Archives for category: Fatherhood

I originally started writing this post on Tuesday. It was going to be about how after a point, you seem run out of things to do with a baby. Because, really, there’s only so much you can do.

I had the title all cued up, “So, What Do We Do Now?” And it was going to be this post about all the things we do to keep Gray engaged in life, and how we’re starting to run out of ideas. Really, how many times can we sing Old McDonald, or read Fox in Socks before he’s over it? (Side note 1: Fox in Socks is so much fun to read. It has become our favorite.)

All that changed yesterday, when Grayson went to his pediatrician’s appointment yesterday. See, that morning I got a text from Dibs that Gray had successfully rolled over from his back to his front. Not once, but twice. He’s 3.5 months old. At the pediatrician’s office he went back to front, then rolled back over front to back. This isn’t normal, folks.

Dibs was telling the pediatrician that he seems to get frustrated. Our pediatrician explained to her that Grayson was likely getting bored, and not stimulated enough. Basically, our son is out pacing us.

We’re really good about not letting him watch TV. I read to him every night. We constantly sing to him, and help him practice sitting. Tummy time is a daily activity. Plus everything else, like when we’re eating, “This is a piece of chicken. Chicken is awesome.” But the kid is already bored of us!

Do we need to do quantum physics with him? (Side note 2: Quantum physics always reminds me of the best part of Men in Black. The part where Will Smith is training, and the only person he shoots is the little girl in the middle of the ghetto with quantum physics books. Laugh every time. “Hesitated, sir.”) How do you keep something that can’t talk, or even sit up entertained? Sorry that we’re boring you, son.

The first thing I said when Dibs told me about the pediatrician’s visit was, “Well, did you ask how to keep him stimulated?” “Oh, uh, no,” she replied. Great.

So, that’s my new mission. Finding ways to keep Gray stimulated, so that hopefully he’s smarter than us by the time he’s 5.

Feel free to leave your tips in the comments below.

I was walking with Gray in the new and improved Baby Bjorn on Black Friday, as Dibs was taking a much needed nap, and an old Scottish woman approached me on Union St. “Oh, he’s a precious baby,” she said. “Oh, thank you very much.” “What’s his name?” she asked. “His name is Grayson.” She then said, “What a nice name. Fathers in my day didn’t do this, you know?” “You know, they didn’t do it in my day either,” I replied.

I keep running into this topic. The whole idea of Dad’s being all sensitive these days. I read a post by Natali Del Conte-Morris about The Era of the Sensitive Dad, and my mom talks about my involvement with Gray a lot. That’s really when I decided that perhaps I should tackle the subject.

Suffice it to say, my father wasn’t the best at being a father. This is something I’ve known from being older. Small things, like never changing a diaper, showing any real interest or really being affectionate were par for the course. Of course, my (Step) Dad was the exact opposite of that. He was/is hugely involved in my life and (as soon as we move home) Grayson’s life. Obviously, when modeling myself after who I wanted to be as a father, it was a no-brainer.

It just seemed natural to want to spend time with Grayson, and make sure Dibs was taken care of to the best of my abilities. And, with all honesty, to see the pride he has from filling a diaper, makes me just as proud. So, yay, whoo-hoo, I’m an amazing dad.

But, what about the other side of the coin? What is scaring me now is what my friend, Christian, brought to my attention.

In summary, are we turning our kids into pansy’s by being so involved and nurturing? When you look at athletes and successful men, they generally have one thing in common: being driven to succeed at a Hitler level, or just being completely abandoned by their fathers. We looked at examples of this, and it really started to take shape. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron, every rapper, and every dude on Wall Street. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps the environment we’re creating for our sons is too easy, too nurturing, too sensitive.

Then, just like clockwork, my friend, Alison, posts a story about how trying to create the perfect environment for your child will make living with kid unbearable.

Can we, for a moment, flash back to the benign neglect of the 1970s and ’80s? I can remember my parents having parties, wild children running around until dark, catching fireflies. If these children helped themselves to three slices of cake, or ingested the second-hand smoke from cigarettes, or carried cocktails to adults who were ever so slightly slurring their words, they were not noticed; they were loved, just not monitored. And, as I remember it, those warm summer nights of not being focused on were liberating. In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves.

They’re right! I loved not being a micromanaged child. It gave me the freedom to make my own choices, for better or worse, and become a person. It’s a good article, you should read it.

A frequent discussion between Dibs and I is how we are going to handle the discipline of Gray when the time comes. Her concern is that she’ll be forced to be the tough one, because, well, you don’t earn the name Diabla without being a tough one.  Now I realize that this is a terrible idea!

Tonight when I get home, I’m making Gray go out to find a stick. That’s right, a stick to give him lashings with!

Or… maybe I’ll just continue to be an awesome dad, and hope for the best?

Hindsight is a bitch, ain’t it? Of course you can always make the right decision after you make the wrong one. This is a curse in my life, it starts with Grayson, and it continues through Fantasy Football. You know the problem, you have 3 solid running backs, and you inevitably bench the guy who scores the most, week after week.

The same can be said for making decisions about products before your baby is born. How should you know which diaper to buy, which pacifier they’ll like or, in this post’s case, which baby carrier to buy?

You’ll inevitably chose the wrong one, because, as much as you try, you’re not fully informed to make the right decision.

When picking our Baby Bjorn, we made a giant mistake. We went cheap. Honestly, we couldn’t see the difference on the box. We were flying through Babies R Us, doing our registry and not really thinking about things too much. This is how you get in trouble. So, we thought, “These all look remarkably similar. I guess we should just get the cheapest one.”

Fast forward to today, Gray is 10 weeks 13.3 lbs, and our backs almost rip in two when we carry him. Thanks, Baby Bjorn Original.

If you can afford it, my friends say to try out the ERGObaby Baby Carrier.

Just do your back a favor, and think this through more than we did.

There comes a time for most new parents when we have to go back to work.

(I don’t want you to think I have any antidotes about how to make this easier, because I don’t. I’m just talking.)

For me, it happened quickly. I was back to work 2 weeks after Grayson was born. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But it was easier knowing Dibs was home with him. She is really good about letting me know what they’re doing and sending photos throughout the day, which makes it a lot easier.

On Monday, she goes back to work. I have a feeling she’s broken down a couple of times today about this, and probably will a few more times over the weekend. We have both of our moms coming in on alternating weeks, which will make it a little easier, but not really. The longest she’s been away from him since he was born is about 2 hours.

She knows everything about him. She knows what his cries mean, she knows how he likes to be held and she knows when he’s pooped himself. Plus, it’s rare that he’s bottle fed. How will he react when he has to have a bottle throughout the day? Will our mom’s get sick of him quickly? Gray loves being held all day. We probably spoil him, though we’ve been told you can’t spoil a baby. Will they handle that well? How will Dibs handle not knowing what he’s doing at all times?

The other issue is that there’s nothing we can really do, Dads. There’s really nothing anyone can do, because we all have to work.

I guess this is the part where I ask how you guys are dealing with this. If there’s any advice you can share to make it easier, please do.

I’ve already considered adding webcams to make sure everything goes ok while we’re at work. Is that a step toward crazy?

Also, please comment in the comment section below. Commenting on Facebook helps no one!

Finding the right bottle is key to your kid’s development. If you choose the wrong bottle, you’re screwing him over for the rest of his life. It’s the butterfly effect of raising a child. Pick a BornFree today, and your kid fails his driver’s licenses test when he’s 16.

No, none of that is true at all, but picking the right bottle is important and difficult. We’re now two months into it, and we still haven’t really settled on a bottle. We’re actually using a Bottle-By-Committee, and going with a three-headed attack.

Here’s what we choose, and why.

Playtex Drop-in Bottles – We like the Playtex drop-ins, because it reduces the cleaning by a lot. It does increase the amount of trash, which I’m sure some people will frown upon. We like the Drop-ins because it reduces burping and farting, plus it’s supposed to help reduce colic. Price is pretty cheap. About $5 for the bottle, $10 for the drop-ins.

Medela Bottles – We use the Medela breast pump, so we store in the Medela Bottles. It’s pretty much as simple as that. I can’t recall a time when we’ve used them outside of the house, but if you’re going to pump they’re good to have. Just close them with the cap, refrigerate them, and then replace with a nipple (hahah… nipple) when you’re ready to feed him. I don’t know how much they cost, because I’m pretty sure they came with our breast pump. (Diabla Note: We did use the Medela bottles over the weekend, because we were gone all day. She pumped, and we used those bottles, since she couldn’t breastfeed him. She’d also like you to know that we don’t use bottles often, since she breastfeeds.)

LifeFactory Bottles – These bottles really are great. We were awarded one in our birthing class, McMoyler Method, and we haven’t looked back. We also bought bottles for us, we liked them so much. Here’s the details: They’re a Berkeley startup that creates sleek BPA-free glass bottles, free of chemicals and FDA approved. Ecofriendly, and awesome. You will not regret having these bottles. At around $12, they may not be the cheapest, but they’re definitely the most worth it.

BornFree – We have two BornFree bottles. They sit up in the cabinet unused.

“When your kid comes, your life will never be the same. Enjoy it while you can.”

How many times have you guys heard that? Every time I went to Vegas, Miami or New York before the kid came some douche dad said that to me on Facebook. So, I started blocking them on Facebook. (I love blocking people on Facebook. It’s the best. Yeah… you’re my friend… but you’re BLOCKED!)

Obviously when the kid comes things change. No one really tells you what is actually going to change, though, do they? Well, guys, that’s why you hired me! What’s that? I’m doing this for nothing? Eff…

So Long Life Without Guilt – Prepared to feel guilty about everything you do from here on out. I went golfing for the first time since Gray was born two Sunday’s ago. The whole time I felt like I was a terrible person for being gone. I wasn’t. On Sunday I’m going to the Frightened Rabbit concert. I’ve felt guilty about this since I bought the ticket. 2 months before Gray was born.

Seriously, You’re Going to be a Whole New Kind of Sleepy – And, here’s the thing, you can’t really complain about it! Dibs is a part of new mom’s group that discusses this sort of thing. I’m thinking we should start a new dad’s group to talk to each other about what we’re not allowed to talk to our wives about. Because no matter how tired you are, she’s 10 times more tired than you. Of course she is. Why wouldn’t she be? The metaphor would be complaining to someone that you had to settle for a BMW M model, when they’re driving their Grandma’s Cutlass Supreme.

You’re About to Accept A Lot – My example of this, if you follow my twitter, happened the other day at lunch. My friend, Ryan, and I were in line at the Thai place, and I’m on my phone. Ryan says, “Dude, what’s all over your phone?” I examine, shrug my shoulders and say, “Grayson pooped all over me last night. It must have gotten all over my phone.” This was at lunch! I’d gone over 12 hours with poop covering the top of my iPhone 4, and I shrugged it off. Never in my life did I think I’d laugh when someone hosed me down with poop, yet, here we are.

You’re Excited About the Tiniest Things – Every milestone that happens makes you think your kid is a genius. I mean… of course he is.

Eating Is a Whole New Experience – When we go to restaurants, we basically prepay, and ask them to bring it out in to go boxes. When he cries, one of us tries to calm down, if we fail, then we’re out. Eating at home is even more fun. She’s eating and I’m holding him. I’m eating and she’s holding him. Just be ready to eat cold food.

(As I type this, I’m having a beer at the office. I feel guilty about this. I told you!)

What else have you guys noticed as changing? Let’s start the New Dad’s Group…. now.

It’s shocking to me that Gray has been around for 7 weeks now.

I thought I’d look back over the quick 7 weeks and jot down some of Grayson’s biggest milestones down. I’m going to try and keep up with the cool things he’s doing as he develops, so we can look back on them.

Have I mentioned I plan on eventually printing this blog into a book for Grayson? I can’t wait to hand it to him, have him read it and be like, “Dad, I’m sorry I shit on you so much.” Damn right you are.

Head Control – This typically happens later the first month. For Gray, it happened around week 2. I’m not sure if he had head control, or his neck was so big it just held his head up. He was turning it side to side easily at week 3. He’s not holding his head up for 5 minutes at a time or anything, but he’s got some solid head holding skills.

Recognizing Us – The strangest thing happened at the grocery store the other day. I was walking towards Dibs, Gray was over her shoulder, and he locked eyes with me. I was between two other people, but it definitely seemed like he found me, and watched me all the way. Since then he’s been making long eye contact with us regularly. We’ve been playing staring contest with him. He wins every time.

Rolling Over Front to Back – We were completely shocked the first time Gray rolled over. We definitely figured it was a fluke. I mean, this was week 3, right? Turns out, he kept doing it. Put him on his front, and he’d find a way to roll over. Last week he did it 3 times in a row, Dibs made videos for everyone. Accidentally, he went from back to front while sleeping. He was swaddled. There was panic in the house.

Farting – Is this a skill they master? Because Grayson has this one covered. He farts like an old man. I think ever since he farted on our friend, Natalie, he’s been ripping with the best of them.

Figuring Out His Hands – Watching Grayson figure out what to do with his hands is funny. He still isn’t close to figuring everything out, otherwise he’d stop trying to claw out his eyes, but he’s getting some stuff down. He held onto a rattle for the first time the other day (admittedly, we probably should have tried that sooner), and he has a grip of death. In week 3, I noticed how determine he is. For example, his activity gym has these rings hanging down. For 2 days it seemed he was trying to grab the rings hanging above him. Once he finally grabbed him, he got them with one finger. So, he kept trying till he got them with his whole hand (as he’s grown it’s been easier). It’s been fun to watch him repeatedly go for these rings.

Cooing – A few weeks ago Gray started making coo noises. Is this a milestone? I don’t know, but it’s really funny. Sadly, he’s starting to make “Meh,” sounds. I know Dibs is at home with him right now saying, “Mommy,” over and over again.

Smiles – I still remember the first time Grayson smiled at me. I wanted to take the day off of work just to get him to do it again. He does it with regularity now, but I’m not going to lie, I get so excited each time.

Laughing – Er… Giggling – This happened the other day, but it was purely accidental. We know it was accidental. But, the fact that happened, and gave us a glimpse into what it’s going to sound like, was so amazingly awesome.

Wearing Converse – On Sunday, Gray put on his first pair of Converse. He’s never looked so awesome in life.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Never has a song lyric meant so much to me. Being in a city with a baby where we have no family, we’ve leaned on our friends pretty heavily.

Let’s be honest, everyone says when you have a kid, you’re going to lose your friends. Well, I quite like my friends and I definitely don’t want to lose them. Sure, we can make some new ones along the way, but we have great friends now. Just because they don’t have kids, doesn’t mean we have to lose them. Granted, we’re not going to be getting wasted till 2am every night (some nights… one night a month? year?), but we can still be a part of their lives and vice-versa.

We haven’t taken them up on babysitting quite yet, though they have marked it our calendar, but we have used them for just about everything else.

Thought I’d share with you guys some ways to get your friends involved without going to the bars every night. Believe it or not, they do want to still be a part of your lives.

Invite Your Friends Over – We’ve found this is has been the easiest way to hang out with our friends. Sure, you’re place might be a mess, but at least you’re most comfortable there. Plus, if you need to breastfeed, you can escape to the bedroom, if it makes everyone more comfortable. We’ve been having people over for Cowboys games, and it has gone really well. They get to hang out with Gray, hang out with us, plus, root for the Cowboys.

Lunch/Brunch – We’ve found that Saturday/Sunday brunch has been easily manageable with Gray. We’ll feed him before we go and we’ll take a bottle just in case. We haven’t really had any problems, which is good. No one wants to be around a baby crying and acting like a fool at a restaurant. Sure, our time will come, but it hasn’t yet.

Visit Friends Homes – Same concept as hanging out your place. As long as they’re cool with you feeding at their place. As I mentioned before, we had our first friend’s house visit not too long ago. Everything went really well. It was like the foundation of being out of the house more.

Walks/Workouts – Our friends have accompanied Dibs on walks around the neighborhood and workouts down at Marina Green. Once we get a BOB, then we’ll be able to do more of this.

Free Babysitters – Finally, you’ll eventually trust one of your friends to look after your little person for at least a couple of hours, when you go on your first date away from the baby.

Escaping with Your Friends – Sunday night was my first time to escape (non-work-wise) with my friends, as we went and played golf. I’ve forced Dibs to have ladies nights, too. It just really helps to lean on your friends to get a break from the daily goings-on of parenthood.

If you have great friends, then they’ll offer to bring you food, take you out

Let’s admit something right now. We’ve gained weight over the past 9 months, haven’t we Dads? I mean, why wouldn’t you have? I’m not sure you’d be a good husband, boyfriend, gay partner, one-nighter-knock-her-upper had you not gained weight while your spouse was pregnant. She’s going for that extra cupcake, you should have, too. Now look at you, you’ve gained a good 5 (10… 15?) extra pounds.

Here’s the biggest issue with getting back into the gym – the lady isn’t back in the gym. No, she’s stuck feeding. Sure she’s losing 800-1,000 calories a day from it, but it’s not the same.

I came upon this problem immediately after my wife gave birth.

You can’t tell by looking at me, but I’m a little obsessed with working out. You really can’t tell by looking at me, but I’m a lot obsessed with running. The first couple of runs I went on, man, I felt like shit because Dibs wasn’t with me. I’d come home and I could feel the resentment.

When I went back to work, it got worse. Now I’m not seeing Grayson all day. I definitely don’t want to come home and immediately go to the gym. By the time I shower and make dinner I’d get, what, an hour or two with him a day? That’s just not enough for me.

I keep going back to the 10 things post, which I’m forever going to call the 10 Commandments. It’s a good reference point, huh? Like I said, I get up with every feeding to change him and burp him. The other night I find myself awake at 6am, and I can’t go back to sleep.

“Honey, I’m going to go for a run.”
“Really? Whatever, I’m going back to sleep.”

Running that early in the morning in San Francisco is pretty great, by the way. The sun is coming up, people with sucky jobs are waiting for the bus and it’s cold. Meanwhile, Dibs and Grayson are asleep and I’ve missed nothing. More importantly, they didn’t even know I was gone.

Sounds simple, but man I hate waking up early. The main thing I’m learning right now is this new life is about adapting. I don’t mind that.

Me: “Honey, lots of new moms want to throw their baby out the window.”
Her: “No, honey. I don’t want to throw him out the window. I want to throw him against the wall. This way he has a better survival rate.”

Actual conversations by brand new parents! Please, don’t report us to CPS. If you are CPS, I was clearly kidding (umm…). And, if you start thinking we’re really terrible people, then you probably don’t have a child yet, or are past the 3 year mark and you’ve forgotten all of this fun stuff. In fact, you’re probably reading this because you’re ready for kid #2. Meaning, you’ve definitely forgotten all of this, or are in denial about what happened the first time around.

Being a parent is like being bipolar. This morning, while feeding, Gray’s pee leaked through his diaper and all over Diabla. “GET IN HERE AND GET HIM OFF OF ME!” I did, quickly. I changed him, and Dibs immediately went to prepare a bath for him and her. While preparing a bath, Gray started smiling like he’s never smiled before. I felt like he was almost on the verge of giggling. (PS. I know babies don’t giggle till around 4 months, but apparently they don’t roll over till month 2, and Grayson was doing that at week 3.) I quickly rushed him over she could see it, and she gushed, “I just love him soooo much. He’s so cute.” I didn’t feel the need to remind her that she still had pee on her. Hell, it was so adorable I almost took the day off from work hoping he’d smile at me all day.

Man, I’m on a tangent that was nowhere near where I wanted to go. I think I’m going to leave it anyways.

So, where was I wanting to go? Oh! Dibs throwing our kid against the wall. Let’s be honest, kids cry. It’s kind of what they do. But, there are some ways to help calm him down. I thought I’d share some of my techniques to getting Gray quiet with you guys. That’s what I do, right?

There’s a book that everyone talks about. Something about New Babies on the Block, or something. Some guy talks about the 5 S’s. I have heard these s’s, and I use some of them. I wished I remembered them, or bothered to read the book. With that said…

The Boob – I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? Nothing gets babies to chill quite like the boob.

Sweet, Sweet Swaddle – I have found that once I’ve swaddled Gray, he will chill out. It’s weird, because he hates it as I’m swaddling him, but he can’t really sleep without. He’ll wake himself up with Gangsta Pose without being swaddled. Sometimes he gets a little worse before he gets better with the swaddle, so keep that in mind. (Little known fact outside of my house… I’m the swaddle king. There is no swaddle queen. I don’t know why I love this fact so much.)

Over the Shoulder Hold – I don’t know what it is, but when I throw Gray over my shoulder he just chills. And I mean, over the shoulder, too. His belly is on my shoulder bone (To show how little I know about bones, I’m now wondering if there is a shoulder bone… Google it.). I toss him over and pat his back, and he’s fine. Well, until I take him off my shoulder. Everyone is always shocked when they see me do this.

Bouncing – He’ll also chill out when I stand up, put him on my chest and start bouncing. This will also usually put him to sleep. And, if I talk/rap (yeah, rap) while doing it all the better. I guess the vibrations calm him down. By the way, don’t shake him. That will obviously get him to be quiet… forever. You will go to jail. You will not pass go. You will not collect $200.

Baby Bjorn – This is just a super version of bouncing. So, I can bounce him while checking fantasy football scores in one hand and eating a burrito in the other. I had no idea how amazing being able to use both my hands would be till I discovered the magic of the Bjorn. Sweden is the gift that keeps giving.

Baby Massage – I’ve mentioned this before. Usually massaging Grayson involves a lot of farts from him, and a lot of laughing from me. Yep, I’m a dad.

Bath Time – He LOVES bath time. It’s hilarious. Once he hits the water, he’s in pleasure country.

Going for a Walk – If things are really bad, I’ll put Grayson in his stroller and take him for a walk. This is so phenomenal that 60% of the time it works every time. The change of scenery, combined with the sidewalk bumps calms him down.

Change their Diaper – Oh, snap, he’s crying cause he’s got poop in his diaper.

The Pacifier – Or as it’s known in my house, the silencer. This combined with anything above, besides the boob of course, increases your chances of a calm baby by some percentage that I’m sure has been reported somewhere. Let’s just say 83%. I think I mentioned before that Dibs was against the silencer. But, once she learned that as long as you don’t rely on it after month 3, they won’t still be using it when they’re 8 years old. And, that, my friends is a good thing.

Just, try to avoid throwing your baby at the wall, ok?