All Casey, all the time

Wow, so being a parent is pretty full-on eh? I am pretty sure it was mentioned on the box in small print, but all that flashy “Miracle of Life” sloganese blinded me and I didn’t catch it.

Don’t get me wrong, I frigin’ adore being a dad, and I didn’t fully understand what love was before we had Casey, but man — it’s non-stop. No weekends off, no vacations. Absolutely every corner of your life, no matter how simple or complex it was, is consumed with being a parent.

We hit the 4 month mark the other day, and it gave me pause. We’ve been doing this for four months! I mean, I’ve worked jobs where at 4 months I was the veteran employee. But then, this isn’t any normal job. Duties change every day (doodie changes are multiple times a day), your boss is completely bi-polar and only laughs or cries his approval or disappointment in your performance, the hours are shite, and the income is really outcome.

But the benefits are awesome. Truly.

And we are finding our groove. Most parenting books stress the importance of a routine, and as a self-employed individual with an attention span shorter than that last paragraph, routines are not my strong suit. It’s taken quite a bit of habit bending, breaking and realigning, but we’re getting there.

The funny part is that as much as it goes somewhat against my personality to follow a strict routine, I’m surprised with how comfortable it makes things. With all the chaos and unknowns that come with being a new parent, little things like a 7:30 bath time make it all a bit easier.

The last four months really have been a blur, with no real sense of slowing. However, we are starting to hit milestones in Casey’s development that make every tinge of negativity that might have seeped through above melt away and seem small, slight and petty.

He’s gone from being a cry/no-cry spud in a blanket, to a little dude that has expressions, moods, and things that make him laugh (he can’t get enough of us mock-sneezing for some reason). He’s sitting up (with assistance) and really taking in the world now. It’s amazing to watch his beautiful eyes scan the room looking for things he recognizes, and pondering things he doesn’t.

He’s started to stretch his vocal chords, and while when he’s really putting them to the test it’s a bit stressful, most of the time just listening to him squawk and mumble is fascinating. He’s also begun to grasp objects. Just the other day his movements were jerky and a bit spastic, but you could see the focus and intention in his face. And now he can quite confidently reach out and grab something he wants.

So, after 120-some-odd (mostly odd, really) days of being a dad; I don’t know if it’s getting any easier, but it’s definitely getting more and more rewarding. And if my decades on this rock have taught me anything, life’s biggest rewards are never easy. It’s the challenges and constant learning in life that makes this all more than just some morbid countdown.

It’s said that nothing comes easy, but I don’t buy that. Plenty of things come easy — just none of them are anywhere near as amazing as my son.

19 Responses

  1. A great write up Ryan, you are a wonderful father. Being a parent is all in the little details and you expressed them well! He is so beautiful and the pics of Maggie with him are angelic. Thanks, for posting them

  2. Take it from someone who knows exactly what you go through because he does it himself too: it’s a hard run for the money. We just hit the 7 month mark, and the little terrorist still keeps us awake. Hopefully Casey is easier than this or you’ll look like me/crap in 3 months time.

    I could’ve sworn that I’d get ill after the schedule we put up with daily, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. I normally catch every flu possible, but it seems fatherly duties overrules everything I used to know.

    Our son is now 7 months, got a few teeth showing and just started crawling the other day. All wonderful little progressions to follow for us. He’s the cutest kid ever (your son excepted of course) ;-). Only downside is that the little bugger wakes up so many times every night. It really wears us down. We both have headaches and dizziness often from lack of sleep and relaxation time. Sure hope he’ll learn to sleep soon, or I’ll be 10 years older in bodyage withing his first birthday! 😉

    • I feel for ya Peter. Did you guys do any sleep training. We’re contemplating it, and were recommended a fantastic book by my step-sister-in-law (is that such a thing?) called “Sleeping Through The Night” by Jodi Mindell. It offers a pretty straight-forward method of training your child how to fall asleep on their own (as opposed to relying on rocking or nursing).

      Speaking of being sick — I rarely ever get sick due to the self-imposed isolation of working from home, but both myself and Casey came down with colds this week. He beat his right quick, but I’m still fighting mine (maybe I need a little boobie juice to boost my immune system). Being sick and have a newborn is just about as terrible as a spam and peanut butter sandwich.

      • Thanks for the link. Books seems extremely interesting, as all advise does at this point in our sleepless nightmare. 😉

        Only one thing that may bother me: Is it Controlled Crying that’s suggested in the book? I read up on this method, and even though it’s tried and widely utilized, we were advised against it by our appointed baby nurse (she seems very competent and we trust her a lot). Reading reviews on Amazon didn’t make me any wiser on the method uses in the book, so can you enlighten me on whether it’s CC or not?

        Our kid don’t need rocking or nursing to fall asleep, but he cries all through the process of getting him ready for sleep (washing, changing clothes, etc.). Then he whimpers and kicks off his duvet the first 10 minutes before finally dosing off. The real trouble is the many times he wakes up during the night. Either he’s hungry (every 3 hours), lost his pacifier or moans because he can’t turn being tangled his teddy or similar (usually every hour).

        We asked our nurse for advice, but she basically said that our kid of his size (he’s big – 23 pounds) needs to eat at least every 4th hour, but somehow we never talked about the many wake-ups for some reason. Maybe we mentioned it, but were told, it would go away on its own. Can’t remember much, and doesn’t help I have a 40% working brain atm 😉 Anyway, thanks input. Will look into it, but hope you can cast light on the CC part before I go buy the book.

      • Bam! It’s ordered. Couldn’t waste a single day more of no sleep. Also the price was a mere 30USD, so won’t wreck our economy 😉

        Only downside is that it’s not translated to Danish which basically means it takes extra time for delivery (4-8 days worth). Hope its helpful. Will remember to give feedback whether it works for us or not. Thumbs up for the advice.

      • Hi Peter. I hadn’t heard the term “controlled crying” before — only “crying it out” and the Ferber method.

        I can’t say how the book mentioned above compares, other than from a cursory glance into Controlled Crying and CIO methods, there are similarities. My wife is somewhat against any method that involves the baby crying (but, oddly, doesn’t freak out when the baby cries normally), and while I’m no fan of listening to the little guy cry (absolutely kills me), I’m also very much pro-“lesser of two evils”. In my opinion, it comes down to consequence. If the emotional and mental environment isn’t being affected by constant wake-ups in the night and sleep dependency habits, then no-harm/no-foul.

        However, if the mood of the house starts to suffer, lack of sleep is making things snappy around the house, tempers are short, patience is low, etc… then I think our only option is to do whatever needs to be done to improve things.

        We’re not quite there yet, but it’s going that way. Casey is cranky when being put to bed, and then only falls asleep while being nursed (doesn’t even like being rocked any more — which has largely cut me out of the picture). He wakes 2-3 times a night, which isn’t terrible, but isn’t improving either.

        I just read up on Controlled Crying here and have to say that the comments there are pretty encouraging.

        In the end it I think it really comes down to what we’re comfortable with though. I don’t think any book, fellow parent or nurse should sway us one way or the other, as ultimately their opinions are coloured by their experience and personal feelings, just as our own are.

        As I’m fond of saying — parenting is pretty much the most natural activity on the planet, it’s no wonder everyone thinks they’re an expert.

        Anyway, definitely let me know how things go — with the book or without.

      • Yesterday I slept in another room just to try how it feels to sleep more than 1 hour at a time. Somehow it was not helpful at all. Worse bed (back pains) and I still woke up all the time. This is how you get after 7 months of torture. It sticks to you and waking up becomes a habit. So I put that idea on hold for a while again.

        Even though it’s irrational, I also feel like a coward running away from trouble, letting my wife take the punches. Logically I know it would be better if I were rested and able to take more work from my wife in the daytime, but it just feels wrong. Last night when I crept back to our normal bed, I noticed a genuinely happy sleepy smile on my wife’s face that I could only interpret that going back to the trenches is the right thing to do. At least she’s not alone with the problem. Sleeping in another room is now put on the emergency shelf again. It feels like the right thing to do, even though it’s irrational. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut.

        So I’m back to crossing my fingers for the book to arrive and work, while trying to find solutions on the net/nurse meanwhile. As you say, something has to be done if moods suffer in the household. We are not having a crisis at all, but we’re both exhausted and no need to test where the limit is. We sure could do with a little extra sleep. Both of us, but especially C.

  3. hi great to hear new dady’s ‘moaning’,haha,casey is sooooo cute,sweet little thing,very happy for you two

    anyway,I got something to ask,at the moment I am 3 months pregnant,and I am living in UK right now,but my mum want me to go back to china so she can look after me while I am having the baby,but what I curious about is do I need the so-called birth allowrance(准生证明) for the baby?my husband is british and I am holding chinese passport,so when your lovely wife give birth to the baby in the hospital,have they ask for such thing from you?coz we are in similar situation,I mean both international marriage, the CCP just wont give us a break,aren’t they?
    hope you enjoy your woderful fatherhood,its bit tiring but really worth anything:)

    • Hey eathoy, congratz on being preggers and no surprise your mom wants you home! 🙂 I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times from other people, but I highly recommend having the baby in the UK. See if your mom can visit you there. You’ll avoid some rather awkward citizenship and visa issues if you just have the baby in the UK and then travel to China. If your baby is born in China, it will automatically be considered Chinese. And while the UK may also consider the little goober a British citizen as well, the complications come in renouncing the baby’s Chinese citizenship. This of course all assumes you don’t want Chinese citizenship for the kid.

      As for the permission slip to have a baby — we didn’t need one and never got one. As far as I know, the hospitals don’t require it — it is only required if you are registering the baby for a hukou. We decided early on that Casey would be Canadian, and so he is technically a “black baby” at the moment, but it’s of no consequence as every official we’ve talked to said that if our intention is for him to have foreign citizenship registering him is not required. Interestingly though, registered or not, he’s considered “Chinese” and so doesn’t require a visa or anything like that until he leaves the country and then tries to return.

      • hi ryan,many thanks for the kind reply,yeah,now I am bit relieved to know I dont need the birth allowance thingy,totally understand why you want casey be a canadian citizen,same as me and my husband,its bit sad really,but this country leaves us with no choice:(,but still,hope china can change the way it is at the moment:)

        hi peter,thank you very much for your concerns,I’ve checked it on line,if I really decide to go back,I have to make sure I leave the UK before 25 weeks pregnant,this information really important,thanks again:)

        hope you both enjoying the life out there(is peter in china as well?) and many thanks for the kind replies and I shall talk to you soon~~~I always sneak back:)

    • Oh and btw, I often hear that flying can be bad for pregnancies (not sure if its true), and I know that not all airlines allow pregnant women to fly with then before or after being pregnant a certain period. Not quite sure about it though, but may be worth a check if you insist on going to China.

      Anyway – grats on the happy belly state 🙂

  4. Casey is GORGEOUS! This was a lovely reflection on parenthood.

    Sleep-deprived parents summoned here :-), I want to let you know that it eventually gets better. Sleep is always a process that evolves with the kid.

    I have read very good feedback on Elizabeth Pantley’s approach to baby sleep tecniques. It seems baby friendly, no crying or cortisol involved… You might want to have a look at her books as well.

    Every family has to find what works right. In ours, we found that time, nursing and cosleeping did the trick.

    Sursum corda!

    • Thanks Aorijia! Will definitely look into Elizabeth Pantley’s approach. Maggie and I are definitely at odds for what road to take with sleep techniques. I think you nailed it with “Sleep is always a process that evolves with the kid” and “Every family has to find what works right.”

  5. Hi Ryan,

    I just wanted to give you feedback as promised.

    Seems we finally had Mark sleep through the night. It worked 4 days in a row now with good help of the book. I’ll write an entry about it later this evening. Thanks a lot for the recommendation!

    Hope you have more luck with getting Casey to sleep than we had. Else here’s one more recommendation to read the book. 😉

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