Six weeks

Six weeks ago today Little Bear was born.

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A procrastinator like his mother, he was almost a full week late, which was not entirely welcome during a summer which was unrelentingly hot, in a state where almost no one (us included) has air conditioning. So it was a relief Sunday afternoon when contractions became intense and regular enough for me to insist we go to the hospital, and after an intense 14 hour night he came into the world with all parts where they should be, healthy and just shy of 9 pounds.

And on his mother’s birthday.

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I hesitate to do so because she’s a modest woman and I quite lack the terms to do so properly, but I must brag for the extraordinarily calm (and drug free) way she labored and gave birth.  During and after she thought the nurses were merely flattering as they kept lauding her stoicism, but she earned every word.  (I want to add that anyone who could have been inside my head would not have called me calm, or stoic, or zen, or thought me in control of anything…  labor was not calm for me, only I didn’t raise my voice much, so everyone else thought I was calm – M)  Sometime between 4 and 5 in the morning, in the whirlpool tub, right when labor was really earning its name, M started falling asleep, grabbing 20-40 second naps between contractions.  No one noticed besides me, and even that took me a while, but once I got there the analogy between her intractable situation and the sleep walking, biking, and rafting I’ve done during things likes the Kokopelli Trail race and Wilderness Classic was immediate and logical.  If the only way out is through you might as well grab what little respite is on offer.

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The first night home was, naturally, full of terror.  After a few days and the realization that we probably weren’t going to kill him, or he us, things got more relaxed.  Thankfully he’s been a fairly good sleeper from the very beginning, and the weeks since have been tiring, but sustainable.

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Together we’ve changed around 500 diapers, conservatively.  Aside from the repetition, I’ve yet to see why this is a big deal.  Breast-fed poop is after all both infrequent and easy to clean up and off, and the faces which accompany infant farting and crapping are as funny as anything else on earth.

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Adapting our daily routine has occasionally been challenging, especially given the impressive hourly total he spends feeding each day, which I vastly underestimated.  We’re quiet people, which suits a baby well, but we’ve had to stretch our patience and admit that all three of us are short on energy these days, and a 4 mile hike can be a physical and logistical challenge.

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Time at home has been precious, which is convenient, as we’ve spent more weekend time on the couch in the past four months as in the previous four plus years.  It is easier for me to say that, not being the food source and thus being free from the profound and immediate demands which go along with that.  No matter how many diapers I change, walks I take him on, and spit bubbles I clean there’s an inherent asymmetry about which little can be done.  Often my duties are like the one I’m doing now, rocking him with my left foot, occasionally tickling him with my left hand, and trying to not make too many errors as I type and watch him flail and gurgle happily.  Simple stuff compared to 45 minute feedings at 2 in the morning.

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In the grand scheme of parenting this is simple stuff.  When he cries he wants one of four things, and while rocking, feeding, changing, and adding or removing clothes and blankets might be inconvenient, it’s never especially complicated.  Today he can grab my thumbs with both hands and hold on strong enough that I can lift most of his body off the floor, something which is only a week old.  As neural pathways grow at blinding speed so too will our jobs as parents.  Fortunately we chose each other well, and are ready.

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11 thoughts on “Six weeks

  1. I’ve been waiting for post, as my wife gave birth to our first son just three weeks prior (he’s 10 weeks old tomorrow). You are much better with words, however I can only agree to everything said. A few thoughts:
    1. The only thing funnier than infant farts are indeed infant poops, and when he (Braxton) does, the whole body going into a stage of exhaustion/relaxation, Ive often wondered at what age does that stop, because that looks so comfortable.
    2. I too don’t get the hype of horror when changing diapers. Maybe digging/using so many catholes provides some immunity to it??
    3. I spied the sleeper rocker in your previous post, that has been the only thing he likes sleeping in at night.
    4. Whoa! Congrats to M for no drugs! (should be number one)
    5. The four things of crying are just three at this point for my wife and I, exception to the blanket. Very iinteresting to hear that point.
    6. The first night home I’m pretty sure I woke up to his toes wiggling I was nervous enough.
    7. My wife and I were saying same thing about so much weekend couch time. We have been married for 3 years and together for 10, and both couldn’t recall spending so many consecutive weekends in a row at the house without any guilt of being lazy.
    8. Can’t wait to see what new gear will be made or how list will change, still early at this point) but none-the-less curious to see what you design.

    9. Congrats to you and your wife! I look forward to further family related posts!

    1. Thanks Jon and everyone, and congrats to you and your wife.

      Backpacking is still a bit intimidating at this point, mostly because the unpredictable outcries in the middle of the night seem like a potent bear lure. We just got back from an overnight lookout trip, and I don’t know if it was the new setting, us getting temp regulation wrong, or just an unknowable factor, but he regressed to one week old and was up yowling every 2 hours. Not so encouraging.

      It will be great when he can hold his head up. A colleague gave us an old Kelty kid carrier, and moding it take a Seek Outside belt, better shoulder straps, and have more storage was fairly easy and is mostly done. Until I can do a wrap and backpack simultaneously, but it’s hot. The wrap does put him to sleep very well, though.

  2. Congratulations! Such a great time!! I found that I really preferred a front carry (Moby, or Ergo) and a backpack for the first year. I could take the pack off (to rest, or at the end of the hike) and not have to disrupt the little guy (who often fell asleep in the Moby). And I worried less about his warmth (not an issue for you at this time of year, I can imagine) if he was against me. Plus it was easier to talk with him in the front pack–though the terrain definitely dictates when a front pack isn’t ideal. Also, I’ve found the (albeit pricey) Merino wool sleep sacks to be awesome, both in general but also for camping. My guy is a squirmer so even now, at 2, we put him in one when we go camping. Anyways, happy adventuring! I look forward to seeing where you all go…

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