The Ongoing Mouth Feel Experiment

Babies are experimental scientists. This is the theory a friend of ours has. Let’s test this theory shall we?

One thing about being a baby – everything is new and odd and to be explored. Initially this means learning how to breathe, and slowly how to use one’s limbs and face. And then things that us adults take for granted, like gravity.

Pip’s favourite ongoing experiment is what I call the ongoing mouth feel experiment. You’ve all seen babies performing this one, the method is simple – if I can grab it, it goes in my mouth! Toys, adults fingers, rocks, grass, dust bunnies, everything. I tried it out with one of Pip’s bath toys, a small plastic purple octopus. And you know what, it was really interesting! This little toy had lots of fun lumpy surfaces which I could feel on my tongue, and I could squeeze it with my mouth in a delightful way. Try it for yourself, although I couldn’t persuade D to have a turn.

The other experiment common to Pip and all babies is the “Does Gravity Work?” experiment. This again has a very simple methodology. All you need is an object in your hand – food, toy, water bottle, anything. Then, sitting in a sufficiently high place, a high chair is ideal, drop the object and observe what happens. Repeat the experiment as often as possible, although this will be limited by the parameter called “parental patience”. And repeat it with different objects on different days – does gravity affect this cup? Does gravity work on a Tuesday? What about at Grandpa’s place? The variations are endless!

I’d like to play a little trick on Pip one day, attach a fine thread to something he likes to drop, and then have him look in wonder as it floats in mid-air! I imagine this would trigger another extensive round of experimentation.

Other experiments Pip conducts: The head shaking experiment. The protocol is simple, shake one’s head like you’re saying “no”. This makes the world look all jittery and interesting.

The “what are these things on the end of my legs?” experiment. Feet, you know, they’re strange and curious and must be studied.

And then of course there’s the “What’s this thing in my groin region that feels so good to play with?” Boys stop conducting this experiment when they’re about twenty five years old.

So the next time your kid flings something on the floor, or chews mown grass or stares at his toes, think of the little baby as a budding researcher, studying the world.

Pip At Six Months

Has it really been six months? My goodness, it’s only been six months!

Pip

Pip at 1 day

Pip at 6 months

Pip at 6 months


Our “little” baby is already half a year old. He’s on track to be triple his birth weight soon, and is 15 centimetres longer than when he was born. And yet this is apparently typical of babies – he’s bang on the fiftieth percentile for growth and weight. There must be some really big babies out there if he’s average!

It amazes me because he plays on the floor in the exact spot where D was kneeling whilst in labour with him. He was inside just six months ago, now he’s a little person holding things with his hands, eating solid food and growing.

If you looked at two pictures of me taken six months apart, there’s be no difference. I’d probably be wearing the same tshirt, might have gotten some new glasses. But I haven’t done any actual growing since about 1990. Whereas Pip… Well, the pictures don’t do it justice, although you can see how his little face has filled out.

Here’s another shot:

Pip with his first outfit

Pip with his first outfit


He fitted into that outfit in his first few weeks.

I’m still amazed that he exists. Almost every day I exclaim “Look, we made a person!” to D, who has taken to just rolling her eyes when I do. We did make him, although it was D that did most of the work, there in her belly. And now we get to bring him up, which I’m looking forward to.

Fat baby is fat

Pip is one fat baby. He looks like a series of rolls of fat, with some hands and feet sticking out the ends. He’s been gaining about 600 grams a month. Breast milk must be pure fat – and D makes a lot of it. She also has what they call fast let down, which just means there’s a veritable gush of milk from her right from the start of a feed.

And yet the little man, who is five months old now, is apparently average. Babies must be big these days…!

Some New Phrases for you Lexicon

Rorschach Ink Blot test

Rorschach Ink Blot test

Rorschach Poo: When the contents of your baby’s nappy looks like an ink-blot.

Macbeth Poo: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
– Macbeth, scene 5.

Back to work, Monkey Boy

I was lucky enough to have three weeks of paternity and annual leave from the time when Pip was born. Which meant we had three weeks to establish patterns and get used to this whole being parents thing. Pip still hasn’t quite settled into a pattern yet, although he’s getting better – he has actually slept through the night a few times, and has taken to sleeping in four hour blocks. But I did get to spend three weeks with Pip and D, sleeping when he slept, holding him at 4AM when he needed it, getting burps out.

After three weeks off, I worked part time for a couple of weeks. Now I’m back on the full time treadmill. But because Pip was born only a few weeks into the new year, and with the addition of holidays and the like, I’ve only worked four five day weeks so far this year. This week will be the fifth, so I’m girding myself for it. I fully expect to lose my shit sometime around 11AM on Thursday!

Work has also changed for me, because now I’m working for Pip, I gotta pay the rent and keep him in nappies. Concentrates one’s mind a bit more.

Being a parent really does chew up one’s spare time, which in fact I full expected. Goes with the territory. Thankfully I’m enjoying it no end, watching my baby grow and pull faces.

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.

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.

Ten Days In – A Review

Pip

Pip


I just realised I’d not every put a picture of Pip on here. So here you are, Pip!

Pip is ten days old – actually eleven – as I write this. His due date is tomorrow, February 1st. Like I said, tissue of lies those dates!

It seems like months ago that he was born, and not because of the continuing sleep deprivation. It’s not actually as bad as it could be, D my partner has been letting me sleep, which means I’m on day duty, watching him while he naps and she sleeps. No, it seems like months ago because he’s already changing. In the first few hours his tiny head sprung back into a reasonable shape, after coming out looking like a garden gnome’s hat. Then he was a bit more jaundiced than they’d like so soon after his birth – he was yellow almost to his navel. Which made him a bit groggy his first few days, and meant he didn’t feed very well. We resorted to expressing colostrum and feeding it to him with a syringe.

That stage only lasted about 48 hours though, then he got the idea about feeding, and took to it enthusiastically. Babies always loose some weight in the first days after being born, and then start gaining it rapidly when they really get feeding. He’s still wasn’t quite back at his birth weight last wight in, but was gaining on it and will probably have surpassed it next time he gets weighted.

We’ve been very very lucky. We had a good birth, which I do need to write up, and we have a good healthy baby who eats well and sleeps in useful chunks of two to three hours.

It’s amazing to watch his little body waking up. His digestion started working straight away, producing weird tar-like poo in the first few days, gradually shifting to a more normal baby yellow poo. He still flails when his arms and legs are free, he has these limbs but doesn’t know how to use them! And he’s a fully formed human, a tiny little version thereof, a person rendered in miniature. Tiny fingernails, tiny feet, tiny little eyes all in a little package that’s still less than three kilos.

And… I’m really liking being a dad. I’ve come to live for the times I can hold him to my chest. We made this little human, this warm little blob that has a lot of interesting growing to do.