It's been far too long since I last visited here. But that is a definite feature of parenthood - caring for Henry is so incredibly time consuming. We run half an hour late for most events, and evenings are written off as we try to establish a routine that Henry is resisting with every ounce of his being.
It is difficult to even think what to write - the last (nearly) eight weeks have been tumultuous. Henry is growing at a rate I did not believe possible. I was looking at him lying in his carrycot yesterday thinking "you know...he's not going to be in that in two months time. I'm not even sure he'll be in it in a month's time". You can almost see him grow. He has gone from a gangly (midwife's actual description) tiny scrap of baby to a bit of a chunk! We have not had him weighed for a while, but his cheeks and arms have a reassuring thickness to them now.
And joy of joys - he is smiling! It is simply the most beautiful, life-affirming sight and I find myself prepared to do anything to get him to smile. So far, I think, it is largely pot-luck - Henry smiles at what amuses him, which is occasionally mummy and daddy, but can also be a picture on a wall, wind, baby dreams... Current favourites are incy-wincy spider and this little piggy. The smiles happen most in the morning, which is a bit tough because five of seven I am in work.
One thing I will note here is how principled we were before becoming parents in what we thought was appropriate, and those things we would never do. Try very hard never to set those principles in stone. Henry has had a pacifier (one of the few Americanisms I think is actually worthwhile). That is the big one for us. We swore that we would never use one, but when he has been crying for an hour, is not hungry, does not need changing and cannot get to sleep because he is so upset you resort to what will help him, and abandon your high ideals. Do not beat yourself up about it; be aware of the sacrifice you are making and why you are doing it and ensure you do not forget that principle, but the uppermost principle is your baby's well-being. Everything else is secondary.
On that note, I will share very briefly my checklist to run through when a baby is crying. Conveniently they all start with a B - I try to use this as an aide memoire, trust me we have needed reminding of some of these things from time to time.
Breast or bottle - am I hungry? (or thirsty - we just had a very hot spell and Henry upped his intake, but, as always, Emily's breasts responded miraculously and produced more fore-milk, which is the lighter watery milk)
Bed - am I tired? (a difficult one - Henry fights going to sleep in the evening. A lot. For ages.)
Burp - have I got wind? (Henry likes on the shoulder, or bent over my hand. But we have learned, repeatedly and to our cost, that if you feed him too much or wind too aggressively after a feed, it all fountains out in a glorious geyser of milk. This normally results in having to strip and redress the bed at 3am whilst drying the mattress with a towel. Oh and you can never have too many muslin squares.)
Bottom - do I need changing? (somehow, this is the one we commonly forget, and we always assume that if he is not settling it is because he is hungry or 'over-tired' (which I personally think is a ridiculous concept). Suddenly, it will occur to us that he may be comfortable. A quick change = relaxed Henry. This has changed in the last three weeks - at first he didn't realise or care what was in his nappy. Now he does)
Bored - do I need entertaining? (I think this one is becoming more important for Henry, he is considerably more interactive in the last couple of weeks, so the need to stimulate is becoming more salient).
What is most difficult to capture here is, well, everything. The emotions, which are no doubt heightened by exhaustion despite him being reasonably forgiving at night, the changes, the learning, the bonding. All of it happening and evolving on a minute-by-minute basis. I started this blog hoping to record my thoughts and experiences as I went on my personal journey of fatherhood, but I now realise that fatherhood is actually just an extension of Henry and I cannot keep up with him! It is so exciting, so rewarding, so incredibly hard but wow. Just look at what you get. This makes every struggle worthwhile, and somehow it does just enough to make you forget the screaming and the bad dreams and the tiredness. That little boy smiling is my panacea and I love him.