kaden's first blog. our first kid. it's an entreprenurial adventure.

Friday, May 27

Baby sleeping is like religion and politics

Wow, I feel like I accidentally started attending church thinking it was just a cool place to hang out on Sunday. Apparently mentioning sleep theories is like bringing up religion or politics, everyone has made up their mind, and you will offend them with your opinion.

The tactic of putting Kaden on a cycle of "sleep, feed, play" that we started the other day is one tenet of a whole theory, religion, cult, belief system about how to be a parent, called Attachment Parenting. Like all good theories, religions, cults, belief systems, Attachment Parenting comes with it's own set of books. Apparently all parents but me knew this. So for those who have yet to have kids, let me sum it up.

Attachment parenting believes anything that might inconvenience the child constitutes child abuse and will make your child grow up feeling unloved, eventually leading to his/her committing grave acts of violence in a bid for attention.

This is in contrast to the Babywise & Ferber methods. Ferber believes anything done to console the baby makes you a total weak-willed loser bound to raise a hopeless brat who will fail at life.

Ferber also has books, mostly focusing on sleep.. but this also leads to offshoots like the middle of the road Baby Whisperer (you non-parents see how desperate us parents are that we would actually entertain a book with such a creepy title, and I know several people who swear by it).

I had a conversation last week with a friend who has a two month old, and he was asking questions on whether he should let his kid cry until he threw up (or more likely his mom did), or if he should duct tape his kid to him while they slept.. or something like that.

It's all so confusing, trying to pick what theory of parenting you are going to be a part of. So let me make it easy.

You've already made up your mind, stop fighting it.

All these theories you read (or are brought up by friends and loved ones) make it easy to get confused about what you really believe. It's like a business school graduate so hopped up on case studies he wouldn't know what his gut was s if it was removed from his body in a tricky at-home operation and then made to speak in a faux smarty-pants English accent.

You should listen closely to advice from friends and books, because many may match your beliefs. We've learned a lot from comments from friends, family, and the blogosphere. But just like religion and politics, you can't really fake it. Either you are a coldhearted disciplinarian, or you're a weak-willed love-dovey -- that was decided long before you had your kid. Maybe we can read a book and try to be a different kind of parent for a couple days, but eventually the kid is going to catch on and then we're done for.

Worst of all us for you to fake it, and be an inconsistent parent as we trend back to our normal selves. He's going to be shaped by what mom and dad's personalities are like, which is not going to suddenly be subsumed by some book or advice that forever alters our behavior.

Doesn't that sound a little more sane?

Now that I'm fairly sure I've offended absolutely everyone (chances are I didn't get your particular belief system exactly the way you see it), I'm heading home to my crying son.

Like throwing one of those animals in water, it's a kid in a flash! Note to non-parents, this is not realtime. Actually growing your own child will be longer, more painful, and involve more equipment than depicted.

Wednesday, May 25

Still no luck on the bottle, and his little body has quickly adapted to our tactics. He's adapting so quickly it's like he would grow gills if we threw him in the water.

We are skipping feedings and trying to make him drink from the bottle instead. He adapted by tanking up at his late night (2-3am) feedings, spending over a half-hour nursing so he could make it through the early morning starve-off.

I'd try skipping two feedings, but I'm worried he would adapt by growing a milk-storage hump.

Despite this, overall Kaden is great. Two subtle changes in our behavior with him seem to have had dramatic affects on his behavior. Either that or he was getting a little paranoid we might give him back.

The two things we've done:
a) Make sure he's tanked up and rested before playing. This is also called the "sleep, feed, play" cycle. It makes sure he's got the energy to play, and the play helps work out gas from eating. It does mean you can't nurse him to sleep, which is such a nice crutch, but we've instead resorted to plenty of other napping apparati (the great nap experiment results will be coming soon).

b) Keep him awake only as long as his last nap. If his last nap was for an hour, play with him for an hour and try putting him back for a nap. I noticed he started trending toward this as I charted sleep cycles (yes I am crazy enough to have been sampling his sleep cycles, and MAN was it worth it). It works well to ensure he doesn't get overtired.

(Note: all rules are suspended between 5-8pm when he is in ballistic Cujo mode, still no cure for that)

our continuing valiant effort at bottle feeding

Sunday, May 22

Gandhi he is not

"Hi dad, take me to mom I'm hungry."

"No mommy, hmm... Hey, what's that!? You think that looks like a boob? I am so not taking that stinking bottle. No way is that a boob. Does mom know what your doing? "

(20 minutes later, gasping and crying, rapidly being bopped up and down, shower running)

"So.. hungry.. running.. out of.. hollering.. energy. Mom is so gonna get you for this."

"Okay okay. Let me catch my breath while I drink for a second, then I'll really let you have it."

He barely ate, but 2 oz the first day is a nice early victory.

Saturday, May 21

Hunger Strike

No, Kaden isn't on a hunger strike, he's completely content with his eating situation. Unfortunately we are not happy with his abject denial of plastic versus organic-based milk dispensation.

After some reading and talking with friends, apparently babies often fall out of the bottle habit. Many parents simply go a week or so without giving a bottle and the baby falls out of habit, a fair amount seem to actually never quite make it back on the bottle. But we're determined.. so with a little research courtesy of La Leche, there seem to be a few basic approaches.

I'll skip all the dramatic naration and present Cliff Notes Bottle-Feeding Boot Camp :
  • Starve him out: "No baby will willfully starve herself. Once she realizes there are no other options, she'll take the bottle"
  • but, he's may turn out to be more stubborn than you and turn into a night feaster: "At night Simone would nurse a lot more than usual to make up for her not eating during the day-be prepared for that possibility."

  • Meet your babies refined tastes: "Try different nipples. We went through six kinds before one worked for us. It was a rubber, orthodontic nipple that she finally accepted."
  • but, that just depends on how discerning your nipple connosoir really is, "...tried every type of nipple possible, all to no avail."

  • Sneakyness, including little tube or dropper feedings, and getting him while he's still asleep. "My husband ended up having to put her in a sling and inserting his pinky finger in her mouth for her to suck on while using a medicine dropper to put milk in her mouth with the other hand."
  • but, this generally only seemed to work marginally, "Krista never conceded to take more than eight ounces during the day."

  • Skip bottle, insert toddler-hood. "We ended up using a sippy cup with a soft rubber spout designed for babies three months and older."
So, after reading up it sounds like Start-Up Mom's breasts will be going on strike this afternoon. The theory being, if the child gets hungry enough, he'd eat from the end of a rusty pipe. Dr. Sears, who we've generally found to be right if a little rigid, disagrees with this tactic on the notion that just like adults, babies are better at adjusting to new things when they aren't hungry and cranky.

I'll update later as we give it a whirl.

It's month three, so it's time for new photos of Kaden. I've tried to update with new photos about once a month (here are Month 1 & Month 2 if you want to watch his growth in rapid stop motion animation-like fasion).

This time instead of just a batch of photos, I've added a Flickr photostream to the top of the site. I've put in a starter bunch of pictures from the last few weeks, and it will continue to update as I add photos of what he is up to every few days. As some of you have already noticed, you can make comments on the photos, share them, and print them. Or of course you can just rely on the more textual descriptions here.

Some people have said they prefer a slideshow like Shutterfly -- you can still do that by going here

Sunday, May 15

New habits die hard

Another, less benign, habit that seems to have formed is that Kaden no longer will take a milk bottle. We went about two or three weeks without using a bottle because.. well, Megan's milk bar was generally open. That gap in time was apparently not a good idea.

Before that he had been hip to the bottle. Then this last week we had our friend Carrie babysit, and no dice on the bottle. I tried again today and the results were very loud and teary. He knows plastic from skin, and he ain't happy about it. We've got two weeks to kick the habit before we travel down to DC.

A leftish manifesto

Was he born looking left?

I was putting Kaden to bed the other night and happened to face him in the opposite direction from usual. Now, previous to this I always thought no matter which way I put him down he wanted to be facing the windows.

(He loves windows. Absolutely loves staring at them. I'm pretty certain his first word is going to be window. That or, "get me out of here." He either loves geometric bright objects, or he's planning his escape.)

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes.. so I put him to bed and his head turns away from the windows and faces the crib wall. And I think, "well that's odd because he hasn't shown a proclivity for wooden jail-like bars before." Perhaps he just always likes to look left?

So, after restraining myself from waking him up again to test this theory (I mean, I love theories, but let's face it I like sleep more - and anyway he slept for a record six hours) I mentioned his left-leaning tendancy to Megan.

Start-Up Mom: "Maybe that's because I always hold him on my right shoulder, so he's looking out to the left."

Start-Up Dad: "Huh. That's interesting, because I always hold him on my right shoulder too."

"And he's usually sleeping on my lap when he's on his right side."

"Uh oh, I smell a trend."

It turns out that Kaden's parents have somehow taught him in the first 11 weeks of his life that all of the interesting things are to the left of him. Today we went to get burritos, we played on the playmat at home, there was even some free-head movement standing action in there. All of it, virtually every last minute - Kaden looked left or straight.

Now to be fair, if I really try then he'll look right briefly. And when he's full-throttle screaming his head is going right/left/right/left quite a bit. But still, it's unmistakable that when given a choice, he prefers left.

Maybe it isn't us. Maybe he was born that way and we were just adjusting to his queues? Who are we to pre-judge his leftness? Maybe he's right? Perhaps it's a subliminal sign of his political sensibilities? This could be some weird nature vs nurture thing. We have no idea, but until he shakes the habit it is now a lot easier to check in on him by sneaking up on his right.

no.. your other left

Tuesday, May 10

Do fat babies sleep better?

A basic constant is that all parents get tons of advice, often with no way to verify authenticity. You're still in the hospital room five minutes from birth and a friend is congratulating you while simultaneously advising that you should circumcise to avoid infection.

Try explaining, as a first time parent, your unique approach and they are liable to form a crowd around you to heckle about your naivete like a new member of British parliament.

So of course you listen, and many of these sound like very good theories (especially your ideas, dear reader). And we try many of them. But most are frustratingly untestable for a quantitative mind like mine.

Case in point:
"Just fatten up the kid and he'll sleep just fine. Once he hits 11-13 lbs he'll sleep through the night."
I have heard this from at least a half dozen people. The idea being it's not about the kids age, it's about his weight. Sounds like a compelling claim with a logical base: babies were destined to be docile sleeping dreamboat but that stinking pea-sized stomach of theirs gets in the way of their (our) angelic sleep.

One thing I really love about this idea is that it transforms Start-Up Mom's boob from an often sore food dispenser into the primary weapon in the sleep war. More feedings = fatter child = sleeping child. But of course I come from a world where people make plenty of logical claims that turn out to be completely false. And since most kids grow at basically the same rate, weight is also a half decent proxy for age.

But in this one instance, we now have a little counter point thanks to my friend Ross and his daughter Katlyn:
"Last night we hit our first major milestone with Katlyn - her first full night of sleep - 7pm - 6am... it is true, it will actually happen at some point."
Not bad for a five month old. But, thanks to her being premature she's -exactly- the same weight (~12 lbs) as our ten week old Kaden. One myth debunked. Two babies, same weight, months apart, significantly different sleep cycles.

Unfortunately this also debunks my "must have drinks with friends for Kaden to sleep well" concept. As well as Start-Up Mom's "must have Volvo for Kaden to sleep well" theory that was previously espoused.

Friday, May 6

It's only a little bit of disease

I tried to explain to Kaden that the two shots of antigenic components from an infectious organism he was given were just trying to help. He would hear none of that.

Kaden summarily got even by creating a mess of the rest of the day. He (you can follow along clockwise from the bottom right of the adjoining photo); peed so much it soaked all the way through him AND through Megan's pants, puked so much it drenched my entire shirt and his second outfit of the hour, then made me spill powdered mac 'n cheese all over the myself.

Okay.. I'll take a little responsibility for my own instant meal mishaps.

And do you notice how satisfied he looks with puking so well? And I mean it was a serious excorcist like puke. I'm thinking his head is going to start rotating and instead he just smirks at me. He's got no problem smirking at at his father drenched in puke. But how about when I'm trying to get him smiling for mommy by dancing like a monkey? Stonefaced.

I think I heard him taunt me a little while I was changing my second shirt of the day.

Night & Day, a mixed blessing

Babies are not born with any real knowledge of night and day. In fact, Kaden had quite the opposite tendency early on. Apparently our bat-like child was born with the oh so convenient instinct that a dark, quiet place (like say, a bedroom at 11pm) is the place to be the most awake of the day. His eyes would pop open and he'd gaze around the dark room. Meanwhile, all day he's collapsed and sleeping.

We heeded the advice of other parents, and our quickly depleting sleep resources, and really tried to teach him the difference between night and day (co-sleeping for a week around six weeks of age really did it).

The good news: he pretty much conks out around 8:30pm and won't wake up until somewhere between 12am-2am. He gets what night is.

The bad news: unfortunately he also gets daytime. I'm not sure what he thinkgs it is for, but it's clearly not for sleeping. It's for meeting with friends, drinking coffee, starting companies.. at least that what I think I hear him asking for between the screaming.

So he's jacked up on daylight, not sleeping at all, which makes him cranky and horrid. If anyone can figure out how to make this kid sleep during the day, throw it out there. We'll try something new every day and call it The Great Nap Experiment.

And yes, this complaining will certainly be picked up by Kaden and cause him to get back at us by not sleeping at night either. (update: it's 11pm and he's woken up twice..I'm so not surprised)

Monday, May 2

As long as you say something both smart and funny then it'll be fine.

Sometimes people actually find out about this blog. And when they do, it's an immediate reaction of either excitement that they have a new channel with which to peak into the world of a friend, or complete dismay at why anyone would spend time hurling personal anecdotes for anyone to read.

Daddy Zine wrote a great piece that sums up why people do parenting blogs. He talks about what drives the desire to write on parenting, along with the hazards of taking some of the adventures and making light of it. Namely, that people mix up a story with a hapless but funny outcome as what the parent actually intended to have happen.. instead of, you know, just laughing).

I'm sitting here at the end of a couple of decades of social change, where...we hit our mid-thirties before we have our first kids...and do not have extended families around to help us raise our kids? So when I began as a parent, I felt a little isolated and uncomfortable with these feelings of isolation? And so maybe I bang these entries out in the twenty minutes or half-hour I have before I go to bed -- in part to remind myself of where I have been, and in part to find others who might express some recognition of a common experience.

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