Monday, July 30, 2007

Owen William and the Massive Book

They say that you shouldn't get frustrated when trying to calm an infant, as they can sense your frustration, which makes them anxious and screamy themselves. Last evening, at least, Owen exhibited a corollary, having a very long nap on my lap while Kerry and I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Apparently our happiness about finishing the book manisfested itself in pleasant baby sleepiness.

As for the book itself - no spoilers, don't worry - we liked it. Very well done. I can't see anyone reading the first six books, wanting to read the seventh, and being disappointed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Genghis trivia

Q: What was the first song that Kerry and Travis, independently of one another, sang to Owen?

A: The Oscar Meyer advertising jingle

I came to "My bologna has a first name..." last night via Emily's advice to sing folk songs at 3am. It wasn't 3am, but Owen was crying, so I gave "This Land Is Your Land" a try. He seemed to like it, as he did the first verse of "Blowin' in the Wind". But he hadn't previously enjoyed my improvisations on "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", so I suspected that it wasn't the folk genre he liked as much as the Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan hybrid voice I was affecting. I tested this theory with my folksy interpretation of the Oscar Meyer jingle. He dug it, as well as a Guthrified version of "Lush Life".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Every day is different"

That's the official motto of Genghis-rearing. Case in point: Monday night, we had crying or eating for all but about two hours between 9:30pm and 4:30am (at which time I gave up and went to work). Last night, between 7:30 and 4:30, we had sleeping, interrupted only by three very calm rounds of eating, diapering, and returning to sleep.

I think the returning to sleep last night was greatly facilitated by a triple play of milk narcosis, snug swaddling, and real squeezing hold until the eyelids got heavy. (Regarding the last, I was slightly concerned that my "sleeper hold" was approaching wrestling quality - see my earlier post which mentioned the non-running-wildness of Owenmania - but all was well.) But, beyond its general truth, that's the beauty of the Genghis-rearing motto: not only does it provide comfort in rough patches, it also keeps you from getting cocky when you think you've got something figured out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the worth of Chihuahuas

Monday's Express reported:

A Chihuahua in Masonville, Colo. is alive and well after protecting a toddler from a rattlesnake. The 5-pound dog jumped in front of the child moments before the snake struck, suffering numerous bites.
Makes me (slightly) regret all those bad things I've thought about yippy little dogs.

Babies everywhere

A week ago, picking up Scott, Carlie, and Lily at the airport, and then again at the train station yesterday, I was struck by the fact that all of us heading here and there with great purpose - maybe even to do Important Things - were once babies, whose existence could be summarized as eating, sleeping, pooping, and otherwise being fairly tiny and helpless. It's not a particularly profound observation, but the feeling of being surrounded by all those ex-infants was striking, nonetheless.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Now see here

Today, I saw Owen watching the mobile over his crib while I was folding laundry. He wasn't just looking through it; he was actually tracking the different shapes floating by. Kerry says she observed the same thing yesterday (Owen watching the mobile, not me doing laundry). Either way, it's the first time we've seen him really looking at anything other than the face of the person holding him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Communication 2

Our boy can belch. Kerry says he "burps like a trucker".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Owen has increased his vocabulary in the past couple of days. When he is waking himself up, a process that may take 20-30 minutes, he often ejects a high-pitched little "Oo!" It's almost bird-like in quality, or like a single, loud hiccough. Or, as I prefer to think of it, it's the best barbaric yawp someone less than two feet tall can muster.

In the last 24 hours, Owen also seems to have developed the ability to indicate indigestion and soiled diapers. Naturally, both are announced with the same cry used during periods of hunger, certain diaper changes, and bathing, but it is an interesting development, nonetheless. We can't do anything about the indigestion (though Kerry may lay off Ros's curry for a while), but if Genghis says it's time to change a diaper, he's usually quite right.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


As with all newborns, Owen's hands are not really his own. They are semi-autonomous, often acting against his interests. His fists of fury sometimes strike his own face, leading us to repeat the schoolyard bully phrase, "Stop hitting yourself," but with a great deal more sincerity.

Owen's upper hand (or arm, really) is the "full" indicator when he is eating. The fist begins clenched by his face. As he fills up, the arm relaxes, ultimately going dead limp. One of my jobs during breastfeeding is to check the gauge. I feel like an old WWF ref checking on Hulk Hogan in a sleeper hold. I lift the arm once. It falls down limp. I lift it a second time. It falls limp again. I lift it a third time, ready to declare the match over. But before the arm hits the canvas... it stops, then begins to shake, then rise up with new energy as Hulkamania runs wild. (Actually, Owenmania doesn't really run wild. When the arm has dropped once, he's pretty much done.)

Today, Owen developed a new hand move, lifting them both overhead. When he combines it with his claw hand (versus tiny fists), he looks like an old Marvel comic book character, saying "They will learn to fear the power of Mr Furious!" or "NOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


At almost six days old - when you're this young, the time of day is material relative to your age - Owen has reached some significant milestones:

  • First package of diapers finished (Knowing what's coming for the next couple of years, noticing diaper quantities at all is amusing)
  • First time peeing on Mom and Dad during a diaper change (First full day home, and a few times since)
  • First time peeing on the picture of the baby panda on the wall of the nursery (Part of that memorable first pee on Mom and Dad, which also included a color-changing, open-air poo)
  • First bath (Sponge bath - hated it)
  • First fingernail clipping (Asleep - didn't mind so much)
  • First stroller ride (Fun until the end of the driveway, then it was time to go home)
  • First playtime with Dad (Hated it - Owen much prefers it when Dad sits still in a chair and lets him sleep on the lap and/or chest)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Two days of Owen William

I wrote this at 1115 on Saturday. I'd like to post some pictures, but I can't find the camera. We're back home, and believe it or not, things are not perfectly organized, running like a well-oiled machine. So day-old words for now, pictures to come later.

Background: Owen William was born at 1803 on 5 July, weighing 7lbs 7oz, 21 inches long.


There is no way I could summarize the last 52 hours. It's hard to believe that 52 hours ago, two of us, one pregnant, had just arrived at the hospital. For hours of induced labor, I didn't even seem to me that it would end in childbirth. I knew it, but it didn't really believe it. Previously, Kerry had just been pregnant, and that's what we had done for nine months. Then, it was labor, and seemingly, that, too, would go on for quite a while.

It didn't, as these things are reckoned. 11 hours after arriving, and following about an hour-and-a-half of pushing, Owen arrived. I have never seen anyone as focused as Kerry was at the end. She said pushing was the hardest thing she has ever done, and I'm not going to argue. Epidural or no, relatively short labor or no, she was tired, and that last part hurt. But she was strong and did every thing she had to to bring our baby into the world.

It was tough on Owen, too. He was a grumpy little dude for the first 18 hours of his life. With his eyes swollen from delivery, when he scowled, he looked like Yoda. Sometimes when his little, fuzzy hair stands out on his head, he looks like old Jack Nicholson. (I mention these likenesses just to illustrate that, apparently, childbirth hormones can play havok with dads' thinking, too. But it should go without saying that Owen may be the cutest baby ever.)

He can still work himself into a frenzy quite quickly. (Yes, "still". It's amazing to me that I'm so quick to perceive patterns in his behavior. With Owen at 36 hours of age, I was already saying things like, "He used to like breastfeeding in the football hold, but not anymore.") In fact, if Genghis brings home any name from the hospital besides "Owen William", it will be "Mr Furious". He can turn himself deep red, top to toes, in seconds, and when he cries hardest, his lower lip starts shaking at about 5Hz. He has a high-pitched shriek that is reserved for the most hideous events, such as a particularly offensive donning of clothes. We can only hope that shriek can be summoned up in stores, restaurants, etc, for years to come.

Many people have told us that being a parent makes you appreciate what is really important. It's already true, as the #1 topic of discussion and action has been eating. At least once every 3 hours, we are reminded that eating is important for our little guy, and yet, he's not born knowing exactly how to do it. Breastfeeding, which any casual observer might think would be the most natural thing in the world, is not the most natural thing in the world. It is a precise dance between mom and baby. When the latter is uncommunicative (apart from screaming at times), and the former is receiving incomplete and sometimes contradictory dance steps, it can be difficult. So far, each of our best sessions have been followed by at least two terrible ones. (Remember that pattern-observation thing I was talking about?) We're both convinced of the goodness of breastfeeding, but of course it is Kerry who most directly feels the pressure to be a "good mother" and nurse. When your baby is bawling and not eating, all of the well-intentioned comfort ("It will get better when your milk comes", "A lot of babies are like this at first") doesn't help a great deal. It's really hard to get past the thought, "We can't feed the baby." Of course there are the good rounds, and the well-intentioned comfort is, no doubt, based on facts. It's just hard to step back from that fundamental, immediate view.

Kerry commented that Owen had received more my skin tone than hers. Apparently she was referring to his mild jaundice. However, unlike his old man, he is not scheduled for any time under the UV lamps.

I love him loads. Not a novel observation from a new parent, but it is worth mentioning. I know this for at least two reasons. 1) I feel the sort of deep, empathetic pain for him that has previously been reserved for Kerry. When things aren't right for him, and I've got no idea how to make them right, it hits me hard in the gut. 2) Yesterday afternoon, with him asleep on my chest, holding Kerry's hand in mine, I felt such peace. I felt I could have stayed there forever.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


It's G-Day (as in Genghis Day). We're heading to the hospital in about an hour for scheduled induction. Kerry is eight days past her due date. This has been a long week. We're excited to meet our son.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

National security

About a year and a half ago, I was dismayed by the showboating over the dire security threat posed by Dubai Port World handling containers at US ports. An interesting follow-up appeared in last week's letters to The Economist:

SIR – You accepted as fact the perception that last year's uproar over DP World buying some port operations in the United States was all about national security (“DP World's long shadow”, June 16th). As any astute observer of inside Washington's Beltway would know, the uproar was more to do with the political dynamics of an election year. As proof, consider the Secure Freight Initiative, the American programme launched in direct response to our crisis: DP World is the central partner in the private sector. In other words, we are building a programme to protect America from the very same threat that Congress said we posed to America in the first place. No one on Capitol Hill has uttered a word of protest.

Michael Moore
Senior vice-president
DP World

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sticko it to Sicko

I expected to find articles describing Michael Moore's latest film, Sicko, about the US health care industry, as another of his propaganda-as-documentary pieces. I did not expect to find one of those articles from Kurt Loder, whom last I saw was reporting on Cyndi Lauper in 60-second MTV News bits, introduced by a Megadeth bass line.

(Doom-du-doo-de, du-du-du-doudle. I thought I was going to have to offer a free Holler Water to the first person who could tell me what Megadeth song that bass line was from, but the top hit on Google for "mtv news" megadeth revealed that it was "Peace Sells". Curse you Internet! You take the fun out of everything.)