Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Week Back Continues

The week continues to go better than I could have hoped. There is a woman in HR who had enthusiastically leapt to the task of setting up a room for me to use the breast pump in. But it turns out that going to the nursery to feed Gabe is just as easy as using the breast pump, so I don’t need to use the pump at work at all!

We’re still ironing out the details, but so far it looks like if I nurse Gabe in the morning when we drop him off, at lunch, and then once during the afternoon, followed by a bottle, I can keep up my milk supply without being out of the office more than the typical smoker or latte-a-day employee. It means I have to give up going out for lunches and walks with my coworkers, but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice. Chris has been bringing me lunch, and I get nearly a mile of walking to and from the nursery over the course of a day.

And I get to spend time with Gabe! While watching other babies!

It is such a dramatic contrast, crossing back and forth between a game development studio and a nursery. After recharging in the peaceful glow of happy human larva, I am recharged, and ready to pour my focus into getting the next task done. An unexpected benefit of having a baby is that I feel like a more efficient employee, since my time is limited and valuable to me in a way that it wasn’t before. In much the same way that I have been able to relinquish non-essentials from the rest of my life, it has been a natural next step for me to drop the fluff from my workday.

I think in the back of my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be as productive now that I have a baby. I am deeply relieved to find that the opposite applies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Off to a Very Good Start!

We couldn’t have asked for a better start to daycare. Gabe started out by sleeping through the night, which he hadn’t done in a week. Then he melted my nerves with smiles. After that, while being loaded into the car seat – an activity that usually causes him to cry – he giggled - and giggled some more, and then giggled some more. Chris was so ecstatic at getting giggles that he fell down and stood up again several times in a crazy funny monkey dance. The more he hopped, the more Gabe giggled.

Despite so obsessively packing every last potentially necessary item, I still managed to forget a critical piece of the breast pump. So, instead of just nursing Gabe over lunch, I also paid him a snack visit in the middle of the afternoon. That worked out so well that I may be able to do without pumping at work altogether.

I had feared that Gabe would be miserable with crying each time I visited, but each time he had napped well and was ready to smile and eat.

During the second visit I got to watch the two teachers roll around on the floor with the four other infants they were watching. It was like watching kittens play, seeing them wiggle, roll, and crawl about. It was reassuring to see the babies so happy – and also to see at just how good the teachers were with them. Those were professional baby-wranglers at work!

And on top of this, my coworkers are so excited to have me back that it feels like I’m going home again, and a wonderful woman in HR has been incredibly eager to help me get a room set up for pumping. Today downright gave me the warm fuzzies!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Melancholy October

Well, that was my last week of maternity leave. On Monday I’ll be heading back to work, and Gabe will be off to daycare. I imagine the first week will be rough for both of us. But my coworkers are eager to have me back, and the other babies at the Kinder Care seemed happy to be there, so I suspect we’ll settle into comfortable new routines.

The Thursday before last, Gabe received his first immunizations. He was quite the little trooper at the office visit, bouncing right back to a good mood. Chris was more traumatized than Gabe was. But then over the weekend Gabe was prone to irritability and sudden outbursts. Added to that, Nik and Rebecca were here for a visit, so it was a busy, fun-but-stressful weekend. We chased that with a dry run to the daycare, and Gabe’s first visit to our workplace; and then I had my own doctor’s appointment. I’m just now realizing that it took me a couple of days to recover from all of that.

October is always a tough month for me, what with the plants going dormant and the days shortening; but as I told my doctor, just getting out of the house helps me shake the blues. So Gabe and I went straight from the doctor to lunch (at an old-fashioned soda fountain in an old-fashioned drug-store) to Babies R Us. We chalked up two diaper changes and feedings while out, which was a liberating first.

Now that dangling toys are of interest to Gabe, Babies R Us is a more tantalizing place for me. I resisted the temptation to buy extra toys, and bought only the bouncy chair I was after. It still intimidates Gabe a bit, but I suspect in a couple of weeks it will be his new favorite thing.

As of last week Gabe weighed in at thirteen pounds and eight ounces. And my typing is keeping him awake, so I had better get going now.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Gabe is becoming much more agile with his hands. It used to be that when he wanted to suck on his fingers, he could bring his hands near his mouth. But generally his hands would go cruising past their goal in an arc, while his grasping fingers did their own thing. Gabe would turn his head and lick at the flailing fingers while they went past, which was comical and, with all the thrashing about, a bit noisy. Generally, if I heard him chasing his fingers in the middle of the night, he was in the process of waking himself up with all of that hard work.

Now he can bring a fist to his mouth and keep it there. He doesn’t yet favor any particular finger. Instead, he nibbles on the side of his fist, though sometimes his fingers will end up in his mouth when he grabs his lower lip. Overall it’s a much more restful gesture, and when I hear him doing it during the night it typically means he’s on his way back into deeper sleep.

Gabe’s hands have also discovered each other. He gets a contemplative look when playing the hands-together game. And sometimes he gets his mouth in the game, too. It must be a strange sensation, being aware for the first time that one of your sensory inputs is touching another. I imagine how engrossed I would be if suddenly I realized that my eyeballs could peer at each other.

Gabe has a plush infant jungle-gym toy that features an arch, from which toys can be hung within arm’s reach. He used to hate this thing – I think perhaps it frightened him. Now it ranks up there with the fan. In fact that’s usually where it goes: right beneath the fan, so that he can enjoy both at the same time.

As with every other new thing Gabe does, it seemed like an accident the first time his flailing arm bumped into a hanging toy, causing it to jingle. But it’s been three days now since that first accident, and he has rung the bell with his baby karate chop over and over and over. He also slows his hand down and attempts to grab the toy – and when he isn’t under a toy, he reaches out and swats at the fan. (I guess he hasn’t figured out that depth thing yet.)

This had pointed out a new game to play with Mommy and Daddy: high five! Mommy and daddy provide squeals of delight when little Gabe successfully touches a hand or a face.

And which hand does Gabe prefer to reach out and touch with? So far, the left is in the lead. We may have to stock up on south-paw scissors and baseball gloves! But then, it’s still only the third day since he started using his hands to reach out to things, so maybe it’s all just an accident and really he’s going to end up using his prehensile toes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stonybrook Wildlife Sanctuary

I loaded up Gabe in the Baby Bjorn and took him out to see some fall foliage. More photos are posted on our garden blog.

Cappy Came for a Visit

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Power of Smiles

As most of you know Michelle and I work at Turbine, and as many of you know Moria is wrapping up. This has always been one of the hardest parts of a project for me, because its the part where you have to let go and accept the imperfections as they are. It has been even harder for me in this case as I'll likely not be on the live team to fix many of the issues that remain. I've been working late a bunch to try and get as much polish in while I can and tonight is no exception. I'm working extra late tonight so I can try and get more smile time the rest of the week with Gabe. The last month I've often made it home in time to give Gabe a bottle and help put him to bed, but little more. If you're wondering why I'm typing this, it is through the miracle of building data in the background making an 'real' work difficult.

The time I do get to spend with him has been getting more and more enjoyable though. His personality is showing through more and more, and its pretty darn sweet. After all, anyone who can be best friends with a fan has to have some level of empathy;) I'm getting better and better at making him smile too. Those are the moments that make the day's cares melt away in a little shining rainbow of hope and joy. Its like at any moment Care Bears are going to spawn into the room and hit me with a Care Bear stare while pony unicorns prance about the room farting butterflies and fresh flowers. I bet you didn't know that the day's cares are what you'll actually find at the end of a rainbow. It is why I don't suggest chasing one down.

There are, of course, moments when Gabe drives me crazy. Being the barren one, not having a boob to pop him on, there can be times when there's nothing I can do to soothe him. Having to thaw a bottle of frozen breast milk or mix a bottle is a slow way to answer his calls of...

'Feed me now you insolent man. It isn't rocket science! I stick out tongue you insert food through the aperture which the tongue sticks through. Look it up on wikipedia for god sakes if you must you techno-idiot-savant. Are you simply incapable of even the most basic interactions with one such as I!' - Gabe

At least that's what it feels like he's saying. Still having pictures like this one definitely helps make the day run by that much faster when I get to see it on my desktop.

Guess Who Slept Through the Night!

How ironic, after yesterday’s post! Gabe sucked on his hand during the night and comforted himself right back to sleep. He awoke this morning full of smiles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Zen of Baby

Parents of older children love to tell newly pregnant parents about all the things they will have to do without: no more long uninterrupted nights of sleep, no more endless weekend hours to play, no more spontaneously going out. “Your life is over”, they seem to say, and they relish saying it. “Come join me in my misery!”

But I see it the other way around. In having a baby, I had to set aside all of the inessentials. I had to carefully manage those things which I *needed*: daily grooming, a weekly dinner with friends, time with Chris. And slowly, I am getting back the things I had to set aside.

As a result of having the fluff stripped away from my life, I am left pondering that which I still have. I have the time this morning to leisurely brush my teeth? Wow! I haven’t found scraping the morning gunk off of my teeth to be pleasurable in, well, ever. Now, it’s refreshing.

So many little things I have taken for granted now bring me satisfaction. The kitchen is clean again, hooray! OMG, a vacuumed room is a welcoming room!

Even the dreaded task of waking up in the middle of the night to change and feed the baby has stopped being a chore. Gabe is always at his sweetest. There are good programs to listen to on the radio, the internet is always open, snacks are in the kitchen, and nothing is required of me aside from taking care of a happy baby.

Last night Chris took a turn, and I stayed in bed. It was a little rough for the both of them, since it’s a change in their routines. Dad instead on Mom, bottles instead of breasts, different lights on, different rooms used. (And it was strange for me, too. I found myself laying in bed missing the feeling of a warm baby in my arms.) I heard some crying, and when Chris tried and failed to get a sleeping Gabe to stay asleep for the transfer into the cosleeper, he sounded frustrated. But he said that Gabe had been so very happy to see him! So full of smiles! And when he went back to bed, Chris seemed deeply content.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"That's the Wrong End, Mommy"

Another Photo by Jen Gordy

Here's a snapshot that Jen took about a month ago.

There's something so alien about this whole nursing thing.

Family Photos

Our friend Jen set up a studio space in her basement to take portrait photos. We are *so* lucky to have a friend who is a photographer!

Yes, we used hair gel to make Gabe’s hair more pointy than usual.

I realized belatedly that an evening photo-shoot wasn’t ideal, because Gabe is fussy in the evenings. So, no grins from Gabe this time.

Gabe says, “but I don’t want siblings!”

Gabe loves his dragon.

Gabe, conqueror of the Red Dragon!

And lastly:

Tongues out!

By the way, for family members who want copies of any of the photos on this blog, simply click the image to see the large version, then right click to bring up a drop-down menu, then select “save picture as”. You can then display the image on your desktop, or take the file to a photo store to be printed. I’m afraid I’ve never had photos printed from files, however, so you will have to ask at the store if you need more info.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gabe Sez "Halp!"

"I iz being sat on!"

Working Out

Mom works at shedding those extra pregnancy pounds while Gabe figures out what legs do.

Breakfast, Books, and Boobs

Gabe and I went out for breakfast today at a local place called Rick’s. It was his first time in a restaurant, as well as my first time at Rick’s. I had some reasonably good eggs benedict; Gabe slept.

I would like to take credit for going at eleven, between the breakfast and lunch rushes, but we actually just took that long getting out of the house. Our waitress sheepishly offered me the booth all the way in the back, as it was the most convenient location for a stroller, but I was grateful to be back there, in the event that I had a crying baby on my hands.

Gabe slept right through that portion of the outing. Afterwards, we headed over to the library, which is a known safe area. We headed right for the restroom, which I had scouted on a previous trip. Then we got to borrow the elevator key to go upstairs. It turned out the main hall has a lovely seating area complete with sofa, foot-stool, and throw pillows, perfect for breast-feeding! Unfortunately, the room was packed with college students hitting the books. But I counted at least fourteen bare-breasted women in the mural, and concluded that anyone who could focus on their bookish endeavors amid so many exposed nipples could hardly complain at the addition of one more.

Franklin’s public library isn’t giant, but for its size the place has an astounding amount of art. The story as I understand it goes like this: the town leaders sent a letter to Ben Franklin saying “we named our town after you, so would you mind giving us a bell to commemorate the occasion?” After what I imagine to be a WTF moment at the brazen request for free goodies, Franklin retorted with, “bells just make noise, so no bells for you; but here, have some knowledge instead.” He gave the town a pile of books. So, born from the necessity of some befuddled town leaders stuck with an unexpected pile of books, all of our town signs say “welcome to Franklin, home of the nation’s first public library!”

I fed Gabe there in the fancy old wing surrounded by Dean college kids and a hundred-year-old mural full of boobies. The room was drop-a-pin silent and every sucking noise he made echoed, but nobody bothered us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reestablishing Balance

Since Gabe has blessed us by extending the number of contiguous hours he sleeps at night, last night after putting him to bed, Chris and I were finally able to curl up together on the sofa for a couple of episodes of True Blood. Finally, grown-up time! And we were still able to get ample sleep afterwards. Perhaps life after baby is possible after all!

Today, we had our two babysitters-in-training over to watch Gabe while Chris and I puttered about in the yard. We popped back in now and then to offer pointers. The young ladies are both new at babysitting infants, but they have both taken some newfangled babysitting class (what a terrific idea!) and the two of them have demonstrated that they can be responsible and cool-headed enough to watch a baby.

Not only did Chris and I get to indulge in our gardening obsession at the same time, but it feels like we are finally a part of the community by giving the two girls a chance to try out some adult responsibilities. It’s got to be refreshing at twelve years old to be treated as an adult.