“Oh Good, the wet spot in my beard was spit-up! I was worried it was poop.”
— Me, looking in the mirror just now. #fatherhood

The Wonder Weeks: What a Difference a Day Makes…

Image representing the moment at which mother and daughter switch bodies.
My daughter has suddenly matured, seemingly overnight. But not to, like, Freaky Friday levels. Image from the 1976 Disney film.

I picked up a copy of The Wonder Weeks on the advice of some friends with kids. I haven’t read much of it yet, and even those who recommended it to me often did so with some reservations. But what I have read has been interesting.

There’s an Amazon Affiliate link at the bottom of the page, so if this piques your interest, please consider clicking through and letting me get a few pennies for your purchase. 

Anyway, the authors’ basic premise is pretty straightforward: there are certain periods of marked fussiness, sleep issues, etc, that for most children follow a pretty identifiable schedule in their early years. These periods coincide with major developmental milestones and shifts that your child is undergoing.

The authors identify 10 such periods during the first 20 months, and let parents know, to some extent, what to expect, and developmental “leaps” to look for. As a friend of mine with a two year said recently, sometimes it’s helpful to know why your kid is being a pain, and other times it’s small comfort.

The first “Wonder Week” is around five weeks. The baby is becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings. They’re likely to be fussier, clingy, and have trouble sleeping. After this fussy period, they tell you to watch for the baby to seem more aware and interactive. They may begin to smile, as well.

Well, around this Monday, a couple days into Week 5, Test Subject V started having trouble sleeping. She was fussier than usual, and during her evening fussy period, she was almost intolerably clingy.  Last week we made it through the night with only one feeding disruption, but that schedule was suddenly back out the window.  I wasn’t seeing any of these developmental weeks the book promised me, though, and I was about to toss it in the bin as more nonsense marketed at new parents.

And then, last night, Test Subject V went down early. Before midnight. And she stayed asleep until 6:30 this morning. Now, that alone is enough to have my wife and myself out on the porch in the 23° cold singing “Oh Happy Day.” Sleeping through the night, even for six hours or so, is cause for celebration. But. BUT. BUT. That’s not all.

The baby that woke up in my home this morning is not the baby that we put to bed last night. I mean, she is– this isn’t a changeling situation or anything. But her personality has radically altered, seemingly overnight. Suddenly, V is smiling. She’s playing with toys in which she has shown no prior interest. She used to track us with her eyes, but now there’s a new recognition in them when she does. When she gets fussy or upset, she seems far more manic– she wants results.

It’s amazing and eerie and awesome. Babies are so weird.

So I’ll continue to read The Wonder Weeks as V goes through the next few periods of fussing her way to a better brain, and I’ll report here how the book compares and contrasts with my lived reality.

“Wait until you have kids…”

Mom was right. There are some things that you just will never know until you have children. Like what it feels like to break six hours of sleep up into a nonconsecutive series of twenty minute naps.

Edited to add:

Nota Bene: this post was composed on my cell phone at 3:45am.

Family Naps Are the Best Naps

My baby, my wife, and my cat all enjoy some shut-eye.

This whole new baby thing is exhausting. But I’m lucky to have a support structure and My Colleague is very lucky to have an employer with a decent maternity leave policy. (And just as a reminder: many Americans aren’t so lucky. And the numbers are shameful.)

We’re trying to keep rested and keep sane. The highs and lows are intense. But it’s all definitely worth it.

“Phantom Baby”

Still from Amblin Entertainment’s 1995  “Casper the Friendly Ghost.”

Borges somewhat famously wrote of a fictitious(?) “Chinese dictionary” in which animals were categorized as:

 (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (1) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.

Well, after the birth of my daughter, I’ve discovered a similarly enlightening set of categories. All matter in the world can be divided into two categories: “my baby” and “not my baby.” And when those categories get fuzzy, the world gets kind of terrifying pretty quickly.

I awoke around five in the morning today, needing to go to the restroom. There was something warm on my left arm. The room was dark. I felt with my right hand, wondering what was there: had I picked up the baby when she was fussing and fallen back asleep? This has happened before. Not outside the realm of possibility.

Reaching in the darkness, I could swear I felt my daughter’s hand. I felt a little further, wanting to make sure of where her little head was before I moved. Newborns’ necks aren’t very strong, after all! But I felt and felt, and couldn’t find her little nose or ears.

I felt back down, and again felt her hand, which is only ever limp and not balled into a fist when she’s asleep. I found it. Okay, so we have the baby’s hand. I then, with my right arm, trying ever so carefully not to disturb the baby on my left, felt for the switch to my bedside lamp. I couldn’t find it. Jesus, why do I keep so much crap on the bedside—and then CRASH! Shit, I knocked something down! I’m going to wake the baby!

Frantically I felt around further until I eventually got the light on. I then looked to my left arm, only to find on my left arm… Just a bunched-up ball of sheets, warmed by my body and slightly sweat-soaked.

The light now on, confused, I immediately ran around the bed to find my daughter peacefully asleep in her bassinet. Two categories of matter—”my baby” and “not my baby”—and when the lines get blurry, shit gets weird.

I stumbled sleepily to the restroom, and as I left, My Colleague was getting Test Subject V up for a feeding. She said the same thing had happened to her before. “It’s weird, right? It’s like phantom baby!”

Tripadvisor Review for a Birthing Center

View from the postpartum recovery room at Mt Auburn Hospital the day after Test Subject V was born.

My Colleague and I had an amazing experience at the Bain Birthing Center at Mt Auburn Hospital. The nurses, midwives, lactation specialists—the entire team— were helpful, caring pros. I’d recommend it to anyone.

My Colleague was induced after 41 weeks and change, so the stay was especially long, because she wasn’t  in labor when we came in. Given the long stay, it felt a bit like a stay at a hotel. Little details like the fact that we ordered meals off what looked like a room service menu only reinforced that impression. 

We soon started, despite the great experience we had at the hospital, to make “Worst. Hotel. Ever.” jokes. 

Bain Birthing Center at Mt Auburn Hospital

Downright Painful. Would Not Recommend.

This hotel was just weird, and frankly uncomfortable. I’m a frequent business traveler, and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a hotel experience like this before.

I’ll start with the good. Check-in and check-out were a breeze. They didn’t seem to even have a set time for checkout! The bellhops and the folks delivering room service not only didn’t stand around “hinting” at wanting a tip, they outright refused tips!

But that’s about it for the positives. As for the negatives:

  • Even though we requested a single King suite, we were only given one double bed. The first night one of the staff helped me find a cot, but after that, I was left to sleep on a chair.
  • The staff was constantly touching and prodding my wife. It made both of us extremely uncomfortable, and I’ve never seen such a thing at any other hotel.
  • There was no transparency with regard to price. When I asked about the price of the room, I was told that it would depend on my “in-shur-ence,” whatever that means. Even the room service menu was devoid of prices! I never saw a bill or a price the whole time I was there. When I asked about this upon checkout, they again told me that it would depend on my “in-shur-ence” and that they’d bill me. Maybe this is okay for high rollers, but I can’t see how most Americans could stay at a hotel without knowing the price until after. I have a tight budget!
  • The doors literally didn’t have locks. I couldn’t believe it myself. But to make things even worse, staff kept coming in every hour or two to “check in” on us. I had zero sense of privacy.
  • Finally, to add insult to injury, after the second night, we were required to share our room with a small bald person who would periodically scream for no reason.

I’ll be honest, when the bill comes, I may refuse to pay. This was, without a doubt, the worst hotel stay of my life.

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vera S, Midwife at the Bain Birthing Center at Mt Auburn Hospital, responded to this review
Responded 3 weeks ago
We repeatedly tried to explain to this gentleman that we are a hospital and not a hotel, and that the “little screaming man” he kept complaining about was, in fact, his newborn daughter. We recommended having him checked for head injury to his wife, but she told us that he is “always like this.”