Wednesday, May 10, 2006

dad on the job

First of all, I have to apologize for the long blog drought. As many have guessed, I found myself overwhelmed by the new job of stay-at-home-daddying. (Not least of my worries undertaking this new position is the thorny issue of what I want to be called --- stay-at-home-dad is not it --- but I'll have to leave that question for another post.)

At left, you can see that what finally brought me back to the computer was Fern herself. She was feeling bad for having been out of touch for so long with our far-flung friends and relations, so she took matters into her own hands! So. Off we go...

The weekend before Kristin went back to work, we took Fern to the zoo. It seemed appropriate, for we've gone there several times as part of the process of becoming parents. Fern wasn't too terribly excited by any of the animals, although she did notice the flamingos, and I'm certain (though Kristin doubts it) that she smelled these penguins. I mean, look at that expression -- it's identical to the one she gives me when I come home smelling fishy from the seal hospital!

So then it was back to work for Kristin. She's working three days at her office and two half-days at home for a total of 80% time. That's allowed us a lot of transition time, which is fantastic. For her days at work, I've set up a webcam in Fern's room that she can log in to and watch; we also call and IM pretty frequently. The contact is just barely sufficient, but we feel lucky to have as much. Kristin, I'm sure, will want to weigh in on how this has all been for her, but let me describe a little of what my days are like.

Fern's become a champion at feeding from a bottle. This, I think, was one of my greatest fears: that F.E. (our new nickname for her) wouldn't be happy with milk from a bottle, or would spit up excessively, or would reject anything but the tiniest range of temperatures. Far from it: she's taking bottles regularly now, as long as they're roughly room temperature, and although she doesn't start off well sometimes, she's generally got the idea and accepted it. One huge burden off my mind.

So, on an average day, I wake up when Kristin finishes the 7-ish feed and hang out with the baby for a while. She typically doesn't stay awake much longer than the morning feed, and goes down again for an hour or so, which gives me some nice time to straighten up, make coffee, get myself going a little bit (or finish sleeping, as the case may be: I'm a bit of a night owl). Following the advice of the "Baby Whisperer," I'm roughly thinking of the day in cycles that each last from between two and four hours. My goal is to include in each cycle at least a little sleep, a feed, and some form of activity. (I hasten to point out that I'm not regimenting or scheduling these cycles in any way; it's more just a way of making sure all the needs are covered.

The choice of activity depends quite a bit on F.E.'s energy level: we might take a walk to the playground, if she's up for it, or just exercise in her boat (pictured below), or some tummy time for exercise. We've even taken to singing together: we hold concerts for Carson (the cat) to which she pays rapt attention. Add to that the challenges of timing feeds when the milk needs to be measured and warmed, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house more or less in order, and our days are nothing if not full.

I won't kid anyone that's it's not a challenge, because it is: sometimes I feel helpless and outmatched, not to mention just plain tired. But, all in all, I think I've got the good end of this bargain: I get to hang out with this incredible growing being, watching her learn and think and, really, just watching her sleep is a treat beyond words.

I've long since trampled the soul of wit with this entry, I suppose partly to make up for my long absence and also to mirror the enormity of this adventure we're embarking on. I'll sign off with this photo of Fern in her boat (a gift from Ken & Jewel), which is one of my favorites, although it's not the smilingest. This was from one of our first days at home alone, and F.E. was pretty new to the boat, too. We'd been having a conversation of sorts, and she just turned away and sat back, still thinking (you can tell by the way she's curling her hands), almost pensive. She's discovered something here: I don't know what, exactly, but the best part of being with Fern will be finding out.

Related Photos on Flickr :
File Under : , , , ,