Fat sailors & the “Captain’s Log”

Man, sometimes I’m really thankful that Margot asks about things instead of just wondering in silence. Really glad.
As we may have mentioned, she’s been incredibly diligent about recording Finn’s every feeding, nap, etc. in a pad called “the Captain’s Log” (after Captain Squirrelulon, of course). A few days ago I was listening to NPR and heard a funny bit about people trying to say things in foreign languages and the trouble that can result. Later I heard Margot exclaim,
“I… ‘I like to sleep on fat sailors, the ace up your hole’… Whaaat??
I’d jotted down a couple of the funny mistranslations in the log (the only pen and paper within reach), but without giving them any label or explanation. I had to explain quickly:

  • An American guy had gone camping with some Germans and tried to say, “I like to sleep on thick mattresses,” but he instead said, “I like to sleep on fat sailors”
  • An Indian guy was trying to calm down an irate customer and wanted to say, “That’s your ace in the hole” or “That’s the ace up your sleeve,” but instead managed to say, “That’s the ace up your hole.” He said that this at least broke the tension. 🙂

Needless to say, if I write weird bits in the log again, I’ll take the time to explain the context!


A Few Thoughts on Nursing

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I really wanted to breastfeed Finn–there are so many health benefits, it’s far less expensive and easier to tote around than formula, and it’s great for mom/baby bonding. There was really no question in my mind. I found it very interesting that when we went to the breastfeeding class at the hospital, they spent a lot of time selling breastfeeding to us based on its health benefits (smarter kids, better immunity, less colic, etc.). They also (rightfully) discussed the facts about getting started breastfeeding. It’s not like falling off a log, to put it mildly. It takes work, and patience, trial and error, ice packs, and lanolin until you finally get it right. I appreciate all the breastfeeding moms I know being very honest with me about that–it helped set my expectations.
And now that I’ve been at it for a couple of months, what I find the most interesting is what the classes and the other moms didn’t mention at all, and that is that breastfeeding is also a very emotionally intense and sometimes fraught experience. I had no idea how many different emotions would be wrapped around nursing my child! When he’s super fussy, yelling and pumping his fists in front of my breasts instead of just calmly nursing, it hurts my feelings and makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong (answer: nothing! he probably has to burp!). When he’s nursing every 90 minutes or 2 hours, you feel like an indentured servant to your child, because you’re the only one that can nourish him. And of course you want him to thrive and be happy and healthy, but sometimes the sheer monotony of sitting still while he nurses for 30 min to 45 min at a time can really drive you up the wall. (I had to impose a boycott of NPR for awhile since that’s what I listen to while I nurse. We switched to the jazz station!).
It’s definitely a yeoman’s job–you just have to stick with it, work through it, and try not to take things so personally when it’s not going so well. And in my case, thanks to Captain Reflux, you have to get used to wearing a lot of spit-up breastmilk that you wish he was able to keep down!


Sunday In The Park With Finn

Today we celebrated Finn’s 8-week B-day by taking him to the park in nearby Los Gatos. We spied what Margot dubbed “the tiny train filled with tiny people” and eagerly imagined taking him for a ride on it. A family we encountered had just rescued two abandoned kittens from the bushes, but somehow I failed to get a picture of los gatos in Los Gatos (d’oh!). In any case, here are a few snaps I did take along the way (also available in smaller HTML form).


And now, a word from our Finnster…

Finn has a message for you; click the photo at left to see it. 🙂


The Return of Grunge

Before having Finn on the scene, I was completely clueless about how much time and effort taking care of an infant entails. I wondered why moms at the grocery store or out and about looked so bedraggled and why they dressed like schlumps…Well, now I know why. When your baby eats every 2 hours, and it takes him 30 minutes to eat, then another 30-60 of playtime/getting sleepy before he finally goes down for a nap that might only last 30 minutes, you don’t have ANY time to do anything like take a shower or comb your hair. And if your baby’s like Finn, and takes spitting up to the heavyweight level, all of your clothes are going to be covered, to varying degrees, with spit up anyway, so why would you put on anything decent?

It kind of reminds me of when I moved to Seattle. Grunge fashion started making sense once I’d spent a couple months slogging through endless days of drizzle, ruining my shoes and destroying pant-hems with water and grime. Why not just buy all your clothes at goodwill and never bother to wash them?

I do, however, manage to shower, usually once John gets home and I have him to back me up. And thank God for lipstick: it’s the easiest and most effective way to pull myself together before I go out, in an attempt not to look completely worn out. I think the lipstick must distract people from the dark rings around my eyes.


Harvey Karp: M.D/Genius

A lot of our parent-friends told us about Harvey Karp M.D., author of “The Happiest Baby On The Block”. It’s a book about how to help calm and soothe your newborn, and the techniques in the book are also designed to help your baby sleep longer and more soundly. We have Dr. Karp’s instructional video as well as his book. I have 6 words for Harvey:
Dr. Karp, you are a GENIUS.
We are using most of the tools and techniques to calm Finn down when he spirals into a meltdown, and to keep him asleep during the night. Swaddling and “shooshing” are the techniques we use the most, and man do they work like a charm. The swinging and sucking (pacifier) layered on top are almost 100% guaranteed to result in Finn becoming absolutely placid and most importantly, asleep when he’s fighting it. Swaddling alone has resulted in Finn sleeping an extra 30 min to an hour between night feedings, and has also added some time to his naps. The shooshing and swinging help get him in the mood before I lay him in the crib. Honestly, we would be up a creek without Dr. Karp’s insights.
Just today I have avoided or shortened a couple of near-meltdowns prior to naptime, making the Nack household a happier and calmer place. Let’s hope we can keep it up!


The Tiny Giant

Finn and I went to the New Moms Support Group at the hospital today, just to hang out with some other moms and babies, and to get out of the house. There were a TON of folks attending, probably 20 moms and their babies, ranging from 3 weeks to 7 months old. It’s a nice place to meet and chat with other moms, and I walked away with a few good tidbits of information that I wouldn’t have otherwise known:
1. Finn is a tiny colossus! Compared to most of the other babies, even the ones that are 4 and 5 months old, he is much bigger and more robust. He could take on any of those head-controlling, sitting-up wimps any day! I honestly had no idea he was so big for his age. The other 7-week old baby in attendance was tiny in comparison! His size is deceiving–maybe that’s why John and I keep expecting him to start reciting Shakespeare, practice his stand-up comedy routines, and start driving the car any day 🙂 [Seriously, last night I dreamt that he helped me assemble a crib! –J.]
2. The Miracle Blanket–my new answer to the problem of Finn being too big for the receiving blankets I’ve been trying to use to swaddle him. He keeps busting loose because the blanket is just too small to properly bundle him up and stay tight. A few of the other moms use the Miracle Blanket and swear by it, and one even had an extra that she just dropped off for me to try, so we’ll give it a shot. Basically it has extra little flaps to help keep baby’s arms straight down by his sides, and is extra long so you can wrap it around his body 2 times instead of 3/4 time like the receiving blanket.
3. It is (unfortunately for me!) totally normal for Finn to be eating every 2 hours at this stage. Babies need to eat 8-12 times a day depending on size/age, so he’s totally average. The good news is that he goes longer at night between feeds, and lets me sleep for 3 hours or so at a time.


How Relaxed are We Right Now?

Otherwise known as the Six Degrees of Aggravation: relaxed (or not-so-much) states of Finn, in high/low order of magnitude:
1. Beet-red faced howling, fists and legs pumping furiously
2. Periodic squalls, fists clenched, body stiff as plywood, fighting sleep
3. Smallish fussy whimpers, fairly relaxed body except for those fists (still fighting sleep)
4. Awake, aware, calm, possibly smiling and cooing (a.k.a. “nice to be around”)
5. Drowsy and relaxed (mom’s almost tricked me into falling asleep!)
6. Limp as a wet lasagna noodle, hands open, snoring
[Dad puts us at about a 3.6 right this minute. 🙂 –J.]


Little Baby Smiles

All experienced parents tell you that all the trials and tribulations of the first several weeks are worth it, and practically disappear from your memory as soon as your baby gives you his first real smile.
I don’t know if my memory banks will be wiped completely clean, but I will say, now that Finn’s started smiling, it really does light me up inside and out. He is just so darn adorable when he decides to break open a big wide smile that goes all the way up to the corners of his eyes, and reveals that little dimple on his left cheek. He’s just recently started to purposefully smile–totally distinguishable from “practice” smiling or sleep grins. What’s weird is that he’ll even smile while he’s spitting up (?!). (Sometimes, that is.)
Long live the baby smile! We love knowing that our boy is happy.


Meeting “eDub”

On Sunday our friend Eileen Whitson (hence “E-Dub”) dropped by for a first visit with the Finn-man. She’s a real pro when it comes to finding groovy, offbeat gifts (previously scoring a tiny Lucha Libre mask for Finn!), and on this trip she brought flowers and some great little baby sunglasses. Unfortunately our small friend was too fussy to wear the specs, but I’m sure they’ll pop up soon in pictures.
Here’s the gallery (also available in smaller, simpler HTML form in case you have problems viewing the Flash version).
PS–Extra credit if you can spot Finn tossing up a gang sign (“Wes’ siiiide!”). 😉


Squirrel by the Sea

Yesterday and Friday we had the treat of having our friends Adolfo and Romina visiting from Buenos Aires. They taught us all kinds of fun Spanish words for Finn-related things (“chupete” for pacifier; “cachetes” for cheeks), and we showed them around the area, including a trip to Santa Cruz (nowhere better to inspect North American Paleo-Hippies in the patchouli-scented flesh). I’ve combined those photos with some Margot and I snapped of the young Captain around the house. Here’s the gallery (also in HTML).


Calling All Whales

Finn makes a lot of noise when he sleeps. I mean a LOT. And there’s a definite cycle of sounds that he goes through when he is in REM sleep (vs. the deep, limp-noodle slumber). He goes through a series of grunts, throat-clearings, squeaks, sighs, squawks, and other vocalizations. I liken him to Aqua Man–who had the power to communicate with fish…
But while Aqua Man used only his telepathic brain to communicate with anything aquatic, I think Finn is more specifically communicating with pods of migrating whales. We haven’t yet narrowed down his specific whale song, but I think it’s either gray or humpback whales. We are kind of waiting to see which breed shows up at our doorstep at 3am, asking to chat with Finn. We’ll let you know who comes a-callin’.


Knuckles, thy taste is *victory*…

Normally you’d think a “knuckle sandwich” doesn’t sound too appealing, but to Finn there’s nothing finer.
To date he’s struggled to find his mouth with the proverbial two hands and a flashlight. Now, though, he’s getting closer, closer to tasting the sweet succulence of his fingers anytime he’d like. His latest technique is to use one hand to support & boost the other towards his lips–a very cute little process as he grunts slowly towards his goal.
Unfortunately it’s a very hit-and-miss affair–where hits include foreheads, cheeks, and chins (his own and others’). I feel like I’m watching the X-Wing pilots during the Star Wars finale: “Al-most theeerre… Al-most theeere…” “Stay on tar-get, stay on tar-get…!
I haven’t been able to catch our man in the act photographically (it’s like trying to catch the appearance of his dimple–something a team of wildlife photogs would set up in a deer blind for two months to glimpse), but I’ll keep trying.


What’s that we’re stepping in?

Associated Press, 11pm Pacific: A new Gallup/Zogby International poll of a random sampling of grown-ups at 983 Delmas Ave. reveals that those cold puddles on the floor are suspected to be:

  • 83% Finnpuke (dribbling from shoulders to carpet)
  • 9% water from a pan used to heat bottles (for use by D.A.N.C., the Dad Auxiliary Nursing Corps)
  • 6% Margot’s blood, having rammed her foot into exercise equipment in the dark, screamed, and sprung a leak
  • 5% Finnscat/-pee (the less said on this one, the better)

Yes, it’s been a long evening…


Soothing the Savage Infant

Unfortunately, for the past 2 days, Finn has had inexplicable evening bouts of outrage (oh, and a midday bout today). Of course this happens right when we’re trying to put him to bed around 7 or 8 p.m. He goes from zero to screaming his head off in a split second. John and I run through the possibilities–dirty diaper? hungry? gassy? reflux bothering him? should we keep him upright? lie him down to nurse? He doesn’t seem to want any of it and just keeps howling no matter what is offered. It’s frustrating for all three of us. I end up feeling inadequate, John ends up feeling bad for both Finn and me, and I think we all feel like the howling will never end.
It’s John who really shines through on these trying evenings. He demonstrates such calm, patience, and empathy when he takes Finn in his arms, swaddles him, and “shushes” him until he finally, unexpectedly calms down and falls asleep. Then John carefully takes him upstairs and gently deposits him in his bassinet, allowing me to take a hot shower and shake off some of the tension. We don’t know, of course, if Finn will stay asleep or wake up and start freaking any second, but at least for a few minutes we have peace thanks to Dad.


Finnegan Nack, modern artist

Must… resist… urge… Must *resist*… new parent stereotype… to talk about… kid’s poop n’ pee… but alas, I cannot.

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of Finn’s neck feelin’ dirty and pukey…

Well, let it never be said that our boy isn’t a productive member of society–really putting the “gross” back in Gross Domestic Product. The wee man has been “sailing the seas of cheese,” auditioning for a future as the mayor of the British hamlet Cheese-upon-Ear!
Finn’s been putting out the business from both ends, and in volume–the Fountains of Bellagio, spraying in slow-mo, backlit by spotlights while Clair De Lune plays in the background. Or maybe we’ve started hallucinating. 😉
The good news is the yucksville antacid that Margot has been administering by pipette three times a day seems to be working–not suppressing spit-ups, obviously, but at least keeping Finn from hurting (and hence freaking) quite so much.
PS–Maybe we can at least make some lemonade from these lemons, getting Finn some kind of NEA grant for his performances. 😉


The cast of the next Star Trek franchise

John and I love nickhames. For each other, for our friends, family members, for inanimate objects, you name it. We have already come up with a slew of them for Finn, but the one I find myself using most of the time is Captain Squirrelulon. I think it sounds like a character from one of the Star Trek shows…”This is Captain Squirrelulon of the Starship Enterprise." [The "Rank + ‘-ulon’ suffix" thing goes back to our love of the name "Gen. Zebulon Pike."  –J.]

In addition to Captain S, there are several other potential Star Trek characters inhabiting the NPR airwaves. (I have been listening to a TON of NPR as I sit in the nursery while Finn chows down.) I don’t know where they find their reporters, but they have some of the MOST interesting names you’ve ever heard. It’s fun to imagine them in their Star Trek uniforms milling about midships or crawling through Jeffries Tubes…Here are some of my favorites:

  • Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (sounds like some sort of intrepid Old World explorer who might get passage on the Beagle)
  • Robin Gianattassio-Malle
  • Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
  • Kai Risdahl
  • Cy Musicker (who actually does music reviews on Friday afternoons!)

Captain Squirrelulon could have quite a time commanding that crew!


Pix around the house

It’s a bird in a bath!
In a sling!
On a mat!
How ’bout that?

Here’s the latest round of photos of our young amigo, including some where he’s “wearing his purple Speedo”–aka sitting in his new little rocking chair.


The best show you’ve never seen

I’ve always read about how babies’ eyes don’t focus beyond 8″ or so for a while, about how they’re fascinated with faces, about how they love mobiles and other dangly bits, and so on. I’d never heard, however, of a kid being captivated–I mean straight-up FASCINATED–by something as simple as the color of a wall. Every time we put the Finnmaster onto his changing pad, however, his eyes immediate go to & stick on the wall. Seriously, check it out! He’s so persistently taken with this experience that we’ve come to call it “Finn watching his shows.” Soooo trippy. 😉


Home is where the heart is–for real

“Home is where the heart is.” It’s a cliche so familiar that I’ve never given it much thought. With Finn here, though, I get it. In fact, about a month before he arrived, I realized that I was no longer doing my usual whiny song-and-dance about the lameness of San Jose. I mean, sure, it’s not Manhattan or Brooklyn or Seattle, or even Boulder or Boston, but at this point who really cares? As long as our little crew is close by, everything else kind of fades into the background. 🙂

I’ll tell you one other thing: I’m coming to understand the importance of savoring every little moment of goodness. With his throat-burning spit-ups over the last week, Finn has kind of put us through the wringer. Tonight, though, he’s been a happy, alert little bambino, enjoying (well, at least not shrieking through) his first in-tub bath. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching him with Margot, listening to her sing to him just now from the other room.
Pics to follow shortly.