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Julian's first month

Started: 2015-05-02 16:25:40

Submitted: 2015-05-02 17:36:15

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator discusses his son's first month of life

We brought Julian home on a rainy Thursday afternoon at the beginning of April. By the time he was discharged from the hospital, Calvin had gotten out of school; we sent my mother to pick him up and bring him over to our house when we were ready. She brought supper, too.

Nana holds Julian at home
Nana holds Julian at home

We put Julian to bed in the cosleeper bassinet attached to the side of our bed. After our experience with Calvin this was one of the few pieces of baby hardware I didn't want to get rid of -- and it turned out to come in handy right away. Kiesa (or I, depending on who was handy) could lean over and soothe him back to sleep, or properly evaluate whether he needed further interventions, without actually standing up and leaving the bed.

I got up just in time to take Calvin to school on Friday morning, after Kiesa woke him up, fixed him breakfast, and made his lunch. Despite having months to prepare for a baby, we found there were still things we needed (principally formula, since we were supplementing about half of Julian's nutritional needs with formula), and still things we hadn't unpacked and put in the right place. We spent much of Friday, our first day at home with Julian, attending to these logistics while still trying to keep pace with Julian's immediate care and feeding needs. This included a lengthy trip to Target, where Julian played economic stimulus package, and a quick stop by Trader Joe's for snacks for us to eat in between taking care of Julian.

On Saturday morning my mother took Calvin to church, freeing Kiesa and I to deal with Julian. We took him to his first visit at his pediatrician's office, though his normal pediatrician was out on vacation so we saw one of his partners. (When Kiesa made the appointment she was still in the hospital, and thought Julian might be going home on oxygen, so she wanted to transfer his medical care as soon as possible.) We gave the doctor Julian's discharge sheet, summarizing all of the excitement while he was in the hospital, and she looked at him and declared him to still be a healthy baby, though still below his birth weight, so she wanted us to make sure to wake him up in the middle of the night to feed him, whether he woke up on his own or not.

We watched the live stream of the announcement of this year's Hugo award nominations while trying to keep Julian amused on the couch. I was disappointed to see that a small but shrill minority had hijacked the awards to promote their own agenda. I had hoped that I would be able to read a group of stories that legitimately reflected interests of a wide swath of fandom, and discuss those stories on their merits, but instead the discussion of the politics of the award drowned out any discussion of the year's best stories.

My sister Bethany and brother-in-law Josh came over for supper on Saturday evening along with my parents. Bethany was excited to see Julian for the first time -- when she dropped by Boulder a week ago on her way to go skiing Julian was still a fetus. I celebrated Julian's zeroth birthday with a number-zero candle, which Calvin was happy to blow out, since Julian was obviously not up to the task himself.

Calvin blows out Julian's zeroth birthday cake while Aunt Bethany holds Julian
Calvin blows out Julian's zeroth birthday cake while Aunt Bethany holds Julian

On Sunday morning I put Julian in the bouncy seat in the kitchen while I cooked potatoes O'Brien for breakfast. I could actually turn my back for whole minutes at a time while he sat placidly in the bouncy seat, which convinced me he was a very different baby than Calvin was -- Calvin would have fussed until we gave him our full attention. This was enough to convince me that a second baby wasn't a terrible idea. I tried not to wonder if we could survive a third if we tried.

On Sunday afternoon we joined the neighborhood celebrating Easter by hunting Easter eggs in the park at the center of the neighborhood. Calvin enjoyed running around hunting eggs; Julian mostly slept in his stroller.

Children run to hunt Easter eggs
Children run to hunt Easter eggs

On Monday morning I took Calvin to kindergarten, then returned home for my last two days of paternity. I checked my work e-mail to figure out when to travel to San Diego for my next big project and decided that Friday would be fine. (I had feared that I might need to fly out early this week, which would have forced me to decide between finishing my paternity leave in style or working on the project, but I didn't have to make that choice.) Kiesa and I drove to Westminster to get a bottle warmer at Babies'R'Us, then looked at supplemental nursing systems at boutique breastfeeding store Bosom Buddies. (We ended up not using the SNS after that; Kiesa decided that the tube was messing up Julian's latch, and he was getting enough from feeding without the SNS that he was able to stimulate her production, encouraging the virtuous cycle of breastfeeding and milk production.)

Kiesa holds Julian at Twin Lakes
Kiesa holds Julian at Twin Lakes

We tried, and failed, to take a brief walk around Twin Lakes (the ground was too rough for Julian even in BOB, and we didn't have the carseat adapter bar installed in BOB) before picking Calvin up after school. This was the first time anyone at school got to look at Julian; I'd dropped off and picked up Calvin without Kiesa or Julian to that point. All of the adults commented how large of a baby he was, and how cute he was. In the hall a group of boys from Calvin's kindergarten class clustered around the stroller to stare at him, not quite sure what to make of the miniature human in front of them.

Julian naps in the baby scale
Julian naps in the baby scale

As soon as we got home from school we met a lactation consultant at home to help Kiesa breastfeed. With me visiting San Diego for work later in the week, I wanted my mother to be able to support Kiesa, so she joined us for the consultation. The consultant weighed Julian, concluded that he was still below his birthweight (though slowly climbing back up), and did a before-and-after tare weight to conclude that he was not getting very much milk.

By Tuesday I was starting to get bored staying home with Julian and Kiesa. Kiesa had more-or-less figured out how to feed Julian, and there was only so much I could do to help her. I set up his website, julianlogan.com, with the pictures from his initial birth announcement; some day I'll get around to borrowing the code from Calvin's website to show all of the pictures including him by name.

I returned to work on Wednesday, 8 April, and found that the world had mostly survived my absence. (I am not the sort of person who gets especially insecure about being replaceable, so this was fine with me.) On Thursday afternoon I flew to San Diego for a big important project while my mother helped Kiesa take care of Calvin and Julian.

I took one more day off work on the following Monday, in exchange for working on Saturday (even though I did wrap up the project in record time and got to come home early), and returned for good on Tuesday. After that we started to settle into a routine: I'd get up in time to get myself ready for work, then take Calvin to school before its 08:00 start time, then head to work myself. On some days this worked better than others; on some days I ended up tired in the middle of the day needing a nap. One day I actually came home at lunch for a nap; on other days I closed my office door for a quick rest (and wondered if I could squeeze a couch or a cot or a pillow in my office). Kiesa eventually decided she could handle all of the overnight feedings (rather than turning him over to me to bottle-feed him after she finished nursing him), letting me get a bit more sleep, and I experimented with tweaking my morning routine to wake up later and shift more of my morning (primarily eating breakfast) into my office after dropping Calvin off. These changes seem to have worked for the better.

After a month, Kiesa has settled into a good-enough breastfeeding routine with Julian. He'll nurse fine, but she's still not producing enough milk to meet all of his nutrition needs, so we're supplementing him with formula after roughly half of his feedings. Unlike last time, we're declaring this good enough; she barely used the hospital-grade breast pump she rented for a month. (Though to be fair, this result is manifestly better than last time.)

In addition to actually being able to breastfeed, Julian is obviously different from Calvin in other ways. He's not nearly as needy as Calvin was; we can actually turn our backs on him for a few minutes at a time (which I understand is normal for most babies, but until the past month this was not my experience). Julian seems to sleep more than Calvin did, but my memory of what exactly Calvin did and didn't do is tempered by six years (and jumbled together with memories of what Calvin was like as a toddler and a preschooler and a kindergartener).

Now that Julian has survived his first month on the outside, he's leveled up from a newborn to a regular infant. So far our experience makes me confident that we'll actually survive the experience, but I'm paranoid enough that I can't help worrying when the other shoe will drop.

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every
problem begins to resemble a nail.