How to Prepare for Your First Child

A friend of mine who’s close to having kid #1 asked me about this. I don’t know much about about this topic, but have some recent experience so here it goes:

Anything you wish you’d done differently during the first weeks?

Pack your bag now. Sasha arrived a month early and I ended up a little under prepared clothes wise at the hospital.

The chair that converted to a sleeper for dads was pretty bad. If I did that over, I would bring my camping mattress which isn’t great but is at least level when on a level surface.

Friends really want to lend support but also worry about being too intrusive. It’s tough to schedule around feedings and getting rest, but if you put a friend or two on call for a visit each day you’ll get a chance to have an adult conversation.

Take some video of your newborn in the first few days. They will never sound like that again.

Sleep whenever you can. The early feeding cycles are no joke so get sleep whenever you can.

Is there anything you are SO thankful that you had done?

I brought my briefcase with me which worked out awesome since I roll with a power strip and extension cord. There are a lot of outlets in the rooms, but not necessarily where you’d like them.

If there is somewhere you can grab food other than the hospital, do it. Order something in or ask a friend to hook you up if there isn’t anything good nearby.

Sasha was born a bit early and needed to put on some weight. We were very strict about tracking how much she ate, which gave us confidence that she was on the right track. It may have been a bit obsessive but it gave us peace of mind.

Get out of the house. Sasha can sleep through just about anything. She’s been out on a ton of long walks, for dinner, to visit friends and relatives.

That said, don’t be afraid to say no. You’ll be more tired than you realize.

Amazon is super convenient for just about anything you could need.

Swaddling is awesome. Kids love to be snug.

Act competent at the doctor’s office. I think this is the path to VIP service.

A Newborn’s Stomach Capacity vs. Metabolism Rate

Way back on the fourth when my daughter was born, she was good for around 3 hour feeding cycles. As in, if she ate at 9pm, she was good until Midnight, then 3am, etc. But, over time that cycle has been tightening up. In fact, it’s been tightening even as she’s increased how much she can eat.

My take on this is that her metabolism is increasing faster than her stomach’s capacity. Here’s my approximation of those two variables based on how much we can get her to eat:

That widening gap is leading to shorter feeding cycles. Here’s a look at how this has been sneaking up on us:

Newborn's Time Until Hungry

If this trend continues we’re pretty much screwed.

Daddy Blogging

Home from the Hospital

Carly and I became parents back on August 4th. It’s really cutting into my blogging time. Nobody warned me about that.

Here are a few things I’ve observed.

We delivered at Abbott Northwestern. That place it great. Friendly and knowledgeable people. We were in good hands throughout the process. We ended up spending four days at the hospital, which started to create some cabin fever, but that was better than unprepared parents panic.

The one bone I have to pick with Abbott is that they don’t seem to have a system for coordinating patient visits in the post-partem rooms. They seem to know the health of mom & baby based on electronic charts, but they tend to show up in waves that lead to the patients doing triage between nurses, lab techs, doctors, room service, and housekeeping. If nothing else, a “someone’s seeing this patient now” light outside rooms might help stagger things. I get the impression that everyone’s busy doing great work, but doesn’t realize how patients end up getting peppered with visits while already exhausted and stressed out. It’s a small thing that could be done better with some coordination.

Whoever invents a baby bottle with an auto-shutoff like gas station pumps have should win the Nobel Prize. This would avoid a lot of hiccups from kids whose appetites get ahead of their stomach’s capacity.

I’ve learned the difference between pre-burp and pre-poop expressions. We did not know these when we got home from the hospital, so the first time our daughter stopped breathing and turned purple we freaked out. That turned to laughter when she gave out a burp that – on a scale of 1 to Bill Murray – was around a six (like Rudy the Rabbit, she needs to focus on burping from the diaphragm.).

We’ve received a ton of food from friends and family. Very thoughtful, and awesome food. I now know what a food shelf for yuppies would look like.

We used a doula. For those of you not familiar with doulas, they’re essentially birth coaches. They meet with you ahead of the birth to help you determine how you’d like things to go down, then show up during the birth to help counsel you through the process. They can be a real advocate for future parents in the most stressed out situation they’ve ever been in together. Of the people in the hospital with us, our doula was the only person we’d met before that day since our doctor doesn’t work weekends. Our doula made a huge difference for us. While nurses and doctors know the mechanics of birthing babies, they can be a bit mechanical in their approach. Their advice is sound, but it’s different from what someone who knows you and your wishes while provide in a very stressful situation. Our doula was a friend of ours, Greta Fay. Would we recommend Greta? Absolutely.

Sleep deprivation: The biggest thing that I didn’t understand about sleep deprivation with a newborn is that three hour feeding cycles means that they need to eat starting every three hours. As in, this doesn’t mean there are three hours between feeding cycles. It’s more like 45 minutes on with 2:15 recovery, assuming the newborn didn’t chug down more than her 2oz capacity stomach can hold, leading to hiccups or worse.

Weighing in. When trying to tip the scales at 6 pounds, it helps to not poop on the scale, Ms. Five Pound Fifteen Ouncer.

Daddy Blog recommendations. Here are a couple of local dads who know how to write about their kids: Scott Schneweis at explains the shortcomings of the gender pencil test, among other fun anecdotes. Reuben Collins sprinkles his blog with posts about his daughter, Kung Pao, including a post about their first family camping adventure. He also explains KP’s nickname.