I’ve been reading the book “Does this baby make me look straight? Confessions of a gay Dad” by Dan Bucatinsky recently. We had received the book a few years ago from a LGBT families event we went to in Lafayette, Indiana but I hadn’t started actually reading it until recently. It’s a pretty funny book but also insightful and interesting. However, there have been bits that have made me think back to January and how much has happened since then.
I always thought that once our daughter was born we would be staring at her in a room full of babies sleeping while we then would go back to ours to sleep some before inevitably being woken up to handle Kaili again. But that’s not how Mayo Clinic works. Kaili was born in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. Everyone there, including our wonderful surrogate and her husband, are great. But I wasn’t expecting Kaili to be sleeping (in little spurts) in our room! Once Kaili was born, we were all taken to the post-birth wing and Zhengbin and I were taken to our room while Stacy was taken to her own nearby. Having Kaili in the room with us teaches responsibility from the first minute and they also have strict rules that she can never be alone. One of us always had to stay while the other would be able to go get dinner, etc. The staff would always swing by constantly to help out and teach us on how to do things and give little pointers on how to make things easier. One thing I realized after leaving the hospital was that we never once had to actually change a merconium filled diaper! If you are wondering what that is, imagine black tar in place of poop. It’s gross and very dense. The nurses always happened to be around during those stools so we would learn, but didn’t actually deal with it!
You always hear people say to enjoy sleeping while you can. We certainly were pampered by Stacy and Shaun pre-birth during our stay at their home. I didn’t realize just how sleep deprived we would actually be though. The first month was very little sleep and just in short spurts. Kaili had high bilirubin levels, as many babies do. Not high enough to need a blue light treatment, but enough that our pediatrician wanted us to feed her every two hours for several weeks. I was very lucky that my employer gave me so much parental leave. I wouldn’t have been able to work during that time anyway. You’ll hear this from any pediatrician, although you wouldn’t generally think of it yourself, but a feeding every two hours means from start to start. That really only leaves 1.5 hours (at best) to sleep or do anything before it’s time to prepare for another feeding. That’s quite draining.
Eventually things start to settle down and normalize. Kaili started to sleep a bit longer and before long got into the same routine she still is today – feeding about every three hours during the day. It was probably around two or three months that she started sleeping longer overnight. At first it was 3 hours but now she can go seven hours or more overnight! Of course there are still nights when she’s up every two to three hours, but those aren’t too often.
One of the cutest things Kaili had done, from early on even, is what I call a food coma. I define a food coma as those moments after becoming full from a feeding and just in pure bliss. She stops sucking on the bottle and a smile creeps across her face. Then it goes away. Then it comes back even bigger. Usually a food coma is emphasized by slightly open eyes. If I smile at her while she’s in this state the smile comes back even larger than before. It’s quite cute and fun. It’s also a very worthwhile end to somewhat challenging times at late night feedings.
Did you know we have these things called feet? They are fun appendages! In the past one month or so Kaili has very much enjoyed playing with her feet. She’ll grab them and bring them to her face. Sometimes a toe goes in the mouth, but there’s always a smile. That cute smile just makes everything better. Even writing this, just thinking about that smile is making me smile! Kaili has recently started finding she can slam her feet down and make these loud noises. Noises are very fun! The couch makes loud deep sounds. But the plastic footrest on the high chair makes fun loud noises so that when the feet get super active.
Kaili’s usages of her hands has also evolved. In the beginning it was the wonderful palmar reflex. That is when a baby in the first two months instinctively grasps a finger or other object. It’s one of the best things and really cute. However, as one of my Facebook friends from Australia said, it’s even better when they start doing it because they want to. And that started a month or so ago. Kaili will not hold my fingers more out of want, although I’m sure there is still a lot of reflex there. But now it seems to soothe her more during feedings and calms her down. When not holding onto a hand, her fingers love to roam around. She loves to hear her fingernails move across surfaces and hear the sounds it makes. It’s an interesting feeling when she does it on my face or arms as well. Somewhat like she’s playing the piano on me or strumming a guitar.
Kaili’s cognition and vocal range have also evolved. Since she’s a pretty happy baby, she generally only cries when she’s suddenly very hungry or wanting something. Her voice to indicate these items has changed to have more variations in vocal range. As well, she has definitely started laughing quite a lot! She is beginning to be a bit ticklish but mainly laughs at funny sounds and really big smiles. Kaili will also smile a lot if someone smiles really big at her.
Finally, Kaili’s food choices have changed. A week ago Kaili had her first taste of real baby food with sweet peas. She has had a bit of rice before that, but she was loving being spoon-fed the peas. Kaili also is still getting her regular bottles of formula but with either rice cereal or oatmeal mixed in. She now eats between four or five ounces per feeding.
It’s been an exciting six months with many developments and more to come! Kaili is standing with assistance although she hasn’t started crawling yet. Pretty soon it’ll be hard to keep her still and she’ll be all over the house!