Archive for July, 2008
Unemployed in Greenland

I’ve wanted to blog about this for a while, but just couldn’t muster the energy until now.  When Holden was a week old I found out that I would not have a job to return to in the fall.  There is no one to blame for this (unless you want to point fingers at Congress and the Prez), and no way it could have been avoided.  As my salary depends on grant funding, I was very aware of the possibility that my job could up and disappear.  Depending on how you look at it, it’s the best and the worst timing.  It’s the best because I have to take Holden into account, and whatever decisions I make will be with his best interest in mind.  it’s also the worst because who wants to look for a job when they’ve just had a baby?  But it’s also the best timing in that I am leaving a place that provided me with no maternity leave, and a salary that would not have even covered daycare for Holden.  So I guess I have to look at the bright side—-wherever I go will be better.

The crappy part of this is how it has made me feel.  It’s a real blow to the ego to know (even if your ability or perseverance had nothing to do with it) that you are out of a job.  It’s hard to be told to pack up your stuff and that (maybe) there will be money to pay you in 6 months.  It’s hard to see the symbols of my work, papers and books, packed in boxes amongst the mildew of the basement.  Or to think about my diploma, framed and sitting in a closet, with me clinging to the hope that it will ripen over time as if in an academic root cellar.  

Of course, I’ve realized that these are all thoughts of someone who takes their career WAY too seriously.  On the other hand, I’ve invested loads of tuition money, nearly every weekend for years during my twenties, living apart from Rob and commuting 120 miles each day, not to mention the myriad sacrifices Rob has made, so perhaps I SHOULD expect a lot more from my career.  I don’t even feel especially good at what I do—academics has a way of always making you feel like you could be better or do more, or that somehow you are not serious enough.  It’s weird because (in stark contrast) with Holden, I don’t feel like I can do anything wrong.  I feel like the ultimate authority on what is good for him.  I don’t question myself or feel like I will “ruin” him.  I don’t feel like a failure with him.  I really need a career where I can feel the same way.  Where I can do the best job I can and not walk away feeling like I’ve screwed up royally.

4 weeks

Holden is now 4 weeks old!  The time is flying by!  He has really superb head and neck control (except when he is being lazy), and can track objects with his eyes as they move across his visual field.  He can also turn his head to follow someone as they walk across a room.  He can roll over from his back onto his side (which I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t seen him do it myself).  He is starting to take naps more reliably, and he doesn’t nurse at night as often as he did when we first brought him home.  In general, he is a ray of sunshine, almost always smiling and making faces/noises and staring intently at people around him (as long as he is fed and changed!)  He no longer needs the nipple shield!  Hooray!  This is a HUGE step forward for us.  He still doesn’t always latch on perfectly, but I can live with that, as the improvement he has made has been so substantial.  He likes going places and is completely unfazed by crowds of people, loud noises, and novelty in general.  He loves the stroller, bathtime, elevators, music (of all genres, but especially classical guitar) and women (of all ages).  He also loves it when he is in his stroller and it is raining—having the rain hit the transparent rain cover sends him into a fit of smiles and funny faces.  The other day I was dancing with him while listening to Pink Floyd, and I realized that he would grow up thinking of that music as the stuff that this grandparents listened to when they were young.  In addition to making me feel kind of old, that thought also made me realize that Pink Floyd is to Holden as Benny Goodman is to me.  Benny Goodman is appropriate for this analogy because my grandfather was such a big fan of Benny Goodman’s music.  It’s so strange to think about.

This past weekend Holden got to meet his great grandmother (Grammie):

They are too cute together!


my other onsie has its collar UP!“They” prepare you for a lot of things.  The child birth classes seem to cover every certain event, all the eventualities, all of that stuff.  Parents and family, friends and neighbors, shopkeepers and strangers: everyone has a tip.  ”Watch out for…” and “Just wait until…” and all of that kind of stuff.

There are things too that you just “know”.

You just “know” that babies cry.  And anyone that’s spent more than (say) 30 seconds around an infant has probably heard about the “cooing” that they tend to do as well.

But no one warns you about all the other noises.  The grunts, squawks, quacks, wheezing, and gurgling.  The non-stop parade of miscellaneous, unclassifiable noises that they (or at least he) contentedly make, more/less around the clock.

I was (and continue to be) shocked at the variety of non-speech sounds They Boy makes.  And makes all the time.  I suppose we’re lucky that he doesn’t cry very often.  But that doesn’t mean he’s quiet.

up to no good

"I am full of funny faces."

In other news, a new page has been started here: Holden 365 will bring in the latest seven pictures of Holden that are loaded into the daily “First 365 Days of Holden” set on Flickr.  (Not that it necessarily updates promptly every day…)  Just a little convenience for anyone that doesn’t feel like clicking through to the rest of the pictures.

hungry or just famished?

Our little guy likes to eat.  Recently, I’ve felt that all he does is eat, and when I started paying attention, my suspicions were confirmed.  This is when (and for how long) Holden was eating yesterday.  After 5:00 we went to a cookout and I stopped keeping track:


  • 9:15-9:35
  • 10:00-10:35
  • 10:50-11:10
  • 11:20-11:35
  • 11:40-12:00
  • 12:20-12:40
  • 1:15-1:35
  • 2:50-3:20
  • 3:50-4:00
  • 4:20-4:35
  • 4:45-5:00


Most people will tell you that breastfed babies eat once every 2-3 hours in addition to occasionally cluster feeding.  What they don’t say is that when you are establishing your milk supply (and when your baby is going through some serious growth spurts), you will be like a human cow.  All you will do is nurse.  For the few blocks of “free” time I had between feedings yesterday, I did exciting things like brush my teeth and apply deodorant.  After the 12:20 feeding ended, I said enough was enough and loaded Holden into the stroller for a walk.  The walk was really more for my own benefit than for his.  He slept the whole way to the library.  Once there, I selected a couple of books on breastfeeding, but before I had the chance to leaf through them, someone became hungry again.  So I nursed Holden in the youth section of the library while reading about breastfeeding.  I found one particularly good book, “Breastfeeding Made Simple:”

This book is phenomenal.  What I find especially interesting is how other cultures deal with the first 40 days of life—the mother is expected to do nothing else except nurse and rest.  Plenty of support is provided to make sure other tasks get done without the mother’s involvement.  From this perspective, the fact that postpartum depression is unheard of in developing countries like Uganda is not really a mystery to me.  Other mammals have differing patterns of nursing, characterized by differences in nursing frequency, duration, protein and fat content of the milk, amount of contact between mother and offspring, and extent of development at birth.  Our species produces low fat milk (relative to other mammalian species), necessitating frequent nursing.  We are also not very developed at birth and require constant contact.  I can attest to this last point as Holden does not want to be put down for a second.  In a sense, his protest at being left in his boppy for even 1 minute ensures that he is receiving adequate stimulation necessary for his development, and in another sense, ensures that I stay in bed and avoid mopping the floor or attempting similarly Herculean tasks postpartum.  His dependence forces me to slow down and rest, a benefit that I am only beginning to appreciate.  Anyway, the book above has some really great passages about how milk supply works—very informative.  The take-home message is that I need to continue to indulge these frequent feedings because it will pay dividends in the end.  In other news, we never need the nipple shield anymore for daytime feedings—I’ve only been using it at night.  We are indeed making some progress.