From one anxiety to the next

Sometime over the holidays Kayleigh started getting nervous around strangers. Well, her definition of strangers, which would be anyone who wasn’t present at her conception (hey, that’s her definition, not mine). It might have had something to do with the sudden introduction of all 50 (rough estimate) members of my immediate family in a kitchen designed to hold 3 of them. Granted she had met almost all of them before, but that was in a much more controlled environment and only a couple at a time. Plus, she can only remember things for 3 seconds…

Or is that goldfish?

Either way she started freaking out when too many people were around her. Then it happened when just about anyone was around her. They call this “stranger anxiety” because, you know, we need to have terms for every little thing a baby goes through. It makes for lots of fun visits in which parents profusely apologize to aunts and uncles, insisting that it’s not your sweater or glasses or giant growth on your upper lip. It’s just that she doesn’t like people right now (and she’ll probably never like giant growths on lips).

When we went away to Florida a couple weeks ago (I mentioned that, right?), the hardcore test as to whether or not she was fully over the whole stranger bit was on. We were staying with the in-laws. Whom she hadn’t seen in months. And were now, for all intents and purposes, strangers. And we were staying with them. And they’re strangers. Do you catch my meaning? WE’RE STAYING WITH STRANGERS!!!

Much to my shock, she was all like, “Cool.” And I was all like, “Are you sure? They’re almost strangers…” And she was all like, “Whatever, dad. Stranger anxiety was so 6 months old. I’m a mature 8 months, now.” And all was right with the world – until the first time she woke up from a nap and realized she had no clue where Florida was on a map.

Fast forward to our return. Things seem peachy keen. Kayleigh slept decently on the trip for a baby that doesn’t sleep decently. We return and figure we can pick up where we left off. Then she suddenly started clinging to Mamamamamama (I’m not sure just how many syllables she adds there). And when I would pick her up, she would contort her body to look for Mamamamamama. And when Mamamamamama left the room briefly she let us all know that this was unacceptable.

This is called “separation anxiety” because, once again, we have to have a term for everything a baby goes through. The added bonus of not understanding the very essence of her being is that she’s even more antsy when it comes to the idea of sleep. And can you blame her? If she can’t accept the notion that Mamamamama has just stepped out of sight and into the kitchen for a few moments, how can she wrap her little walnut-sized brain (or is that dinosaurs?) around the notion that we won’t all disappear when she closes her eyes for 5 hours? It’s amazing that she can still enjoy peek-a-boo without a nervous breakdown.

But I’m going to work through this with her. Tomorrow we’ll watch Home Alone together and she’ll hopefully learn that there is an inherent humor to neglectful parenting…

Home Alone

The Woman has left. You see, she got a job. Not that she really wants to be working so soon, but an opportunity arose that she couldn’t pass up. Teaching massage 3 nights a week but only 2 hours each night. And not that far from home, either. But now that leaves me home. At night. Alone. To take care of Kayleigh.

Of course, as with most timing in our lives, this job came just a tad prematurely. In another 3 months it would have been a complete nobrainer. As it stands, we… well, she… is in the middle of teaching our little girl about the wonders of sleeping for hours on end at nighttime. This is a wonder that we used to both enjoy and would like to get back to enjoying. Unfortunately, Kayleigh doesn’t completely understand this yet, thus my stress levels jump through the roof every time I hear her little grunts or sighs come over the monitor.

But that’s nighttime parenting. Living in fear that your baby will start fussing when you want them to sleep. Oh, and when they aren’t fussing? You poke and prod them until they do to make sure they’re alright. It’s brilliant! Much like the arguments I have with Kayleigh when she is over tired: “But honey, you’re sleepy. You need sleep. We want you to sleep. If you just go to sleep, everybody, including you, will be happy. Why won’t you just go to sleep?”

It’s like they say, there’s just no reasoning with kids. Especially when they lack any kind of verbal skills beyond the occasional “Enh!” Personally I think she really does understand these debates I have with her. Something in the way she smiles after we give up trying to get her to nap because she insists on crying the instant her head touches the mattress. That smile almost looks like a smirk, like she’s about to wink at me over The Woman’s shoulder to make sure I know that she fooled us again.

And so we come back to the idea of teaching her how to sleep. Training, really. Training? What is she, a dog? Well, we do clean up her poop, try to get her to walk on all fours, give her things to chew on, and watch her play with a squeaky toy… the line between baby and pet is beginning to blur. I’m starting to feel bad about all of those jokes I made about keeping her in the guinea pig cage.

Perhaps I’m pushing my luck just by clacking away on the keyboard, but she’s been sleeping in her crib for the past hour while I’ve been glued to bed waiting for the first signs of distress. That last sigh to come over the airwaves certainly sounded like her typically sleeping sigh. Maybe I can at least put my head back on the pillow… to sleep, perchance to dream?

You have no idea

My attempt to reclaim a social life has once again been thwarted by fatherhood. Alright, that’s a lie. It was thwarted by the state of New Jersey – specifically Hoboken. In case you haven’t noticed, football season is upon us. And for those of you with short-term memories, I’m a crazy-ass Eagles fan (I know, is there any other kind?).

Being of that persuasion up here in North Jersey is not exactly a fun experience – especially with the results of last year’s Super Bowl (which even forced me to root for the enemy). Thus we cling to each other in small groups, usually at whatever bar will take us. In Hoboken the place to be for Eagles fans on Sundays is Mulligan’s – who has kindly played host to us for the past two seasons. Unfortunately, no matter how much I looked forward to meeting up with a few friends I haven’t seen in months, the craptacular parking and traffic situation in Hoboken finally pushed my to the edge 20 FREAKIN’ MINUTES AFTER THE GAME WAS SUPPOSED TO START. I turned the car around and headed home. Hey, I’d rather spend the first game with my baby girl anyway. And apparently she’d rather spend it with me, too.

The newest Eagles fan

That photo isn’t even close to the biggest smile she had while “wearing” my jersey. I asked what jersey she wanted for herself and she seemed most interested in DeSean Jackson. I explained that it’s never a good idea to go with a rookie, because you never know if they really are going to be as good as promised even after a full game and we shouldn’t get our hopes up. That didn’t seem to phase her. Honestly, there’s just no reasoning with this kid…

Thanks to the magic of DVR I didn’t even miss any of the awesome opener (a total destruction of St. Louis 38-3) and got to spend most of it with my beautiful baby girl smiling at me from my lap. She actually seemed to thoroughly enjoy watching my reactions to the game – maybe even more than when I try to interact with her directly. Thank god, because she has no idea the kind of fandom she was born into. This is a fandom of bad luck and depression that somehow keeps us coming back for more. Now I’ve got another generation to force it upon – at last, the circle is complete!

A second generation of arrogant depression in the making

At least for her first real football action there was something to cheer about. Let’s see just how long that can last…

The swing of things

Tomorrow our little girl turns 1 month old. Wow. On one hand those days in the hospital feel like forever ago. I’ve been back at work for 3 weeks, so even my time at home feels like a distant memory. And yet, on the other, I can’t believe how fast everything has gone. Seriously, she’s a month old already!

1 month old

And you’re probably asking, where the hell have I been that I can’t even update people with wonderful photos of Kayleigh. Actually, anybody who knows me is probably shocked at the few that I’ve already posted. But at the very least I’m sure people have expected more updates. Well, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?! I’ve got a freakin’ newborn at home. How much time do you think I have to play around on the computer?

Cooing

Like I’ve said, I’m not here to complain. But when I get home from work in the evening, there’s about 2 hours during which I have to eat dinner, take care of any chores, and give The Woman a break from the little bundle before the night time ritual of trying to sleep in shifts begins. In other words, I’m lucky to have time to take photos let alone post them. And, at least for the first month, if I’m not posting about Kayleigh, I’m not posting. So maybe that’ll change tomorrow…

Smiling

Of course the main question everybody has is how is the baby? And my answer is, “She’s great! She’s a baby. She doesn’t care if she’s eating and sleeping on our schedule or pooping in her pants. As long as she’s healthy and comfortable, everything is great for her.” And that’s the truth. Everybody says that it’s just gas or reflexes, but I think the look on her face shows that she really is happy with life.

The Woman as The Mommy

And as for us? The funniest thing happened. I don’t really care about anything else that much. I’ve missed parties, concerts, movies, etc. and it doesn’t bother me in the least. All that matters to me is that our precious little girl is happy and healthy and that I get to spend time with her. Whether it’s a calm evening of watching her curled up on her own or an hour of rocking her to sleep at 3 AM – it’s all worth it. I don’t mean to gush, but it really is the most amazing experience and well worth the “minor” trade-offs in lifestyle.

Giving herself bunny ears

I feel like I’m still getting my “writing legs” back. Not that I haven’t neglected this site even longer in the past, but my mind is all over the place these days. Kayleigh makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else. But that’s okay, she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Kayleigh Sarah

Vacation time is over

So… what’s up with you guys? Everyone out there sleeping well? You know, more than 30 minutes a day? That’s good. Real good. I miss that.

Mommy, daddy and baby girl get ready to head home

We’re back from the hospital – actually we’ve been back since Sunday. I meant to post right away but… holy crap I’ve got a kid! When did that happen?!?! Yeah, I’m slightly out of it. The joy of heading home was rather short-lived when I realized that there was no NURSE button that would rescue us in the event of an unknown situation. There would also be no nursery at which to deposit our little girl to help us catch up on some much needed sleep. Instead, we would be on our own.

I spends some quality time with the newborn

Parenthood is scary.

There's quite a set of lungs behind that mouth, too

Obviously I know that this is a huge responsibility, and it will leave me exhausted in more ways than just physically, but suddenly we are faced with the very strong realization that “alone time” is gone. Everybody knows that once you have a kid going out becomes a far more rare occasion – especially in the beginning. But at this point she needs so much attention that there is almost no “spare time” for anything else. At least next week I’ll have work to break up my day, but The Woman will be unable to escape the constant companionship.

My two girls

Trust me, I’m not complaining. I’m not going to write “woe is me” posts on this site about the troubles of being a new parent. Sure, I’ve already collected my first sleepless night, funny poop, and scary hiccup stories to share, but no sympathy will be fished for here. Because even an hour of nonstop screaming with your last nerve just about to go is completely erased the moment she stares up at me with those beautiful eyes.

She already has me wrapped around her little finger

You all know when a sentimental fool I can be, so it should come as no surprise to you that I’m fawning all over my precious little girl. Every little look, every little noise, every little movement just grabs a hold of my heart.

So many special moments to capture

There’s still plenty more to share, but that will probably wait until another late night feeding session…

Sleeping Beauty

Kayleigh Sarah

Amazing. Really, it’s just amazing. Having now witnessed the birth of my own daughter I still can’t get over the fact that this process works. Lisa was incredible and pushed through a long labor to produce the most beautiful baby there ever was. Am I bit biased? Perhaps. But judge for yourself – introducing Kayleigh Sarah Slattery:

Kayleigh Sarah

That’s right, only a few hours old and already sticking her tongue out at the world. That’s my baby girl. She made her grand entrance at 11:25 this morning weighing 7 lbs and 13 oz even though she’s only 19 inches long! I love her with all of my heart even though we’ve just met, and I certainly am enjoying the “proud newborn dad” feeling. Lisa is still recovering from a rather long and difficult 20+ hours of work. Fortunately her bonding with Kayleigh is making that recovery a good process.

The full story, and lots more photos, will follow once I am truly back home. In the meantime, thank you for all of the congratulations that have already come in and will continue to come in.

Now I know sumthin’ ’bout birthin’ babies

Tonight was our last birthing class. Apparently our spawn will not remain inside The Woman forever, and will indeed come out in a somewhat disturbing… uh… I mean beautiful way. Alright, let’s face it. These days we have unlimited access to TV shows covering every conceivable scenario when it comes to giving birth – and in rather graphic detail. So by the time you make it to these classes, you should have a pretty darn good idea of what lay ahead.

Nevertheless, when going through this information – especially in video form – along with total strangers, many glances and nervous laughs will be exchanged. Sooner or later all of the men will hone in on the same thought, “Thank god it’s not me.” We just do not have the natural fortitude to handle childbirth. That’s not just me trying to score points with the misses – it’s an honest assessment. The human race would have died off long ago if the genders switched childbearing rolls.

Humorously, after watching the explicit video during the first class, it was one of the expectant mothers than turned around and said, “Did that freak you guys out?” But, to be fair, her husband might have simply been in shock.

Tonight may have been the most traumatizing personally. We covered the epidural and – holy crap – that thing looks worse than the pain. I mean, let’s get one thing straight: I’m the man. The extent of my discomfort will be lack of sleep and maybe a sore hand if she squeezes too hard. So I have absolutely no say about medication. The Woman gets what The Woman wants. But I have to admit that after seeing the epidural and hearing about the drawbacks *shudder* attempting to keep it natural has so much more appeal. Especially when it was pointed out that the husband is often kicked out of the room for it partially because he might PASS OUT… W!T!F! Are you serious? At least the videos of cesareans took my mind off that…

In all honesty, the class was pretty useful in evening out the expectations. The teacher was a birthing doula and presented all of the options in a very straightforward and unbiased way. Unfortunately that still doesn’t change the fact that… HOLY CRAP!… I’m going to be a DAD in under TWO MONTHS…

Maybe that means it’s time for me to stop posting to my blog at midnight… the again, when else will I be able to?