How much has my world changed?

Once you have a kid, your life is supposed to end. You’re supposed to become one of the living dead due to sleep deprivation. You don’t see friends anymore. You can’t go anywhere. You now hold a fragile china cup that might break at the slightest movement. You have to be silent as you tip-toe around your home.
Thankfully, it ain’t that bad!
I was chatting with Dan (a father himself) yesterday about how much my life has changed. The term that I used, as over-used as it is, was “paradigm shift”. Basically, the view of the world that I had is different because I now need to view it a different way.
First, it was just me. Single Geoff. Boring Geoff. Geoff did whatever Geoff felt like, and there wasn’t much of an issue. (Except his credit card bills, but that’s another issue.)
Then there was Couple Geoff. Geoff now needed to be aware of the other person in his life, and ensure that the other person occupied a certain amount of time in his schedule, lest Geoff return to Single Geoff.
Now there’s Father Geoff. (Actually, that sounds kinda creepy. But I digress.) I have a family now. I have a lot of things to be responsible for beyond Single or Couple Geoff. (And certainly more than Critical Mass Geoff.) And it’s a paradigm shift, because I haven’t figured this one out yet.
For example: babies escape all attempts at categorisation.
I’m a problem solver. Trouble shooter. Have keyword, will travel. While I don’t code anything anymore, I do work through problems — high level all the way down to specific development issues. I help solve the daily challenges our clients put before us, and ones that we create for ourselves.
I like to think that I’m pretty good at this. It’s one of the few skills that I think I’m strong in. Some people can draw the most wonderful pictures. Others are excellent at math. Me? I can find good solutions to weird problems.
But babies? No amount of logic works. None. They cry because they need to, and there’s no reason that you’ll be able to pin down 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s more obvious than not — I’ve at least figured out when she’s hungry (rooting is becoming easier to see), but other times I just can’t get her to be happy (or at the very least, quiet).
I’ve been at my wit’s end a few times already. And it’s highly frustrating. It’s partly ego (“I can solve almost anything, so I should be able to solve this”), partly a control thing (“I’m your father and you will do as I say”), and partly a parental failure (“I can’t care for my child”). Alex is having a far better time of this, but [[Alex is a rockstar!|she is a rock star]], after all.
Slowly, I am adapting. I know that I can’t solve everything. (Especially when it comes to hunger. There I’m utterly useless, and the kid knows it.) I am able to handle some things better. But it’s going to take time before I can fight off the frustration. It’s all growth, and this is a hell of a good lesson for me to learn.
Then we have the diapers. I never thought I’d find this so intriguing.
For the record, Alex and I are trying to be as environmentally conscious as we can. We’re ultimately going to use cloth diapers, but can’t until the baby gets a bit larger, and the remnants of the umbilical cord fall off. Until then, we’re using Seventh Generation chlorine-free disposable diapers.
The stereotype of the toxic waste coming out of something so innocent isn’t entirely correct. At least at the beginning — it doesn’t really seem to smell at all. (And yes, I’ve actually caught a pooping in action — thankfully a clean diaper was being installed at the time.) It’s tarry, sticky, downright icky and enough to make most people sick to their stomachs.
I think there’s a hormone that kicks in with parents, though, and it (so far) hasn’t fazed me much. We’ll see what happens come Week 4, which is when my friend Doug tells me that it gets much, much worse.
You actually find yourself interested in what’s coming out. Mostly because the nurses make you be interested. You have to know colour, texture, and frequency. You should have so many pees and poops on specific days — not by day of the week, but by day of life. It’s starts slow and rises, eventually getting to some level of “normalcy”. We actually record these things for health records, just in case.
Paradigms are a strange thing. You think you understand the world, then it gets turned on its ear. It’s not always the entire world, sometimes just part of it. But it’s enough to make you feel a little queasy from the rocking.
But for the record, I’m still having fun with this. And I look eagerly forward to whatever time I can spend with my child. Even when I can’t help her.

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  1. “I can solve almost anything, so I should be able to solve this”
    I went through this too man, by the time she hits the 5 month mark you will know exactly why she is crying, and you will be able to apply creative problem solving to anything she can throw at you (and she will throw things at you..literally). Don’t abandon hope yet of being logical it will eventually work! And if she really is upset all the time try Ovol… did wonders for Ella.

  2. I recommend “gripe water” for baby’s gas. Our little guy thought it was really tasty, and it was definitely effective. Dosages are listed on the bottle.
    Oh, and on the topic of being actually interested in the contents of baby’s diaper … well … now that our 22-month-old is in full-time daycare and I don’t participate in as many diaper changes, it’s actually quite weird not to know the details of all of his bodily functions. Typically, a diaper’s consistency determines his food for that day (for instance, would more cheese be a good idea?). Anyway, you won’t have to worry about solid food for quite some time.
    By the way, a good (not cheap) breast pump will render you NOT obsolete (aka udderly useless). Just something to consider once Mommy decides that she *really* needs to catch up on some sleep, and YOU can do the 3 a.m. feedings. Just some more unsolicited advice with which to inundate the new parents.

  3. You should talk to a pharmacist – don’t want to give advice about giving meds to a baby….but it works and so does the afformentioned ‘gripe water’.

  4. Good tips. I think we’re aiming for a pump, which will help me address the hunger issues (well, a bit, anyway). Last night, mom got a lot more sleep than dad, I think. Certainly uninterrupted sleep.

  5. Re: the pump
    Definitely invest time in researching the products. The good pumps are a couple of hundred or more.
    Try renting a hospital pump for as long as they’ll let you. It’s not cheap, either, but the actual machine should be one of the best.
    Oh, and keep your receipts: A breast pump counts as “medical equipment”, and it’s tax deductable (I’m pretty sure it worked for us, anyway. I had a lot of medical receipts that year. But look into it, for sure).
    A new thought: I wonder whether any insurance companies would cover a fancy breast pump purchase or rental. My policy only deals with hospital beds, walkers, and bigger items, but it’t not a very comprehensive plan. Hmmmn. I hadn’t considered that possibility before. Might as well check it out, one of those late, late, late nights. 😉

  6. The model that my wife had was the “Avent” breast pump; at the time it was quite expenses, but they are now mass marketing these suckers (hahaha! Suckers! Get it?) so the prices have come down quite a bit. And they sell more than just the pump, but rather an entire line of breast pump accessories (when was the last time *you* used that in a sentence?).
    And as for the little one, when no one is looking, try dipping the pacifier in a bit of alcohol. Knock the little bugger right out — very handy when teething hits in about 9 months from now.
    Now that I think about it, the breast pump will be handy too once your daughter starts teething. Trust me, Alex will appreciate it.

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