Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Sunny Day…"

Watching Sesame Street with Dad for the very first time. He says he saw Sesame Street a long long time ago He seems to like it! Thank you, Children's Television Workshop!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Heartbreak, continued…

Lately — ever more lately — my daughter is so sweet that it physically hurts to love her as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"…systems online…"

Libby Lee • A Handful of Minutes by mrtoastey

My mind keeps being blown as the Little Shoogie grows from a peanut … up up and up. I guess it's true of any living system and it probably just underscores the staggering nature of that realm that we refer to scientifically as biology.

These things are zooming by:

the original pacifier
  • The Meconium — the sci-fi sort of word for the proto-shit, black and tar-like, that comes out of baby before actual shit. It's almost like the packing material for the inside of the intestines, which have never been used and are now coming online.
  • Crying — a simple, singular communication technique of incredible effectiveness. At first: alarming, panic-inducing — the sole expression of lungs and vocal chords for the first time coming online. I'll always have a picture of our vacuum cleaner in my head when I think back to the earliest crying jags, when Lucy and I sat panic-stricken upstairs trying to figure out why she was crying — shrieking, wailing — and hearing a tiny voice in my head say 'turn on the vacuum.' She stopped within seconds. Then we were afraid to turn it off; and I discovered how foolish it feels to run a vacuum that's sitting stationary, so … I decided to vacuum the rug while Lucy held our daughter and we both tried to pretend our hearts weren't trying to explode out of our chests. In more recent times that crying is … more volumnous… as those lungs gain skill. 
  • The hair — Libby Lee started out as a little baldy, but gradually — as those hair follicles continue to come online — well, we're still wondering if it's blonde or strawberry blonde. But some days, increasingly, she's cultivating some kind of crazy old man hairdo. How will it ever be long enough to brush, let alone cut? And what about that baby-head smell? Last night I realized that it was almost aura-like — and that the sublimely sweet smell coincides with a warmth that I can feel on my nose, on my upper lip, from about one inch away from baby Libby Lee's sleeping scalp.
  • The eyes — Consistently and continuously, I see how aware the Little Shoogie wasn't before. Before when? Before now. And now. And now. Those eyes: I thought they were looking at me before, but I know they're looking at me now. And that neck: it cranes around, as I carry her around like some kind of warm gooshy football; because the eyes are looking everywhere (a place which seems to principally be behind my left elbow, for some reason)
  • The smile — wow, it's not just a mouth thing. Facial calethenics are magic, especially right after a nap, when all those muscles have to come back online. (like they do for all of us, I guess) But never more so than when all that twitching and stretching turns into … a smile. A glittering eyed wide-mouthed smile.  
Why is this deeply touching to me? I guess because we've all got this equipment, and if we're lucky, if it all:
  1. Works correctly right "out of the box" and
  2. Still works after years of constant use (and abuse).
It's a hell of a load to use these lungs, these intestines, this heart, these vocal cords — for a lifetime. It's incredible to be reminded that once upon a time, they were all brand new. All the parts.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lucy & Libby Lee

A beautiful day at Frankfort's Josephine Sculpture Park

Picnic Time at the Josephine Sculpture Park

Monday, October 31, 2011

the heartbreak… it just continues, right?

We've been the recipients of some great baby stuff from an incredible array of friends. What's been funny is that things lie fallow and irrelevant until their need becomes clear.

One of these is: the electric snot sucker. This device had been evangelized to me by baby-having friends and I made a special point to include it on our registry; as well as particular note of its receipt.

I can't say our luck with it has been good, though. It's one of a thankfully small number of occasions that I describe as Libby Lee acting as though there's an attempted murder in progress. (Bath #1 was another occasion, but let's see the happiness of #3, instead)

That's happened twice, where the "ESS" is concerned. This last time — yesterday — Lucy held her and I did the business, maybe even sucking out an actual booger or two, while she thrashed and howled in protest. Afterwards, with compunction beyond belief, I noticed one solitary tear rolling a path from each eye, across each temple, over each ear.

Baby's First Tear(s). And we caused them. Lucy and I were both practically destroyed.

Aside from that, everything is pretty great — and we're both pretty sure Libby Lee won't be able to finger us in a lineup later on. Babies are so forgetful.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Nights are Forever Without You…"

The sleep-deprived brain is a funny thing. At least — if you live a relatively safe modern life it is. I don't know how funny it would be if you had any particular fear of sabre-toothed tigers or huns showing up in your quarters. Fortunately, we do not. Beyond typical American wage and class fears, we're reassuringly safe. Which gives the brain free reign when it comes to sleep deprivation.

Slumber Fencing  or ATNR if you prefer.
Every night is an adventure for Team PJ (Points-Jeffries) and sleep is available but not in the chunks to which Lucy and I have been accustomed for most of our lives (dating back, one must suppose to our own infancies). Overview: Two hours is good; Four hours is grand; and 25 minutes isn't out of the question. Woe upon those 25 minute sessions, punctuated not by an explosion of crying (ok — sometimes by an explosion of crying) but rather by this volcanoesque gurgling, burbling, twitching, stretching… volcanos can take a long time to erupt and so can Miss Libby Lee. And you can know the symptoms, the portenders, but still not be able to predict what's coming.

Increasingly, that's okay with me.

I know lots of the things to do to calm the seether, to sedate the simmer. Lucy and I both have found a new love for our super-soft matching bathrobes that previously hung neglected in our respective closets. Mine is now thoughtfully tossed onto the floor beside the bed each evening as I quote-unquote retire, a concept that's taken on ridiculous dimensions. Stretching, yawning, getting "ready for bed," climbing in and knowing that the whole thing make go down in flames in — what was that? — 25 minutes? It could happen. It often does.

Libby sleeps with us. It was one of the early head-scratchers and hand-wringers. We've got no less than three amazing cradle-bed type contraptions, all of which are absolutely divine nests — a series of condos, if you will — for Mr. Mustard, who we cannot keep out of them. And why not? It's not like Libby Lee has spent a second (yet) in any of them. No, she sleeps between Lucy and I and if you disapprove, keep it to yourself. We're done debating it.

I remember probably the second night we were home and I slept on my side, my arm wrench-wrapped around my baby girl, my shoulder wrenching out of its socket, weighing the relative discomfort of my position to the wonder of my sleeping daughter — and the threat of her waking. Or: would I roll onto her and smother her? Better just to stay exactly like this and not sleep.

The next night I got my another taste of her charm. Sleeping between us now, she would squirm, while fully swaddled towards me, gazing longingly — and inaccurately — upon me as a food source. Smack smack smack… squirm squirm squirm. I'd doze off for just moments and open my eyes to her … nearer and nearer. The next time I wake up, it's to a peculiar sensation of Libby Lee latching on to my shoulder. Uh-uh, girlie! You've got the wrong one!

We'd heard the worst. You'll roll onto her. She'll smother. It's dangerous. (Not unanimous, but still…) One night, with my wife asleep and our daughter slumbering, squinched up to her side, my hand resting on the impossibly perfect curve of the Little Shoogie, I found some strange resolve and defiance inside me that said: She's fine. We're fine. We're all going to sleep together and be fine, and anybody who says otherwise can go to hell. This is great, the best. 

And it is. Sleeping with the Little Shoogie cleaved up against my collarbone, her impossibly perfect legs tucked up against her belly in a way that only Bikram can really pull off, is the best — the very best.
Considered with my daughter bouncing in the bouncing seat beside me to the strains of The Free Design Sing for Very Important People and Stewart Copeland's Rumble Fish soundtrack, which is a record I've always always wanted to play for a baby.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Month Old is the New Four Weeks Old

the stolen nap.
A month. It's been a month since our beautiful baby was born. Things will never be the same. I can't believe how much I love her. My heart may explode at any moment. Earlier today I felt cheated because Lucy snugged in on the couch with her curled up on her chest like a giant cuddly beetle, if such a thing even existed. I was jealous because that's my MO — an afternoon nap with my daughter on my chest, snoozing away, a sleeping face impossibly beautiful, just inches from my own. I try not to breathe on her. I think I've got bad breath and I don't want to subject her to that. I don't want to subject her to anything at all. I call her Little Shoogie way too much.

I'm the research guy. I'm Mr. Step'n'Fetch-it. I'm the backup plan. I can't feed her with my body so I try to do everything else. I don't sleep much, but I'm pretty sure I sleep more than Lucy, which makes me feel guiltier than I've ever felt in my life.

I still feel some of the initial folly of "going to bed." I remember the first night home; getting ready for bed (yawn, stretch) and thinking there is no way this is going to happen. And I was, of course, correct. And it's been that way ever since. Which is fine. It's such a great exercise in low expectations, and an even better antidote to a lifetime of perfectionism.

Because: I can't control this little creature, my Little Shoogie. I can't make her do what I want and neither can Lucy. She's pure and primal. Until very very recently, all she's wanted to do — known to do — is eat, pee, poop and sleep. And cry as necessary in the process of executing any of the former. It's important not to take that personally and at 4:19 am it can be especially hard. But I'm in awe of this creature who has no hidden agenda, no grudges, and is operating on all new equipment.

Ironically, she's just the same as anybody else: she's just trying to be happy with the tools that she's got. Mostly this is about hunger and its slaking and sometimes its consequences. Coming off of the boob, Lucy often proclaims her drunk, as we both shake our heads with impossible joy over those eyes lolling around in their sockets, lips smacking when she really doesn't even know she has "lips." It's fucking crazy. Lately, she's come off the boob and launched immediately into crying which we don't fully understand but think it's probably one thing: she hurts for some reason. Her tummy hurts, for some reason that we hope will pass. Quickly.

I hold my girl — my Little Shoogie — in my arms often, so much, every day. Between Lucy and I she's really and truly almost never touched the ground so far. I look at her and I set a foot one more step down that parenting road, maybe slipping in ways that I've criticized others for in the past. I look in her insanely perfect little face and think and sometimes say: I'm your daddy and I love you and I won't ever let anything bad happen to you if I can help it. For as long as I live, I'll take care of you. I'll do everything I can to help you have everything you want. It's a slippery slope, I know. And I don't mean material things, I don't mean that One Impossibly Valuable Malibu Barbie or — you know — stuff.

I mean love.

Let's Get This Straight…

Lucy and I had a baby on September 17. Her name is Elizabeth Lee but we call her Libby Lee.

Beyond that — I hardly know where to start.

Lucy is the principal food source. This has been hard, but she's a champion.

Breastfeeding: I keep thinking who would have ever thought that something so natural (let's remember, we 'mammals' are named for the practice) could be so … unlearned. And that's true for baby and Mom. Fortunately, we're (I'll be using the term "we" loosely here) getting the hang of it, after a month. It was wildly alarming the first couple of weeks watching Libby Lee "not get it" and become insanely frustrated over not getting it. And also — quite normal, it seems.

In fact, the one thing we've heard over and over since entering parentland that is simultaneously comforting and maddening: That's normal. That sounds 'about right.'

Every time we've thought we had a scary, unusual situation on our hands, after losing even more sleep than usual, we consult the authorities (thank you, doctors! nurses! lactation specialists! youtube! books! friends!) and the response is: That's normal. How old is she? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Give us time, Libby Lee. It's only been a month, but we sincerely believe that we'll not be too incompetent at taking care of you. And that's a promise.