Tag Archives: parenthood

TMLFYI … | Satiated

Something worked!

I got home from work today and you were doing well. Playful. Your Eeshan Kaka was here and you were your compelling, beautiful, natural self which also means you completely won him over and made him your servant and enabler for life. I know. I’ve been there.

But as the night wore on you weren’t quite satisfied yourself. You were eating, enough to fill you up in the short-term but not enough to knock you out and satisfy you for a few hours. You were napping, but you’d snap out of it almost as quickly as you’d fall into it. Everything you were doing, you were doing in fits and spurts.

I feel lucky today though. I want to figure this out and today, I think I can. So I work some options and get you to take 2 ounces at 10. So far so good. You burp yourself into a milk coma. I hold you upright for 15 minutes. And then we swaddle you and drop you off in your crib. All is well. I clean some dishes. Sanitize your humidifier. I even get some work emails out.

At 11, you’re up again. First I see some flickers on the monitor screen. Motions. It’s you doing your darned leg lifts again. (Your core has got to be pretty fantastic at this point, by the way.) After the flickers on screen I hear bleats in stereo, both directly from the room and from the monitor. Surround sound fail on my part.

But you just can’t be hungry. You’re tired. Your diaper probably needs a little changing. So I do that first. Blue line down the front of the diaper means it’s game on and I have you wiped, diaper swapped, and smiling in minutes. I don’t want to feed you though. I don’t think that’s what you want. I think you’ll take a half an ounce; but then you’ll be unsatisfied and I think you’ll wake up shortly again anyway.

So I leave you on the peanut and we start stretching and exercising. You look like Cynthia Cooper before a game — and I’m your trainer. We’re stretching your legs. Stretching out your arms. We’re getting downright PT up in this nursery. And after a few minutes, a beautiful thing happens. Your eyelids get heavy. Another twist of your hips and your eyelids start to look like they weigh pounds. Like keeping them open is your greatest act in defiance of gravity.

I pick you up, I reswaddle you, and then I caress your head lightly. Just fingertips. Every stroke seems to create a slightly stronger seal between your eyelids. Soon enough, you’re out. And I watch you. I shush lightly. I stare deeply. And I don’t know where the time has gone. I really have no idea.

SleepingAfter 20 minutes I shake off the daydream (mostly because my body was falling asleep in weird places and stages.) I take this picture and decide to finish up some emails and then write this post. Here we are, 45 minutes later, and you’re still at peace. 

So today, my lovely, brilliant, amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, outstanding, wonderful daughter, my love for you is briefly satiated. All because I found a way to bring this look to your face. It’s not quite the happy dance you gave your mom last week, but in context (midnight on a work night), it’s downright perfect.

Perfection kind of seems to be your thing, though. Who knew?

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TMLFYI … | Tortured

“Devices that produce soothing sounds in order to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday.” – NY Times

Every modern day toy we have for you is in some form, a new casing for a sound machine. Your MamaRoo. Your swing. Your playmat. White noise machines are everywhere. Your mom has been concerned about their noise level all along. My hearing is degenerating at a very steady (somewhat troubling) clip so the problem for me is that I actually don’t know when I have the machines too loud. Even when I have them cranked to higher levels on the dial they sound reasonable to me, which is pretty problematic.

I should be using more common sense. It’s one of the lessons I learn every day in every walk of life. I can’t expect others to determine what portions of food are right for me. What level of exercise I can tolerate. What sound levels make sense to me in a white noise machine or my headphones (I still think my headphones are pretty sick — Zik? — by the way.) I should simply be using more judgment when it comes to you, my munchkin. This is a place where I could stand to be substantially more like your mom. She questions everything. When it comes to you, I need to let her do that more. I need to get less annoyed with those frequent pauses. And I need to know that it’s all worth it for the times her questions turn out to be the right questions to ask.

I can’t only externalize, though. Last night was brutal.

I don’t have too many truly haunting memories. Seeing your Great Ba’s body before cremation. Your Fua Dada. September 11th (and actually playing back the evening of September 9th.) I’m sure there are a few others from before, but there’s a new one from last night.

20140306_004918Your freaking sniffles. I have no words. I haven’t been able to shake your sniffles all day. You see, you were having a little trouble eating yesterday. You’d get through about an ounce and fight us. It’s all because of your sniffles. You couldn’t breathe. We didn’t quite know until later into the evening though that it was your congestion that was making you fussy. When are we going to learn that when you’re being fussy you’re telling us something very clearly.

You woke up periodically crying. We salined the heck out of your nose. We pumped and sucked gook from your noose. Your mom even tried some humidifier and hot shower tactics to help. You seem better now. You took down 3 ounces a few times. But I will never forget you waking up at 4am and 7am and a few times in-between because you were just having a hard time breathing. Did you know your mom slept on her side literally cradling you from about 4am – 9am?

20140306_003503You’re a lucky lady. And I just hope I can shake those images of you. It’s a hard thing when you’re feeling this kind of love, I guess.

Kind of also makes me regret every fight I’ve ever had with your Dada and Ba-ji. Reflecting on any of those only makes me that much more tortured. A lesson that can never be learned early enough — more specifically, a lesson that no matter when it’s learned, is always a lesson learned too late.

Sleep easy, munchkin.

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TMLFYI… | Rolling

Like camera rolling. Every day your mom finds time to send me pictures of you in action while I’m at work. I’m fairly uninterested in responding to my phone (texts, calls.) But there are few things that can get me to respond to a phone cue better than the incentive of knowing I’ll have a stream of photos of you to look at.

Today I wasn’t disappointed. You’re active. You’re moving. You’re alert. You’re engaging. We’re seeing your personality come through more and more everyday. I wish I could turn this into a flipbook and have it play on repeat in the upper right-hand corner of my screen. Just under the clock, so I could look at you and then know just how long it would be before I’d get back to you.

Roll 1Roll 3Roll 5Roll 4Roll 6 Roll 2

 

Amazing.

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TMLFYI… | Magnified

Anaiya MagnifiedAmazing. It’s been 5.5 weeks since you joined us and I find myself more and more dependent on you, while simultaneously already finding you less and less dependent on me. Parenthood is truly wicked.

It’s a realization that made me hold you a little tighter today. One that made me lean into your cheeks a bit closer, for longer after we bathed you. Everything I’m doing for you today is magnified because I feel both lucky and cursed to realize how unique each moment I have with you is, and how rapidly our library of memories will expand.

Today, munchkin, my love for you is absolutely magnified. And it’s only the beginning.

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TMLFYI… | Valentined

Munchkin, let’s talk about St. Valentine. Specifically, Valentine’s Day. It is about as controversial a non-holiday as you’ll have. Couples reject it because of the unnecessary commercialization of love. The truly romantic go Earth Day, where “Everyday is Valentine’s Day” if you really love someone. You have Gal-entine’s Day for women who embrace their single lives. Even the origins are called into question, from reinforcing the advent of Spring and bloom (literally) to bloody whippings leading to increased human fertility (slightly more abstractly, and dramatically more painfully.)

None of that has ever mattered to me. It all strikes me as trying too hard to avoid something that hurts no one. It’s a day where the world tells you it’s ok to show your love publicly, and where everyone goes out of their way to make it easier for you to do so. Why would anyone want to get in the way of that?

I watched a near parade of 20 something guys at work proudly carrying long-stem roses out of the office on their way to meet their dates for the event. Instead of worrying about where they were going to get BBQ for the day, another group was making a trek to a high-end chocolatier to pick up exquisite chocolates for their loves (no matter how transient or permanent.)

So today my love for you fully embraces the modern, Hallmarked definition of Valentine’s Day. You’re wearing an adorable heart flecked outfit (hoodie on top) that makes you even more

Anaiya Valentineirresistible. And the people around you who love you so much on a daily basis, have added cartoon-ish heart shaped love to their already excessive displays of affection for you.

What’s wrong with a day dedicated to love? I’d be happy to have more days dedicated to love, but does that mean we shouldn’t be happy to even have one? Let’s agree to spend our time debating and discussing things of true value, and otherwise embracing any thing (holiday, event) that inspires us to show how much we love each other. To keep it even more real, I sometimes run out of time to shower, I sometimes forget to eat, and I sometimes (often) forget where I put my glasses. Life gets busy. I don’t do everything I’m supposed to do every single day and I will be honest about it. I welcome any public reminder to make sure I stop and tell you and everyone I love how much I actually love them.

Let everyone else gripe about the value, merit and decision to participate in or reject the commercialization of Valentine’s Day. I see no reason to try so hard to fight momentum around loving you. We’re going to watch Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock because they make us laugh, and Valentine’s Day has given them an opportunity to do so in the context of hearts.

Happy (1st) Valentine’s Day, my lovely. I can’t wait for the next one.

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My $.02| How to not Completely Suck (as a Dad) During Pregnancy

So I’m at day 1 of month 2 of being a dad. Obviously, I’m an expert. And obviously, I’m lying.

You may have read some of my posts to my daughter. I’m attempting to chronicle my feelings and experiences in the context of a conversation with my daughter and what sentiments I believe best express my love for her on that day. This post however, is something different. I am the beneficiary of a truckload of amazing advice. And I wanted to take a few minutes to document some of the things I learned and wish I had known at various stages leading up to and through raising the most amazing being the world has ever known — aka, my daughter.

I don’t want this blog post to turn unwieldy. So I’m going to focus on a few key things that I think helped me not completely and utterly suck (as much) during the pregnancy.

A Little Behind, A Little Ahead

It starts by understanding one very true reality; I think I came to terms with it instantly. Hell, i was happy about it. On one hand, your wife is always going to be months ahead of you when it comes to having a connection with your baby. She is the center of attention and the doll and darling of the universe at this point in time. My friends and family have heard me say that the world loves no single thing so universally as it loves a pregnant woman. Embrace that. But juxtaposed, you’ve got a head start in one area. You are months ahead of her in realizing you are now behind the scenes. Your wife is doing for the baby by doing for herself. It’s a beautiful harmony. But you are already two steps removed from your focus and attention for what will be the rest of your life. It simply ain’t about you anymore. Embrace that like John Elway and you’ll move from Super Bowl MVP to all-star GM in no time.

Let me tell you, there’s no greater blessing than being a father. It’s the most humbling. It’s the most centering. And it will pour over into every other part of your life (I see it happening for me at work.) Everything I have done, and in an accelerating capacity, is more and more about the work that needs to be done. Pure and simple. It’s Gita-esque. Like Arjuna seeing nothing but the eye of the bird.

What Works for You

After you recognize your new place in this world, you need to figure out how you learn most effectively. Do you prefer to talk to people and synthesize advice that way? Do you defer to credentialed experts? Do you learn at your wife’s pace or on your own? What makes you comfortable and what inspires  you to learn and empathize.

For me as I’d assume for most, there is no single answer or methodology. Life is hectic. And I learn best when I find those things that fold most easily and effectively into my workflow. So I leaned on the things that I used and referenced every day.

Reading for You

The Expectant Father – My research started with reading. I need a foundational layer, some background, before entering into most discussions. It’s why I’m always on the web on my phone before any meeting, impromptu or otherwise. I hate being uninformed and I hate having no context. This book was referred to me by many. I also loved that it was “chunky.”

The book is broken up month-by-month, which is great. And each chapter (month) also starts with a breakdown of what you are feeling and what your wife is feeling. I chose to read TEF month-by-month, and I chose to be a month ahead of what my wife was experiencing. It allowed me to experience her pregnancy in synch, not losing any of the magic and keeping me present in the experience, while also allowing me to anticipate some of what she was going to go through. Whether physical, emotional, or otherwise. The number of times I was able to anticipate certain things by having the right equipment on hand was pretty great (food, candles, clothing.) And the number of times I was actually able to put my wife’s mind at ease by telling her that certain things she was experiencing were fully normal given what month she was at, was also amazing. It made me feel like I was a part of the pregnancy, and like I was helping my wife. Nothing else mattered.

Reading with Her

Whether I grabbed a book off of her nightstand or proactively registered for the same sites she was registered for (think BabyCenter), I made it a point to read as much of what she was reading as I could. The reason? To understand what the hell people were telling her. TEF was great at giving me advice about her. But there’s no substitute for being plugged into whatever she chooses to read. Not fully. Not  thoroughly. That would be impossible. But at least for context and a point of reference. I found that by actually registering for BabyCenter and being a week or so ahead of my wife on emails, I was able to get a feel for some of what she was experiencing and going through in advance.

There’s a pattern here. My wife wanted to be present during her pregnancy. I wanted her to be present during her pregnancy. There is no time like it, as I mentioned above. She should squeeze the love out of every second of her pregnancy, and the only way to do that is to live truly in the moment. It’s easier for her to live in the moment if you commit to looking a few steps ahead while also empathizing. Reading and being in synch with the knowledge she’s acquiring is a great start.

Standing on Other’s Shoulders

I was lucky. Mostly because I’m a massive f*cking slacker. Everything I’ve done in my life I’ve done on a delay. Graduating. Marrying. Saving financially. Higher ed. And now, having a baby. I’m pretty much behind most of my friends my age when it comes to daddyhood. The benefit to not being first is you can learn by watching what everyone else has done, and by asking them to reflect on what mattered most to them along the way.

This isn’t about building a parenting style based on the best of what everyone else has done. This is about making yourself fully aware of what matters and what people value; and then having the confidence and conviction to understand what aligns with your own values and vice versa. In the abstract this may be fine, but I actually found it most helpful around a few very tactical and important things, examples include:

  • Doctors and Hospitals – In all honesty, I generally did not like the practice we went with on the Ob/Gyn side of things. But what was hammered into me early and often is that we needed to pick a practice based on the things my wife valued in them. One important thing for her was convenience and accessibility. She needed something close to work. The stress of picking a better practice 45 minutes away would have put an emotional burden on her that simply wasn’t worth it on the day-to-day. I didn’t always hide my dissatisfaction well (I broke once), but generally, I think I was able to keep this hidden enough so it never got in the way. And in the end, given that my wife was hit by gestational diabetes, having a practice nearby and convenient was simply the best decision we could have made.
  • Handling Labor – I got some fantastic advice on how to help my wife handle labor pains — but I got it from my friend’s wives who were in labor. I simply asked them what their husbands did well for them and what they wish they had more of. I ended up with a library of things to do, and I think that helped me be a better husband during her labor. I’ll post a separate list of these things for reference — the advice I got here was simply amazing.
  • Embracing the Pregnancy – From going out of my way to ensure she felt pampered and loved throughout, through pushing her to make sure she embraced every moment (like wearing flattering maternity gear out so people would see her and smile, comment, or even give up their seat to her.) My wife was on a daily basis, more and more focused on what was going on inside of her. I could help by trying to be more focused on what was going on around her. Where we were. Who was around. What we did. That onus fell on me. Meal planning. I think we handled that well together, and as a team. She had enough to deal with. I don’t think I would have realized how much I needed to step up had I not had some amazing people preaching and knocking sense into me so early.

Being Present and Aware

At some point, there’s only so much you can practice. Every pregnancy is different. Every woman’s needs are different. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself and be educated, and then commit to being present and aware. I viewed it as the ultimate sport. Trying to anticipate what my wife would want and trying to be there with what she would want when she did.

It’s not always easy. You aren’t carrying a baby around with you (though I looked like I was.) There’s a lot of pressure that falls on your shoulders as well, and you won’t often get noticed for it. It’s not that people forget about the father. It’s simply that people are so appropriately focused on the mother and the child. Which is why it’s important to ground yourself in the reality of parenthood early, so you can find your way through the initial stages confidently and empathetically.

Sometimes I failed miserably. Sometimes I was just an idiot. Sometimes I came home with too many beers in me. Sometimes I was tired. Sometimes I couldn’t relate to what she was going through. Sometimes I just plain sucked.

The beauty of it all is that she was always gracious and forgiving of my mistakes. Inspiration enough for me to make sure I got back on the horse and tried to do for my wife what she was doing for our baby. Loving the ever living life out of her. The above things helped me be a part of the pregnancy, or at least feel more involved. The connection between parent and child is so much biological but so much more about involvement and participation.

And you know, in the end, sometimes, I wasn’t so bad.

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TMLFYI… | Overjoyed

You cried on and off from 5pm to 11pm, with a break from 9:30-10:15 so we could wrap up dinner and enjoy the climax and conclusion of Captain Phillips (awesome timing.) You took in an ounce and a half at 8 and then proceeded to spit pretty much all of that back up in fits and spurts. Your mom and I had to pass you back and forth several times, because every time you got comfortable, you spent the next (few) moments getting uncomfortable all over again. Thank god we have four hands between us.Anaiya Cough

I also had a cough. Everyone said it was fine to be around you so I rocked a mask. From the moment I enter the house until the moment I leave, I’ve got a mask on. And you toughed it out. I’m not even sure you’ll recognize me without the mask anymore.

After finally convincing your mom to try and go to bed (after about 24 hours of caring for you straight without much sleep), I fed you at 11:30. You took down your 3 ounces with conviction, and then you went limp in my Anaiya Drunkhands (let me tell you, one of my favorite feelings is knowing you are fully fed and comfortable, looking completely drunk like you do in the picture to the left, and therefore almost fully malleable in my hands) and were ready for a nap.

So we napped. I tried to put you down, and you wouldn’t have it. So you slept on my chest from 11:30 – 3:45 in the morning. We watched Jay Leno’s last show (his real last show, kind of like watching MJ’s last game, as a Wizard.) We watched an episode of Chopped. We caught some of A Few Good Men. And then we watched an episode of Shameless (don’t tell Mommy.) A little shaking and stirring on your end, enough for sugar and tea but not quite enough for a pisco sour.

I’d spend every night from 11:30-3:45 in that exact position for the rest of my life. Doing so would leave me over the moon … overjoyed.

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TMLFYI… | Background

(Note: The gist of this post was notated on my phone on January 12th, but I wasn’t able to actually put some words to it until January 27th. Excuse the delay. It also ended up lacking the powerful feeling and sentiments that I had welled up inside of me the moment Anaiya was born. There was no way to recapture the power of that moment in words, and frankly, not enough time to do it justice. So I gave myself one shot to stream of consciousness my way through it, and move on so I can start writing about my daughter in the moment.)

A daughter.

It’s amazing how many people told us we were having a boy. I’m not sure if it reflects gender bias or a lack of predictive proficiency. I’m not sure if it’s cultural. I’m not sure if it’s proof that people sometimes just need something to say. But boy (see what I did there) were they wrong.

A daughter.

We couldn’t be happier. And we couldn’t be less important. 🙂

Your mom went to hell and back for sixty-two hours. She then had about four hours of relaxation time — medically induced. But after that everything is a blur for me. I know the world started making room for you at about 1:33 on Sunday January 12th, and I know that at 2:04, you forced yourself into this world and went straight to your mom’s chest for skin-to-skin time. What was amazing though is that as much as mom wanted to cuddle and bond with you, you wanted to take the world in. You were moving your head from side-to-side. You didn’t want to miss a thing. Your timing and priorities couldn’t have been more appropriate.

It started with your Naniji. Did you know she was in the delivery room when you first met the world? She got to hold your Mommy’s hand and be there for her, so your Mommy could be focused on you. Kind of neat how that worked out, huh? She even got to feed your Mommy a popsicle (grape, believe it or not, but sugar-free of course because of that stupid @#$&*! gestational diabetes.) Just like your Naniji knows exactly how to be there, she also knows exactly how not to be there. As soon as she saw that you were ok and Mom was ok, she vanished. And we were none the wiser. You’ll notice that about her.

After we got you cleaned-up, Ba-ji and Dadaji  came to meet you. Tears. That pretty much explains it. Your Ba-ji stepped right in to hold you. You’re in for it with her. Every second since the moment she first met you she has been unable to see anything else. Just your face. Your Dadaji is less hands on and more hovering. He wants to make sure you’re ok EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. So he’ll walk past you, walk over to you, and walk near you. Sometimes holding you, but mostly, making sure everyone else is taking care of you.

Then Naniji and Nanaji made their way in to meet you, met with a similar response. Could anyone be happier? I already told you about your Naniji. But your Nanaji, now there’s a character. The rest of us are so sensitive to everything you do. Nanaji already has you talking and socializing. That’s what he does. That’s why everyone likes to talk to him.

Tita Fai and Deepal Mama were next. Tita Fai, well, she’s basically a crier. So she’s going to hug you and love you, but don’t be surprised if she has tears in her eyes every time she sees you pretty much for the rest of your life. You’ll get used to it. Carry Kleenex. Deepal Mama is your protector. You get many “Mamas” but you get one true “Mama.” He’s going to spoil you rotten at everyone else’s expense (actually … technically at his $expense$, and we’re totally fine with that.)

The fun don’t stop and won’t stop there. You met the first of your (many) Dada Mama’s, Chetan Dada Mama came in to see you. You’ll get used to his jokes (maybe) but he’s going to end up being one of your favorite people. He does that to everyone, kids, adults, random strangers at restaurants.

You had the most profound affect on everyone around you. With one glance, everyone’s life had changed for the better the moment you were born. But none moreso than your mom and I. We went from being children, to being parents. And we went from living our lives for us, to living our lives for you.

One day, this will sink in for you. On Sunday, January 12th, we went from being in the foreground of our own lives, to being the backdrop for everything you are and will become. Your mom and I embrace that. We feel lucky and inspired. Making sure everyone can bask in the sunbeams shooting out of your face, falling in love with all of you that is so lovely.

Today, my sunshine, my love for you is fully and completely in the background. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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TMLFYI… | Best Delivered Indirectly

(Note: I took notes on my feelings starting from the moment my wife went into labor. But given the realities of parenthood, I obviously waited until I had a semblance of sanity to push through my thoughts and publish them.)

Baby-to-be. TMLFYI (Today My Love for you Is)…best delivered indirectly. Since Thursday evening at 7pm ET your mom has been in labor. What does that mean? It means cramps at such an incredible frequency, consistency, and duration, that there’s nothing a partner like me can do but feel hopeless and inspired. You see, your mom is something special. There are horror stories out there for how women react when they get into this situation.

What I know, is that she experienced all of the pain I was told to expect. Debilitating pain. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t sit. She couldn’t stand. Even the things she does involuntarily — like breathe — she had to be deliberate about. Everything we did (conversations, watching tv, going up stairs, walking to the car) had a commercial break (somewhere in 4-20 minute intervals.) Except instead of commercials about wireless provider dominance, your mom experienced pain that was borderline incomparable.

She did this from 7pm ET on Thursday January 9th, to 9:45am on Sunday January 12th. 62 hours. Sixty-two hours.

And not once did she lose her poise. She cradled you in her arms through her belly to make sure you were ok each and every time. It was beautiful. She delayed all pain saving measures until medically necessary. And she looked more stunning and beautiful than she did the day I met her, the day I proposed to her (though honestly, she had kind of let herself go the night I proposed — that’s a hysterical and different story), and the day we got married.

So Sunshine, today my love for you is best delivered indirectly… because I’m channeling all of my energy to your mom, who’s doing such a ridiculously good job loving you like nobody else can.

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