misfired electron = delight


I know this isn’t supposed to happen yet, but today, Lucy and I locked eyes for the longest time yet: about 5 seconds. I was so psyched that I started smiling. She looked at my mouth, and then did something that I would never have believed if Tessa hadn’t seen it too: she smiled back.

Now, every nurse, pediatrician, neurologist and armchair doula will tell you it’s only gas, it’s only a fart, it’s some kind of synapse misfiring, but I was goddamn there. I know what face she makes for having gas, I know the rest of her eight emotions like the back of my hand; I’ve been staring at her for a week. And nobody can tell me it wasn’t a smile.

If anybody here can prove different, I’m all ears. But GOD ALMIGHTY what a moment. That little girl’s scream can peel the varnish off furniture, but her smile has the beauty of Helen and the power of Cleopatra. What the hell am I going to do? I’m going to have to build her dollhouses made of fucking mint chocolate.

And while we’re at it, this is as good a time as any to ask: what is your one piece of practical parenting advice? We are learning quickly (and have 15 of our own to share), but the best part of our baby shower was that each attendant had to give one helpful thought on having a newborn – or, in the case of those without kids, what thing your parent did that made the world infinitely better for you.

Pound away, if you so please!

45 thoughts on “misfired electron = delight

  1. rickus roommatus

    my parents over reacted when something as minor as a pepper shaker fell on its’ side on the dining room table. i heard “OH MY GOD!” a lot. earlier childhood memories that instilled in me this impending sense of doom. i’m still convinced when i wash my face during the closed eyes part that someone is gonna be standing behind me when i open my eyes. and that’s not from watching horror movies. it’s from parents who were (are) filled with the idea that danger is everywhere, even under your bed, hiding there with the boogeyman.

  2. betsy

    ok first, I believe you on the smile. She’s a big girl, strong and fit and ready to express herself!
    second, someone told me ‘you can’t spoil an infant.’ and that seemed very different from what most of our parents’ gen thought, so didn’t at first seem obvious but makes perfect sense. While I believe your Lucy smiles with pleasure at her adored and adoring parents, I don’t believe she’s advanced enough to manipulate you, so if she asks for something, drink or sleep or cuddling or walking around looking up at the shadows of trees outside, it’s probably cause she needs it, and I’d give it to her, personally. Plus, she’s so cute when she asks and how can you resist?
    I’ve already had chance to give advice, but I’ll probably keep sending it your way and it’s nice of you to solicit it.
    with love

  3. stephanie

    1. Give her space, even now. Time alone to discover her toes, watch shadows on the ceiling, listen to the quiet. (Major challenge for you on this one, Ian, I can tell.)
    2. Ask people to give her books as presents, not junky toys. Request the classics. As you build her a library she’ll enjoy for life, build her a bookshelf, as well. Readreadreadreadread to her all the time. (I’m a children’s book author, which may explain it.)
    3. NEVER put a computer or TV in her bedroom or she will not grow up with you, but alongside you in another room. Parents who ignore this have no idea of what kind of 14-year old they’re going to end up with. And there’s no going back.
    4. If you ever hear yourselves bragging about what grade level Lucy reads at, run home and beat yourselves with one of those chains from the DaVinci Code. Those are the worst kind of parents for a child to have, and for other parents to spend time with.
    5. Make sure she spends a lot of time in nature, the woods, the out-of-doors. This will keep her grounded, literally and figuratively.
    6. Okay, so I’m over my limit… raise her to be polite and say “please” and “thank you.” This will not only make her a more pleasant human being to be around, but she’ll find that other people respond to her more kindly.
    That’s it. I admire my own restraint.

  4. lyle

    well, my BEST piece of advice after having two baby boys applies only to boys (or uniquely gifted girls), i.e., make sure the johnson is pointing down when you put on a diaper, otherwise the urine sprays up and over the top of the diaper, thereby soaking the front of the baby’s outfit (as well as the shirt of the adult holding the baby!) and requiring an entire outfit change before the diaper is even barely used-up. (at least this might help someday with lucy’s potential little brother or with readers with newborn boys!)
    p.s. it was not gas. that’s ridiculous. your baby smiled!! :)

  5. lyle

    p.p.s. i just read betsy’s and stephanie’s posts and i say, ROCK ON, sisters! well said. i second their comments wholeheartedly.

  6. Aimee Dalrymple

    AS the mother of two young and active boys, my advice is to always accept help from others when it is offered. Accept meals and donations of babysitting time whenever, especially in these early days.

  7. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    You have gotten some very excellent advice already, and it is only 8:30am, my time. I have already given you more than my fair share of unsolicited advice. Bless your heart for asking for more!
    Here is some hands-on advice which we learned the hard way (all examples are unfortunately real and happened under my watch):
    1. During the summer months, ALWAYS check the metal part of the car seat buckle snap thing before you put your baby in the car seat. The metal thing will be hot and will burn your daughter’s leg if you inadvertently rest it on her leg. It will burn her leg badly and you will be racked with guilt over permanent scarring. P.S.: there will not be permanent scarring.
    2. In the middle of the night, do not change your daughter’s diaper on the changing table while you are half-asleep yourself. She will wiggle around and away from you and will fall backwards, head first, into the garbage pail, with her legs sticking straight in the air. You will rush to Nighttime Pediatrics, racked with guilt over a broken vertebra. P.S.: there will not be a broken vertebra.
    3. If your daughter reaches age 5 without having to visit the emergency room, do not get too smug, because there may be a summer when your daredevil daughter is rushed to the emergency room 2 times in one month. When that happens and your daughter needs several stitches, be calm and act as though it is no big deal. If you sense that your spouse will get queasy at the sight of his offspring with a big bleeding gash over her eye, ask him to leave the ER room. Otherwise, he will faint, fall on hospital equipment, and he will need to be admitted to the ER as well.
    One other thing: from the very beginning, make doctor visits FUN. The doctor is your friend, and you will be visiting her a lot. Don’t let Lucy sense your fear over shots, stitches, etc. Tell her how great doctors are and how fun it is to be healthy. Send all your doctors photos of Lucy, so they can put her photo up on their walls and she can see the photos when she visits. Write the doctors thank you notes. I see so many kids for whom doctor/dentist visits are a source of fear and stress. Helen, on the other hand, LOVES visiting doctors, and I am often told that she is their best patient. It all makes life a lot easier.

  8. Yasminah

    The only advice you need is “this too shall pass.”
    This is the easy part, Ian. Take my word for it. I have teens now, and I would take 50 newborns over one snotty 14 year old anytime. Not to mention a drunk 19 year old.
    Enjoy every moment. It goes very, very quickly.

  9. Audra

    Here are my thoughts.
    1. Keep plastic underwear on hand. If your baby gets diarrhea, you don’t want her to have to wear a ziploc bag to protect the furniture.
    2. If she does have diarrhea, don’t put her on the furniture.
    3. Let her be little. Don’t rush her to grow up, there is enough time for that.
    4. Watch the world through her eyes. Its a much better place.
    Good luck.

  10. scruggs

    I concur with the above pearls of wisdom. Books from day 1! Of course you’ll be like me this morning reading Green Eggs and Ham 4 times in a row: “Read it again, mommy”
    A few more:
    1)Music music music, not that I probably have to tell you that. And not just Beatles and 50 Cent to be well rounded, let the kiddie music have a big role in the rotation. Even though it will drive you crazy. Best thing I’ve done with Nicolas so far is have his dorky kid cds going the 20 min each way to and from school. From the start. It has done wonders for making his memory and speech incredibly advanced. So check out a little Raffi, wheels on the bus, and even they might be giants to let them have silly songs as well as the classics.
    2) Get her used to being out and about early on, especially if you like to go out to dinner and such. You time doesn’t now have to be spend at home. Ya’ll are so mobile. Its nice to go out to dinner (meaning the local mexican place, not Mortons!) and have a relatively low key time with a 2 year old who plays at the table, eats all his food, and doesn’t run around like a freak. So its nice that he’s fine with roaming around town like we do. That said, they still need some structure and we are always home at naptime and bedtime (mostly).
    3) Airplane travel. Be prepared for anything. We now exclusively use backpacks to make packing and carrying easier. Try to fly at naptime. Check out Baby B’air for when they are little and on your lap. And once they are mobile…portable dvd player!

  11. stephanie

    About the restaurant topic: if Lucy starts to cry in a restaurant, take her outside. If she starts acting up when she’s older, take her outside. She’ll learn how to behave in a restaurant and the other diners will be able to enjoy their dinner.
    Raising children is so simple if parents would only put their own egos to one side. Ask any child.

  12. CL

    If you are out with her by the pool, and the phone rings inside, don’t leave her out by the pool when you go to get the phone.
    I’m not a parent so I have to share stuff based on what I’ve read in Dear Abby.

  13. Ehren

    The thing that I’m most grateful for as a son was the way that my dad always asked me why I thought people did the things they do. Two events that I remember vividly:
    *8 years old, on the way to the movies with my parents and my younger brother, Joe Jackson’s “Stepping Out” is on the radio, my dad asks me what I think the song is about. In true Socratic fashion, he makes me actually pay attention to the song and give a thoughtful answer before he explains why it’s important to go out on the town and enjoy yourself from time to time, like we were doing by going to the movies.
    *10 years old, Madonna is performing “Like a Virgin” at the MTv VMA’s, simlulating sex on the stage in a sexy wedding dress. My mom wants to whisk me off to bed, but my dad wants me to stay, but wants me to give an opinion about why she might be performing the song this way.
    Inspiring and nurturing curiosity about everything in the world was my parents’ greatest gift to me, I think.
    As an aside, Ian, do you ever wonder what Lucy will think of this eminently googlable blog when she turns 6 or so and stumbles across it? It strikes me that kids will understand their parents so much better as a result of all these blogs, emails and chatroom posts that we’re leaving behind.

  14. Bozoette Mary

    Hug her a lot. Read to her a lot. It was a smile; don’t let anyone tell you different.
    Don’t forget that your marriage is the reason for her — take time away from her to cherish it and nurture it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an hour or a day or a weekend; it’s important for her to see the love between you.
    And when she’s older, set limits and enforce them. She’ll thank you for that when she’s 21.

  15. Ehren

    Actually, I think that my above advice should only be taken if you want to raise a music geek. More than likely this won’t bother you and will happen anyway to a kid growing up around you Williamses. I’m just sayin’.

  16. Deb

    I agree with Mary. Make a point of displaying tons of spousal affection. My sibs and I have each had repercussions from not seeing my parents be in love enough.

  17. salem's little sister

    Ben turned 6 months old yesterday and I feel like I can finally catch my breath. My biggest challenge was the sleep deprivation. I love to sleep and Ben loves to nurse. We’re at the point now where we lay side by side in the mornings and he nurses away while I catch a few extra minutes of sleep. The best part of this scenario is the moment when he stops nursing and we just gaze in to each other’s eyes. I swear the world stops and I get lost in the wonder of this new person. It’s a wonder that I can ever stop kissing his sweet cheeks.
    Let Lucy be your little girl for as long as she wants Ian. Kiss her, snuggle her and tell her that you love her little heart out. That’s what my dad did for me and I’m doing for Ben.
    Love her little heart out.

  18. Laurie Williams Gilmore

    Just learned this from taking care of a friend’s tiny one, and watching his dad take care of him. When you feed Lucy from a bottle, there will be times when she breaks your heart because she really wants the breast, and you don’t have one. She may scream without end and choose starvation over your low-rent, plastic, breast milk delivery devise. This will be horrible and you will despair, but hang on, she still loves you. A valuable and practical hint is to run the bottle under hot water so that the nipple is really warm and gooey and closer to flesh feeling. (This is a separate issue from milk temp. So, if you’ve heated the bottle of milk in the microwave, heat the nipple in hot water. And if the bottle has been sitting out for a while–even if milk is still warm–rewarm that nipple)

  19. Sean M.

    Two things that come to mind from my own childhood…
    1. Learn the difference of when she’s just being a fussy eater and when she finds whatever you’re trying to feed her absolutely vomit-inducingly disgusting. If it’s the latter, don’t force her to eat it.
    2. If times are tough, kids sometimes don’t notice if you’re positive around them. Case in point — during the summer between 4th and 5th grade, my family couldn’t find an affordable place to live, so we literally lived in two tents at a local campground…Mom and stepdad in one tent, two brothers and I in another. Looking back on it as an adult, we were technically homeless, and those around us probably thought of (and whispered about) our family as such…but at the time I just thought it was a fun 3-month camping trip.
    That’s all I got. Much love to you and yours.

  20. Sharon

    Ian – Another Tarheel lurker who remembers you back from the Lodge days. Your recent posts about Lucy’s birth have really helped me remember to cherish all that is magical and special about baby girls. Mine are 6 and 3 now, and as we’re rushing out the door in the mornings, trying to remember gymnastics outfits, show-and-tell and homework – kindergarten now includes homework by the way – sometimes you forget to keep it all in perspective. As for advice — four items: 1) Keep Barbie at bay as long as possible. I’m a working mom with many hours of Womens Studies to my credit. I was strong initially, but then the older one got a Barbie as a gift. And now I have literally 24 Barbies, as well as her evil little cousin, Polly Pocket, and their assorted miniture plastic accessories in every corner of my home. 2)XM Kids Radio/PBS Kids Digital Cable — Some of the songs/shows are annoying, but no commercials. A little bit of a cocoon to protect them from consumerism for a while at least Many people will tell you to stay TV free until she’s older. We were good until the second one came along… 3) Consignment shops/thrift stores — You will be amazed at how quickly she’ll outgrow stuff. Even with two girls, we have items neither got a chance to wear. 4) And the song Turn Around – sung by Nanci Griffith. I understand this was a Kodak commercial back in the 60s so expect some schmaltz. Still, listening to that song is my quickest path to attitude adjustment after the 3-year old circumnavigates the house with a marker or the 6-year old has spilled her milk for the sixth consecutive day.
    We all live the absurdity of parenthood daily. I hope you can keep focused on sharing the magic parts with your loyal readers.

  21. Kelly

    She is so beautiful Ian & Tessa. My girl is almost 3, and my bit of advice to offer (I learned the hard way) is to get yourselves on to a daytime nap schedule at 3 or 4 months, put her down in her crib awake and let her learn to put herself to sleep. I got into a habit of Taylor being awake/play/nurse/nap and it was HELL ON WHEELS when she wouldn’t nap at set times of day. This was 9 months – 18 months. It was compounded at bedtime because she largely slept with us at night, which was easy for nursing and wonderful and cozy, BUT I really should have put her back into her crib when she was done night nursing, age 9 months or so. No one enjoys doing the “Cry it out” when your 10 month old is howling for you at the crib rail, but you are both so sleep deprived you are ready to run screaming into the street hollering “OH Why did I not break this habit earlier!”
    A better method I witnessed with a friend’s child is awake/nurse/play/nap, with the baby being up no longer than 3 hours between the time they are awake and when you put them down again. Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth is a good reference, as is the Happiest Baby on the Block.
    I am expecting Twins in October (yeiks!) and the structured nap is the number one thing I will do differently this time around.

  22. Sean

    1. Give your brother a call any time anything occurs to you, and if it gets to the point where it’s too much trouble, let him tell you that. Don’t worry about asking for too much, at this point any excuse to help is relished.
    2. Consider all plans for the next year to be soft and negotiable. Cancel any long trips to far-flung destinations where your brother and sister-in-law won’t be able to be at the end of the phone.
    3. Start talking to her about her weight, IMMEDIATELY, or she’ll end up fat.

  23. Quinn

    Strangely enough, the best advice I was ever given came from a friend, who got it from her AA sponsor. My friend was babbling to her sponsor about how her completely fucked-up ex-boyfriend had called her, wanting to get back together, help him get sober, should she start seeing him again, blahblahblahusualdrama. Her sponsor looked at her and said calmly, “Your responsibility is not to walk into the darkness to get him. Your responsibility is to keep standing in the light where he can find you”. That, to me, is the ideal parental response to a tantrum, and some days, it’s easier than others.
    When my daughter would be getting crazy and cranky over something, and I would feel my crazy and cranky escalating in return, that phrase saved me on more than one time.

  24. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Don’t let her “cry it out.” I always thought that was just plain mean.
    I agree with Rickus Roommatus. Don’t be a Freak-Out, Neurotic, “Danger Danger” Daddy. I was too much of a worrisome mom. Always saying, “Be careful! Don’t touch that! Use your anti-bacterial gel!” By some miracle, I have not make my daughter a nervous little mess. The funny thing is that now, if Helen wants to do something daring at the playground, she automatically says, “Don’t worry Mama, I will be careful.” Or, if she falls, she’ll yell across the playground, “Don’t worry Mama, I am OK!” Poor kid. It’s not easy having a mom on Lexapro.
    Don’t let YOUR neuroses become HER neuroses!

  25. Tanya

    Someone said yesterday to find ONE source of parenting advice that you feel comfortable with (most closely matches your instincts, etc.) and stick to that. My pediatrician told me the same thing, and it’s wonderful. I’m a big fan of John Rosemund, but that might get me beat up in some circles.
    Another thing my doc said that I love is that as your child gets older and you have to start in with the discipline, try to make sure you’re praising/loving/etc. her 90% of the time and only scolding/correcting 10% of the time.
    Oh yeah, and definitely find some kind of sleep training method around 5-6 months old to get Lucy to sleep through the night. I put it off until about 9 months and by then we had HAD IT with the getting up in the middle of the night thing. It took just 3 nights, and he was sleeping like a champ all the way through. Then I kicked myself for a week for not following the doc’s advice to do that 3 months ago….
    *kisses (germ free, of course) to Lucy!!*

  26. Aunt Annie

    This advice originates not only from my own upbringing, but also from innumerable first-hand witnessing of toddlers who have secured a general-like authority over their pitiful, wheedling parents in the aisles of Weaver St.
    When you set limits (note “when,” not “if”), EXPECT that Lucy will comply. This undercurrent I believe has a tremendous and immeasurable effect. One of my parents (I won’t say which) always assumed (you could tell) that we would NOT comply–which only inspired noncompliance–while the other simply KNEW that we WOULD comply, and that parent is the one that got compliance. When you expect Lucy to listen to you–in addition to teaching her safety, consideration of others and many related necessary lessons–you are also showing her that you respect and trust her, which is even more valuable.
    When I watch these Weaver Street parents *begging* their children to stop throwing cereal boxes on the floor, I could just scream.
    Not to sound unduly harsh! I know you both will shower her with unconditional love (Most Important Thing #1) so I’m not worried about that. And of course she’ll get deluged by so many damn hugs and kisses from the rest of us she will barely have time to pull Chopes’ tail or throw oatmeal across the kitchen.

  27. scruggs

    Annie, that makes me laugh. Weaver St. is definitely an “organic” Chuck E Cheese’s. Esp Thurs nights and Sunday brunch. Though it can be a romper room, wish there was something comparable here in ATL.
    Yes, kid needs to know “No” is no, and that’s the word. Consistency is key. And all can be accomplished without a smack, just give them “the look!”

  28. KJF

    trust your instincts. (who cares what the books say….if you saw Lucy smile at you, that’s what she did!!) don’t feel guilty about your parenting decisions (especially if you let Lucy watch TV….a large target will grow on your back and many will try to shame you). and remember you are Lucy’s parents first and foremost. you need to teach her and guide her through life. if you are lucky when she is an adult she will also be your friend. enjoy her. love her. make sure you and tessa get naps when you can. don’t worry if your house is a mess. and don’t be afraid to get a babysitter from time to time!!

  29. Cristal

    Hm. I only had the joy of living with a functional family for two of my teenage years. Those two years changed my life. Here is what I learned.
    1. Trust your kids to make good choices.
    2. Don’t just tell her she is pretty, also praise her for being smart.
    3. Unconditional love, give it freely.
    I also agree with everyone that said to show lots of spousal affection. I didn’t see that as a kid and it severely twisted my idea of relationships. Lucy is beautiful (and already showing advanced brain activity with her smile!) You and Tessa will be great parents.

  30. eric g.

    Since I have no children yet, I will give two pieces of advice from my own childhood. First, as others have said, reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child. While my parents had many faults (as all do), they gave me unfettered access to books of all shapes, sizes and even languages, and this has added immeasurably to my life. Second, don’t yell too loud during Carolina games. I know it’s hard, but my Dad’s sheer intensity during games scared me senseless when I was a small child. (Of course, by the time I was seven or eight I was right there with him, yelling at Dean to have them guard the outside the jumper.) I have no doubt that she smiled. I’m so happy for you all!

  31. dsb

    When you are feeling low, and you might once the initial euphoria wears off, remember that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
    and sleep train early and often

  32. mindy

    Um, don’t think you need any prompting in the ‘expressing unconditional love’ department. No, I think you’ve got that one covered.
    Here’s some practical stuff, though.
    1. If you can’t bring yourself to clip those teeny, tiny nails, baby emery boards work just as well and won’t give you heart failure in the process.
    2. Baby Ayr (saline drops) and an aspirator bulb will be INDISPENSIBLE for clearing out her little nose if she gets a cold, Aquaphor is miracle goop for chapped, irritated skin, and alternating application of Desitin (cream) and A & D Ointment (not cream) will heal any diaper rash.
    3. Carry 50 SPF baby sunblock in the diaper bag at all times.

  33. Just Andrew

    Did I say congrats yet? If not, congrats and all of that.
    So, the advice stuff:
    Mark down her 6 week birthdate on your calendar. When you are bleary eyed and weary, look at the date. This is near the day where you will get more than 3 hours of uninteruped sleep. This day will become the second happiest day of your life. (2nd to baby being born, but it will even eclipse your wedding day.)
    Smile or no smile, mark down the 4 month birthdate – this is when she will really start interacting and being really really fun.
    Answer this question:
    And how are you doing, Ian?
    Now, this will be the last time anybody asks you this question for the next several months. Everybody will ask about Tessa and Lucy and you will feel like you’ve ceased to matter. This is normal.
    Ferberize the Hell out of that baby before the 9 month mark or you will pay for years and years.
    Many people will give you advice about the TV and we all know that for the most part, TV is bad for kids. That said, these same people will tell you that they’ve are against using the TV as a babysitter and that they have never done it. There is a name for these people and that name is: liar. Sometimes you need 20 minutes of peace and the magic box works and will not rot your child’s brain. We all do it, some just won’t admit to it.

  34. Cris

    I definitely agree with the advice about books. Check out the Olivia (by Ian Falconer) and Miss Spider (by Dan Kirk) series if you haven’t seen them already. I think they’re both fantastic.

  35. Emily

    I STRONGLY echo the idea of infant alone time – there’s so much ‘stuff’ that she could have in her face that may be stimulating and educational, but it also leads to the development of ADD and ADHD America has seen over the last 10 years.
    And as she gets older, be careful how you speak to her. I nearly hyperventilate every time I have to call my mom (I’m 20) because her attitude makes her a very successful businesswoman, but turned me into an anxious little child/adolescent/teenager, and only college away from home has restored my sanity.

  36. Emily B

    Ian, you are a brave guy to actively seek parenting advice. My best advice is, take all advice with a grain of salt. Just listen to Lucy, and do what seems best for her temperament and yours. What works for one baby will not necessarily work for another. My cousin did this amazingly detailed breastfeeding schedule – to the minute – that would have driven me absolutely bonkers. But it worked for her and her kids.
    I would also second what Big Daddy said in comments the other day about parenting books. Their contradictory nature will drive you stark raving mad. I am a reader/planner sort of person (you should see my birth book library), so naturally I had about 15 parenting books when my first was born. Biggest mistake I ever made. Just find one you like that has a section on illnesses so you can look up croup in the middle of the night, and toss the others.
    She definitely smiled.
    Laurie Williams Gilmore, how in the heck are ya?

  37. Trajan

    Sell you TV (if you have one) and play more music.
    Eat dinner at the table, together, every night.
    Talk about everything.
    Teach by example, not words.
    Be strong and lead.
    With kids, there is a right and wrong, don’t get all post-modern on her until she is in her teens.
    No means no. Do not back down.
    Teach her the joys of “work”. Too many people have forgotten the joy of fresh baked cookies, the sense of accomplishment when the yard has been mowed, and the bond created when a family reaches a goal together.
    Love, love, love, love.
    When she finally tells you to go to hell, don’t take it personally, it just means that you guys done a great job as parents.

  38. chip

    I don’t have children, but I have a few ideas to propose:
    1) Read, read, read to the kid. This is the thing my parents did for which I was most grateful.
    2) Unconditional love and a sense than anything is possible.
    3) If it’s feasible and she’s interested, get a dog or cat for her when’s she little, but not so little she can’t help take care of it.
    4) Bring her to Weaver Street so she can shame the ill-behaved children to get with the program.

  39. Andrew

    When she is old enough to pay attention to something for a sustained period of time, get the Baby Einstein DVD for the earliest age group. I think it is Baby Bach. People will say NO TV. But if you watch it, you will see it is really not like watching TV. And it only last about 25 minutes. It may be the only 25 minutes you and Tessa have to actually get something done around the house together.
    I agree on the sleep stuff. We are a little over 7 months and our daughter sleeps through the night most nights. I think it because we forced her to learn how to put herself to sleep. It is tough to do at first, but it is better than being up at 3 every night.
    Set a routine that works for your family and stick to it.
    Get one of those multiple camera video monitoring systems. Dedicate one camera to the crib. Use the other one wherever. Probably $150. It is the only way you will be able to sleep once she is in her own room. Indispensable.
    As a Dad, it can be tough to feel like you are contributing in the first couple of weeks or months. Mom is the absolute most important thing to the child and Dad is sort of on the outside looking in. To feel like I was doing something, when I would get home from work, I went into super-mode and did everything I could [dishes, laundry, dinner, baths, etc.]. My “payoff” came after about two months when my wife looked at me and said that she recognized and appreciated the contribution I was making to our family without having to be asked or told to do things. Moral of the story: Try to be SuperDomesticDad in the first weeks and months…it pays off for everyone’s happiness and it is still easier than what Mom is doing.

  40. tbruns

    Dude!! two words
    Diaper Genie, life savers when we had our kids. It works great and no mess to the trash.

  41. kent

    Sleep when the baby sleeps. Y’all don’t have day jobs, so sleep when you can. There’s two of you so you can trade off and try and get something done when she’s awake, but if you try the obvious — work when she’s asleep — then YOU won’t get any sleep, and you’ll resent when she wakes up and kills your workflow.
    Corrolary: If you have to get work done, have someone else cover the entire duration of when you’re working. It just doesn’t work to get the baby down and then try and rush into work. That way lies the Endless Treadmill of Unpleasant Parenthood.

  42. badbob

    Useful advice
    Going to sleep: Within a month from now baby going to sleep will be a BIG DEAL. You will undoubtedly have one of those swing rockers (battery operated I bet)that work OK, but there is one thing this Dada learned is better than that, or even a wasteful car ride around the neighborhood.
    Procedure- Put her in her car seat or carrier and place all on top of the clothes dryer (if you don’t have a washer/dryer forget it). No- don’t put her IN the dryer or you’ll be on the Drudgereport! Select the air setting- NO HEAT-AIR Setting and put a small towel in the dryer…guaranteed- knocks ’em right out. Hard part is further transport to the crib….but that’s another procedure you’ll have to learn.

  43. kate

    BOOKS! I know people have said that alot so far, but most of the kids I babysit for have cell phones and iPods and don’t know how to appreciate a book since the only time they read is in school.
    I’d suggest any of the following for a kid’s collection: Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, any book by Jolly Roger Bradfield, Berenstein Bear books, Dr. Suess (my favorite is the Butter Battle Book), etc.
    Oh yeah, and when she gets older, teach her some card games and play board games with her. My family used to make pizza together and play cards on Thursday nights, and it’s one of my favorite memories from growing up.
    Keep the pictures coming!

  44. e cali

    When she is old enough to show a clear preference for an object of affection (blanket, stuffed animal, etc.), immediately get an identical one. Make sure to rotate usage on both so they have the same look, feel, taste, smell. There is nothing worse than a naptime/ bedtime meltdown because the dang thing is missing, at grandma’s, in the wash, etc.

  45. Caroline

    Books, books, books all the way. I’ll always be grateful to my parents for taking me to the library every Sunday, and always letting me have something from the bookstore and the school Weekly Readers.
    (Although I don’t believe that public TV, in moderation is bad for a kid at all – I was glued to Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street as a child, and I was reading before I was potty-trained, so clearly my brain didn’t rot any.)
    I recommend any of those books that have lots and lots of words showing what things are – my favorites when I was a kid were the Richard Scarry-type books that had pictures of “the farm” or “the town” or what have you, and named every single thing on the page. Those you could read for hours, whereas stories could get old.
    Of course, I endorse Dr. Seuss – and you can get all kinds of subliminal moral/political lessons in that way. (The Butter Battle Book is a great segue into discussing nuclear proliferation)
    Also – this might sound weird, but my mother got me hooked on biographies when I was in early elementary school, and I think she really did me a favor. There are so many great biographies out there for kids, and I’ve always been glad I was introduced to Helen Keller and Anne Frank and Abraham Lincoln in my formative years.
    Something to mull over for later….

  46. oliver

    Has anybody else said already you should try especially not to drop her on her head? I’d also recommend thinking of crying as the baby’s way of saying “I want something,” or other times “I feel something.” When she cries, that’s a time to take note. Finally, if you could get yourself to think of Lucy as somehow special…if not exactly better than other people’s babies, then just especially deserving of your concern. Do that and I think you’ll have an enormous leg up on things.

  47. Jackie

    Congratulations, Ian.
    I’ve been doing this parenting thing for 22 years (with a 17 year old and an 8 year old following behind) and the one thing that I know is true is that they are adults a lot longer than they are kids and that as much as I enjoy them as kids, I want even more to have them be the kind of adults I want to hang out with. Its not about happy now, although I love it when they are. Its about being responsible, loving, engaged human beings.
    And, the other thing, is that, as my partner says, we aren’t creating human beings, they come as they are. If we are lucky, we are like sculpters, trying to carve off a little imperfection here and there on the being they already are.

  48. Susanna Lancaster

    I don’t know about all this Ferberizing stuff, but I remember that one time I was just too durn tired to drag my butt outta bed (somewhere around 8 months or so) and found out that given less than 10 minutes on his own, my son would fall back asleep all by himself. Ha! Who knew?! So do what you need to do to keep yourselves functioning and the kid will adapt!
    Later in life when the spud is becoming more interactive I found myself using “structured questions” all the time. Like “do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?” Meaning, “there is no question that you are getting dressed right now, but you can be a part of the process.” It has the assumed compliance that Aunt Annie mentioned built right in, and it can be applied to anything! And as they get older you can also give them the option of doing it themselves or having mommy/daddy help.
    And YAY! to Andrew, keep spreading the word about SuperDomesticDad!
    Congratulations and thanks for the great reading.

  49. Rebecca

    Well, this has already been covered extensively, but teaching her to sleep is definitely #1 on my list. I love Dr. Weissbluth’s book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Your life will need to revolve around her sleep schedule after she’s 4 months old, but until then you can take her anywhere. At 9 months she’ll drop the 3rd nap, and at 18 go to just one. Anyway, since others have gone into detail about it, I won’t.
    So my other suggestion is regarding laundry. Once she starts eating baby food at 6 months or so, you will need to buy Oxy Clean and Clorox bleach pens. Those 2 little laundry items will get a lot of stains out!!! I’m a little embarrassed that’s all I can come up with, but so many people have given you such great insights into parenting, you’ll do fine.

  50. Salem

    Salem’s 2 pieces of advice. You already did number 1, which is “Happiest Baby on the Block” and the 5 S’s.
    Salem’s best advice.
    The smiles are deeply personal and from the heart.
    The tears ARE NOT. All babies cry alot. It is not always because you are not meeting an immediate need. Don’t ever take the tears “personally”. Sometimes, when you have offered all the comfort, love, and nourishment you can, she will continue to cry. When you start getting angry with yourself for not being able to calm the baby, place her in a safe crib and walk out of the room. It’s more important to maintain your sanity than to end any one particular crying episode.
    Do you have a favorite song to put her to bed with yet? Lillie-Anne and I would sway to Sting’s “Hounds of Winter”. I didn’t choose the song, it sort of chose me. I had just gotten the CD and that song had a sort of soulful melancholy. I haven’t really analyzed the lyrics but it’s about a man who’s heart breaks over and over, like mine every time Lillie-Anne looks at me. I know she’s not going, but I know she will. I know she’s safe, but I can’t think of her not. If you are lucky, there are a few rare moments in your life when you ask yourself if you could ever feel a more powerful love. This is one of those times. It’s a little scarry.

  51. Diane Duane

    Ian — Here is some ancient Nurse Magic. You have about a two- or three-week window (post-partum) during which this trick will work. It taps into some atavistic neural thing that newborns have.
    Want to keep the beautiful Lucy’s diapers dry for a little extra time? Just before changing her out of the wet diaper, run your thumb up her backbone from the bottom of her spine to the top. She will immediately pee. (For boy babies, one puts a dry part of the about-to-be-removed diaper over the baby’s, uh, squirtgun.) Clean her, add the cream of your choice as usual, then wrap her up in a new diaper. You have now bought yourself an extra hour or so of dry baby. (When I was in nursing school, this tactic bought us precious kick-back time…and allowed us to endlessly annoy one of the male nursing students who routinely thought himself too good to pay attention to our ward instructor, and missed finding out about this trick. He never did catch on to why his babies were always instantly wet again after he’d just changed them, and he would then have to change them all over again. Snicker.)
    …And read to her all the time. In fact, read her *my* books. Mine mine mine! (Well, okay, read her _So You Want to Be a Wizard_ when she’s nine or so, and see how she likes it. She’ll tell you if she wants to read the others.)


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