That house I was interested in on the park near my place…

You may recall a week or so back I was somewhat interested in a place that was up for action – a townhouse facing onto a park near our place.

Finally found out what it sold for. AU$541,000. Which is… well, it’s a lot less than some places I’ve seen. That’s practically achievable… Although of course we’d have to wait for another one in that row of townhouses to be for sale!

There used to be an old saying about an income multiplier, a rule of thumb about buying a property. I think the rough guide about housing affordability was to multiply your yearly income. If the house was more than three times that number, it was beyond you. This rule has been completely shot by the way real estate has gone berserk in this city, but still, that place is about five times our combined annual income. Hmmmm… gears are whirring in my head… I still need a place to store my child!

Finally, a story of real estate past. In about 1972 or 1973, my parents bought a house in Hawthorn. For $5,000. If I could go back in time, I could put that house on my credit card. The scary part, thought, is that at the time my dad was making $3,000 a year… Something is broken in the housing economy these days…

My last few days have been consumed by air

Pip Crying

Pip Crying

Specifically, the air in Pip’s stomach. Our little baby has colic. That is, assuming there is such a think as colic – there doesn’t seem to be an actual agreed definition. Come on people, some proper research please!

So I will use it in the sense that Pip has a lot of air in his stomach and belly, which either needs to come out as burps or as farts. The former being preferable, the latter means it’s made it’s way through his entire system. Which means lots of burping, lots of crying and lots of keeping him upright for hours.

But we seem to have finally gotten on top of it. D’s very wise GP diagnosed the root cause. D produces lots of milk (see can express 100 mills in one session), and Pip drinks a lot of milk very fast. Fast eating means also ingesting lots of air.

We’ve therefore developed a protocol. During feeds, D stops every five minutes and works out any burps Pip might have. Feeds him some more, then more burps, then more feeding, repeat until he’s full. Then he needs to be kept upright for anything up to half an hour. We have a Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier we pop him into, which frees up my hands for importing things like operating the remote control! We’ve also been using colic relief, which is some kind of herbal soothing thing. Which works, up to a point, but is not designed to release wind.

And we seem to have solved it. Twice in the last 24 hours, Pip has slept for a block of five hours. This is unprecedented, the longest he’s slept since he was born. Hopefully soon he’ll stretch it out to six or seven hours and we can get some nice normal sleep. Fingers crossed, be a good baby Pip.

Songs to sing to my kid

Apparently kids like being sung to. We’ll see how long Pip puts up with that when he realizes I can’t hold a tone and always sing out of key! Thankfully, the songs I know don’t require much by way of tunefulness.

But, at the same time, not entirely sure that my favourite songs – the one’s I actually know the words for – are going to work for him. Some examples…

“Wake” by the delightfully titled Godflesh.


“Just One Fix” by Ministry.


“Grand ole Party Crash” by Cage, featuring Jello Biafra. “I wake up to a caffeine cigarette vaccine and bathe in water I wouldn’t drink before gasoline. Feel like a loser because I’m not in Fallujah…”


“(He’ll never be an) Ol’ Man River” – TISM.
Damn it, now I want to go to a TISM gig. Which would be hard since they’ve broken up and their lead guitarist is dead…

You get the idea. I’m sure I can sing these songs to him, so long as no-one overhears me, and until he starts wondering what “I’m on the drug that killed River Phoenix” means! Or I suppose I could learn a nursery rhyme or two. Sigh.

*Flails arms in the air* “I’m on the druuuuuuuug! I’m on the druuuuuuuug!”

Misunderstanding the term “Helicopter Parenting”

I only heard the term “Helicopter Parenting” recently. More of the things one learns when about to be a daddy.

And I completely missed the point. Maybe it’s because I’m into aircraft that I didn’t think of a helicopter as something that was constantly hovering, but a craft that would drop in briefly out of the sky, then flutter off somewhere else, drop back in again etc. etc. But no, apparently a helicopter parent is one who is always hovering over their kids. A real helicopter wouldn’t do that – they’d run out of fuel or the pilot would get bored!

Not sure what kind of parent I’m going to be (aside from an awesome one, obviously). Given that I don’t jump and flail when Pip cries, I’m going to be more of a… hovercraft, floating smoothly above it all…

A Sudden Interest in owning Real Estate

I’ve never been much interested in owning real estate. Well, except in the most abstract sense. I could just never see myself committing to owning anything that large. Although if I think about the amount of rent I’ve paid over the last… Well, must be twenty years since I moved out of home. Suffice to say, at lot of land lords have made a killing out of me over the years, and indeed still are.

D is more interested in this stuff than me. Partly because she works with the homeless, and can go into great detail about how bad things can possibly get. I tend to think she’s seeing the really rough end of the housing market – literally.

And also the price of houses in this town have gone feral over the last ten years or so. My occasional glances at real estate ads became even more occasional as property prices went from steep to exorbitant to positively obscene over the last decade. Seriously, who are the people who can afford these prices? There can’t be that many asset rich baby boomers out there!

But then, since Pip was born, my mind has suddenly focused on a whole raft of things I’ve not given much thought to before. One of them is real estate. Suddenly I need a place to store my child in the long term.

Reasonable town house

Reasonable town house


This place was up for auction today. I didn’t make it to the auction – Pip had other ideas – but I did go to an inspection a few weeks back. It was actually a really nice place, a well laid out town house with a garden, three bedrooms and so on. It’s literally maybe one hundred metres from our place, but the thing that excited me about it no end is that it fronts onto a park. It’s front door is literally in the local park, really close to the play ground there. It would be an ideal place to raise a kid – walk out the front door to the park, go on the slides, kick a ball.

No idea what price it sold for, or indeed if it sold, but they were quoting $550,000, which is real estate agent speak for $600,000.

Sigh.

Not going to happen in the next few years. I’m the sole earner in the house at the moment, and if this Pip thing works out we might have another in few years. Aside from winning the lottery or getting a really, really well paid job, these things will be out of reach for a while yet.

Doing the night shift

It’s 1.27AM. I’ve been awake since about 6.45AM this morning. Went to work, went to the gym. And now I’m watching Pip sleep while he listens to James Brown.

Certain babies have been restless and colicky the last couple of days. Although last night he was good, slept in two blocks of three and a half hours. The only thing that makes him comfortable is being a bit upright and having a good burp.

D has gone to bed. I partly see my job these days as preserving her sanity, which is certainly much more secure when she’s had lots of sleep.

Pip seems to be finally sleeping… like a baby. I feel a bit like Bart Simpson and his science experiment, watching a potato grown. Yep, still just a baby. Let me check again… Yep, he’s still a sleeping baby…

The Many Things I can do for our baby and the one thing I can’t

I can do man things for our baby. I can bath him, change his nappies, take him for a walk, burp him when he’s full, help him go to sleep, brush his hair with the cutest little brush. And other things less directly related, like shopping and, weirdly, the strange urge I have to make our bed – as if that is going to make any difference to him.

But there is one crucial thing I can’t do.

I can’t feed him.

Pip is exclusively breast-fed. Which means no matter how much I might be able to settle him, no matter how much I try and preserve D’s sanity by helping her get as much sleep as she can, when Pip is hungry the only person who can help him is his mother. I feel bad sometimes, when I have to wake her from her slumber because Pip is definitely hungry. And he get’s hungry a lot, he sure is growing.

I know we could express milk and I could in theory feed him in the middle of the night. This might save D from one episode of getting up. But he’s only three weeks old, so he hasn’t really got a routine yet. Sometimes he cluster feeds, which can start at midnight and go for some hours. So the blocks of sleep D gets are not very long, and feeding him expressed milk would only make a small difference.

I can support her as best I can, getting her drinks and so forth, burping Pip and the like. But in the end, he needs to be on her boob to get his dinner.

Breast feeding is the best. He’s thriving on it and D is producing enough milk to keep up with him. I does mean, however, that the one crucial thing he needs is the one thing I can’t actually do.

So when does a child move from being a newborn to being a baby?

Our little baby Pip is just under three weeks old, in fact he’ll be three weeks old in about an hour and a ten minutes.

To me a newborn is a baby that still looks like it’s just been squeezed out. You know, they have a kind of befuddled expression, they still look a bit compressed, they have in parts flabby skin, and often little or no hair. Pip, in the last few days, has really stopped looking like this. His face is filling out, he almost has jowls and he just looks like a baby now.

I’ve done some research, by which I mean I spent two minutes reading the page on infants on the Wikipedia. (BTW, I do love how literal the Wikipedia is sometimes. The picture on that article is labelled “a human infant”.) Like just about every definition related to age, there’s no consensus – a newborn can be anything up to 28 days old.

So I’m going with baby from here on. We officially have an actual baby now, who looks most fetching in his lemon-yellow fleecy jump suit.

Two Weeks of Growing

Pip

Pip at 1 day

Pip at 2 weeks

Pip at 2 weeks


Here are some pictures of our little weed. He’s actually grown even more since that second picture was taken.

Typically, babies lose some weight in the first few days, then bounce back. Pip has sure done this! He was 2948 grams at birth (a number I seem to have filed away permanently in my brain), he dropped a bit close to 10% of his body weight in the first few days. If they lose more than ten percent, folks start to worry. But then he learned how to eat… After bottoming out at 2700 or so grams, at week one he was 2800, and then at week two he was 3310! He’d put on half a kilo in a week! I wish I could figure out some way that he could have one of my half kilos, we could arrange some kind of swap. He can have some of my belly fat…

I swear he’s still at it. He eats and eats, well, more accurately, sucks and sucks. D had been drinking water and eating like a horse, but even so her eyeballs got dry today!

And I swear also that he was visibly bigger last night than he was yesterday morning.

As you can see from the pictures, his little cheeks are filling out. When he was born he had loose skin on his thighs. Not any more, they’re starting to beef up. I assume this can’t continue indefinitely, but then that’s what a kid is supposed to do – grow for some 21 years then stop. I’ll still call him my baby when he’s 21, that’ll thrill him.

So far everything has been incredibly…. Normal…

Pip is 17 days old today. And so far, everything has been… exactly as I expected.

I’m no stranger to babies and infants. I’m a member of not one but two enormous extended families. My mother was one of six, my father one of four. I have about thirty two cousins, many of whom are old enough to be reproducing themselves. My “little” brother (now 27 and 6 foot 6) is 14 years younger than me, so I was changing his nappies and helping raise him when I was a teenager. And I have a three year old niece. Lets just say I’ve been around a lot of babies and kids!

So little Pip has so far presented no surprises. I helped him be squeezed out early one morning after an incredibly normal 38 week and two day pregnancy. The labour was incredibly normal, requiring no intervention and no pain relief. And life since has been exactly as expected. Pip feeds every two to four hours, is asleep for most of the rest of the time, except for maybe two fifteen minute periods awake a day when he’s not actively hungry. He poos his nappy about six times a day. He drank too much and got a bit colicky, and has managed to pee in his own face about four times. The perils of owning a penis!

Like I said, all incredibly normal. They tested his hearing in the hospital – it was normal. He lost some weight after birth, also normal, then started putting it back on hand over fist, which is, you guessed it, normal.

We’re both tired, in the last couple of weeks the longest uninterrupted block of sleep D has gotten was three and half hours. I’ve been tending to stay up late just watching him so she can sleep. But again, this is more or less exactly as I expected. Even the occasional poo accident, such as today where his nappy leaked all over D’s belly, was on the agenda months ago.

We had his two week checkup yesterday. There’s a simple list of things he’s supposed to have “achieved” by now such grasping fingers, look at sources of light, all of which he’s doing. If this keeps up I’ll have nothing to blog about!