Son of the Ferg
Oliver has teeth now. Six or seven of them to be exact. As a result, we have to brush them. He has a love / hate relationship with brushing his teeth. On the one hand, he loves the idea of this new toy and the taste of the toothpaste (Fruity!), however he hates the actual activity of brushing his teeth. He’d much rather prefer to just stick the brush in his mouth and suck the toothpaste off. Don’t worry, it’s fluoride free for just that reason.
Anyway, Monica started singing when we first started brushing his teeth. I had no idea what this tune was at first. She had to tell me. It’s this little bit from Grease. I’ve seen the movie once and only remember a pre-Scientology John Travolta. Not this part.
This song is sung pretty much every time we brush Oliver’s teeth now. I’m even doing it when it’s just me and him. It got to the point where I was cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the toilet while singing “Brusha! Brusha! Brusha!” It should also be noted that I have no idea what the rest of the words are of the song. “Try the new bytano”? No clue.
The routine during the week now includes Oliver and I brushing our teeth together. I get him settled on the counter in the bathroom, facing the mirror because he loves to look at himself. (He’s his mother’s son.) Then I get his toothbrush together and try to coax him into letting me brush his teeth a bit. This involves me opening my mouth really wide and hoping that he mimics me. This works at first but the moment I stick the brush in there and try to scrub away, he pushes at it with his tongue and gets upset. Ultimately, I have to kind of hold his head steady and get in there which makes him cry. Once I get enough scrubs in, I hand him the brush to finish off the rest of the toothpaste. As mentioned previously, this really just means that he sucks on the brush. He also drools a lot.
This morning was a little different in that he was watching me like a hawk. The initial process was followed like normal and then I brushed my teeth while he played with his brush. I finish up and rinse and spit. Oliver watched me do this right next to him. Then he turned, looked at himself in the mirror…and spit all over it.
I guess I should be happy that he’s paying that much attention to understand what I’m doing, but now I have to clean this up. Thanks kiddo.
The next subject in my series of posts about things that no one really talks about when raising kids is fingernails. Also, how insanely quickly babies heal. Infant fingernails grow at a ridiculous rate. I have a feeling that if left untended, they would grow to be like one of those guys from the Guinness Book of World Records in a matter of days, all curly and stuff. Gross.
Anyway, their fingernails require constant attention because if they’re even a little bit over the finger, they’ll cut their faces open. I’m not saying that infants are like emo cutters looking for attention. It’s just that they rub their faces when tired and they have a tendency to do it in such a way as to scrape a stray thumbnail across their face. This happens ALL THE TIME. It’s insane. There was one week where I picked up Oliver from daycare and every other day I had to sign an incident report because he had a new gash on his face. I tried to explain to him that he doesn’t have to prove anything to the other kids. They already think he’s tough. It didn’t matter.
It’s not just himself that he cuts up either. I fell asleep holding him once and he got me right below the eye. It looked like I was in a knife fight but the real reason was far less cool. He also does this thing when I feed him too where he plays a thumb war with my fingers, but mine don’t fight back. Instead it’s like a carpet bomb against my cuticles as he gouges at them over and over again.
To combat these self-inflicted facial lacerations and parental abuse, you have to constantly check out the kid’s fingernails. There are these flimsy nail scissors you can use to cut them but there are also these sturdy tiny nail clippers that work a lot better. The trick to trimming the nails is to do it when the child is sleeping. Trying to do it when they’re awake or even pre-occupied with a bottle or a toy is nearly impossible. You have to forcibly hold the kid’s finger with one hand and try to get a line with the nail clipper with the other all while he’s flailing about, trying to get free.
Fortunately for babies, they have a crazy fast recovery time. Oliver would scratch his face and the next day you couldn’t even tell it was there. This seems to be the case with other bumps and bruises. He had his first real tumble a few weeks ago and ended up with this big bump on his forehead. This was completely gone the next morning. It’s for this reason that I think my kid is a baby version of Wolverine from the X-Men. He’s got sharp claws and a fast healing factor. Plus, I think I saw him with a cigar the other day, but I could have been imagining it.
I realized after I completed my previous post that I left out the main reason that I wrote it. Despite being almost 5 months old, my son still wakes up in the middle of the night a few times a week. Sometimes all he needs is a pacifier and he’s out cold. Others require a diaper change. When this happens, he wakes up a bit more and just starts smiling at me. It’s difficult to get annoyed at him for waking me up at 3 AM when he’s looking up at me like that. It’s like he’s saying “Hey Dad, let’s hang out.” I’ve read a couple parenting books and both of them say something about cherishing this time with your child. I can almost understand that but it’s still crazy. There’s no part of waking up at some weird hour that I enjoy. I guess the idea is that you’re never going to have time like this with your kid again. Everything is still and quiet. It’s just the two of you. Awww…
Anyway, with all that being said, I’ve come to the decision that one night over the course of time that Oliver is living under my roof, I’m going to wake him up one night. It won’t be for a little while and probably not until he’s at least a teenager, but one night, I’m just going to go into his room, wake him up, and hang out with him. If he asks why, I’ll point out that he always seemed to want to do this as a child and I wasn’t able to do so at the time. This sounds like cruel parenting in a way and I’m not saying I’m going to torture my child by preventing sleep. I’m planning on doing this just once.
I’m debating whether or not to tell this to Oliver or to just spring it on him. I think I want to tell him because that way he can appreciate every morning that he wakes up after a good night’s sleep. That was not an opportunity that was extended to me when he was an infant. I guess it can also be some sort of “Scared Straight” idea about safe sex. Geez, when I put it that way it sounds like I want revenge against my kid because I didn’t get enough sleep.
I’ve already talked about the fact that when someone sees my kid, they inevitably think that he’s pooping. When they don’t physically see him and just ask me about him, there are two questions. They go as follows:
These are asked by everyone. Old people. Young people. People with kids and those without. Even if they’ve never actually seen a baby, they ask these questions. It’s a universal thing and 99.9% of people don’t really care. It’s just what you’re supposed to say, I think.
The sleeping thing struck me as unusual at first. I’ve commented previously that the one piece of “advice” I received while Monica was pregnant was that I should get in as much sleep as I can. According to what I’ve read, the magic age for an infant sleeping through the night is 3 months. That’s the magic age for lots of stuff. They’re supposed to be able to roll over, keep their head up, and basically have more control over their bodies. These things are true but it’s not a switch that is suddenly flipped. Just as you have occasions where you have a good night’s sleep or times where you’re tossing and turning, babies do too.
We’re to the point now where Oliver mostly sleeps through the night. If he does wake up at all, he’s not hungry. He just needs a diaper change and a quick swaddling and he’s out in a few minutes. It’s still annoying to have to wake up in the middle of the night, but the whole process lasts maybe 15 minutes tops. Previously I’d have to make a bottle while he was screaming his head off then get upstairs, change him, and feed him. Meanwhile, he’d wake up Monica, thus disrupting both of our slumbers.
Before you ask, yes I take the midnight shift. I take care of the kid if he gets up between midnight and 5 AM. I’m told this is rare. I can function on less sleep that Monica can and I got a system down early on for handling him. That being said, if I hear him fussing and the clock says 5:01 AM, I am not getting up. Sorry, dear.
So, long story longer and to answer your question, my infant son is sleeping as well as any normal person who can’t stand up on his own or use the toilet.
One constant that I’ve encountered whenever anyone sees, holds, and has any other interaction with my now 4 month old son is the phrase “Oh, he must be pooping.” Any time the kid makes a weird face or looks off into the distance for a moment, the first thought that comes to everyone’s mind is “That baby is totally dropping a deuce.” Here’s the thing: Babies are just miniature versions of adults. They poop just as often as big people do, which is about once a day. It’s more often if he takes a trip to Taco Bell, but who doesn’t? I don’t know why this is such a universal constant with everyone that comes into contact with Oliver.
I can tell you from experience that when a baby poops, you’ll know. His face gets all red like he’s trying really hard to think of something…or you know…pushing out excrement. It’s the same expression that anyone would have if they were struggling to pinch a loaf in their pants while laying down. That’s the other thing. We’re so used to toilets that we have no idea how hard it would be to take a crap while laying on our backs. Just think of that for a second. How would that even work? Babies do it all the time! Sometimes they do it in their sleep!
Since we’ve had Oliver in daycare, I’ve had good luck with the #2’s. I went about two weeks without having to change a poop-filled diaper because he manages to time them when he’s in the care of someone else or when Monica is on diaper duty. It’s not that bad to deal with but that stuff just gets everywhere.
Anyway, I hope that this has dispelled some myths regarding the facial expressions on the faces of infants. Sometimes they look weird because what they’re looking at is strange and different to them. That includes you. Don’t take it personally. Just be glad they’re not shitting on you.
As my son gets older, I’m discovering all kinds of things that people just don’t tell you about being a parent. These are things that are not shown in movies or TV shows. No one talks about them. They’re not bad. It’s just not something that I was necessarily prepared for. One such thing is snot. The fact that my kid was going to have a runny nose some time in his life was an inevitability. What I didn’t think of was what he would do when he was three months old and had a stuffy nose. He can’t speak and can only communicate via crying when he’s hungry, tired, wet, or in some sort of distress. He can’t even hold himself upright just yet. How can I teach him how to blow his nose into a tissue?
Instead, my infant son just kind of grunts and snorts a lot. He’s trying so desperately to breath out of his nose but it’s filled with boogers. He hasn’t quite mastered the switch to breathing out of his mouth. Instead I hear him making all these weird noises as he pushes the snot back and forth within his nostrils. To combat this, we attempted to use a nasal aspirator. It’s this little ball thing with a point at the end. It looks like this:
You squeeze the bulb and stick the pointy thing in a nostril. Then you release the bulb and it’s supposed to suck the snot out. It’s a great idea in theory but it doesn’t do shit. It just kind of blows air back and forth. My wife did some reading and found a bunch of moms giving rave reviews for a device called the Nosefrida. At the time of this writing, the Nosefrida has 1,314 five star reviews on Amazon. This is a patented object designed specifically to suck boogers out of a kid’s nose. After hearing her talk about it, I was expecting a battery operated vacuum that would not only allow my son to breath normally again, but clean up around his nose and possibly prevent further clogs. Instead this thing is really just a tube. That’s about it really. You stick one end in a nostril and the other end in your mouth then you suck. You are literally sucking boogers out of your kid’s nose. Here’s a picture of it in action:
Now, it’s not like there’s a ton of gooey substance up there in the first place. The kid’s got a small nose. He’s got a small everything really. He’s a baby. There’s no fear of the snot making its way up the tube and into my mouth. That being said, I’m a little weirded out by this. Sure, I’ve changed diapers and I’ve gotten poop on my hands that was not my own, (Side note: I have avoided getting peed on so far though.) but this seems like a whole new level. When discussing it with the lady at day care, she said she couldn’t do that if she had kids. She could watch a child being born and take care of all of those things, but this was the point that was over the line for her.
So, Oliver, my son, this is how much your father loves you. I stuck a tube up your nose when you were three months old and I sucked the snot right out of your face. Please remember this when you’re a teenager and I don’t let you do something and you get pissed at me. You’re welcome.
The events leading up to the birth of my son, Oliver happened very quickly. There are aspects of it that I remember and Monica does not and vice versa. Between the two of us, we were able to piece together the 36 hours it took to bring him into this world.
First off, we received three different due dates during the course of Monica’s pregnancy. They were March 4th, March 6th, and March 8th. The 6th was the most recent one so that’s what we were going by. That day came and went without incident. Then, at about 8:30 PM on Thursday, March 7th, Monica’s water broke. After consulting with her doctor, she was instructed to come into the hospital when her contractions were four minutes apart or 7 AM the next morning, whichever came first. At this point, we waited. I emailed work to let them know I wouldn’t be in the next day, then I played some Lego Batman 2. I went to sleep around midnight.
Monica woke me up at around 5 AM. She had been up since 2 AM with contractions, walking around the house. It was time to go to the hospital. We arrived at around 5:30 and got checked in to the Labor and Delivery wing. They were in the midst of a shift change so the doctor and nurse that got us set up left within an hour. This was disappointing as the doctor that was on duty was a friendly one that Monica liked. The next one coming up was the one that everyone hated. The other women in our Lamaze class all hated this lady too. This was not looking optimistic as we would have to deal with this lady for 24 hours.
After walking around the maternity ward for a little while in an effort to move the labor along, Monica was put on Pitocin, a drug that would get things moving a bit. Unfortunately this meant that she would be confined to the bed until the baby was born. We watched some stuff on my tablet and basically hung out for awhile. When the contractions got to be more intense, she was put on some pain medicine that made her drowsy. She slept for about two hours and I attempted to do the same in the strange pull out chair that was in the room.
Here’s the thing about sleeping in the Labor and Delivery wing: It’s very difficult. I was encouraged to sleep and be as well rested as I could be as I needed to be there for my wife. There was a weird chair in the room that extended out into a pseudo-bed after pulling a variety of straps and handles. If I managed to get comfortable enough to fall asleep for a few minutes, it would inevitably be interrupted by a loud page over the intercom, a screaming woman next door giving birth, or the IV machine beeping for what felt like forever. This combined with the fact that I only had a couple Pop Tarts and Famous Amos cookies to eat for about 6 hours, was making me feel woozy.
Fortunately, the nurse staff ordered me breakfast. This arrived about four hours later. I inhaled two cold pieces of French toast and went back to helping Monica. As a man, there’s not much else you can do in this situation. You hold her hand and help her breath through the contractions. You keep her company and comfort her when necessary. You really just have to be there and support the hell out of her because she’s doing something amazing and it cannot compare to anything you will ever do in your life.
OK. Time passed. This part is a little hazy. I don’t think much was going on really. Monica wasn’t progressing all that much but the contractions were increasing in intensity and pain. She got to the point where she couldn’t take it anymore and was put on an epidural. Whoever invented this procedure is a saint. Basically, pain medication is injected right near her spine and a catheter is put in to keep it a continuous flow of the drug. The effect is that she can’t feel the pain going on in the lower half of her body. This was a pretty immediate change and it was very helpful. Up until this point, it was difficult to watch, not because it was unpleasant but because I was basically sitting there powerless as my wife was in near constant pain. This helped her a great deal and I’m thankful for it.
Monica rested for a bit and I tried to get some sleep. It’s at around this time that I came down with a horrendous headache. This is one that can completely knock me out. I felt nauseous. Usually these headaches are cured with a quick nap but as I mentioned before, sleep is difficult when you’re a guest in the hospital. Somehow, I managed to get a few winks of slumber before the fun began.
At around 1 AM, Monica was dilated enough to start pushing. She did not feel the urge to push, but the nurse (the 4th one that we had seen) said that the baby was low enough and she should start trying to push him out. She started and kept trying in a variety of positions for about 1.5 hours. Nothing happened. Also, this is the part of the delivery that you see in the movies, but there’s not a team of people rushing around to do stuff just yet. Instead, it’s just the one nurse that’s helping and encouraging Monica and there’s me. No one else comes in until the baby is really ready to come out.
This nurse was the nicest of the bunch. She was Phillipino and she talked with a bit of an accent. Between pushes, she told us about her life and family and asked us questions about hours. At one point, she was telling us about her cat. I heard the name as “Whizzle” which I thought was weird, but sounded kind of cool. She said that the cat got that name because he would follow her son around when he would whistle. Ohhhhh!! Whistle! The cat’s name is “Whistle” not “Whizzle.” I guess that makes more sense. (NOTE: Monica claims that she heard the woman right and I’m crazy for thinking this. She was also on pain medication at the time.)
After pushing for some time with no real progress, Monica took a break and got some more rest. I tried to get some rest and ended up reading some comics. It wasn’t until around 7 AM on Saturday (now over 24 hours in the hospital), that she began to push again. This time we were ushered along by an Eastern European nurse. She came in during the shift change and proceeded to decrease Monica’s epidural drip and started moving her around like a rag doll. This was an abrupt change from the pleasant woman that we dealt with overnight. This lady would grab Monica’s leg and whip it around or move her over before she was ready to scoot along the bed. It was crazy. The best part was what she would say when Monica was pushing. She’d alternate between says “Stronger! Stronger! Stronger!” which sounded like “Stronga! Stronga! Stronga!” and saying “Push-Push-Push-Push-Push.” It’s now almost two months after this happened and I’m still giggling whenever anyone says either of those words because this woman is what immediately comes to mind.
After a few more hours of pushing, the doctor came in and figured out what the hold up was. It seemed that the baby didn’t turn all the way like he was supposed to. When the baby comes down the birth canal, he rotates 90 degrees to fit through the pelvic bones and then turns back. This is because the kid’s head is too big to fit through normally. Oliver was basically stuck. No one was worried because his heart beat was steady throughout the entire labor. To help get him out, the doctor used a small vacuum that attached to the top of his head and basically sucked him out. This part of the process lasted just a few minutes and before we even realized it, he was plopped right on Monica’s chest.
I was holding Monica’s hand throughout this part and I stayed with her as they cleaned up the baby. I did cut the cord and it is a really weird feeling to do so. It’s not like cutting string or anything. It’s flesh and sinew and it’s icky, but it’s my kid. After they cleaned off the muck, I sat and held my son for the first time. He grabbed onto my finger and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. Here was a little person that was half me and half Monica and he was only 20.5 inches long.
So that’s how Oliver came into this world. There’s more to this story but this post is already long enough. Next up we have the move to the maternity ward, bringing Oliver home, and learning how to keep him from crying.
One month ago today, I became a father. I wish I could tell you that it was a sweeping change that immediately altered my entire way of life, but that’s not how it happened. In fact, the feeling of being a dad didn’t really hit me until almost three weeks after my kid was born. It wasn’t that I was neglecting my child or forgetting he was around. It’s just that I didn’t think of myself as a father for a little while. The things that went through my mind were the same ones that I had before my son came around. I was still thinking of what comics I was going to read later or what video game to play this weekend.
So anyway, here’s Oliver Rhys Ferguson. He’s now one month old and he’s pretty great. I know that Egon Raphael was a cool name, but we weren’t really going to call him that.
The one thing that people said a lot when they found out Monica was pregnant was “Enjoy your sleep now.” That’s not really a piece of advice and it’s kind of annoying. I understand that newborns don’t sleep through the night, just as I understand that they’re not going to have a job or use the toilet. Although people tried to warn me that I would be incredibly sleep deprived, it hasn’t been nearly as bad as they made it out to be. (Side note: Not a single person offered any suggestions as to how to get the kid to sleep longer.) Monica and I split the night up into shifts. I take the first feeding that happens between 10 PM and midnight and she handles the next one. Then I take care of him in the morning as I’m getting ready for work. This allows us each to have long stretches of rest and it’s helped a great deal.
In preparation for Oliver’s arrival, I read Dad’s Pregnant Too, which wasn’t a bad book but it was written in a very hokey style that I couldn’t get into. It offered some good tips but many were incredibly basic. If you seriously need to be told not to call your pregnant wife “fat”, you’re a friggin’ moron. As a follow up to this, I’ve been reading The Happiest Baby on the Block. It was referenced a few times in Dad’s Pregnant Too and elsewhere so I figured I’d give it a whirl. This one reads like an informercial in many ways, with the author talking about ancient baby-calming secrets that he’s going to share with you. The stuff I’ve learned from the book has been helpful so it was worth my time to read it.
The past few posts I’ve made on this site have been about how I’d like to write more. I don’t intend to turn this into a Daddy Blog, constantly posting about my kid, but he’s obviously a big part of my life now. There will be many more posts about Oliver and the various things he does or does not do. I’d love to show him these posts one day and show him all the stupid things he’s done when he’s older. “Yes, Oliver, you once peed on your own face. Apparently this is something that all guys do when they’re babies. The President probably did it too.” So, I’ve created a new category on the blog called Son of the Ferg that will house all posts made about my child. That’s where those will live for the time being.