A Giant Metal Tube

Aw dang, I missed a month, didn't I? I shouldn't do that, because around here everything moves rapidly. Every day I look at baby G and I see less of a baby and more of a little boy. It's exciting, and I'm excited. Someone was telling me the other day that moms tend to want their kids to stay young and dads want them to grow up, and I guess I fit that pattern for sure. The other day we were at a Sounders game and I saw not one but two dads with their little boys sitting on their shoulders and grabbing their head for support, and said, "That. I want that. That's my life goal, right there." She said it's coming, don't worry.

The lost month 4

I didn't write during month 4 because, I dunno, I don't feel like a ton of stuff happened then. At that point, he was already sleeping through the night consistently, and his feeding schedules didn't really change much. He played with his same toys and got incrementally better at grabbing and holding stuff, but I don't remember giant leaps.

Wait, one thing happened during month 4: he learned how to blow raspberries with his mouth. One day he woke up and discovered he could make that pbthbhbhbttbhtbht sound, and then he wouldn't stop. The hilarious part is although we adults think of this as something that you do to someone, some kind of communication, he just does it to himself all the time. He'll be sitting in his bouncer with nobody around, looking at the ground and sputtering over and over. Really, any time he discovers some new thing his body can do, he just maxes out immediately.

Oh, I remembered another thing: I went swimming with him! My wife enrolled him in a "swimming class" a while back. It's held at a heated, saltwater pool nearby (good body temperature, no chemicals). Well, it's not a class, really. Mostly they just get all the babies in the water and sing songs and let them splash around. She went several times, but I really wanted to, so I stayed home from work one day and went. I was the only dad there, so that was a bit weird. They were all singing silly baby songs, and I don't really sing. But I really liked playing with him in the water.

We've already been taking baths together for a while, and every time he's in, he seems to like the water more and more. In the pool he is mostly wide-eyed and interested, but when I got him on his belly he started flailing his arms and kicking like he already knew what to do! It was pretty cool and a lot of fun, but I don't know if I'd bother going again in that setting. My grandfather taught me how to swim when I was a boy, and I think it'll be really fun to teach him someday.

The miracle of flight

Month 5, though--hoo boy--has been something. Where should we start? Well, we took him in a giant tube in the sky, held aloft by the power of science and engineering. Not gonna lie, I had some apprehension leading up to the flight, but it turned out exceedingly well. We were taking him back to my home state of Virginia to see my parents for the first time since he was a newborn (which is an eternity in baby time). It's important to keep the grandparents happy, you know.

As far as flying went, as usual, my wife had the plan in hand; I just helped execute it. We packed a day's worth of formula, pre-mixed in bottles, in an insulated lunchbox with ice packs. This is (as of writing) permitted by TSA and we just indicated it to them as we went through security. We brought along his car seat and car seat base. We installed it into an Uber to take him to the airport, and when we landed in VA, we installed it into my parents' car to take him home. When coming back home we saw a couple just put their car seats into a cab, not secured with a base. Ehhhhhhh...

I learned something important about that car seat base. It's considered "oversize" or maybe "irregular" luggage, so it didn't come down the conveyor belt. There I was, about to complain to Southwest about losing it when I spotted it cordoned off with the surfboards and whatever else.

We checked two suitcases for 5 days, one for us and one for him. In his we had a bunch of spare clothes, extra feeding bottles, and some toys and other amenities like his various skin lotions and whatnot. We each only took a backpack as a carryon and stuffed his immediate needs into those: spare clothes, bottles for feeding, the lunchbox I mentioned before, burp cloths, diapers, and the most important of all, pacifiers.

Oh, did I mention we took him as a lap infant? No dedicated seat for him, he had to ride on our laps. It was 7 hours of travel time with a basically nonexistent layover in the middle. I'm not sure I would do this again, despite saving money. Next time, I will only do this for shorter flights. As it turns out, on the way there, both flights weren't full, and we were able to get a set of 3 seats for us, so he could lie down or use his car seat. That was great, and way more comfortable for both him and us.

On the way back, no such luck. For the first leg we traded him back and forth and let him sleep on us as well as he could. My wife taught me a new technique to help him curl up in a ball, probably like he slept when he was in the womb. that helped him quite a bit.

Then our luck got worse: our first leg was delayed, so they had to hold our connecting flight. We raced down 10 gates in the airport only to find the plane was jam packed and we were the last three people aboard. The baleful eyes of all the passengers were on us as we entered.

My wife ventured aloud that maybe we could get someone to split up and let us sit together, but nope, the steward (sorta rudely) told her to go to the back of the plane and made me sit halfway up, separated by probably 15 rows. I was not pleased, watching her carry him away to the back. I felt separated and bothered.

As soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, I went back and gave her some supplies for him. He was sleeping, thankfully. An hour or so later, she came back up and gave him to me. She was crowded in there and he was overheating her. He was still more or less asleep, and I was able to hold him, though I became increasingly uncomfortable as I suppressed my instincts to shift around in my seat, not wanting to wake him.

Eventually my phone died and with it the book I was reading. I had a spare battery, but didn't want to jostle him awake to rummage in my bag for it. I'd been shooed into my seat so fast I didn't get to put my sweatshirt overhead, so I had practically 0 legroom. It was tense, miserable, and too hot. Borderline claustrophobic.

Finally, my wife came back and held him for a minute while I hit the bathroom, got all my stuff in order, and prepared food to feed him. He ate greedily (skipped a meal earlier due to us letting him sleep as long as possible), then went straight back to sleep peacefully for the rest of the flight.

Several people asked about how he fared during takeoff and landing. Those were the least eventful parts! He just sucked on his pacifier and felt great. As we hit the ground, a somewhat jarring sensation, my wife and I were deliberate in looking excited and happy, to reassure him that we're not scared, at least. It helps him a lot.

Let's play pass-the-baby

We went on the trip to Virginia to bring joy to the grandparents and my sister and brother-in-law, but also to show him off to all my family friends who helped raise me throughout my childhood. Every one of them is an uncle or auntie regardless of blood relation, and they all want a piece of that cute baby!

With my mom's help, we were able to steer them to come during one of his awake times. It was so great seeing all the adults just melt into puddles over him. For his part, he was great and seemed to love all the attention. Even when there were probably 10 people in the room, all talking to each other, raising the noise floor gradually to a dull roar, he was composed and observant and happy and engaged.

It's kind of weird to feel proud of someone who has scarcely any agency in this world, but thinking back to how he handled the plane trips and the commotion and attention of the crowd, I can't help but be. He's shown time and time again that he's flexible and adaptable, and oh man, that makes our life easier.

The rest of the vacation was blissfully uneventful. We barely left the house at all. We just sat around and ate good food and played with the baby and played cards for four days. It was fantastic.

As I usually do in the company of family, I asked if anyone had a strong desire to help take care of the baby, in particular the 6:30 AM feeding. I was a bit surprised when my dad volunteered right away. Though I don't really know what this is grounded in, I thought he would be apprehensive about it, but he jumped right in. After I helped him with one feeding, he did several of them all by himself!

My dad is what you might call reserved, so it was especially great to see him having so much fun taking care of the baby. My mom, on the other hand, was content to play with the baby after we took care of his feeding and diapering. Smart move, smart move. Baby G was really taken with her, and she got some of the biggest smiles out of him.

This wasn't the first time my parents saw him; they had been there the week he was born. But back then we were all figuring out how everything worked, and the poor guy wasn't getting enough food, so he was cranky all the time. In contrast, this visit was pretty much perfect.

This was the second time my sister and brother-in-law saw him, and as always, they were the world's okayest uncle and best aunt.

Adventures in swaddling and rolling

The other day he found his feet! Recently he's been sticking his legs straight up in the air while lying on his back. Not sure why he likes to do it, but there we go. Once his legs were up, it was a small step to grab his foot... and shove it into his mouth. Of course.

With his legs up in the air like that it was only a matter of time before he tipped side to side. So now we have him rolling this way and that from side to side. He started sleeping on his side pretty consistently, too. Eventually, we found him sleeping on his belly.

UH OH, YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS. Wait, you don't know what that means? Once he can roll onto his belly, you're supposed to stop swaddling him, so that he's free to use his arms to flip himself back. So we've stopped swaddling him, and it's going, ehhh... sorta okay. Well, these adjustments take time.

Now with his arms free, he plays more when he's supposed to be sleeping. He's especially fond of feeling the mesh siding to his crib. We also give him his "honey bunny", a little stuffed animal that he uses for comfort. And we're sure he uses it, because he'll rub it on his face and stick it in his mouth and get back to sleep. We're also free with the pacifier, and that helps a lot.

He's done a good job of being able to sleep overnight unswaddled. Sometimes his midday naps are fraught with crying and interruptions, though, and his eating has been a bit variable lately. All parts of growing up, and oncoming signs of teething, from what we've read.

Along with the rolling, his back and neck strength has continued to increase. Whereas before, tummy time was something he worked to escape by rolling over, now he is perfectly content to just lie on his tummy and play with toys in front of him for a while. He especially likes mirrors nearby, so he can look at his handsome little face in there, I'm sure. More likely that he's fascinated that the face over there moves when he moves over here. Another fun part about mirrors is if I'm holding him in front of one, he'll look between my face in the mirror and my face in real life, as if he can grasp a tenuous connection.

He continues to like sitting upright. I like to let him sit after a meal, and he leans this way and that to try to burp himself. He can't consistently sit without support yet, and if he tips onto his face, he smiles. Not sure why he likes that, goofy baby.

That's all I have for now. By the next time I write, he might have started nibbling on solid foods! That'll be wild, I'm sure.


mai said...

So happy reading him growing up

best aunt ever said...

best post yet!!

RJ said...

Solid foods??? World's okayest uncle - on standby for cooking exciting things to try.

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