2010 Review: Parenthood

posted by Jeff | Friday, December 31, 2010, 1:07 AM | comments: 0

As I mentioned previously, this year's look back will be divided into three parts: Personal life, business and parenthood. Life with Simon gets its own post this year!

We had two months at the start of the year before Simon was born, and this was the time that Diana really finished up her nesting activities in the little room where Simon would live. Those last few weeks in particular were kind of intense. Since Diana was having a scheduled C-section, due to risk associated with her previous hernia surgeries, it was weird to know that on a specific day, I would be a dad.

Simon's name was something I added to the list fairly late in the game, because I wasn't that enthusiastic about the others. Diana wasn't crazy about it at first, but in the last days before he was born, it seemed to grow on both of us. We nailed it down on the drive in to the hospital.

That drive lives so vividly in my memory. In the back seat was an empty car seat, and it would have a child in it on the way home. Even now, I can't wrap my head around that.

I wrote a fairly detailed post on the time in the hospital, and one for the first day or so at home. In fact, as you might suspect, there are many posts from March about those first few weeks. Since I was off on leave, I had plenty of time to write.

The first month was difficult with Simon, because he required so much attention. He wasn't awake for very long, but he wasn't asleep for very long either. That month was all about him eating, and us sleeping any chance we could. By the second month, the cycles got longer, but it was particularly hard on Diana since she was taking overnights when I had to work. The lack of sleep was no doubt the reason I got sick, and I had wild IBS swings that made me incredibly uncomfortable.

Things did start to get easier by summer, and we had a lot of really wonderful moments as a family. Even the first week we brought Simon home, we tried to not avoid doing stuff just because we had him. If we could bring him, we did. Not counting movies, we really didn't do anything less. We still don't eat out as much as we did in Cleveland, but that's partly because we can't find the favorite type places we had there.

Travel became an important part of our time with the little guy pretty early on. We had a couple of extra days off granted before Memorial Day, so we did a driving trip down to Portland at the end of May. Simon wasn't quite three months old by that time, and we were still being regularly challenged. He had some meltdowns in the car because he was hungry, but we weren't responsive because we couldn't believe he wanted to eat more. The Portland part of the trip was kind of a bust because of the weather, but it was a good trial run.

By August, six months along, we took our first plane trip, and as of today he's been on a total of 8 different aircraft. He'll see 12 before he's 1! He definitely has his cranky spurts, but for the most part he travels well, and we've become fairly adept at caring for him in transit.

One of the hardest things about going to a day job is that I don't get to spend very much time with him during the week, so evening routines have been an essential part of being daddy for me. In his earlier months, a lot of that was getting to feed him one last time before midnight.  I bought him this little star field hanging lamp for his room that he just loves. There was nothing better than feeding him, then trying to get the burp as he started to fall asleep on my shoulder. The subsequent diaper change would be fun too, particularly once he started to giggle. He sleeps through the night more or less these days, but on the occasions that his teeth are bothering him, I cherish that feeding time.

The other fun thing that has always been one of my things with him is bath time. Up until a month ago, I would usually stick my foot in his little tub with him, a habit I started originally to get a feel for water temperature. Now I'm more of a bystander, but it's so much fun to watch him play. It's wild to think about how much his baths have evolved, in terms of his ability to pick up his toys and splash.

Which brings up the next point about development. Simon has always been at the high end of the scale, literally and figuratively, when it comes to his size. He's been slow to lose the chubby, and he's really tall for his age. He's been an overachiever with teeth, too. He's been slightly slower with some of the developmental stuff, like rolling over, but not in a way that is cause for concern. It has been wild to see him go from breast feeding, to bottle, to liquified foods, to solid foods, to finger foods. Now he even holds his own cup when he drinks. The progression is fascinating to watch, and even though I'm in no hurry for him to be truly mobile, it'll be crazy to see him walk.

Simon's personality seemed to develop very quickly. Some of the other PEPS kids, when they were really little, kinda didn't do anything interesting (they all do now, of course, and I was probably biased then). Our little guy started to do funny stuff pretty early on. He would react when Diana read to him, or one of the cats got close. Baths and diaper changes were his chance to be the center of attention, and he would react strongly when you talked to him or touched him. By summer, he spent a great deal of his time laughing. When his teeth aren't bothering him, he's just so happy all of the time. Now that he's "talking," every day seems to bring new expressions and sounds.

One unfortunate thing is that his super-teeth routine has meant the kid drools like it's his job. He's had to wear bibs most of the time since he was two months, because without them, his shirts become totally saturated in an hour or less. You know the scenes in the Alien movies where the monster opens his mouth that the stuff comes dripping out? That's Simon. With two of his four molars finally getting through, we're hoping he's close to a non-drool stage. Poor kid has a bib in practically every photo!

The turnover in gear has been nuts. At the last consignment sale, Diana sent off his swing. That was a nightly part of his wind-down routine for months. A ton of clothes have come and gone. Toys have been retired and replaced. He outgrew several carriers. He's a couple of inches away from outgrowing his first car seat (hopefully lasting through our Florida trip). I really don't see why some parents buy a ton of new shit that lasts at most a couple of weeks. I mean, he never even got to wear newborn socks at all.

Of course, I can't talk about the year in parenthood without talking about how awesome the other half of that equation is. Diana is a fantastic mother in every way. I was worried early on that she would overdo it (which I read is normal for new moms), but she really does the right things pretty much all of the time. She takes the job of motherhood very seriously, but doesn't get so lost in it that she becomes miserable. She's very much the family CEO, and she's awesome at it. She has great instinct for what Simon needs.

Most importantly, from my perspective, is that Diana is an excellent partner. Having a baby is really exhausting, and very hard at first. We know from talking to other couples how potentially toxic relationships can get, and we haven't had that problem. I can't emphasize enough that I don't think there are many people on the planet that I could coexist with in the context of being a parent. Communication has been constant and thorough. It wasn't always perfect when we were tired out of our minds, but we frequently check in with each other to make sure things are going well. Throw in the additional stress of a day job, finances, unsold real estate, etc., and on the surface it sounds like the whole endeavor of procreation is a disaster waiting to happen. Looking after a baby is easy by comparison, I think. The real test is how the parents get along.

Simon has brought a kind of love into our lives that we didn't know was possible. He was so fragile and vulnerable when we brought him home (I was going to say small, but that kid was never small). Every day he gets to be more like a little person, and every day we marvel at how adorable he is. We know this time won't last, and we don't take even a minute for granted. Even at his worst, which is generally associated with teething, he brings something to our lives that is too spectacular for words. I can't wait to see what he does tomorrow.


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