As I said in my opening post, I'd like to blog about more than just my experience as a new dad, if for no other reason than my brain could use a change of scenery. So how about Fatherhood, Family, Fitness, & Food? I love all of those things, and while I'm no expert in any of them I feel like they're four areas I'm constantly learning and growing in.
Some of you may be wondering* why I've omitted 'fashion' from this catalogue of 'f's, since 'fashion' and 'blog' go together like bees and honey. Truth is, my fashion sense hasn't evolved much since middle school, so unfortunately I've got nothing to offer there. (The photo below should provide ample proof.) If things change I'll let you know.
(*....Who am I kidding, none of you are wondering.)
Today's installment, an update on Fatherhood...
In the month since my last post my opinion still hasn't changed that parenting isn't exactly "fun" in the early going. I've found solace in the fact that I'm not alone in feeling this way; far from it, in fact. This article does a great job of distinguishing between "Parenting", and "Having Kids". Read the article if you want more detail on his definitions, but in a nutshell the author describes Having Kids as encompassing all of the idealized Kodak-worthy moments that we parents think of - baby's first steps, her first day of school, etc. - while "Parenting" is everything else - dealing with an inconsolable crying baby, struggling through bottle feedings, cleaning up blowouts, etc. What I failed to realize until I was neck deep in newborn doo-doo was that the first few months are basically 99% Parenting, 1% Having Kids. Evolution has programmed us however such that our brains pull a switcheroo on us and have us think and reminisce about the fun stuff 99% of the time. I suppose if it wasn't that way far fewer people would have kids...
Thankfully, this ratio is starting to change for us. Just in the last few weeks as Em approached and has since hit her six-month mark, we've started to see much more of her personality emerge. She now laughs when we play peek-a-boo or tickle her, she's letting us know what solid foods she loves (peas) and which ones she hates (applesauce), and she can now stay awake long enough for us to actually get out of the house for a few hours at a time without totally throwing off her nap schedule. A lot of exciting milestones lie ahead over the next six months, so we're looking forward to riding the 'Having Kids' curve upward as fast as we can! (Somebody who's done this before please tell me that these lines eventually cross paths...)
Whether it's nature or nurture we're not entirely sure (although we like to flatter ourselves and say it's the latter), but Em has always followed a fairly predictable schedule. She almost always takes her naps and eats around the same times every day, plus/minus 30-60 minutes on either end. This is a double-edged sword -- on the one hand we (and Em) know and can anticipate when it's time for her to eat/sleep/etc. which is awesome, but on the other hand virtually everything we do is now planned out well ahead of time. Spontaneity has gone out the window. If I have to run errands, they get done while Em's awake (after I've fed her of course). If we have guests over, we try to schedule it for one of Em's awake periods, or after she's asleep for the night. Hien and I are both planners by nature, so this hasn't been a huge shift in the way we live our lives, but parenthood has taken the level of planning up a few notches.
99% of the angst I've experienced as a dad so far has revolved around feedings, not because Em is necessary doing anything wrong or being difficult, but more so because I have a neurotic obsession with making sure Em eats "enough". She's always been a comparatively low-volume eater, drinking less milk than the average baby, but she's tracking along her growth curves just fine for the most part and never seems to fuss as if she's hungry. I think my hangups with feedings are rooted in our experience with Em during the first couple weeks of her life, where she had lost so much weight in her first 3-4 days that we were instructed to feed her formula round the clock every two hours to get her back up to weight ASAP. The resulting alarm bell in my head to "make sure Em gets all her food" still persists, even though her appetite is perfectly fine and doc said everything looked great at her six-month check up (although she has slipped from roughly 85th percentile down to 62nd percentile on the weight curve).
Introducing solids over the last month or two has certainly made meal time more interesting for Em, as she's tried a bunch of new foods for the very first time. But in introducing solids, milk consumption naturally decreases, which can create uncertainty and confusion when trying to figure out the balance between solids & milk. The internet (one of the most dangerous tools parents have at their disposal nowadays) is abound with all sorts of conflicting opinions on how to handle the split between solids and milk. The two camps of thought are basically 1) "ALWAYS give baby milk before solids, you idiot! Baby's primary source of nutrition should be milk until she turns one, duh! [Insert snarky remark of your choice]", and 2) "Just go with the flow, man. If she wants to eat solids first, great. If she wants to drink milk afterwards, great. If not, no sweat." Although our pediatrician is pretty firmly in the second camp, I'm having a hard time buying into it fully given the scar tissue from Em's first couple weeks. I guess as long as Em continues to grow and gets passing grades in her doc visits, then I shouldn't worry if she doesn't seem to want milk in a meal here or there. Babies are really good at regulating how much they eat; the vast majority of babies won't undereat or overeat unless an adult forces things one way or another, so my takeaway is that I need to relax, go with the flow, and just trust that Em will eat when she's hungry, and won't eat when she's not.
Aside from feeding difficulties....which you now know are really all in my head, being Em's dad has been a dream, and she's an amazing kid - super chill, perfectly content to go along with whatever Mom and Dad want to do, and always excited and curious to play with, well, pretty much anything. We've gone 2-3 day stretches without Emery crying a single time, she sleeps 11 hours straight through the night, and I'm starting to think that Hien and I have been spoiled rotten by how easy it's been to take care of her lately. I know that many parents have a much more difficult time, despite their best efforts, so I want to try and stay appreciative of how fortunate we've been. Who knows, the next Baby Brown may be the polar opposite! For now though, we'll be thankful for what we've got :-).