baby songs and desperation are a bad combination

My baby is almost 6 months old and in the squirming while being fed stage. Sometimes it’s so bad it’s impossible to get the bottle to his lips. When he’s like that the only way to get him to settle down is to sing to him. Switching tunes makes him stir so I have to keep on the same tune no matter how long it takes to feed the little guy. I’ll tell you after 15 minutes “the wheels on the bus go round and round” gets a bit old, and sometimes I make some verses up out of sheer boredom. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes I wonder how corrupt my mind is to be coming up with this stuff.
“the brakes on the bus go squeak squeak squeak” – well, in London they often do at least. Your mileage may vary
“the wipers on the bus go swish swish swish” – yep, good. Neutral and sounds cool to a baby
“the driver on the bus goes swear swear swear” – huh? Where’s that come from? I’ve rarely heard one swear, if they do it’s on the inside
“the hoodies on the bus go stab stab stab” – whoah! bad bad bad, re-enforcing negative stereotypes about poverty and youth! Usually they just sulk and play crappy music on their mobile phones, it’s when you make an issue about it that they stab you.

Old macdonald also gets the same treatment.
“and on that farm he had a rat” – I guess it’s plausable, they never say that he wanted a rat or even knows he had a rat on-site so I guess we can keep it.
“and on that farm he had a moose” – wha? What farmer has a moose? Clearly came up with this at 3am.
“and on that farm he had agricultural subsidies” – well, larely true unfortunately for the developing world. It’s topical and current, but what infant cares about politics? think baby Greg, think baby!

I love being a dad

My son Joshua is 3 and a half months old now and I’m so glad we decided to have a baby. Holding him in my arms is one of the joys of life and I can’t wait to see what comes next. He’s going to be a handful I think as he’s definitely got brains! I’m going to have to watch out or he’ll run rings around me. It’s not all fun, it’s hard as hell sometimes but it’s so worth it.

I’m going to stop squeezing

Like most other practical fathers I’m always looking to get something done faster, and that even extends to burping my baby son. There seems to be some sort of societal mental block when it comes to baby care where any sort of shortcut is automatically deemed bad parenting. According to the books taking care of babies is a massively time-consuming process that would, if you followed their directions to the letter, take at least 30 hours a day to complete.
What’s the big deal? Why can’t we as parents take some shortcuts which free up time for the more pleasant aspects of parenting? Take burping for example. Burping is where, after feeding, you help your baby get rid of the gas he/she has swallowed. Failure to do so is usually unpleasant and at the very least will end up with your baby positing. Positing is a delightful event, kinda a mini-puke, where undigested milk comes trickling out of the corner of your baby’s mouth all over their brand-new, freshly washed outfit their grandmother knitted out of a decade’s worth of lint that she spun together using her toes. This requires an instant response to lift the baby out of their basket, clean their mouth and kneck, change into a less lovingly-generated outfit like the used baby-grow you got at a charity shop, change the sheets and blanket in the basket, then put the baby, who has since woken up and started bawling, back to sleep. And since you forgot in all this work to burp the baby you have to do it all over in 5 minutes when they posit up again.
The lesson is: burp your baby. There’s many techniques, most of which involve thumping the baby lightly on the back, and then rubbing said back to calm said baby. You will spend many hours doing this, many hours which you would rather spend doing something else like sleeping. I’ve learned to love the magical sound of a baby belching louder than I can as it means I can shortly go back to bed at 4:00 in the morning.
I, like most fathers, would like to re-balance the burping:sleeping ratio farther to the sleeping side, so I will try anything that won’t damage the little tyke to get that lovely gurgle, or better yet a full-blown out-gassing from deep down. At first I was using the standard over the shoulder technique, then I moved onto the on the knee technique, then I started trying the over the arm technique. Now I use an eclectic mix, 2 minutes one way, then swap to another because I’ve found that none of them does any better than other, in fact it’s the transition from one to another that usually brings it up.
The other day I had a brilliant inspiration: why not squeeze him a bit? When he’s on my shoulder why not just press his back a bit to put a teeny-tiny bit of pressure on his stomach? So I tried it, and low and behold I got a belch! That saved me at least 10 minutes of tedious burping that he could have spent more productively sleeping and myself productively playing Xbox! Wow, i’ll have to try this again! So I did, and this time the results were more mixed. The little squeeze made him struggle a bit uncomfortably and after a couple more minutes (and one more tiny little squeeze), I did get a belch. hmm, that worked some. Next time I tried that no belch, not much of anything. Fourth time I did it he struggled a lot, then started to hiccup for the next 10 minutes, time he could have spend more productively sleeping, and me playing Xbox. So much for cutting corners.
I got the feeling that a coin was flipped as to whether he would get the hiccups or decide to projectile vomit, and I got lucky. I think I’ll stop squeezing.

Where’s my baby dammit?!

I’m going to be a dad real soon, and I’m finally more excited than scared by it. My wife Claire is 4 days late but since statistically first babies are likely to be late this is entirely expected. Awhile back I expected to cherish these last days before the baby arrives but I’m in a different place than where I was at first and I really want the baby to come now. I think first-time fathers-to-be go through a series of stages before the baby comes:

Stage 1 – Wow! – When my wife handed me a small plastic stick with a blue line on it I had to look at it for a few seconds before I figured out what it was. We’d only been trying for about a month so I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. All I could say was wow. wow wow wow. wow? Wow!
Stage 1 – Oh shit. – After awhile it begins dawns on you how yes, this is really happening, and yes things are really going to change. Just because you know it intellectually before you start trying doesn’t prepare you for this.
Stage 3 – Oh Shit! – It was only beginning to dawn before, now the sun’s poking its head above the horizon and where there had been only shapes barely discernable in the pre-dawn light now suddenly reality blazes across the landscape and you see what the change really means. You start to really watch other parents to see how they do things, what equipment they have, how they make it all work. I actually started to listen to my workmates (who are almost all fathers of young children) to try and learn what I could.
Stage 4 – SHIT!!!!!!!! – I was at a boot sale (in England a boot sale is basically a flea market held in a field somewhere) and my wife and mother-in-law started buying loads of baby clothes. My first reaction was “what are they buying those for, we don’t need that…”, and I think then was when it truly hit me that it was all for real. Up till then I had been in some sort of denial, an adjustment period if you will. Now it all came to me in a rush. OMG, I’ve got so much I have to do! I have to buy a baby carriage, we have to decorate the room, get baby clothes, baby monitors, wraps, oils, wipes! I’ve got to read book on how to not completely screw up a child so he becomes a serial killer because I’ve got no idea how to do it right! I’m going to completely suck at this! We have to pick a name! What the hell are going to name this kid? And diapers. OMG DIAPERS! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Stage 5 – Let’s do this shit – You’ve had your freakout couple of weeks where all the dads at work are watching and nodding knowingly, now it’s time to make this happen. The list of stuff you need just keeps getting longer and longer, like a hallway in a horror movie, but you know you’re going to get through it because you have determination! Mentally you’re still coming to grips with it but at least you’ve come to grips with having to come to grips with it.
Stage 6 – Where’s the baby? – I’m at this point now, where we’ve bought all the stuff we need to buy, the room is decorated, we’ve got a short list of names, and we’ve read the books. I’m as prepared as I’m going to be and I’m looking forward to meeting my son in person. I finally got to this stage about a week and a half ago when I finally started to relax a bit. I’m still nervous about it which is natural, but I know I can do this. Billions of others have reared children so I know I can too.

If course next there’s after the baby comes stage 1 – I’ve got a baby now, Oh Shit! – but I’m not there yet 😉