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Managing expectations

Started: 2009-07-23 19:01:49

Submitted: 2009-07-23 20:38:03

Visibility: World-readable

This month's new-parent lessons are: Managing expectations, and strategic retreats.

At the end of each weekend, when I'm about to return to my weekly day-job, I feel compelled to ask myself: Did I get what I needed this weekend? Am I ready to return to another five days of work? Can I sustain myself indefinitely at this level? Last weekend the answer was "mostly, depending on one's expectations". I did laundry and got a bit more sleep, and made it through a ten-mile run at Boulder Reservoir, went out to lunch with Kiesa, saw Up*, and walked up the Boulder Creek Path with Kiesa and Calvin. I did not make it to the lawn or out on any grand expeditions. My hypothesis was I could, to some extent, substitute "destination runs" (at, say, Boulder Reservoir) for my weekly quest to find myself. I'm having trouble figuring out how much time I can leave Kiesa alone with Calvin; most weekends I take what I need and leave her with what's left. It's clear she's not thriving under the current scheme but it's not clear what she needs. So I tend to muddle along, unable to go too far but unwilling to pick up too much extra time taking care of Calvin.

(My one explicit goal is to climb Mount Meeker via the Loft when the route is in shape in August. I'd also like to hike with Calvin, once he's capable of sitting up in our backpack child carrier.)

[* Stray observation from Up: Calvin's room needs more airships.]

The "strategic retreats" lesson was harder to learn. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to call trying to breastfeed Calvin a complete fiasco. For the first six weeks of pumping, it seemed that Kiesa was able to keep up with about half of Calvin's daily nutrition, but Calvin kept eating and Kiesa's production kept steady and then began dropping. Being fully indoctrinated in the glorious benefits of breastfeeding, I didn't want to give up any of the ground we fought so hard for, so Kiesa kept a grueling pumping schedule while trying to keep up with Calvin and her return to work. Calvin was sleeping through the night by early June, but Kiesa kept getting up in the middle of the night to pump. After a long chat, she talked me into letting her stop pumping nights and start cutting out pumping entirely when Calvin turns four months (coming up this Sunday). I don't like to give up on something important, but it's clear the best-case scenario isn't going to happen, so the best we can do is make a measured strategic retreat.

In less-depressing Calvin-related news, he seems to be becoming more active; this week he leveled up when he started grabbing the dangling objects on his activity gym. (Spending his stat points on dexterity seems the most logical choice.) He's rolled over (from front to back) a couple of times, though it's not yet clear he understands what he's doing. He seems to recognize me, smiling broadly, from across the room; he'll track me from four meters. Kiesa thinks he's beginning to recognize his own name. I'm beginning to get the hang of taking care of him; if I surround myself with enough things to amuse him with and switch often enough, he stays pretty happy. He still fights naps (especially when tired), but I can often get him to sleep at night without too much trouble. The only problem is that taking care of him is exhausting; there's only so much baby time I can take before I need to cleanse my mental pallet.

In early July, Boulder enjoyed a string of ninety-degree days, and our air conditioner didn't seem capable of keeping up. While I never expected miracles from our HVAC, especially in the master bedroom, I didn't recall it running 24/7 and unable to keep up with daytime highs in the nineties. Uninterested in spending all day in the basement, Kiesa called a service company, who refilled the coolant but didn't see much wrong (though the service guy said the AC seemed a bit under-powered for the house, which didn't really surprise me; I wouldn't expect our builder to have passed up the opportunity to cut any corners) until Kiesa called them back again when she identified the source of the basement leak as definitely coming from the air conditioner. It turned out the heat-exchanging coil was caked with dust, iced over, and dripping. This explained the sharp drop in AC efficiency; once the coil was cleaned our air conditioner was able to keep up with anything Colorado could throw it.