My main job as a Daddy: Preserving Mummy’s Sanity

I have one important job as a new daddy, and that is making sure my partner retains her sanity!

The best way to do this, I’ve found, is to make sure she gets sleep. Her level of sanity is directly proportional to the amount of sleep she gets. Which is why I’m sitting up now watching Pip sleep while she gets at least a few hours before he gets hungry again.

D might also argue that preserving her sanity is a bit hard because of existing, underling insanity. Which predates this whole pregnancy and baby thing.

I’m back at work, which means I’m often spending my evenings minding Pip while D sleeps. This has the added advantage for me of providing lots of time for baby cuddles. Baby cuddles are the best thing in the whole world.

Quiet lately

Hey, it’s been a few days since my last post. Hasn’t been helped by the heatwave this city is experiencing. Sitting in front of a computer, or under a hot laptop, is not the best fun at the moment.

And… I started this blog thinking I could write down all my revelations about parenting, my insights into being a daddy and the like. The trouble is… I haven’t had any. As I’ve mentioned before, everything has been going very smoothly, and almost exactly as expected.

There must be revelations to be had for those who are first time parents, that I might reveal here. But there really can’t be many adults who haven’t been around children or people with children, long enough to glean some insight into what it’s all about. I myself baby-sat and changed many a nappy well before I became a dad. My little brother is fourteen years younger than me, so I was fiddling with safety pins and playing with Duplo when I was a teenager.

So the routine of changing nappies, burping a baby, giving him baths and so on, is just a routine. There are millions, nay, billions of parents out there who are doing these things every day. It’s not likely that there are many insights left to be had. It’s not like it’s any big secret. I have amused some of my childless friends with stories of epic shits and wee fountains, but these stories are entirely wasted on other parents. They’ve been there and done that and can usually top any gross story with an even grosser one.

I’m tired a great deal, although less so than D. Again, more or less as expected. I find I have less spare time than I used to – which isn’t helping me blog – but again this is also not a surprise. The house is often a mess, and we do lots of washing. We’ve had an endless stream of visitors. So far, so normal.

And I adore my son. Everybody who’s ever had a kid will tell you that, though, everybody who has a child knows the special intensity that comes from that kind of relationship. Stronger than you can imagine. Well, actually no, I pretty much expected to feel this way when D got pregnant, in fact I started to feel this way well before Pip was born.

Which leaves me with not a lot of material. A switch has been flipped in my life, from not being a daddy to being a daddy. And every parent on earth will already know what that feels like. I can’t even evangelise about it, the way some parents do. You want to have kids or you don’t, it’s your choice and I ain’t going to try and sway you one way or the other. Unlike, say, I might about politics. I’m liking being a parent, but I can see how some people might shy away from it their whole lives. Whatever, more pooey nappies for me.

So I will blog when the mood takes me, and when that mood coincides with actually having the time to do so.

On the Naming of Babies

There is apparently a celebrity out there called Robert Rodriguez who has a child called Rocket Valentino.

The naming of things is an important and weighty matter. I name everything around my place, as I explained in this post. My car has a name, my computers all have names – this tiny laptop of mine is called Tyrion Lannister, because it is small and powerful.

Michal Hutchence and Paula Yates have a child called Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. Should that be “had” since she is, now, an orphan.

I’ve heard two rules of thumb about naming children. One, will it get them teased in primary school? And two, will they be able to stand up in front of a board room and have their name not cause tittering. Some of the above fail this, but it’s not just celebrities. I went to high school with a woman who was known by her nick-name Coco. She grew up to become a lawyer, and went back to her real name! Then there’s the former CEO of a company I used to work for, who delighted in the name Elmer Funke Kupper!

Names of late have gotten bizarre, odd spellings of normal names, weird hyphenated names. The worst example I’ve heard recently? Elvis-Tiger.

I answered a call from a woman called Ishy the other day. Fails some tests there!

So when it came to naming our child, my criteria were simple: Interesting but not weirdly exotic, easy to spell and remember, and not rare but not too common either. Pip, as I’ve mentioned, is just his nickname, but lets just say he has one respectable, unhyphenated, first name and one surname – his mothers. I’ve got literally dozens of relatives, my family name is showing no signs of dying out, whereas D’s surname is shared by maybe six people.

I did at one stage want to give him a number as a middle name, but funnily enough D wouldn’t have a bar of that idea. Despite the excellent example of Jennifer 8 Lee.

And the winners in the name stakes? The four children of Frank Zappa, Dweezil, Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and of course who could forget Moon Unit!

Please Madam, May We Have the Dummy?

Pip Enjoys his Dummy

Pip Enjoys his Dummy

Dummies (or Pacifiers to you Americans) seem to go through phases of acceptability. Some of my cousin’s kids, who are teenagers now, never had them at all. A friend’s baby who is just over one gets you use one sometimes at night to help her settle. We’ve been told to not let Pip use one till he is six weeks old – which is, by the way, today. The current thinking being that they interfere with a baby learning how to feed.

(I’ve just looked up pacifiers on the wikipedia… There’s a wonderfully creepy section about adult sized dummies for people who like to dress up as babies….)

We were given a couple of them in one of the many piles of gifts we got when Pip was still in the womb. The other night, I cracked one out and popped it in Pip’s mouth. He was very grizzly and making hungry mouth motions, but could not possibly have fitted any more milk into his belly, full as it was of more milk and many burps! And it worked, to an extent. It really did calm him down. That sucking motion is comforting, Pip often likes to suck a nipple more than he should for the comfort rather than the milk.

However, D is very anti the Dummy, so when she found Pip asleep with it, after Daddy had run out of ideas to calm Pip down after three hours, she was annoyed with me – and has since hidden it somewhere. Pip and I may only use The Dummy if we beg and plead. The rules seem to be: only when Pip cannot be comforted any other way! Daddy clearly has differing ideas about how often that is. I’d argue he should get it when he won’t settle and shouldn’t be eating any more. I also think it helps him work out his gas…

Please, Mummy, can Pip have his dummy?

Pip’s First Bottle

Pip is a lucky baby – his mother produces lots of milk, so he has been exclusively breastfed since he was born. In fact, D produces so much milk she frequently expresses. 100 mil in 10 minutes is not unusual.

We decided, as part of our ongoing efforts to preserve D’s sleep, that I should feed him breast milk from a bottle, say, late at night. First, we thought we’d do a test run. Which went fine, I got the milk to a good temperature, Pip took to it heartily… And D stood over us both with an expression on her face that said “what are you doing with my baby!”

She had a seriously intense reaction. On a rational level she could see that it was working fine and Pip was feeding well, but on an intense maternal level she felt that her role was being usurped. Feeding the baby is this mummy’s job!

D calmed down eventually, but I’ve only fed Pip once since then… Which didn’t really work because he was sound asleep and couldn’t be roused. Which, you know, is a good thing in a baby…

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.