Well, I had intended to write one of these things every month, but its been a much busier time for the Cainades than originally thought. Things have wound down a bit, and I am finally getting to this. I hate that some of this stuff is such old news at this point, but I will be happy I wrote it down someday. I made some notes along the way, so some of these thoughts do originate during the time period about which I’m writing, though all filtered through my current state. As I mentioned the last time, this is just a sharing of our parenting story for our own purposes, not meant to be advice, nor a source of judgement (of us, or by us on others).
Month Four – Harvey the Meerkat
Nickname: Isama (As in – It’s A My Harvey)
What’s New: We are officially out of the “fourth trimester” and it feels great. I can honestly say up until this point, every month felt a little tougher as the newness wore off and the difficulties increased, but somehow this month seems easier than the last. I liken it first to a heightening in our confidence as parents. I think this is a result of understanding more and more what makes Harvey most content and happy. Secondly, we’ve reached even further levels of joy as we watch Harvey take notice in the world around and interact with it as well as seeming to recognize us as his parents. When we hold him, rather than hold his head into our chest, he has started to jut his head upward to take in the world around him (hence the Meerkat). He as also taken a notice to TV screens (more on this later), to the point where we can put him in front of the TV and he will be entertained for 10 or 15 minutes.
Thinking about appropriate “screen time” isn’t something I have even begun to consider, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to come up this early in Harvey’s life. It is a small reminder of the countless decisions we have to make and think about everyday… For now, sometimes you just need 10 minutes so you can use the bathroom or fix a plate of food, so hopefully a little Sesame Street at 4 months old won’t cause too much damage.
What’s Working: We started getting serious about some infant massage this month, thanks to my mom who has taught infant massage classes the past couple of decades. We found this to be a great age to do the massage, while Harvey isn’t too wiggly yet, and it is an activity we enjoy as parents, and Harvey seems to as well. Plus, Harvey’s skin is so soft and plump, its like massaging a stress ball. It is as much a massage for our hands as it his for his body. Harvey inspired my mom to create some YouTube videos of her doing the different massage strokes with him as a dummy. The clip below is my favorite outtake.
What’s Worrying: Well, for one, we decided to buy a new house and sell our old one. The stresses of this I think are pretty self-evident, not to mention, while trying to care for an infant. Perhaps the biggest fear, isn’t so much the move itself, but that we are losing time with Harvey as a result of all the time and attention the move is taking. The only way I know to calm this anxiety is just to remind myself that, at the end of the day, we are doing all of this for him, and we’re doing our best. We ultimately felt like doing the move now, while Sarah isn’t working and Harvey isn’t mobile, would be easier than if we waited. As much as I wish we could be the kind of people that are good at just relaxing, we aren’t. Taking care of a newborn is extremely time consuming, but can also be quite boring. Having the move to focus on has had the upside of keeping the boredom at bay (particularly for Sarah) and also been a distraction from the huge cloud looming in the near future of Harvey starting daycare. We feel great about the choice we’ve made for Harvey’s care, but are both just unsure how he and we will handle the huge adjustment of Sarah going back to work. If Harvey’s history of being such an easy going, adaptable baby, are any indication (we count our lucky stars every day), the transition shouldn’t be too bad. On Harvey at least.
One follow up – Harvey is still not enjoying the car – he either cries or sleeps, nothing in between. This was particularly difficult this month which saw a trip to Ohio. I would say this has been the most difficult part of parenthood so far for us, and really tested our mental fortitude. As a parent you are hardwired to know your child’s cry and do whatever it takes to curb it. It’s not so much the sound of the cry during these road trips that is difficult, but the fact that Harvey is malcontent, and our only means of pacifying him (getting out of the car) is not an option. With the stress-o-meter pulsating past 10, needless to say, pointless bickering is often a by product of Harvey’s car crying. Sarah and I find some peace by turning up the tunes and singing away.
Favorite Memory: On our trip to Ohio Harvey got to meet his great grandmother. Though the traveling was tough, it brought us great joy that Harvey was able to see all of his grandparents in his first few months of life. During our time in Ohio, we stopped by a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. As I mentioned before, Harvey has become really into screens. He was asleep when we got into BWW, but upon awakening his eyes immediately widened and he got a huge grin on his face looking all around the restaurant. There were screens everywhere! He was in heaven. Frankly, so were we.
Month Five – Harvey the Bird
Harvey Nickname: Manuganug (As in manamana)
What’s New: Harvey has really started to discover his own voice. Lots of chirps and gurgles, as well as some laughter. For some reason, I seem to be the one that can make him laugh the most. I have to admit it feels pretty good! So much of fatherhood thus far as been in the background (as compared to motherhood), but bonding with Harvey on such a human level really makes me feel so proud, perhaps even a little arrogant!
This month was quite a busy one. We went to Georgia so Harvey could meet Sarah’s camp friends. We took a trip out west to visit some friends in Salem, Oregon and Seattle. We sold our house (and chickens). Bought a new house. Lived with my parents for a couple weeks in between. Sarah started back at work. Harvey started daycare. Harvey got over his car woes (yay!). And lastly, moved into our new house. We are so grateful for all of the hospitality we were shown during our travels and while we were in between homes. While I’m tempted to feel guilty about some of the time that could have been spent relaxing, staring at Harvey, I’m not. Sharing Harvey with our friends and family has been one of the greatest things about having a child, and our travels and busyness during this time enabled us to do just that. We are so lucky that Harvey has been such a good baby and for the most part goes with the flow on all that we are doing.
What’s Working: Baby led weaning. I’m really fortunate to have a partner who already knows so much about little humans. There are so many aspects of taking care of Harvey, choices to be made, that I really don’t even think about, I just follow Sarah’s lead. I hadn’t given any thought to when we would start feeding Harvey real food, but one day Sarah decided today was the day. Even though at 5 months, Harvey is really too young to need anything other than milk, but apparently just the act of eating is good practice for both his hand eye coordination and learning how to eat. To do baby led weaning, we don’t so much feed Harvey, but rather put food in front of him and let him play with and eat it, how he sees fit. We haven’t given him anything that he hasn’t taken to, but the biggest hits have been bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados. I can’t recommend this enough as it is highly entertaining for both us and Harvey!
What’s Worrying: On his first day at daycare, Harvey’s daycare provider, Miss Rochelle, asked us to write down his daily schedule. I knew we were in trouble. The boy literally has no schedule. When he cries, we feed him. If he’s not hungry, we rock him to sleep. Otherwise, we either actively play with him or wear him. That’s pretty much been what we’ve done for 5 months. I certainly don’t regret the way we’ve done things so far, but we now realize things will have to change a bit in order for him to be happy with us and at daycare. We’ve only had a few days of daycare so far, but it’s clear there is a lot of adjusting to do. Most frustratingly, Harvey all of a sudden decided he doesn’t want to eat out of a bottle. We hadn’t used bottles too often, but hadn’t had any issues when we had, so never gave it a thought as something he’d need to practice. We got a few different bottle types to try out and are hoping one of these will work out – will report back. Also, by just the second day of daycare, Harvey came down with a cold, and it quickly spread to the rest of us. People had told us this would happen, but we just didn’t want to believe it. I know Sarah is happy to be back in the classroom, but being away from Harvey is hard, and all the more so knowing he isn’t transitioning great. It’s weighing on us heavily. See Harvey’s bottle woes below.
Favorite Memory: I have two favorite Harvey memories from this month. The first was when we were in the Pacific Northwest, eating at an amazing small Pizza restaurant (EVVIVA) in the coastal town of Edmonds, Washington. We were taking turns holding Harvey on our lap while we struggled to enjoy our beers, salad, and pizza. I caught eye contact with a man in the restaurant and he smiled at me, then poked his wife to look our way. “She’ll hold him for you” he said. She stood up and held arms out and said “can I!?” We gladly handed Harvey over while we finished the rest of our meal and they played with him. We were both happy! I didn’t even vet them to see if they were planning on voting for Trump or not.
The other favorite memory is something that started this month (it has continued many months later). It’s simply Harvey waking up in the morning, always in the best moods, with a huge smile on his face. I have a distinct memory of him waking up next to me smiling and when I looked over at him he just gently touched all parts of my face. The cruelty of the world and people in it can often really get me frustrated, angry and sad. The simple curiosity of a new human discovering himself, the world, his dad, serves as a reminder of all the beauty and wonder right in front of us.
Month Six – Harvey the Teddy Bear
Harvey Nickname: Harb (As in – short for Harvey, and because the “v” in “Harv” can sound a little too harsh for such a sweet baby)
What’s New: Harvey had a complete 180 at daycare this month. Most importantly, he remembered how to eat out of a bottle, which obviously came as a huge relief to Sarah and I. He also (thanks to much patience from Miss Rochelle) started falling asleep on his own at nap time, rather than being rocked to sleep as he had been used to for 5 months. We helped with this to by putting Harvey down in his crib both for naps and at night, both new things for us. We definitely had to endure a couple of agonizing cry sessions for 30 minutes or so, but within a week he was falling asleep within 5 minutes every time. Being with all the other boys at daycare has definitely opened Harvey up as well. He’s starting to say some things – namely “da” on repeat, and loves to hold onto to toys. Since he’s sitting up so great, I can actually set him down, walk away for a couple minutes and know he will be just fine and (for now) right where I left him. This is huge!
Classes officially started for Sarah, which means she’s out the door at 6:15AM every morning, and Harvey is all mine until I drop him off at daycare around 8. Having this alone time with Harvey is both quite special and also quite difficult at times! Harvey loves to go on runs with me in the morning – he either sits in complete tranquility, or falls asleep. He also loves to spend time playing with toys in the carpeted downstairs where he is free to roll around as he pleases. When its time for me to shower though, that’s where things get dicey. Sometimes he loves sitting in his bathroom chair, sometimes not so much. Up until this month, I probably hadn’t spent a total of 5 hours with Harvey by myself where Sarah wasn’t with me, or at least in the next room. It has been humbling. We have so many fun times, but when I’m trying to get ready, pack a lunch, get him dressed and he’s fussy – AND there isn’t anyone else around to pass him off too – woo, its tough. There is just no escape and you just have to deal. It has given me new appreciation for all that Sarah did during his first 5 months, being his sole child care provider while I was at work. Of all that’s happened since Harveys been born, nothing has made me feel more like a parent than this morning time, and specifically dropping him off at daycare. The odd combination of feelings I get when I drop him off in the morning – relief, sadness, pride, yearning – I know I have never felt anything like this before, and I know so many others know exactly what I’m talking about. When I go to work I no longer see myself as Nick, the accountant, I’m Harvey’s dad, the accountant.
What’s Working: Now that we are settled into our new house, aren’t traveling constantly, we have found some consistency in our life and have developed a nightly routine of sorts.How nice this has been! Since I have my Harvey time in the morning, in the evenings, usually Sarah plays with Harvey while I cook. We then eat as a family, bathe, massage, read and feed Harvey all before his bedtime at 7. The best part about all of the routine, and getting Harvey down in his own bed, is that Sarah and I have some time to ourselves at night. I forgot what it was like to actually be able to put our feet up, watch some TV, and relax!
We also have our trusty baby monitor to make sure Harvey is doing ok. It has a feature where you can watch through your phone and even snap a picture. I caught this beauty one time in the early days of trying to get Harvey to sleep in his crib. Whatever it takes!
What’s Worrying: So yes, Harvey is starting the night in his crib now. Once he started daycare and we realized we needed to change some things up with his sleep, we were prepared to do a whole big sleep training thing – get him on regular naps and make him sleep in his crib permanently. We never quite got all the way there. The thing is, he still wants to eat at least a couple of times at night and we’ve been letting him. We just bring him back to the bed with us once he inevitable wakes up around 11PM and let him eat and sleep with us. I only say this is worrying because some day we will inevitably have to peel the band aid off, suffer through some tough nights, and get him to sleep through the night without eating so he can make it all night in his crib.
Favorite Memory: As I mentioned, Harvey has started to say “da” this month. For the first couple of weeks when he started to say “da” it would come out of nowhere and he’d stop as suddenly as he started. We could never seem to capture it on video. One Saturday morning while entertaining Harvey, he started saying “da” on repeat and wouldn’t stop for several minutes. Plenty of time to capture it on video (below). Though I don’t believe he had association with the sound “da” and anything it all, my heart melted nonetheless.
Month Seven – Harvey the Caterpillar
Pretend this is what caterpillars look like eating.
Harvey Nickname: Tinky Winky Pinky Minky Stinky (As in – no real explanation, its really just as many iterations of “inky” we can think of strung together. Perhaps there is some Teletubbies nostalgia going on as well)
What’s New: Post 6-months, it seems like all the changes with Harvey are finally slowing down a bit. For the first time, I can look at a picture from a month earlier, and not really notice a difference. Harvey is officially on the move, though. Not crawling or anything like that, just lots of rolling. He has opened up even more and has started laughing at people other than me (see clip below.) He’s started making lots more “talking” sounds like “ma” and “ga”.
Harvey in Target
What’s Working: Wild Wednesdays at Whole Foods. $2 *quality* pints. $2 Slices of Pizza. It’s a deal that can’t really be beat. We’ve officially made it a Wednesday tradition at this point and its a great mid-week treat that the whole family enjoys. It’s been a fun way to keep up some of our dear friends during their late pregnancy and early parenthood, and for Harvey to meet his future best friends – hey Theo & Luke!
What’s Worrying: Sarah’s original goal was to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and reevaluate. We were very lucky to achieve that goal, and the new goal became 12 months. This is Sarah’s story to share not mine, so I won’t dive into a lot of detail, but this month it has become a concern that that goal might not be feasible and it has been difficult to accept. For now, we are weighing our options, and have started to try out some formula with Harvey to make sure he tolerates its ok – which thankfully, he did.
Favorite Memory: There was not one special moment that I can point to this month as my favorite memory. I just adore this little man more than I ever thought would be possible. It sounds so cliche, but I don’t know how else to describe it. What really hit me this month, is that the best “memories” I have of Harvey are in fact, not one single moment at all. It is something much more esoteric, a collection of experiences. The beauty in children doesn’t come from one “cute” or special experience or moment, but its watching, experiencing them grow and change everyday. When Harvey was born, the love I felt was more of a wondering love, a love based in awe. As we have more memories together, as I see Harvey grow, watch myself change, the love shifts to one based on the relationship itself. A relationship that grows each day. I say this, and I only have 6 months under my belt as a parent – 1/36th of Harvey’s childhood. I look at anyone with kids, especially grown kids and just can’t imagine how they can even concentrate on anything, after so many years, the love for their kids must be so big. Maybe that’s why teenagers are such a horror – natures way of keeping their parents’ love from becoming debilitating.
Month Eight – Harvey the Monkey
Harvey? Is that you?
Oh, there you are!
Harvey Nickname: Panky (As in, Panky Bottom)
What’s New: Harvey is not one to sit still these days. Not only is he rolling all around, but he’s starting to lift his butt in the air and even take a crawl or two before flopping over. See the video below of some of Harvey’s first crawls during our trip visiting Sarah’s dad in Arkansas, which prompted the phrase, “Learning to crawl in Arkansas”. He still often loves to be held, but rather than relax in our arms, he finds it to be more of a game – lunging around, and trying to crawl up myself by putting his feet on my chest and lifting up. And when he wants to be most difficult, he’s discovered the advantages of arching his back, usually while screaming and also kicking his feet. Getting dressed and changing diapers, which used to be rather tame affairs have turned circus events. Just when you almost have one pant leg on, Harvey turns his body entirely completely covering the other side, often while humming “da da da da da da”. I can’t tell if he just doesn’t want to sit still, or gets a thrill out of being difficult.
What’s Working: Do you need a high chair? We said no to that question many times. For meals out, we pretty much had to take turns shoveling food into our mouths, while the other held onto Harvey. We finally recently realized Harvey was big and coordinated enough to sit in a high chair at restaurants. Now, he still expects attention and to be fed along with everyone else, so its not a totally relaxing experience, but its a big step up from before!
What’s Worrying: When Harvey started rolling around, I joked to several people it was only a matter of time before he rolled himself off of the bed or couch. Well, it happened and it was the bed. Sarah and I were both in the bedroom at the time, hanging some stuff on the walls. We both simultaneously assumed the other had a closer eye on him than they actually did. At the last second, I saw him nearing the edge, but it was mostly too late. I did manage to get a foot under him to break the fall a bit, but he landed on his back nonetheless, and we both felt completely disgusted with ourselves and worried about Harvey’s well being as he cried for the next minute or so. We did monitor him for any concussion symptoms throughout the day and fortunately, he was totally fine. Also fortunately, our bed is quite low to the ground as it is. I was proud of both of us for letting the feelings of guilt wash away from us rather quickly, and instead be thankful nothing worse happened, and learn from the mistakes. Needless to say, with Harvey on the move, the baby proofing is in full swing. The fireplaces have pads on the corners, all the electrical outlets have covers, and we have a baby gate to install shortly.
The only other prominent worries are sleeping and teeth. His sleep patterns seem to have gotten a little worse if anything… he used to sleep in occasionally, but not anymore. He’s awake by 5 or 5:30 (sometimes earlier) every morning, regardless of when he went to bed. He also seems to be even hungrier at night than he has been, which keeps us both up, but especially his mom. Not so bad that we’ve done any major steps to try and improve his sleeping… one of these days. His teeth are worrying because, well, he doesn’t have any yet! For about 6 months it seems whenever he’s fussy we assume he must be teething, but those teeth are no where in sight.
Favorite Memory: Harvey can’t talk or sign yet, but he can communicate. When he was born, crying was about his only form of communication (obviously pretty common among newborns), but as he grows, his repertoire of means of conveyance grow as well – smiling, kicking, laughing, cooing, outstretching his arms, etc. I set all this up because each time some new thing happens, as a parent it just blows you away. Where does it even come from? An example from this month was Harvey, after having his stomach blown on, returned the favor and began blowing raspberries on his mom’s stomach. What’s more, he appears to be quite pleased with himself and found the whole thing quite humorous. Fortunately I caught most of the exchange on video.
Thanks for reading! Until next month.