Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 30

Last night, at, like, 11, I had a bit of an episode with Ann where I just kind of ranted for a few minutes. Ann and I thrive on our routines, and it was just one of those weeks between the election and dodgeball and Dash not sleeping so well that Ann and I were off, and I felt like everything was disjointed with me and Dash, and it was just a bit of a mess. We worked through it fine, and recalibrated, and all is well in the world, but then I see the picture above where Dash is literally attached at my hip and as happy as he can be, and I wonder why I ever worried to begin with.

This was his face during the highlight of our morning, when Ann went to get a coffee and we just chilled off to the side, while he screamed with delight as I just talked a bunch of nonsense to him and he loved every moment of it. It's moments like the top picture and this one that make me wonder why I worry at all with Dash, because, really, sometimes the best you can is good enough.

I know a lot of good fathers in my life, and I know of a lot of bad ones. I have one friend who's fighting with his ex for as much custody as he can for his kid, and I have another (now former) friend who acts like it's a chore to see his kid once a month and won't even fight for custody. I saw some old friends yesterday with their almost-three-year-old, and the love they both have for their little girl is so obvious, and then there are those people you know that you're shocked the kids are actually surviving from day to day. Ann and I often joke that it's actually not that hard to be a good parent, especially when so many people set the bar so tragically low, but I'm just really, really intent on doing right by Dash as much as I can, as often as I can.

It's funny, because I've always wanted kids, but I was really anxious to actually become a parent. Then I spent seven hours away from the little bugger twice this week and I missed him before even half the day was gone. As low as my parenting self-esteem can get from time to time, I can at least take solace that my less-than-stellar days are still going to end with Dash delighted to see me, at least for now. And I know more difficult days are going to come, when he can communicate with actual words and move around on his own, and beyond. If I'm doing okay at his most helpless, though...

Going into this month-long blog project, I was worried finding thirty things to write about would be difficult. It was and it wasn't, but even the lazier days end up as a piece of a document of his first three months, which I think we'll appreciate more in a decade or so, if not earlier. This is not a sign-off, of course, but maybe a post every week makes more sense than a post every day, too. Thanks for sticking around, in any regard.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 29

Back when Ann was pregnant, there was really only one thing I truly needed to buy for her, and that was a yoga ball. She wanted it for the delivery room, but also for her back and stuff during the worst points. It was an adventure getting the thing blown up, but we're all set with it now.

What's funny about this yoga ball is how attached Dash is to it. For the first few weeks of his life, we literally could not get him to go to sleep without us sitting on the yoga ball, bouncing endlessly up and down until his eyes shut for good. It was bizarre and annoying, but hey, whatever it takes to get a baby to go to sleep, right?

I thought this era was done, but it turns out we're far from it. In the last two weeks in particular, he's pretty much not going to sleep unless he gets some yoga bouncing in first. The kid's heavy now! Yoga ball bouncing is serious business! And yet we both continue to bounce over and over and over...

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 28

When Dash's Auntie Beth is not trying to give Dash toupees with her own hair, she's doctoring photos of Dash with some program on her iPad.

I don't know what the program is, I don't quite understand much of any of it, but I do know that nearly every photo Ann sends to Dash is returned to us with some sort of fantastic addition.

Dash is going to be surrounded by some of the most creative people I know, and that excites me. Some of it will be weird, some of it touching, but all of it awesome. Even the ones where Dash is ignoring his father in favor of a cloud-riding unicorn.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 27

True fact: if you had asked me what I knew about babies 4 months ago, my answer would have probably been "they puke a lot."

I know puking is not the same as spitting up, but when it's oozing onto you, it's a difference without distinction. The good news is that Dash is not a baby that spits up a lot. The, uh, "action photo" above (which cracks Ann and I up every time we look at it) is hardly representative of the Full Dash Experience. He's very drooly, and he has the occasional light spit-up, but nothing crazy at all. I'm very okay with that.

Dash has, in fact, only vomited once so far. He takes after his father, who is going 10 years strong without a vomit incident, but when Dash erupted, it was like a milk volcano all over the place, including my beard. Yes, my beard - I'm shocked I didn't torch the thing off once I was done. While we felt bad for Dash (and he was very nonchalant about the whole episode), Ann was just impressed that I didn't drop the baby as he was puking.

I apparently have a very low bar to clear.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 26

I was honestly hoping I could write this with a Stanley Cup game seven pending, but alas, it was not meant to be. What is apparently meant to be, though, is good things happening to our local sports teams when Ann and I reach milestones in our life:

* I met Ann in 2004, which was followed by a Red Sox World Series win (first in 84 years) and a Patriots Super Bowl win (third in four years).

* Ann & I got married in 2007, which was followed by a Red Sox World Series win and a Patriots Super Bowl loss after the 16-0 season.

* Ann & I moved into our own apartment again in time for a Bruins Stanley Cup and a Celtics Finals run.

* Dash was born in 2013, and we already have a Stanley Cup Final for the Bruins and the Red Sox are still hanging tough in what was supposedly a "bridge year."

I don't believe in superstition, in hype, in this sort of thing. We've spent a lot of time calling Dash our little good luck charm, though, and I'm secretly hoping the Sox win it all this year so we can tell him about how he kept the pattern going.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 25

As many reading this know, and probably many others do not, I am very involved with local politics. Today, I'll spend the majority of my day as I've spent a good chunk of the last few weeks - making phone calls for the Republican candidate in the special election that's happening today. I'm the treasurer of my town's Republican Town Committee, and I've volunteered on a ton of campaigns over the last 5 years. I never want to run for office (okay, maybe library trustee someday), but I do enjoy helping elect other people. A gift from a fellow local Republican couple (and all around good people) Alan and Lori speaks to that, as evidenced above.

What I do struggle with a lot, though, is balancing wanting Dash to also feel like he can (and should) be involved and informed in politics while not creating a situation where he does what he does because dad does what he does. My father was a union Democrat, as was my mother, and I was raised believing certain things that I later found were a little more nuanced. While Ann will credit me with trying to present multiple sides to an issue as neutrally as possible when she has a question, I'm able to do that with her college educated adult brain in a way that might not be as simple for a kid.

I worry a lot about Dash being exposed to as much information as he'll need to make logical, coherent choices in his life, and politics is part of that. But how do I bring him to a Republican event and have him not brainwashed? Same with a liberal event? Being in such a left-wing state, will his default be skewed like mine was? I know I'm again overthinking the world that Dash will be in, not to mention assuming a lot about what the political landscape will be in a decade when this will actually matter, but the truth of the matter is that this isn't an issue of religion or finances, which can be avoided - he's going to play in a yard that will have a political sign in it, drive around in a car with multiple bumper stickers, and know a lot of extended friend-family who are just as active and activist for causes his father is not. I don't want him to be ignorant, but I don't want him to default to one position (in either direction!) simply because his parents are a certain way.

Of course, after all, I want him to agree with me on everything. I just know that I want him to get there on his own.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 24

We talk a lot about how Dash being all puppies and sunshine and unicorns, but the fact of the matter is that there has been one issue that we've had to solve. Part of this is more than certainly due to the crazy birth situation, where Dash was perhaps a tad overcooked in the birth canal, but regardless of where to put the blame, it's something we've had to fix.

Essentially, Dash favored his right side. The left side of his head after birth was a little off early just because of the conehead properties, and wasn't too much of a concern, but this pretty much made Dash default to the right early. When we went to the pediatrician for his 2 month (or maybe 6 week, I can't recall which), she noted the necessity to fix this. We'd prefer Dash not be in a helmet, so we got on it.

A lot of it is easy to do - more tummy time, laying him down for naps in ways that force him left, sitting him so he has to look left to interact with us. We're to the point where his "hard left" is just about as good, if not as good, as his "hard right." As the image above shows, however, we've had to get inventive from time to time as well. During one significant car trip, for example, we just used his bovine bowling pin as a stopper to keep him from drifting off to sleep on the right hand side. He never seemed uncomfortable and he's been a good sport about it, but still.

So yeah. We're thinking things are good at this point, and I'm hoping his doctor doesn't come out and say "hey, here's your helmet, see you at Christmas," but for now? We're happy with his progress.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 23

It was three months ago today that I actually felt like a dad for the first time. At least I think it was the following day, but whatever, it's still a nice story.

Ann was moved to the maternity ward, things have settled down, and Dash is with the nurses and doctors for some sleep and swaddling and what have you. I decide to go check on Dash, and I head on over.

St Vincent's Hospital in Worcester effectively LoJacks the baby with a bracelet on its ankle, and the parents get little wristbands with a barcode and a series of numbers on it so the babies don't get stolen or switched. So I head over, hop in, read off my information, and they bring me to Dash, who's not even a day old yet, laying in his rolling bed. The nurse then said "do you want to take him back to the room?" Okay, sure! Off we go!

I get back to Ann's room, and Christina and Beth are there, and the first reaction out of everyone's mouth? Not "how is he," or "what's going on," but "they let you take the baby?!?" As if a 32 year old man would be incapable of such a thing, or something. I faux-argued the point a bit, and moved on.

It's true, though, because that's exactly the first thought that came through my mind when they told me to take Dash back - they want me to take the baby? Really?

I read kids books for a living, I play dodgeball on the side and I get addicted to cartoons and pro wrestling and video games. I don't know if I'll ever feel like an adult. But that moment was when it actually became pretty real to me that I was actually a dad.

Pressure's on...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 22

Dash is 3 months old today!

The "in" thing lately appears to be the taking of photos with the week/month-age of your kid. They're all cute, but Ann and I are apparently incapable of being serious about anything. When Ann found the My Pet Monster with all the stuffed things in the attic forever ago, it immediately became the go-to prop for all things growing up. We hope to give Dash a lot of options and freedom when he gets older, but if you think he'll have a chance to say "no" to the picture of him and My Pet Monster on his 18th birthday, he's got another thing coming. Never mind prom pictures...

But yeah, three months already. That's kind of crazy. And I know everyone says they grow really fast and time flies by, and it's absolutely true. As much as I complain about him being not as interactive as I want and struggle with the baby simply being a baby, only 10-11 weeks ago, this was him:

That's pretty nutty. I'm glad he's a cool, awesome, happy baby for the time being, though. And the sooner he becomes a cool, awesome, happy kid/teenager/adult, the better. He's already excited about the adventures we're on now, I can only imagine what our adventures are going to be like later.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 21

Everyone interacts differently with the baby the first time they meet them. Ann's best friends in the whole universe, Christina and Beth, were there almost immediately after Dash was born, and Beth has been up a few times to hang out and see Dash. They're wonderful, and I'm glad they treat me as well as they treat Ann and make her life so much better. Dash is going to be VERY lucky to have them around when he's older, I can't wait.

Why one of Beth's first instincts was to turn her hair into a toupee for Dash, however, I'll never know.

I wish this was the funniest/strangest thing she's done, but, well, stay tuned...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 20

Today was not an easy day for anyone involved in the picture above. Dash may or may not be teething already, which is impacting his napping and his overall happiness. Mom, well, that's a story for another day.

No matter what the two of them are like individually, though, they're still a ridiculously cute team together.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 19

Not a ton of time to write today, so I figured I'd share an observation from last weekend where we realized, looking at Dash in his car seat while riding home from the supermarket, that he actually bears a bit of a resemblance to Winston Churchill.

A dollar to anyone willing to put Winston in a narwhal hat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 18

The image above is the results of a world-class swaddling attempt of mine that went awry. Dash does seem pretty proud of himself for Houdini-ing his way out of that swaddle. I've since gotten better at it.

Anyway, swaddling. I don't actually think I had any awareness of what swaddling was prior to our friend having a baby a couple years ago. It completely slipped my mind until Dash came along, and he loves being swaddled. I don't really get it, but it's to the point where, if he's getting fussy, we can lay him on his swaddler and he immediately starts grinning like a madman waiting to be swaddled. Also, they make special velcro swaddle sacks, which crack me up, as it assumes that we couldn't swaddle him without them, even though I know I can't figure it out.

I can't imagine anything more boring to read than someone figuring out how to swaddle, but I'm like this dude in the Samsung commercial, needing a YouTube video to figure it out just so the baby can crap all over himself the minute we've got it down pat.

In other news, I'm now that guy who relates to commercials as a parent. Please send help.

Babies are weird, I guess is my point. For a kid who loves to kick and wiggle and move around so much, the idea of putting him in a fabric strait-jacket and his liking it makes no sense to me. But so little of this makes sense to me to begin with, so why seek logic?

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 17

Dash looks absolutely massive to us. I know that's a little silly, but it's true. After he put on a pound and a half a week after he was born, after he started fitting into 3 month old clothes within a month of his birth, we just picture him as this giant baby that is much larger than everyone else's. We recognize that it's not true, but it's become a game in the Raymond Compound to guess what his weight and percentile will be before his appointments. I won the first round, but lost big in the second round (unless we use Price is Right rules).

I expect this tradition to continue for his next appointment.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 16

I've always had a strange relationship with these types of holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day. We had a Mother's Day tradition that has more or less died with my grandmother, but that was really the extent of anything big these days.

Ann went out of her way to make my first Father's Day a little special, which is nice. Dash is pictured perusing one of those novel compilations you see all the time of Dash's namesake, and she had no idea that I had a copy of this stashed in my Amazon cart for a day when I had some points/gift cards compiled. I really feel like a good sense of history and the literature that stems from it (and by this I mean being able to experience and appreciate literature a) of and b) about a certain time for context) does more to guide someone's values than much else. This is not to say there's no value in being a good model for my son - I'll be trying hard to treat people right and do the right thing in front of and with him so he doesn't make the same stupid mistakes that I've made over the years, but discovering a proper idea or precept is so much more rewarding in so many ways, both for being a good person to others and in growing on your own.

He's a cute kid. I want him to be a good kid, too, and I just hope we're off to a good start.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 15

Dash literally started doing something new today - the cooing that sounds like a video you don't want to be playing in front of children. Ann got a video of it at around 5:30 this morning, but what prompted the post today was because he immediately did it for me when he woke up from his nap this morning.

One of the repeated things I hear from people time and time again is about how much we're going to miss this age. While I do love seeing the little connections that pop up from time to time, whether it be the smiling at those new times or the cooing or the new and interesting ways he might devour my finger, honestly speaking, this age is kind of blah for me. He sleeps a bunch, he's awake for an hour where he spends half of it eating, he smiles and kicks, and then he's done. It's fun enough, I suppose, but I want more.

I want to be able to have meaningful interactions with him. To really be able to teach him things, to read to him and have it be more meaningful than just hearing familiar voices, and so on. I love Dash to death, don't get me wrong, but he's all need and not much else. It's why I love being able to wake him from his swaddler and get that big smile and stretch, because it's pretty much the extent of our real back and forth.

I hope I'm not weird on this. I just can't wait for the future, for all the great stuff we'll be able to do with him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 14

My favorite routine with Dash are his crazy baby stretches. We put him in a swaddler when he sleeps, and when he awakens, the first thing he does is a major, major stretch.

I don't know why we enjoy this so much, but we do. He's so into it, and does a good three or four massive stretches after every nap/sleep. With huge grins in between, of course.

EDIT: Now with video!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 13

One of the outright strangest things that have come from the baby's existence is seeing how far things have come technologically with baby monitors. All I knew of monitors were the radio-type ones, but someone got us what I consider an uber-fancy monitor that has a camera, and I'm absurdly amazed by this 20 year old technology.

Seriously, look at this thing: the room Dash is in is dark, yet we can see him clearly. I can use this as a radio to talk to him, we can make it play music from far away, we can control the pan and scan of the camera, etc. It's pretty impressive! I expected the monitor to be the type where, if he makes a sound, I'll have to run to wherever to find him and make sure he's not being attacked by rabid otters. Instead, I can watch the otters devour him in real time!

I feel silly for thinking this is so cool, but, well, it's so cool. Considering I'm basically the only person who never had a reliable webcam with his computer growing up, that might be part of it, since this is just such a crazy leap for me, but hey.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 12

Things I've learned about babies:

* Babies have an inherent grasping reflex.
* Babies get VERY angry when they cannot ungrasp.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 11

If you haven't noticed, we're a little book obsessed here at the Raymond Compound. I haven't held a job that wasn't related to publishing in some form since the beginning of college, so we've accumulated a lot of books anyway, never mind our library book sale scavenging. We're not completely beyond help - we did get rid of at least a third of our books when we moved to New Hampshire initially (some I now regret getting rid of, but that's another blog for another day), but we have a lot of books.

I sure hope Dash loves the printed word.

That's both a joke and a reality, though. I know all the relevant studies suggest the strongest, most voracious readers grow up in houses with libraries a fraction of the size of ours. And it appears that we aren't alone: polling suggests that parents actually prefer the printed books over their electronic counterparts right now. Granted, I love printed books as much as the next guy, but there's something about my pushing that on a kid that is in a borderline-all-digital world that doesn't sit well with me. And then there's the whole question of screens and kids, and how that matches up with the modern world, and then my brain hurts.

This is not a situation where Dash will have to choose. The landscape will be really different in a year and a half regarding ebooks and tablets and whatever else than it is now, and we're of a certain income level where Dash will be able to experience the best of both worlds. This has ultimately more become a concern about whether it's important for someone who'll basically be a digital native to lose some of that experience in favor of steering him toward old media, or whether I'll be doing him a disservice by ensuring his readiness for technology. I know kids pick up on this stuff quickly, but I also want to instill good habits now. The way I use a computer now has not changed terribly much in 20 years, even though the tech has, and I have a lot of negative computer habits. I also have a lot of good book habits, but a lot of not-so-good ones, too. I'm not sure I know how to set a good precedent early for him, nor do I know if it will ultimately even matter.

The other issue I'm kind of loathing is the appropriateness issue. I've talked about this a bit before, and when I was reorganizing some books on Sunday I realized that this will probably be an issue sooner rather than later. I wasn't going to pick up Stephen King when I was 10, but there wasn't a Fifty Shades in the house, either, y'know? My natural distaste for anything that feels like censorship is being overridden by the parental instinct I never knew I had, where I even fret over semi-discernible swear words on the car radio. I wasn't expecting this.

I suppose this is one of those things that will end up being dealt with regardless of my mental back-and-forth. Yes, I'm an overthinker, but when you want to simply do right by your kid, I'd imagine these are the concerns that pop up. I get the feeling my situation is unique because of all the books we have, it's more chances for Dash to expand his horizons and also perhaps trip up on something I'd prefer he wouldn't. At the end of the day, I guess I'd just like to avoid a whole Are You There God, It's Me, Dashiell thing. That's not so wrong, right?

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 10

Very shortly after Dash was born, while Ann was still shaking it out on the hospital bed and Dash was getting weighed and measured, they told us how long he was and we were surprised: I tend to resemble a tree stump when dressed properly, and Ann, while slightly taller than me, is far from a giant. But Dash was in the upper percentiles for length/height, and so Ann and I immediately started making "I guess he really does look like the mailman" jokes. Our midwife (sense a pattern yet?) was not amused.

There's a common conception that the baby, upon birth, looks like the father for evolutionary reasons - in a situation where the father cannot be certain if the offspring is his, biology steps in. Science isn't as clear on this as I thought, I learned, but I still love the concept. Regardless, one of our biggest debates is who Dash looks like. I look at Dash, and see nothing but Ann except in the nose and his super-expressive eyebrows, which is a key skill of mine. She sees nothing but me in him, which she cites toward his actual eyeballs (not his eyes, which we both agree are all Ann) and face shape.

Regardless, Ann, I think, inadvertently put this debate to rest with the picture she put together above. Not only does Dash have her smile as a baby, but apparently Dash's little derpface is hereditary. When I saw this, it really blew my mind, because it's pretty crazy how close they look at similar ages.

If anything, it's confirmation of one thing: we can't rule out the mailman.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 9

To jump upon the name discussion from earlier, we have also been surprised by some of the...interesting pronunciations and spellings of Dash's name. Well, Ann is more surprised than I am, since my first thought for the pronunciation was "Dash-eele" as opposed to the more appropriate "Dash-uhll." I have that problem where I read things before hearing them and the voice in my head gains prominence, so I tend to be very forgiving of the odd pronunciations.

This post is more just to highlight one of the first cute spellings we got, though. We get a lot of "Dash-a-lee," and an example is what we came home to when Dash was born from my father above, which was both very cute and deserved a "You Tried" medal.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 8

Ann sent this picture to me the other night with the single caption "You're the gun show." It immediately reminded me of this picture:

I swear, if Dash becomes a Jersey Shore gym rat...

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 7

I often feel guilty about one aspect of how we're handling Dash, even thought I shouldn't.

Ann's been exclusively breast feeding this whole time. Not a drop of formula, it's been great on our wallet and great for Dash. This means, though, that Ann's more or less the exclusive feeder of the family. I get bottles from time to time, but her giving me bottles means she has to pump more, and the more that she pumps means the more she makes, and so on and so forth.

Also, Ann's done with work. We're taking the dive in on the whole one person working, one person with the baby thing, and it's working well for us. Since I made more money, I got to keep working (it would have gone the other way if Ann was the primary breadwinner). We plan to homeschool in the future, if it will work for Dash, and so this is kind of the beginning of "let's see how this goes." So I work during the day, and Ann's got the baby.

When we put it all together, it comes down to getting up at night that's the big thing. Since Ann is the prime food giver, and since I can't do much, she pretty much is the one who gets up at night, leaving me to sleep so I can be more alert during the day. On one hand, I can't complain too much, since I get off the hook. It's her viewpoint that if I can't do much for him at night if he's hungry, and one of us can get a decent night's sleep, then that's how we should do it, especially since I'm working. On the other, that's exhausting for her, and I can tell. She never complains, and she's a saint for doing it, but I definitely feel some guilt.

Compounding it is the line of questioning from people. Everyone's first question is "how's the sleeping going," which is cute and fun but puts us in an awkward spot since pretty much everyone else we know shares the nighttime duties. Then again, nearly everyone we know has a two income household, and nearly everyone we know went to formula pretty quickly. And nearly no one we know is planning to homeschool. So we're not doing much of anything like anyone else, so why feel insecure about it?

This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty about perhaps asking us that. It's a natural question. Just know that if we're a little apprehensive or do the nervous laughter thing, it's because we're just still trying to get comfortable with the roles we've set up for ourselves.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 6

For those who might not have followed just yet or are coming to the blog late, about a year and a half ago we moved back into my childhood home with my parents to help take care of my mother. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007, and living with her could really be an entire blog in and of itself. It is a scary, sad, bizarre disease that ultimately seems to hurt everyone except the person who's stricken with it, and it does not make life easy.

I had a lot of early apprehension about having a baby with Mom in the house. When it's Ann and I, it's a full time job with her as is, and adding a baby to the mix seemed to be crazy. Plus, without knowing how Mom would react to having a baby in the house? How we would be able to handle it, both as a couple and as parents? I had a lot of concerns. What I do have to keep reminding myself constantly, and what I needed to be reminded of when we started talking baby, is that my mother wouldn't have wanted me to change my entire life around her. She even said so herself early on when we had nearly moved into our condo in New Hampshire and I was starting to immediately have regrets about being so far away. Would she have wanted us to wait on having a baby on her account?

Obviously, we dove in and had the baby. What I'm not surprised about is how well Ann and I have handled it. Having a new focus, having a little meatball who is 80% joy, 15% frustration, 5% bodily fluids, it ain't bad. What I am surprised about is how Mom has handled it. Sometimes, when the baby is crying, she soothes him from the other room, talking to Dash as if she's right there (a common thing with Mom is to talk to people she perceives nearby, regardless of where they are). Sometimes, she comes and sees the baby and just babbles to it. Sometimes just lets him hold her finger. Always, always, always, however, storms into the room regardless of the situation with the exclamation "Here's the Nanny!" (She decided she'd be Nanny long, long before Ann was even in the picture, which is interesting that it stuck with her). Mom has really only tried to outright hold the baby once or twice, and has mostly been afraid of that sort of physical interaction otherwise, which we're frankly okay with. On a whole, though? Mom loves the baby. Absolutely adores Dash even if the name isn't really doing the trick for her. Instead of a horror show, it's been better than the best case scenario.

What's become very interesting, however, is the last few weeks. I don't remember exactly when Dash started smiling at familiar faces, but it's always nice to be the first one to run over to his swing after a nap, and see that huge smile come onto his face when he recognizes you. Ann and I get smiles constantly, and who else does? My mother. HUGE, laughing smiles, which just eggs my mother on that much more, which then causes more smiles and laughter from Dash. They're like old friends getting together, neither really understanding the other or making any coherent statements to each other, but it's just crazy how well Dash has taken to my mother as well as my mother has taken to Dash. It's to the point where Ann can put Dash on the kitchen table, strapped into a bouncy seat, and leave Dash and Mom to chat while she makes dinner. It's crazy.

I get pretty upset from time to time knowing that Dash will never know my mother the way I did. It's hard enough that Ann only got a bit of what made her great, but Dash deserves more than that. It's worse to think that Dash might grow up early on with Mom being at her worst, and will only know my mother as an angry, incoherent mess. But when I see the two of them together right now? I wonder if Dash will get lucky in the lottery of life and end up being a good thing for my mother, and my mother a good thing for him. Even if the best case scenario now is the best we get later, at least we have this and we can tell him about how he made my mother's life a little brighter without even trying.

My father sometimes says to his family that this house needed something good in it for once. I hope Dash someday understands that, when we talk about something going our way, that we meant him on so many levels.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 5

We interrupt our general standard feature for a baby who is probably too young for a Jumparoo absolutely loving his Jumparoo.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 4

Raymonds of a certain age have traditionally gone through a childhood hazing ritual of sorts. It came from my Aunt Jane, an Aunt I was always close to growing up and loved quite a bit. She'd call on the phone and just say the dirtiest things to you (well, dirty-appropriate for the age). Potty humor, some light cursing, always just to get you a little angry and perhaps give it right back to you. I went through it, my brother went through it, my cousins went through it. Talking to my cousin Meghan the other night, I also learned that her son would get it as well.

Aunt Jane had been sick for some time, and largely because we've largely had our hands full on our own (along with other issues, for certain), we hadn't gotten around to see her in some time. With the baby, I made it a point to go and say hi, and it was like things had never changed, which was great. My Aunt and I caught up a bit, had a bunch of great laughs, and then she held the baby for a bit, and immediately laid into the little guy just like she did to everyone else. He was only a month old, so it's not like he'll really remember it, but I will, and it'll be a good story. Even in some of her most painful times, she was like she was 20 years earlier, putting whatever pain she was going through aside to put a smile on someone else's face.

My Aunt Jane passed away on Friday. I'll miss her terribly, and I'll be sad that, like a lot of other family traditions that slide away with the people who pass on, Dash won't ever get the full Aunt Jane experience. While there are a lot of people in my life that Dash won't really know, that he'll never know my Memere and that he'll never know my mother as she once was are hard. That he'll have to hear the crazy stories about Aunt Jane second hand hurts as well, because she was really special, and really something else.

Thanks, Aunt Jane.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 3

On one side is Dashiell Clark, our little bundle of joy. On the other, Dashiell Hammett, author and the guy who's name we stole for our son. We have placed them both in hats because hats are cool and to make it harder to tell them apart.

There is a definite divide that comes along with people learning Dash's name. Chances are, you're basically in one of three camps:

1) You're under 40 and have grown up with or have friend who have given their children unique or strange names.
2) You're over 40 and think any name that isn't typical is akin to naming your child Apple.
3) You're over 40 and have either read a Dashiell Hammett book or are familiar with the name via that reference.

We mostly kept the names a secret throughout the pregnancy, in part because our friend did that and was happy with not getting a lot of reactions, and in part because we had more "settled" on a boy's name (our first choice for a boy name ended up not being so good for a lot of reasons), and in part because we still hadn't 100% committed to a girl's name by the time the due date rolled around. This is not to say we're using "settled" negatively in this case, because we did genuinely like the name. It's just that no others came around to really debate in our heads.

Now, we really don't care at the end of the day if people don't like the name. My mother, famously, wouldn't even say the name until the last week or so (we think she might have thought we were calling Dashiell (Dash-uhll) an "asshole"), but others have noted somewhat interestingly that they feel the name will have to grow on them a bit. I'm more than fine with that, for the record - it's not a modern name. It's just an interesting reaction.

What's fun are the people who do get the reference, because it's exciting for them given how rare the name is. I've had more than my share of shared moments with librarians and such who know the name. What's more interesting, though, is that his nickname, Dash, has more or less taken over. I didn't expect to call him Dash much at all, but it just...fits. He's a goofy little derpface, so of course we're going to call him Dash. Or Dashypants. Or Dashydoodle. Or whatever else Ann comes up with.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 2

So some of you may have heard the story from us, but I figure I can get it down for good so I can stop, as Ann puts it, "sounding like a crazy person" whenever I tell the story.

Because this story was pretty scary, and I deserve to sound like a crazy person over it.

You'll recall my post on the day Dash was born where I had noted that it was "Ann's story to tell." I took that position because I was 95% spectator through the whole affair and figured she might not want to talk too much about it. Since then, we've been a little more open, a little more angry, and so on. I'll explain.

When I came back from Ann getting her epidural, it was like a whole new woman in front of me. When I left she was on a yoga ball in a severe amount of pain from her contractions, and when I came back she was actually really happy. She even ended up taking a short nap, which was nice given how long we'd been there at that point. About an hour or so after the epidural, they came to check Ann again, and decided we were ready for the next step. Considering how quickly things had been moving, I ran out to the lobby where Ann's mom and stepdad were and let them know where we were at. How exciting, after all - it was about 2:30 and we're going to have a baby soon!

So we get back, and we're getting going to push. The nurse, contrary to pretty much everything I had thought up to this stage, has me help Ann position her legs to make things easier (my eyes were locked on that back wall, let me tell you), and we got going.

And then 30 minutes pass. Basically no progress. Ann also said later that she felt pretty much done after 15 minutes. So the nurse comes over, pumps up the pitocin (which helps with contractions), and Ann keeps going.

And then an hour passes. Still limited progress. Ann is already exhausted at this point, the midwife has a look on her face, and the nurse comes over, pumps up the pitocin yet again. It's worth noting at this stage that the midwife can't really figure out when Ann's contractions are, which means Ann is missing prime pushing time. But hey, pitocin will help, right?

90 minutes pass. We're supposedly getting somewhere, but Ann literally cannot move anymore. They slap oxygen on her (full mask, none of that tube nonsense for my girl), and try to get her to push again, and she's...basically nonresponsive. Not so much that she's been knocked out, or lost consciousness, or anything like that. It's that she was literally worn out and couldn't do anything. Single scariest moment of my time with Ann, because this was pretty much every nightmare scenario I had envisioned in my head. But we rouse Ann after a short break, pump up the pitocin again, and go with it.

It took about 2 hours give or take, but we finally get Dash. At one point, Ann was given something similar to a pull-up bar to lean on to try and get gravity to help out a bit. It did more good than anything we had done to that point, and once Ann was able to get the baby out, things were better. Ann was shaking from the epidural and the basic shock of everything for a good 45 minutes afterward, so she didn't even get a chance to hold Dash.

At the point where the baby was born, though, I look down, and my shoe is soaked. There's a clear puddle at my feet, and I say something to the midwife and nurse. They say "oh, it's just the afterbirth," which made no sense because I was above Ann's waist the entire time. That's when I follow the line a bit and realize that one of Ann's IVs was out.

Yup, the pitocin leaked out of the detached IV and onto my foot. Who knows how long it had been loose, but it's probable that the pitocin increases Ann got over the course of the labor ended up on my right foot. My suspicions are further confirmed by the fact that Ann had a tremendously difficult time passing the placenta, which somehow easily worked itself out once the pitocin was hooked back up.

So, with all that said, I should say that everyone was genuinely healthy and no ill effects came of that situation other than me being scarred for life and being pretty sure I don't ever want to see this again. We made a joke with the midwife saying we weren't going to call a lawyer, and she didn't really find it funny, so it was probably ultimately more serious for them than it ended up being for us, but in terms of traumatic experiences, that one was up there. On what is supposed to be a joyous day introducing a new life into the world, you end up seeing your wife limp in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on? Really?

So yeah. That's the story of Dash's birth.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Dash of Dash a Day: June 1

I've neglected this blog for a lot of reasons, and I need to get out of that and start really documenting some stuff here. So for the month of June, I'm going to offer up a post about Dash every day to kind of catch up on the backlog of things I've been thinking about, or pictures I haven't put on Facebook (or have and haven't discussed), or just random musings. Then, hopefully, I can look at a more regular schedule.

Anyway, for today, one of Dash's weird habits:

So Dash was off the binky relatively quickly. They kind of scared us off regarding pacifiers at the hospital, citing "nipple confusion" (which, for the record, Dash has no problems with). It turns out that, at least for the first few weeks, it was an easy soother for him, he'd spit it out when he didn't need it anymore, and that was that. We got excited, bought a few of the Soothies he liked almost immediately, and within a week or so, he didn't care for them anymore. Go figure.

One habit that he did enjoy in the hospital, and still does, however, is the gnawing of the finger. I don't know, it's really strange and all but he really enjoys it. He'll grab my finger and immediately bring it to his mouth, and once he gets it in there, he goes to town. He does it for a while, then he's done, no problem. He's not crazy when he doesn't get to eat my hand, he's not upset when I take it away. It's just a weird habit.

I'm sure a lot of you who've been through this are thinking "well, yeah, of course." This is just one of those things that no one tells you, I guess, and that leaves me constantly amused. And my poor finger sometimes hurts by the time he's done, but Dash is worth it.