before 6, i.e., moments before Kathy gets home. And so I get the first nap of my paternity leave (though it's much shorter than Emelia's), and when I awake I learn that my nap is a good thing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

In Four Days I'll Be a SAHD

It's hard to believe that Emelia is over 12 weeks old now -- I've got to stop thinking of her age in terms of weeks, and move onto months. Emelia has taken a keen interest in the world, checking everything out. Kathy's nursing is frequently interrupted by Emelia going off the nipple to take a peek at everything around her, just taking it all in. And sleep is hard to come by, because the world is so new she doesn't want to stop looking at it. She smiles and giggles all the time, and seems like a very happy kid.

Kathy's maternity leave is coming to an end -- on Monday she'll be back at work and I'll start my 12 weeks of paternity leave. Kathy's more than a little apprehensive about returning to work because she's gotten used to seeing Emelia all the time -- if Emelia ever gets on a schedule, there'll only be an hour or so in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening. There'll also be lunchtimes, because I'll be bringing Emelia by several times a week for that (Kathy's office is just over a mile away). And I'm a little apprehensive myself -- I haven't spent all day alone with her yet, and I'm not sure how I'll be able to entertain and stimulate her all day every day. I'm sure I'll be able to pull it off, but those first few days, while Emelia is stressing about not seeing her mother and I'm developing routines, is going to be quite challenging.