The Call of the Baby

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The Call of the Baby

Welcome back to my life as a stay-at-home dad / work-from-home illustrator. I’d like to describe for you my experiences communicating with people who refuse to speak the same language as you. People like my child. Granted, it’s not her fault; she’s fourteen weeks old. Words aren’t her thing. Heck, baby sign language isn’t even her thing. Her thing is crying.
Yes, crying. SURPRISE! The language that every baby is born knowing. You actually anticipate that first wail during childbirth. It lets you know that, “OK, so far so good. My baby is alive. Her lungs work and she’s expressing some sort of feeling right now. Boy, I hope she quiets down soon.”
The last part never happens.
But it’s like I’m learning a new language! You know how people say if you spend six months in a foreign country you can pretty much learn the language? Well, the same is true for babies. At first, it’s like speaking to someone with a one-word vocabulary, but they use the hell out of that one single word. I mean, they can hold conversations… long conversations where they’re just talking at you. They don’t care what you have to say, but dammit you’ll hear them out.
With her monosyllabic rapport my baby lets me know when she’s hungry, dirty, bored, tired, or just generally displeased with my parenting services. In fourteen weeks, I’ve learned the subtle differences in her cries. To the untrained ear it’s all just blood curdling noise that leads one to believe that I’m a crap father. False. Not True. Fake news. Babies can be complicated in so much that they’re finicky, fussy, mood swing-y, constantly pooping, and all-around exhausting. But they have a pretty limited number of M.O.’s. Here’s what I’ve gathered:

  1. They’re hungry
  2. Their diaper is dirty
  3. They’re mentally or physically uncomfortable

I like to sing a little tune to my girl when she’s fussy. It helps me run through my list and it kind of entertains her. It goes like this:
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
I give you drinky.
I change your stinky.
I give you binky.
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
I suffer from some sort of musical Tourette’s Syndrome. My wife is catching it as well; but that’s how I run through my check list.

That’s it. Pretty simple really. Solving how to attend to these basic needs has been the interesting part. It’s like a puzzle, but one where the clues and answers change over time. So, what works one week might not work the next, so you need to really pay attention to how your kid is changing. You can see it in their eyes. It’s like every month they wake up and a new part of their brain is turned on. They’re more curious, more aware, and more deliberate with their cries.
For a hungry baby, you might think the solution is obvious- feed your kid… fool. For the most part yes, but dammit there’s a lot to it. New dads, you can’t breast feed. Shocking, I know. This means that your wife is most likely pumping like she works at a dairy as a prized heifer. DO NOT CALL YOUR LADY A PRIZED HEIFER. I haven’t tried it, but I know it wouldn’t end well. You may be relying on formula, which can be expensive. I recommend someplace like Costco to buy formula in bulk or try a monthly renewal service through Amazon. If not to save money, then just to ensure that you have enough on hand- time can get away from you, then suddenly, before you know it you’ve used up all your formula, and you don’t want to be up the creek without a paddle. Personally, we use Enfamil.
Then there’s different types of formula to consider. They have some to ease digestion, some that are non-dairy, in case your new child, who completely subsists off milk… can’t have milk? We thought that was the case with Emma. Either she had colic or was allergic to dairy.
“WTF?” I asked her pediatrician. “What do we feed her if she can’t have the one thing God intended her to have?! It’s not like she has teeth yet! I’m not gonna go and blend up chicken and peas every day. She eats every two hours!”
Yeah, babies eat a lot.
But as it turns out, some babies have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk. Emma’s mom just had to cut out milk from her diet, so it didn’t end up in her …milk. Our pediatrician gave us this Enfamil formula because it lacks that dairy protein. It’s more expensive than the formula that has milk proteins, but thankfully it turned out that she doesn’t have that particular allergy after all. We thought we had figured out the cause of her colic-like behavior and I pretty much have my mom to thank for the discovery. Let me tell you about THAT!
My mom is a new grandma and super excited to be one. She came out to visit her granddaughter when Emma was about eight weeks old and at the time we were giving baby girl about 2 ounces of milk or formula in a feeding (following recommended guidelines). My mom, like any good Italian mother, fed my child until she was “satisfied.”
“I just fed her ‘till she stopped eating. She’ll let you know when she’s done. She pushes the bottle out of her mouth with her tongue. Don’t worry… she’ll let you know.”
This went on for about a week and it seemed to work. Whatcha doin’ in the world baby girl? Ah… the drinky.
Then my mom left… a day early, I might add, like she knew something was up. The next morning, while changing Emma’s diaper, she projectile pooped EVERYWHERE! IT WENT ACROSS THE ROOM. I tried to contain it with a wet wipe, but dear Lord, the force sprayed it back at me. It got on her changing table, the blinds, the wall her tuccas was pointed at four feet away, her crib, and her brand-new wicker hamper. WICKER! I’m still finding poop splashes in the wicker. It’s never gonna come out from all the crevices. Somehow it got under the lid. My kid can poop THROUGH solid objects! AAAAND it’s white wicker so you know it’s poop when you see it.
“Hey guys, where’d you get the polka dot wicker?”
“Oh… it’s, um… homemade.”
My mom knew what she was doing. She had three of her own kids, there’s no way she didn’t know Emma would pop like a poo piñata. That was some sort of payback for years of me being …well, me.
Which leads to my next point- the stinky.
Dirty diapers aren’t always accompanied by tears and tantrums. Sometimes my kid is just happy to be sitting in her own filth. In fact, the only time she really giggles is when I put her down to change her. Like it’s a game.
“Maybe I poop on daddy, maybe I don’t.” It’s been horrifying ever since the poo-splosion.
We tried cloth diapering for a while. My wife loved these cloth diaper shells. They grow with your child, but we couldn’t keep up with the amount of laundry we had. Plus, Emma was getting crazy diaper rash until we started using these super absorbent reusable charcoal inserts. Still, the laundry was getting out of control. For any new dads, kids poop a lot. I was told by clinical professionals that when you have a breast-fed child they might not poop for like a day or two and not to worry because this is normal. Breastfeeding is more “biocompatible” with your child’s digestive system. LIES, MAN. LIES! Expect to change a diaper at least 8 times a day. Butt… a dirty diaper can be upsetting to your kid. Again, we use Costco to stock up on either their brand or Huggies. The nice thing besides convenience is that they have a little yellow stripe that turns blue when they’re soiled. Butt… if you can cloth diaper I highly recommend it because a standard disposable diaper takes 500 YEARS to biodegrade. That means your dookie and your kid’s dookie and their kid’s dookie and probably their kid’s kid’s dookie will all still coexist on this planet long after y’all are dead. We fully plan on going back to cloth once Emma isn’t trying to set records for how many times she can go in a day.
Whatcha doin’ in the world baby girl? Ah, the binky. If your kid’s not hungry or dirty they probably need to be soothed. I rely heavily on binkies, or pacifiers, plus it goes with my song. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with decorations and whatnot. Now, our pediatrician told us not to rely on them because it will confuse a breastfed baby about which nipple is the right nipple or something. Rubbish I say. If it soothes my baby to the point of silence, then I’m using it. And I’ll tell ya what, she wasn’t confused about whose nipple is whose. But when I use the term “binky” it’s really a metaphor for “soothe.” What can you do for your baby to soothe him or her? Some folks can rock their kid to sleep. We have a glider in Emma’s room for just such occasions. It doesn’t work on her, but it may for you. We also tried a couple of motorized bouncers by Fisher Price and Graco. I really liked the one by Graco. It was a little expensive, but it did sooo much!!! I wish they made an adult sized one. Alas, Emma hated it.
What works for her is a combination of binky and core ball. I spend many, many, many evenings cradling her while bouncing on a core ball we bought for my wife’s delivery.
Let me take a second to talk about that. As an expectant dad you’ll come across these lists of things to bring to the hospital for when your wife goes into labor. This list will include things like scented massage oils, slippers, snacks for you which you must go eat in the hall or something because your wife can’t eat so don’t be an ass and eat in front of her. Sometimes the list, like the one we had, include a core ball. I bought it on Amazon and it came with a pump. Super stoked, I packed up the hundred or so items that the internet told me to bring and when the day came we didn’t use a single thing we brought.
I did end up unboxing the core ball on a whim just to see if bouncing on it while cradling her would soothe my little girl. Whattaya know, I’m a freaking genius. But now she’s so used to being held and bounced that that’s the only way she’ll fall asleep. She’s such a princess. Keep in mind, that if you bounce your kid, you need to support their little wobbly heads and do little, soft, rhythmic bounces. You don’t want to give your kid whiplash or shaken baby syndrome. That being said, I’m not responsible for what happens to your child if you’re off bouncing on this like a cracked-out kangaroo in a bounce house. Be smart about it.
Another very useful tip is to burp your kid. A lot of times my girl just has a big ol’ burp stuck in her belly and as soon as she lets it out she’s good.
If nothing works, your kid might have colic. Since we ruled out milk allergies, and once I’ve gone through my drinky, stinky, binky list there are nights where my baby screams like she’s being murdered. It rips at the soul to hear it, because there’s nothing you can do to calm her. Colic is when your child screams relentlessly for no reason at all for an extended period. We learned about the “5 S’s” in our new parent classes. They stand for 1. swaddle, 2. stomach or side, 3. Shush, 4… shhhhhhit, I can’t remember. But that all only worked for about a week when Emma was born. Essentially, you wrap up your kid like a burrito (which is one thing that continued to work until she got too big and started busting out), then you hold them on their stomach or side, and as loud as they’re crying you shush them in their ear. This simulates the sounds they hear in the womb. I remember the 4th- sway… or shake. It can’t be “shake” … there’s a syndrome that goes with that. Basically, gently rock your burrito baby while shushing them on their stomach or side.
It didn’t work for us. I did download this white noise app for my phone. My wife has it, too, but I have an old Galaxy Note 3 that is now a dedicated white noise machine/lullaby player that goes wherever Emma goes. We just want to make sure we’re never without it because it’s worked wonders for us. She’s catching on, though. I think she knows she’s not in the womb anymore. She likes to freak out in the evening, especially if daddy wants to have a drink or if we want to go out to eat. If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that our pediatrician says that colic and fussy babies grow up to be smart adults! We’ll see.
I know that’s a lot, but I hope if you’re a new parent or an expecting parent you got some good tips out of this. There is hope, you’re not alone, and if you have a baby with colic it gets easier. You eventually figure out what they want (that week) and maybe get used to the crying. Crying is just how babies communicate. Speaking of communicating, I should communicate to you that I’m trying to make a little scratch off this site. I had Google AdSense for about an hour, but it littered my site with ads and I can’t put people through that. The product links are affiliate links to things we’ve tried ourselves. If you want to know more about them feel free to message me on Facebook or email. Also, some of the pictures might end up available for print or as a t-shirt:)
That’s it for now. Keep calm and keep on parenting.

1 Comment


October 12, 2018at 11:52 pm

Right on. You don’t rip your hair out or go insane, haha. I agree the “professional” advice only goes so short sometimes. I became all our babys bed for several months just to calm them down. The poop explosions happened to other and not to me so I lucked out, but it is crazy how it shows up on alot of surrounding objects. And your mom did it on purpose!!
Stay strong brother!!

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