The thing about being a dad is that a lot of literature is being written for mothers, but nobody teaches the other guy in the equation what to do. I mean, what the heck are we going to do when the baby screams out in the middle of the freaking night? After we just fed him? Or changed his diapers?
We are besetted by thousands of advice: Some say Cry it out. Some say pick up the kid. Some say wait for 2 minutes, pick up for 2; then wait 4 mins, and pick up for 2 mins etc. The fact is this: when the kid screams, all hell breaks loose.
Not that Jet is a screamer. We just past our first week as new parents. The biggest challenge in the past 10 days as a dad is SLEEP. The deprivation of SLEEP is a horrendous thing. Now I know why the chinese use this as a medieval torture, where everytime you drift off to slip, they mischieviously slip in and tweak your nipple. Or so I think according to some documentary I recall. I think.
Anyway, the survival guide for week 1 is broken into two parts: Hospital stay and Home Stay.
Hospital stay, the kid will be in the nursery most of the time. Some hospitals are good, but Pantai was crap…especially the night watch, led by a grumpy, fat lady. She would wheel our screaming kid in at all hours of night and stalk out, like delivering mail, leaving us to figure what the he*l to do. Milk was hard to come by and though they wanted the baby to feed on formula milk, we hesitated, thinking we could go on exclusive breast milk. Here’s a note: Unless you have rivers flowing out of your two milk farms, go with the formula milk for now to top up. The first 2 days is fine, but the baby gets pretty hungry around day 4 – 5 and we made a mistake of depending on the milk farm to get up and running, only to have the baby lose a lot of weight, and dehydrated. He was bawling a lot and got jaundice, and we stayed another night at the hospital.
Finally, we went home and that’s phase two. HOME STAY.
The first night, Jet woke up screaming even after feeding and cleaning. Just bawling and we couldn’t get sleep, taking turns carrying him. We made a mistake in watching him sleep the whole afternoon.
2nd day home stay, we made the same mistake again, letting him sleep from six to eleven at night. By the time 2 came about, he was wide awake and bawling. The lesson here is, try to get him to be on your time zone. When you are awake, amuse him as much as possible, wake him to feed, so that once the night hits, you have a window to sleep. He still wakes for his 3 am feeding and six am feeding, but at least we have some sleep between.
My wife struggled at first with breast feeding, and got a really good lactitionist (people who specialise in breast feeding). Kak Rok, her name. She was previously from Pantai and she is the absolute GENIUS in breast feeding. She retired recently, leaving Pantai to the hands of another lactitionist nurse called Elizabeth. As my wife says, the difference between Kak Rok and Elizabeth is like night and day, a Ferrari and Proton, the academy awards statue and a beat up shuttle cock. If you need a lactitionist who really knows her stuff, let me know. Kak Rok Rocks.
Anyway, after Kak Rok, my wife became better at breast feeding, until now, day 10, she can confidently go into the nursing rooms in public places, and compete with the rest of the experience mummys.
As for Dad? Two things: Get sleep in the early night, about 2 – 3 hours from 8 to 11pm. Then prepare for the early mornings without any rest. It’s a good idea to do your work then. Another thing, be a good burper and help mum burp the baby. And feed the formula milk top ups.
At day 10, Jet is spending about 20 minutes on each breast and still gobbling 60 mls of formula top up. He craps a whole lot, so we’re adviced to go easy on the milk and not to overfeed him. Instead, feed him at shorter 2 hour intervals.
Among all the millions of advice out there, I think most of the time, we’re winging it. Dad’s main business is just to make sure Mom’s happy. If she cries, be there for her. If baby wails and she is sleeping, get the freak up and go to work amusing your kid. If mom has to carry this guy for 9 months and feed him as well, this is the least we can do.
In conclusion: Survival Guide Week 1 – SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN. And stop watching the Euro Championship!