December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All and To All, A Night Filled With Hungry Screaming, Loud Gulping and Terribly Foul Diapers.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and Happy Friday off to those who don't.  The past two weeks have been a bit crazy.  I think I'm starting to say that more and more, indicating to myself that every week has become crazy.

I was lucky enough this year to get a full two weeks off of school for Christmas and New Years.  Over the past week, I've done almost nothing.  We hang out at home and take care of Harper, which works very well for me.  I would have thought I would be bored, but that is turning out to not be the case at all.  She's always hungry, or always needs to be changed, or always wants to be held, which I am happy to help with.  They say that having a child changes your life completely, but I didn't really believe them.  Now I do.

Harper had a doctor's appointment this week where we, once again, got to converse with the Indian version of Antonio Banderas.  He's a very nice guy, but it seems like he would be more at home as a pediatrician on a soap opera.  He's suave in a way that real people are not.  He wears Nautica turtle necks, snake-skin loafers and easily spends more time on his hair than most people do driving to work.  With all of that said, he seems like a very good doctor and he is very nice and always happy to answer the questions that we pose.

He blows into the room, looks at the baby while looking handsome, tosses his perfectly blow-dryed hair, smiles, then blows out again, saying things like "Your baby, she is doing very well.  She is a beautiful baby.  I want to dance with her!"  Not really, but he says those things in my mind.

Harper is now 20 1/2 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 14 ounces.  Her weight is a little low for her age, but it's within the parameters of normal, and is the perfect weight for her length and head circumference.

She spends much more time with her eyes open and looking around.  She still doesn't respond to stimulus, but she follows faces and Dr. Banderas tells us that this is normal and that she should start responding more during the second month.  I was lucky enough yesterday to take a picture with my phone of her smiling just a little bit.

She's so cute it hurts!  Sara asked a question the other day and prefaced it with "I have a question, and I know that you're going to tell me it doesn't matter and that we don't need to worry about it for a long time, but I've been thinking about it anyway."  She wanted to know my thoughts on how we would do Harper's hair.  After giving a long, slow blink that my college friends hate so much, I told her I think we should do little pigtails.  We should do this in a year or so when her hair is long enough to do it.

Yesterday, having waited until the last minute to finish my holiday shopping, I ran over to the Westmoreland mall at 8 in the morning.  I was in good company with all of the other deadbeat husbands and dads who woke up and said "well, shit.  I ain't got nothin' fer ma little 'uns or ma old lady."  In all fairness, I've known what I wanted to get Sara for a while and just haven't found the particular style that I thought she would like.  Luckily, I found it yesterday.  On my way out, I stopped at Border's to look at their selection of children's books for Harper.  I lucked out in that they had copies of most of the books I loved as a child, including Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, There's a Nightmare In My Closet, and The Five Chinese Brothers.

It has been easy to avoid buying her toys because she doesn't react to things that squeak, ring, ding, beep, squawk, bop, zoom, whir, whiz, pop, drip or ping.  I think it's very important to have a nice collection of children's books, not just for the development of her vocabulary and love of reading, but also for my own sanity.  If you only have two books in the house, she'll want those read over and over because there are no other options.  If she's going to have the same book read over and over, I would rather it be because she loves the book.

Sara and Harper have come out of the bedroom, so I'm going to finish up, but I do have one final thought.  It is very weird to say her name out loud.  I've picked up the habit from Sara of referring to Harper as "Baby Girl."  I don't think it makes too much difference now, but I really need to start using her name when I'm talking to her.

Time to don my HazMat suit and change her diaper.  I hope everyone has a great vacation.

December 14, 2009

Feelings that make you go hmmm...

It has been quite a while since I last posted, been a little busy since the last time.  I must say, since then so many things have changed.  I think the last time I posted I was still pregnant and living somewhere else.  I just checked and it was approximately 5 weeks ago.  I really had no idea what I was in for.
So, just to recap since then, November 18th I gave birth to a cute little girl.  The labor was interesting - you can take all the classes that you want and have birth plans and whatever you want before you even enter the stages of labor, but nothing really prepares you for actual labor.  Towards the end, days before Harper was born, Justin and I were going for walks and timing the contractions - trying to "start" something.  The tiny little contractions that I was having on our walks were definitely nothing to  write home about.  Once we actually started the contractions, whoa!!  Totally different.  I remember feeling anxious and slightly sick - the slightly sick was just because I knew that our lives were going to totally change and in a major way (and hoping that we were really prepared for it).  
So the reason I was induced was because I was getting dizzy and the doctor decided that the baby was probably getting too big and  pushing on things to make me dizzy.  Finally we had a date to look forward to.  In some ways that made me feel a lot better.  I knew when things were going to happen - it took away some of the anxiety.  At the same time that it took away the anxiety of knowing when baby would come - it brought about new anxiety about having to actually go through the process of birth.  I was scared.  You can decide at one point that it would be better if you just stayed pregnant and didn't really need to go through the process of pushing out a baby.  Mind you, don't think that I wasn't totally excited that I was going to find out what I was having and hold my little baby that Justin and I created together.  So I was excited and scared and anxious and happy and ready to be done with the whole process, all at once.
I know alot of people say that they really liked being pregnant or really didn't.  I don't see how you couldn't like it - you have a little person growing in you and you realize how amazing and how much you like it once they are gone from your body.  Despite what some people might think, you have made a connection with said little person.
Everyone who has had a child will say that all the pain and suffering will be gone the instant you hold your little baby in your arms.  That is probably the most true and accurate statement in all of history.  I remember most parts of the laboring, and all of the pushing and yet the instant the doctor said that it was a girl was awesome and then when I actually held this little messy body and saw what she looked like... there are no words.  I remember looking up at Justin and realizing that he was enthralled with Harper.  He reached out to finally touch our daughter and seemed almost afraid to.  The world seemed most real to us both at that point.  Finally he got to share this little person with me and I was so filled with love for the both of them - especially Justin because our love created this perfect little person.
And she really is perfect.  I keep taking pictures of her now and it is amazing that she has changed so much in 26 days.  I want to show her to everyone and at the same time I want to hog her and I do.
It is a lot of fun right now having her because she is so small and helpless.  There aren't too many things wrong and you can tell her all the thoughts that you have and she will keep them forever.  I am also excited for the future.  We (my little family and I) are going to have a lot of fun.  For now Harper and I are going to have fun being together each day.  I will also keep taking pictures.  I will let you know when and where they are posted.

December 9, 2009

I Like My Temper How I Like My Women: Short and Hot!!

I take back what I said in previous posts, only to restate it with some caveats.  Becoming a father makes me feel like a better person on occasion.

While it is true that I find myself wanting to do more things around the house, such as fixing (or pretending to fix) the dishwasher, installing lights and planning how to renovate the bathroom and attic, I also am finding myself to be more short-tempered.

Having a new house and a beautiful daughter at home in that house is making it an agony to go to work.  While this job is not my ideal, it is in the education field and I am working with math students.  Most days, it is acceptable and can even be great, but for the last 2 weeks, I have found it a bit less than tolerable.  After a few days of hard contemplation, I've come to the conclusion that nothing is different about the job, the administration, or the students.  That means the only thing left is me.

I'm aware that I have seasonal mood swings and it is about time for my winter depression.  Over the past few years, I've gotten better at controlling my temper and my depression.  Being aware of the changes make it easier to correct, allowing me to take some time to deeply breathe, count to ten and get back to the situation.

Over the past two weeks, however, I haven't been able to do that.  I've been trying to smile through, and thinking about Harper, especially the latest pictures, make that easier.  At the same time, all I want to do is go home to her.  I can think of a dozen things that need to be done in the house without even trying.  I spend much of my down time at work either losing myself in a book or looking up things on line that I could use to improve my house.

My patience with my students, something that I have actively been working on for several years, is wearing VERY thin.  I have yet to scream at any of them, but in situations when I would normally sit and try to explain something 4 or 5 times, I'm settling for 1 or 2.  I don't like this at all, but I worry that if I stay longer, my frustration at them not understanding will turn to anger and I will explode.

This at least gives me comfort because it means I still have control over my temper.

The thing that I find most shocking is that I have no anger towards Harper.  Thinking about it, I almost feel like I should.  When she lays there and screams in the middle of the night and can't be comforted, I think that I should be getting angry, but I don't.  My frustration is more at myself for being unable to make her calm.  I worry that I'm doing something wrong with her and that if I would just hold her a different way, or rock her just so, she would be happy.  I'm frustrated with myself that I can't find that way, but the only feelings I have towards her are complete and total love and devotion.

Even these feelings are getting a bit out of control and moving into the realm of the insane.  My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (is that a thing?) came over today to watch Harper so Sara and Jill could go run errands.  I was practically shoved out the door and sent on my way to work and I think I was a little less polite to our guests than I could have been.

On my drive to work, while listening to Brittany Spears sing about having a three-some, I had a horrid vision of my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (I think it's a thing) having an argument over who should hold Harper and actually tearing her in half, each lovingly cuddling one arm and one leg.  This vision almost made me turn the car around and call in sick.

It's absurd!  I know how insane it is, but I've already become so protective of this little girl that I barely trust anyone other than Sara to take care of her.  I understand why she would want to be a stay-at-home-mom and I wouldn't at all mind staying home myself.  I'm not sure I would have these feelings if we had had a boy.  At least, I don't think they would be the same or as intense.

I've already become that dad who sits on the porch polishing the shotgun for when the boyfriend comes by.

I don't feel the need to hover over her at all times when I'm home.  I'm happy to let her sleep, or look around, or do whatever without constantly having to hold her.

As soon as I leave the house for work, however, the bottom drops out of my stomach and I enter a state of distracted frustration until I get home.

Is this normal?

December 8, 2009

Picture Post!

Harper has become a bit more social.  She's spending more time looking around and visually interacting with the world around her.  I don't really have a post to put up, but I really wanted to post these pictures.

She's gorgeous!  Yes, those are frogs on her feet.

December 3, 2009

Like a Fountain

My father-in-law came over last night and helped me to (read "he did it") rig up the dryer.  I had bought an outlet to fit and he attached it to the wall, ran the wire and hooked everything up.  What I neglected to purchase, however, was the connecting tube for the exhaust.

Therefore, this morning, I got up early and went to Lowes' (again) to purchase the part.  I came back, installed the hose, move the dryer into place and started making breakfast.  After a nice breakfast with Sara, while Harper sat vacantly in the swing, I got ready for work.

With about 15 minutes left before I had to leave, Sara asked if I had time to change Harper's outfit.  I said sure, took her into the bedroom and started undressing her.  She has been wearing a diaper, a onesie and a full suit (complete with cummerbund and tie).  When I got her stripped, I went to change her diaper.

Last night, Sara had put her in a different type of diaper than what we had been using.  In this new one, there is a mesh lining between the baby and the absorbing pad.  I assume this is to make sure that the baby is not right up against any wetness.  Unfortunately, this mesh lining stuck to her skin, so as I was changing her, I had to peel it off of various parts of her nether regions.

With both of her ankles in my left hand, I lifted Harper slightly to wipe away traces of whatever that may have crawled up her back like a fecal version of Sir Edmund Hillary.  It was at this time, that my beautiful, perfect daughter decided to let loose a stream of matter in a perfect parabolic trajectory.

My cat-like reflexes kicked in and I managed to dodge the brown fountain.  The bed and floor were not so lucky.  I should note here that during the entire time, Harper's face was composed into an expression that can only be described as tranquil.

I thought I might have seen a slight scowl when I told Sara that, luckily, my wardrobe had avoided injury.  I assume that it's a sign that I should be a father, that I did not scream, cry, vomit, fling the baby, set fire to the soiled bed cover, pass out, pack a bag and leave, or attempt to blow my brains out.

And I still desperately love my daughter.

December 1, 2009

A Family of Squatters

I've been told that becoming a parent can bring out the best in a person.  I don't know how much "best" I have in me, but some is certainly shining through, I think.

Every time I look at Harper, I am amazed.  I don't understand how I could have lived my life to this point without her.  True, I was on time a lot more often and it was easier to schedule things, but so what?  Today, she is 13 days old and I'm having trouble remembering what I thought about before she was born.

She's been spending more time with her eyes open, looking around.  Her eyes are a beautiful slate, but I know they will change soon.  I've been trying my best to help Sara with her as much as I can.  There are certainly limitations in terms of feeding, but I do (in spite of my promise to myself) help change her (when I can't pass her off as just hungry.)  I will happily wander the house with her in my arms to try to calm her down, and I seem to be much better at burping her than anyone else.

In terms of sleeping through the night, she's been alright, not great.  She sleeps for several hours, but Sara has to wake her to feed her around 3 am.  If she doesn't, Harper is so cranky in the morning, she can't seem to find to nipple.  Story of my life, right?

Over this Thanksgiving break, we moved all of our worldly possessions into our new house.  We are living there illegally because we haven't closed yet.  The closing company has been dragging its feet and coming up with new and absurd things they want in order to close the loan, but that's a story for another time.  My point here is that, in moving all of our worldly possessions, I have completely wiped myself out.  On Saturday night, I slept so heavily that Sara put a screaming Harper next to my head and I didn't even stir.

In this new place, we had to buy a fridge, which Sara took care of last week.  She went to Lowes', braving the Black Friday crowds, toppled an old man and trampled a group of orphans hoping to sit on the lap of an inflatable Santa in order to get us a great deal, which she did.  I, however, did a mediocre to piss poor job of measuring the space.  The fridge space is 72 inches by 36 inches.  The fridge is 70 inches by 35 3/4 inches.  It fits.  What I didn't think to measure, was the door to the house.

In order to get the fridge inside, we had to take off both French doors, the bottom mounted freezer door AND the house door.  The fridge is in place and if we move again, we're leaving it the hell there.

As a direct result of my failure in this department, I made several trips to Lowes' (now 5 minutes away) over the past few days and fixed several minor issues around the house, including, but not limited to the following:

Installed blinds in the bedroom (we were changing in the hallway so my neighbor, the town constable, wouldn't vomit at my pasty thighs)
Installed door stops to keep knobs from scratching the paint (euphemism?)
Fixed the shower so we can get hot water (it was set to luke warm)
Replaced light bulbs around the property

Small things, yes, but I actually felt like I was accomplishing something.  When this morning rolled around, I could think of nothing I wanted to do less than go to work.  I held Harper and walked around the house for an hour, after making breakfast for Sara.  We've decided, at least for now, that the TV will remain in the basement and the living room/dining room will remain without visual entertainment.  I will be hooking up the DVD player to the TV in the basement so that I can start doing Tae Bo again.  I've been meaning to for a while, but now I have lots of time in the morning and an ever-burning desire to get into shape.

I want to be able to run and play with my daughter when she gets old enough.  I need to be able to.  I was also thinking about joining the YMCA in Greensburg and go swimming in the morning, but I think I'll wait to see how the Tae Bo goes before spending money on a gym membership.  If I can't be bothered to go to my own basement, why would I drive across town?

I understand why people would want to be stay-at-home-moms and -dads.  I love our new house (which isn't ours yet) and I would love to work on projects around the house and take care of Harper.

She is so beautiful.



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