A month ago, our family grew by 1 baby boy. Michael, our first. In the true spirit of Agile, and to document some of the experience we gained, I have decided to do a retrospective on ‘project Baby’. If you are imminently expecting, this is for you.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Everything posted is personal opinion. If in any doubt, ignore my ramblings and consult your paediatrician.

What we learned

The experience of taking care of your first newborn is unique, exhausting, engrossing and hugely fascinating. To say that you go through an emotional roller coaster, is to say nothing at all. There is just nothing else that compares to it. You will be thrilled when he smiles at you, then realise that the he was smiling because he just pooped (smile still counts). You will feel so proud when you reach lvl 80 of diaper changing in the first few days. You will watch you little person do something new almost every single day. Although that something might be as simple as the baby realising that he has control over his own arms, you will be overflowing with a sense of pride at each achievement. You will know that the greatest sound in existence, is that of a baby passing gas, after he’s been crying for the last hour because of a stomach ache.

More than anything, we learned that you’re on the babies schedule now. This schedule revolves in cycles around him eating, and is quite time consuming. The baby wants to eat every 2-4 hours, and he will let you know exactly when that moment as loudly as possible. First he will has his diaper changed, then he will have his eat, then he will go back to sleep. The last part is the tricky one, as the baby often wants to feel the love and will only fall asleep in your arms. This can last between 1-90 minutes.

The babies’ main concern is to feed, so the child often views the father as quite a useless cohabitant, if it is breastfed. You see this in parenting literature, hear it from your parent-friends, but only really understand it through experiencing it. The father just doesn’t have the tools to calm baby down when he is hungry. Changing nappies, bathing, stomach massages to help with the colics are all secondary to him.

What went well

This whole post can be summed up in one sentence: My wife Elena is a really great mother. Instinctively, she knew what to do, and when to do it.

Diet

The amount of time spent sleeping, is very correlated to the mother’s diet for a breastfed baby. The baby is digesting everything for the first time, and will not enjoy breastmilk if you’ve just had a vindaloo. In Russia, they’re very careful about these things, and give a you a pretty specific dietary list. Even simple things like onions, garlic, tomoatoes and red fish are on the no-no list. There are several different reactions that the baby can have to the mother’s diet. Elena was quite strict with these things, and we managed to avoid most of these (except the occasional stomach ache of course, noone gets away from that one). 1. Colics -> you’re not sleeping tonight buddy. 2. Baby won’t eat the milk. This can happen if the mother has eaten too many onions/garlic/spices and the milk is too bitter for the babies’ simple tastes. 3. Skin rashes, usually not the end of the world, but still not nice. My understanding is that baby can get skin rashes from pretty much everything though.

Teamwork

We work as a team, where Elena is the primary carer, but as many as possible of the day-to-day activities she might have done in the past are taken care for her. Bread-winning is a 9-5 job, while caring for the baby is 24-7, which means that after work I would usually do whatever tasks are assigned. That means she only has to leave the house for walks with the baby, and I do the rest e.g. sorting out babies’ documents, shopping.

More time, less problems

I work from home, so I have more free time due to not travelling to work. Occasionally being able to help in the daytime with small tasks is also great.

Love thy grandparents

My parents live in the UK, so they have not been able to hel much, but the in-laws come round to help look after the baby, which is always great. When they are over, they tend to get a big batch of cooking done which lasts a couple of days, so delicious!

Outsource all the things

We hired a lady to come round weekly for cleaning the flat and ironing. The extra hours saved really help greatly. Also, get a dishwasher.

Level headed

Everything is new to you, and everything is scary. The baby WILL cry, have stomach aches and have spots on his skin. You have to accept this and learn not to panic when it inevitably happens. We managed not to panic at the little things (although you you get an overwhelming urge), and that made for a much more pleasant experience.

What we could have done better

Time management

It took us a while to realise how long it takes to get ready for anything. If you are going for a walk, you need to catch the right moment in the feeding cycle. If you have missed the point after he eats and falls asleep, you risk waking the baby as you move him to the buggy. This is the scariest thing for a parent, as this will often make the baby angry, and you don’t want to see him angry. So you wait for the next cycle.

City life

We live in a flat in Moscow. July was very hot and stuffy month here. At some point we moved into Elena’s parents’ house 30km away from Moscow in the suburb. This greatly improved Misha’s quality of life, we should have done it sooner.

Conclusion

Overall, we’re very happy with how it went, as we met all our KPIs: 1. Kept baby alive 2. Baby feels great, healthy and growing quickly 3. Kept our sanity



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