Just another part of the web

I have to say that I've been doing a lot of reading recently - mostly books on fatherhood - and they have taught me many things.

If you are on your way to fatherhood, and end up stumbling on this site, I have a book for you. This book, So You're Going to Be a Dad, is a very funny look at everything that you are going to be going through - from your wife (to use his words) "expanding" to what happens when you come home from the hospital. It is funny - he writes of his many trips to the hospital - and keeps things light. It is a good way to get introduced to everything that you are going to go through, mostly before you have your baby.

That being said, I didn't get a chance to read that book until after our daughter came home with us from the hospital. She was an angel (and, given what I usually hear) is still an angel. She came home, slept for a couple more days, and then started spending some time awake. That was very nice - until she started crying. At that point, I was a little worried. I didn't even know what to do. My wife, the baby expert in the family, calmed her down, fed her, or changed diapers, usually on queue - she knew what to do each time it cry happened. It was uncanny. For about a week. And then, well, then it got interesting. She cried, my wife tried all of her tricks, and it didn't work. We knew that the she was tired - you could see it in her eyes - but she didn't want to sleep. She was just so tired that all she could do was cry. My wife talked to one of her friends about this, and they had recommended swaddling the baby. I had no idea what this meant, so I was pretty useless with this entire recommendation. I just watched the first day, and then we got the book that explained the technique. Dr. Karps' book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, is a book that details a few different ideas on how to get your baby to sleep when she's so far from being able to on her own. It suggests 5 techniques, which he calls the five S's: swaddling (wrapping your baby tight), Side, Shh-ing, swaying (or rocking/jiggling), and Sucking. I'm not sure I subscribe to all of the things that he suggests, but there are a couple things that turned out to be true - the shh-ing was big - I didn't know that if you created white noise near a baby they just be quiet. It's amazing. Of course, it doesn't work when the baby is hungry, but otherwise, it just works. The other thing that worked was the swaying - and i'm not talking about the general side to side stuff that you do - more of a up and down shake. I was really scared to do this, since when I was in the hospital they make you watch the video about shaking a baby to "death". Besides, I thought you could break a baby if you didn't handle her right. But, after some (maybe alot) of apprehension, I learned that jiggling the baby will not hurt her - and actually lets her fall asleep. I don't swaddle her with a blanket, I don't use a pacifier much, I don't put her on her side; I just use the swaying/rocking/jiggling and shh-ing. It really works. As she's gotten older, like now, I don't have to shh much - I just hold her into my chest, and I shake her, and her eyes close. Yes, this is not something that I want her to get used to, but the one thing that Dr. Karp suggests that really hit home for me was his argument that our babies are born about 3 months premature, and the first 3 months after birth is the 4th Trimester, where we finish developing. He suggests that there is nothing that is done during these 3 months that causes your baby to be spoiled - so do what it takes. He argues that the baby was held for 24 hours until she was born, so only holding for 12 hours is a decrease. It is an interesting argument - I'm not sure I agree with it, but the technique works. For a while.

Now that she's gotten older, we noticed that there were a couple times, already, that nothing we've done has worked. She's just needed to be fussy. And that was frustrating, since we started thinking that we had no clue - again. It was though, since we started to really doubt each other, and we actually ended up arguing about what to do, and how to make her happy. And then, my wife found another book - The Wonder Weeks. It really helped us understand what was going on. It suggests there are 8 weeks where a baby grows mentally - and that each of these steps causes the baby to be "fussy". The best example for me is the week that we are currently dealing with - week 8 - where the author suggests the baby begins to learn how to use her body in a new way. She suggests that each time a baby's neurological pathways start gain new abilities, the baby doesn't know how to deal with it, and because of it, they just need more "holding". So, I've started to hold her close, and she calms down, and is happy. Hell, she even smiles occasionally. It's the reason that you want to keep being a dad.

I have to say, I don't want to preach about one way of fathering over the other - since really, it's your gut that teaches you what the right thing to do is, but I found that when I was worried, or didn't know what to do, these books kept me sane - it's not and easy process, but it is so rewarding...