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A Shot of Zen

Yesterday, Felix received his first round of immunizations. The doctor’s great–very laidback with a peculiar, dry wit (he referred to S as Parmalat)–and I understand the need for the shots, but still there was something a little sinister about it all.

Since the NICU, Felix has thrived solely on breast milk, so the thought of him getting pumped with medicine and who knows what had my mind veering into science fiction conspiracies. Does the government put chemicals in there that make citizens want to pay taxes (if so, I’m not sure they’re working), or do corporations slip in substances that drive us to watch TV and spend money (obviously these are more effective)? Is this the needle of knowledge that will corrupt our innocent little tot? I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Though still one wonders.

Before getting down to puncturing the little guy’s chubby thighs, the doctor gave us some great advice in regards to our sometimes obsessive worrying about his sleep patterns.

“If Felix isn’t crying,” he said, “then the only one concerned about whatever it is you’re worrying about is you. Trust me. He’ll let you know when there’s a problem.”

This wisdom was validated a few minutes later, when Felix told us in no uncertain terms that getting shots posed a big fucking problem for him. His face deepened to a radioactive shade of mauve and scrunched up like the baby’s in that old John Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland. We could feel the howl coming before he had sucked in enough breath to let it out. And when it came—holy shit.

“So that’s what it sounds like when he’s in pain,” S said.

We realized just how good a job we’d done of keeping the little guy safe and for the most part content.

The amazing thing was that just a few minutes later I had Felix out in the hallway, waiting for S to set his next appointment, and he was back to his giggling, babbling baby self. It was as if the needle was nothing but a nightmare. One minute, pure screaming break your heart hell, the next, a lovable bundle of blossoming interactivity.

Is this Buddha nature, or what? The little guy’s totally in the moment, a creature of pure emotional response. And while sometimes—like when I’m strapping him in his carrier and he’s crying his head off even though he loves stroller rides, or when his mom’s getting in a last minute pre-feeding pee and he’s fussy with hunger—this can be a negative, at other times it’s something to marvel. Let’s hope that whatever it was in those injections, or perhaps—and this makes more sense—the experience of getting the injections themselves, doesn’t wash that quality away. Because often even grown ups are at their best when they stay in the moment. Something I frequently fail to remember.


Post 101

We spent the past few days visiting my parents, during which I had planned to ask more about my biological father, who I never knew. But I didn’t mention it. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to ask or say, so I figured I wouldn’t worry about it. The time wasn’t right to address it.

Let me back up. There’s a more involved story here, but the short of it is that my mother’s pregnancy with me wasn’t planned. Nor was it with the love of her life–at the time, he and my mom were on broken engagement number two or three. It wasn’t until after my biological father—in his early twenties, not sure what he was doing with his life, not interested in settling down, yadda yadda—skedaddled, that my mom reestablished a friendship with her ex-fiancé. He was there when I was born, as he’s been every day after. This was the guy I grew up with, think of, and love as a father.

My parents sprung an even more abbreviated version of this tale on me one evening when I was ten years old. The news hit me from out of the blue. I wanted to laugh when they told me, even though their eyes and body language told me they were serious and uncomfortable. Afterward, when they asked me if I was ok with what we talked about, I said yeah, but I felt weird.

We didn’t discuss my parentage again until I was twenty-one, just out of college and about to move to New York. My mom was driving me back from the mall, where we had bought kitchenware, sheets, and other domestic necessities. I had wanted to say something the whole trip but didn’t until we were pulling into the driveway.

She started crying. She thought I had forgotten about the whole thing.

But I hadn’t. I picked at the memory every now and again and sometimes thought about sharing it, but until college–when I told a few of my closest friends–never did.

After finally having the balls to ask her about it, I heard for the first time the bones of my birth story. Over the years, the details have been fleshed out. When my mother survived cancer, she said that she regretted not giving me all the information she had about my biological father, and presented me with his picture. Still though, I only knew his first name. I worried that one day I’d stumble upon a folder of I didn’t know what—letters, more pictures, something—and I didn’t want to be taken by surprise. I wanted to feel some ownership in this story, some sense of authority. So one Mother’s Day, about three or four years ago, I asked for everything she had.

My mom told me my biological father’s name, and dug up a couple other pictures of him. For awhile I thought my curiosity was sated, yet still something nagged at me—the question that it seemed everyone asked when they heard the story. “Are you going to contact your biological father?” (Sometime around the age of twenty five or so, after some years in therapy, I had begun telling more and more people, making this information a part of who I was.)

Last fall I had in fact tracked him down to an address in Florida, but couldn’t think of a reason to contact him that outweighed all the reasons not to. Sure, I’ll be better able to know if I’m going to go bald, or drop dead of a heart attack at the age of forty. But then there were the emotional repercussions to me and my family. I had a father already. I didn’t need another one, particularly not one who didn’t want me. I didn’t want to upset my parents by bringing them back to an unstable, insecure part of their lives. I didn’t want my dad to think that I didn’t love him, that somehow he wasn’t enough, that he wasn’t my real dad, when he will always be more of a father to me than this other guy. My biological father might have given me part of his DNA, but my dad gave me part of himself; I’m his son, through and through. So I wrote my biological father’s address down and pinned it to the corkboard in my office, where it became buried by other, more pressing things.

And then Felix came along. Since then, all the genetic reasons for contacting my biological father have become weightier. But more than that, I want to have an answer for him when he asks about who my biological father is. An answer that feels right to me, which I’m not sure if I have yet.

See, as disorienting as contacting him might be, the thought of never knowing him bugs me. Perhaps it’s my writer’s instinct—I want to learn my biological father’s side of the story, I want it to be complete.

Or perhaps it’s just that this, finally, is a piece of the puzzle I have control over. And I want to play my part and not sit by passively. I want Felix to know that it’s ok to make the decision that feels right, even when that decision is difficult and complicated to make.

But still I’m not sure, so I didn’t bring it up with my parents. There’s no rush, I thought. Let me wait till the time comes.

Then earlier today, S was looking up flights to Ft. Myers, Florida, where her cousin will have her bat mitzvah in January. While discussing our travel dates she said, “Have you thought more about looking up your biological father while we’re down there? Where exactly does he live anyway?”

I couldn’t remember, so dug up that slip of paper from months back, pre-Felix, what felt now like another time. It read Ft Myers, Florida. A google map search pegged it as thirty minutes from where S’s aunt lives.

Seems like too strange a coincidence to pass up. Of course, that’s assuming the guy I found is really him. Part of me hopes that it is. While part of me isn’t sure what to feel. All in all, my stomach feels flighty and fucked up thinking about it. I don’t even know what my next steps are. Do I call him from out of the blue? What would I say? Should I write him a letter? What if he never writes back? Or do I just show up? I don’t know which of these feel less scary. And why the hell am I scared?? Christ, this is hard.

The Tao of Parenting

My previous post led me to reread Billy Collins’ poem First Reader, where I found new resonance in the line “we were forgetting how to look, learning how to read.”

Once Felix was born we wondered what books we should be reading. I don’t have to enumerate the many subjects baby books cover—I’m sure everyone’s seen the bookstore end caps or caught a talk show segment about some recently published new finding, something parents just have to know about, detailed in some expert’s (or so-called expert’s) book. Many of the book jackets flaunt their authors’ doctorates and medical degrees, and justify their existence with scary studies that prove how well-functioning, normally developed children must start with the proper infant care. Reading these blurbs bring me back to grade school: parenting is a high stakes test that—unless I buy the right guides and do a lot of homework—I’m sure to fail.

But just as commercials for prescription drugs create a need for the products they advertise—who doesn’t feel nervous in certain social situations, and think that Zoloft might be right for them?—so parenting books encourage a new mom and dad’s insecurities by establishing a “norm” that every baby should measure up against, from the number of times a baby should feed, to motor skill development, to the amount and colors of poops. A lot of this information, culled from a variety of subjects, will never exactly match what my son does on a day-by-day basis; yet reading about it automatically starts my monkey mind comparing him.

Take our obsession with Felix’s sleep, for example. The little guy sleeps great through the night, and has since the womb. But during the day he’s an excitable, wakeful baby whose patterns don’t match the well-defined blocks of naps and activity mapped out by sleep guides. Yet except for some bad days (some of which I’ve documented here), he’s a happy, healthy baby, and we’re functioning parents. So why should we worry?

Yet we have. Observing, talking about, and fretting over the little guy’s daytime sleep has become our new hobby. When his eyes are closed we wonder when he’s going to open them, or how deep he’s down, or when his next nap ought to be, or what his nighttime sleep is going to be like. When he’s awake we count the minutes till we think we should to start lulling him back to dreamland.

When we were growing up, S and I were both the hard-working, over-achieving type. Turns out we’re both still susceptible to the teacher-knows-best voice of authority most parenting books are written in, many of which deliver their advice in the form of hard and fast rules. Never do this, always do that. One I read gave credence to its laws by giving voice to the baby, insisting that the reason parents should abide is because that’s what their infant would tell them if he could talk. Now, how the hell would anyone know that?

The same attitude is sometimes adopted by the parents who adhere to these books, who share their tips and tricks in the form of absolutes. “You do what? Don’t.” As if what worked for their baby will work for ours, will indeed work for everyone’s.

I’m tired of it. I have nothing against turning to those who have gone before us for ideas and inspiration, but it drives me crazy when experts talk as if there’s only one way to raise a child. Do I even need to write that there isn’t? Shouldn’t we all know and accept this by now? Obviously not. Some believe in higher, spiritual truths and some in testable, scientific ones, but the majority of us want absolutes.

From the beginning of fatherhood, I’ve had little faith in books, because of how Felix’s birth went down. Before he was born, S and I pored over labor guides like The Birth Partner and the Bradley method, hoping to prepare ourselves for what was to come. They got us thinking and talking about our expectations and fears—which was great—and contained fascinating specifics about the biology of birth.

But the birth scenarios the books described proved entirely unhelpful in the heat of labor–-S’s didn’t fit the mold. What got us through those difficult hours was our ability to communicate and our strength and calm under pressure, as well as the guidance of an experienced medical team who responded to S’s needs as an individual. In retrospect, the hours of reading, note taking, and studying were wasted.

We’ve found this to be true of baby books as well. They can provide helpful information and serve as a starting point for a conversation, but that’s about as far as their usefulness goes. The best guide to parenting is using our eyes and ears to pick up on Felix’s patterns, being sensitive to his needs, and resolute—though gentle—in encouraging habits that we appreciate, like napping.

For the past couple of weeks, for example, S has kept a detailed log of his activity cycle, which we then inputted into a program our neighbor suggested when she heard we were still worrying about sleep. The program showed that even though Felix naps erratically and in short bursts, he’s actually getting more shut eye than we thought. He even likes sleeping at certain times of the day, almost everyday. So while he’s not matching up with the statistically average baby—and how many babies would?—he’s got his own rhythms and routines, and there’s no need for us to agonize over him.

Back when Felix was in the NICU, I became adept at reading his monitoring machines, and would sometimes focus more on them than I would on him. “Stop looking at that, Daddy,” a nurse told me one day. “You won’t have the machines at home. Pay attention to your baby. He’ll tell you what he needs.”

Those machines described Felix without actually seeing him, which S and I sometimes do ourselves, when we filter his behavior through the lens of those damn books. Like Billy Collins’ poem suggests, there’s something reductive about using books to make sense of the world, instead of opening your senses to experiencing it.

From now on I’m going to try and resist delving into our childcare library, and instead open my eyes more. Felix knows what he’s doing, and we have wonderful people around us to share their real life experiences. Even more importantly, S and my parental instincts have served us well enough so far.

If only I could write that last bit without knocking on wood.

Finally Remembering

Next week Felix turns two months. A guy once told me it wasn’t until then that he really started enjoying fatherhood. He claimed his daughter was just an eating, shitting, sleeping lump for the first eight weeks of her life.

Maybe this guy’s baby didn’t have much of a personality, or maybe he wasn’t looking closely enough, but I’ve found a lot to keep me engaged. Felix has a range of states—when fussing, for example, he has a variety of cries in his arsenal, signaling different anxiety levels and needs. And we interact on many levels. They might be minute interactions at this point, and sometimes they’re short lived, but he’s far from a bump.

One of my favorite times to spend with Felix is when he’s quietly concentrating and taking things in. He’s best able to sit independently in this condition, watching us from his swing chair as we cook dinner, or staring at the dappled sun on the floor as we eat breakfast, often pulling on his binkie with slow, unhurried sucks. The thing is, it can be hard to put him down and leave him alone when he’s like this. Holding him as he encounters something new—seeing light play on tree leaves, smelling basil, hearing the echoes of a tap dancer practicing in the tunnel that leads into the park—is a hell of a recharge.

Quiet Looking

Quiet Looking

A couple years ago I started a blog called Remember to Look. The title riffed off a line in a Billy Collins poem (more on that poem some other time). It was meant to be about writing, reading, and the fundamental pleasures of the world, though it never found a rhythm and is now defunct. At that point in my life—having just walked away from a teaching career to get my MFA—I couldn’t find much to say about the joys of slowing down, because I was too concerned with moving ahead as quickly as possible. These days, such moments happen frequently. Felix, with his beautiful blue wide-eyed expressions of amazement, reminds me to appreciate the pleasure of the sensual world. It’s been like that since day one, when I saw how strongly the little guy clung to life in the NICU.

Before you start thinking this baby’s reached some higher level of Buddah-being, let me also tell you how fun it is when Felix is more active. During these stretches, he breathes fast and makes all kinds of funny, animalistic noises as he flails his hands toward whatever’s caught his attention. I’ve overheard lengthy conversations between him and the orange fish that hangs alongside his swing. I wish I could see what it is he sees in that molded bit of plastic. It’s like his best friend.

Playing with him in this state is the most fun. For a few minutes he might actually become excited by a book, if the colors are bold and the shapes simple, or if there’s a mirror involved. (The little narcissist already loves looking at himself.) I hold him on my legs and drum stupid beats on his belly, using his head for cymbals and honking his nose, or scratch out routines as if his gut’s a turntable. I hold him up and he gets the biggest kick out of looking me in the eye as I swoop in for a kiss. This always gets a big reaction—more recently a smile, though before that development he responded with expressions and noises.

So while he spends a lot of time feeding, and the diaper changing routine stinks (yuk yuk), and on many days I wish he would sleep more, this kid’s a lot more interesting than a living machine. It’s a joy to be with him, when he’s well rested and in a good mood. And already he’s had an impact on me. Maybe I’m just more open at this point of my life to learning from a baby, but I feel like now, finally, I’m remembering to look and appreciate the fundamentals.

Felixs Favorite Book

Felix's Favorite Book

Letting Go

The most helpful piece of writing advice I received in my grad school program was “Lower your expectations.” Yesterday, a good friend and newly certified yoga teacher (and fellow writer) suggested I revise this to “Let go of your expectations,” since lowering implies a value judgment. I agreed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations recently. Not in regards to my writing so much, but more in how my plans for the day affect my parenting. Despite almost two months of my son showing me otherwise, I’ve continued to wake up in the morning as I did pre-fatherhood, thinking that I can control the day. Even before sitting down for breakfast, I’ve composed a mental list of things I “need” to get done in between caring for Felix.

But on days like yesterday, when hours were passed holding and bouncing a fussy, sleepless baby, most of the items on my list go undone. And you know what? That’s ok. Because caring for my son is more than enough. So what if I didn’t clean the bathroom or mop the floor, or if the washing machine was still chugging away when my friend came over for dinner? In the grand scheme of things, these aren’t such a big fucking deal, but still they pull at me.

I’ve skirted around this subject matter before, but it’s something that continues to plague both S and I. Before Felix, our days were typically a blur of activity. Even a lazy Sunday might mean home cooked meals, gardening, writing, progress made on projects, making calls, etc etc. Even a nap was a “to-do.” The only time we let the day just run its course—allowing meals to spread out long and leisurely, whiling away hours reading, doodling, or lounging in the sun—was on vacation. And that’s what we’re on now. The first and perhaps only extended vacation we’ll ever take as a family. We’re fortunate to both have time off to spend with this beautiful, cool little kid, yet we have to keep reminding ourselves that he’s not another chore to fit in among the other tasks we think we have to accomplish.

I don’t think that we’re unusual, or that we’re anal-retentive overachieving perfectionists (ok, maybe some of the latter applies). After all, the urge to go go go comes at us all the time. For the contemporary parent, raising a child becomes just another line to add to the job description, another task to fit into an already busy day. But when you think of it that way, you miss the whole point.

Spending time with Felix isn’t a chore (if it were, it’d be a Sisyphean one). It’s easy to worry how I can fit him seamlessly into my life, what with all the other things that feel important to me. I don’t have this figured out yet and can see how it’s going to be an ongoing balancing act, probably for years. But seeing how he lives his life moment by moment helps slow me down and makes me appreciate that I’ll never have a 7 1/2 week old Felix to hold in my arms again. Even when he’s bawling his eyes out, when you think of the fleetingness of time, even his puss faces are beautiful.

So last night, when S and I handed Felix off to our friend and popped out for a drink, I let go of my expectations on both the small scale—forgetting about what I had or had not done during the day—and on the large scale—not worrying about my nonexistent career or what I want to do with my life. I let it all go, until I came home to a pile of unwashed dishes, and unfolded laundry, and a drowsy baby who started shrieking as soon as we started the pre-bedtime bath. This letting go is going to take some practice!

Thoughts on Friendship

It was a very social weekend, and I’m exhausted today. Tired less from the events themselves and more, I think, from worrying how baby would fit in.

We’re more relaxed when we take him out, because Felix’s usually a calm little guy in a social setting. Often, by the time we meet up with people, he’s asleep, lulled by the stroller or subway ride. And once we’re in a new place there are so many things for him to look at and listen to; he’s distracted to no end. (Sometimes too much so—the only time he ever had trouble latching on was in a loud, crowded pub.)

Having people over is another matter. On home turf, Felix’s moods are difficult to control or even predict. On his sleepy days, our guests find him a quiet presence, a warm bundle of cuteness we all pass around. And on those few and far between days when the nap to waking ratio is just right he does even better with company. He’s quietly alert, looking into people’s eyes, flashing smiles, interacting with coos and burbles—in short, as charming as a seven week old baby can be. It’s the wakeful days that are problematic.

Of course, for our first dinner party—a small gathering, with only six of us total—he was in the middle of a seven hour stretch of activity. Our hopes of getting him down for a nap went out the door when our guests arrived with the usual flurry of greetings, drink making, music and laughter. Still, with new hands to hold him, he stayed calm for the first couple of hours, and his swing chair kept him occupied through dinner. By dessert though, his fussiness couldn’t be contained. He went from person to person to varying degrees of success, quieting for a few moments with this one, wailing when in the arms of that one. As the night wore on the quiet bits became increasingly shorter, and the cries not only more frequent, but louder.

Finally S and I excused ourselves to give him a bath and start the bedtime routine. We had warned our friends that the party, which started earlier than usual, might end before ten. Not only did they get on their way promptly and with no qualms, but they did the dishes and straightened up the kitchen before they left! More importantly, they never made us feel like having a baby around curbed the party, or that it made us any less fun to hang out with.

This was something that I feared, knowing people who lost friends or found relationships strained when baby came along. We’re the first among our immediate circle to have a child, and we have encountered people—acquaintances, really, not friends—who predicted that procreating would end our social life. One person said that we weren’t going to “be normal” for the next eighteen years. Thanks a lot! I don’t think he wanted to make us feel like social pariahs, but that’s certainly what came across, and whether or not we accept his definition of normal (which of course we don’t) it automatically put us on the defensive.

So it’s come as a huge relief to find that we can, with some preparation and a little adjustment, incorporate Felix into our social life. Partly his calm disposition makes this possible, but it’s also the result of friends who love us and go with the punches even when he’s being restless.

It is true what everyone says, that a baby changes your life. I’ve come to see nearly all of the relationships I have in a new light in the past seven weeks, and I’m pretty lucky to say that almost every one of them has deepened and grown.

The First Ever Daddy and Son Night

Yesterday the whole family, cat included, tucked in for an early afternoon nap. It was blissful and lovely and–unfortunately–short lived.

After a couple days of more regular and frequent sleeping spells, the crabby, fussy, nap-resistant Felix of last week struck back. His old tactics were as sharp as ever: the full-lunged wailing in our ears, the headbutts to the chin caused by spastic neck control, the lips that curled down like a sour wedge of lemon, and the face that darkened to the color of a just squeezed zit. Any one of these sent a clear message that our baby was one miserable little creature, to which we, at the mercy of centuries old hormones and parental instincts, felt a mixture of upset, guilt, anger, and concern.

But Felix had been developing new skills at an amazing pace this week. He learned how to track my finger when I moved it in front of his eyes, and grab hold of things for short periods of time, and turn his head to look at things that interested him. So there were some new additions to his arsenal. During one frustrated fit, he grabbed the glasses off my face. During countless others he projectile vomited, because after all, nothing else says “It’s sick how unhappy I am right now” like spurting puke down the neck of the loving parent who happens to be slugging around and trying to placate your baby ass.

He threw up so much we started classifying his vomit. A couple minutes after feeding, the milk mixed with saliva formed an unctuous, creamy substance, that honestly looked a lot like semen. Quickly thereafter it curdled into a cottage cheesy mixture. The little gobs stuck to our clothes like ice cream smears, and when they came out of his nose they formed big white boogers that attached to the edge of his nostril and made him sneeze. This, I thought as the day went on, is the kind of intimate knowledge one gets of their child.

What also made yesterday different from last week’s terror of tiredness was that S was heading out for some solo time. In the past, we’ve both been around to share the fuss, passing the crying baby back and forth like a oozing cold sore. I wouldn’t be able to do that once S departed for the evening.

As the afternoon wore on, I hoped that Felix would get as bored with his crying as I was, but nothing seemed to calm him down. Even right after S fed him for the last time before leaving he was one grumpy dude, causing her to doubt whether she should go at all. Hoping to calm him down, I strapped him into his stroller and headed out before she could change her mind. Not only did I think it important for her to have some mommy free time, I also wanted to have a night with Felix alone, so I could get a taste of what I might have to deal with come September when S goes back to work and I take over this gig full time.

To sweeten the stroller ride, I thought we would head someplace fun–the wine store. Felix was a silent, wide-eyed observer the whole walk there, and when I ran into some neighbors he turned on the charm. I was the proud dad out on an evening stroll with his son, and all was well with the world. But unfortunately, Felix didn’t find the racks of Burgundies and Merlots nearly as interesting as I did, and within a minute of entering the store he started bawling.

“He’s really a good little baby, he’s just tired–it’s been a few hours since he slept,” I told the few people who looked at me sadly, shaking their heads as if I were one of those hapless idiotic fathers, unable to care for a child without the more capable leadership of a woman.

I’ve encountered this attitude before. The second time I brought Felix to the pediatrician a nurse, upon seeing me come into the examination room alone, asked where my wife was. I told her she was home recovering from the birth, to which she said incredulously, “You came alone?” I’m sure the new mothers in the waiting room with their two week year olds didn’t encounter such static.

But of course there in the wine store I did feel a bit embarrassed, as well as bad for the little guy, so I grabbed the first bottle that looked halfway decent and went on my way. When I got home about quarter to eight he had fallen asleep, so I decided to draw his bath and put him down early. I’m a So You Think You Can Dance nut, and I hoped to have him in bed by nine so I could watch the results show in peace. Leaving him downstairs sleeping, I crept off to fill the tub and lay out his pjs. Halfway up the steps he woke up in tears. I rushed back and tried to comfort him, but he became more upset when I pulled him out of the carrier, flailing his arms around and screaming in my ear so loud I was sure the neighbors could hear and were probably wondering what the hell I was doing to the poor kid. Or else they’d be shaking their heads sadly with a bemused smirk on their lips, like those people in the wine store. I felt pinned down in a catch-22, unable to get his bath and bottle ready with him in my arms squirming so much, and unable to stop him from squirming without a bath and bottle. Knowing it was a lose-lose, I decided to put him down and get his bedtime stuff ready.

When I came back a few minutes later to retrieve him, the unhappy little guy had worked himself into hysterics, crying so hard he was hiccuping and burping. I shook off my guilt and ineptitude and powerlessness and glued a smile on, and hummed to him, and barreled along like it was a completely normal night, changing him, then bathing him, then feeding him. But while the warm water soothed him, Felix never lost that trembly sniffling “I’m about to lose my shit” edge, and he started a routine of repetitive “LA LA LA” cries as soon as I started toweling him dry. These are his needy cries, the ones he lets out when he’s hungry or looking for a diaper change. The only thing that stopped him was giving him the bottle, and even then, whenever I pulled it away to burp him, he began to cry again.

WTF? I asked myself. We had gone through his bedtime ritual, the same routine that calms him down every night. With one big difference. Instead of the boob, he was getting the bottle.

In that moment, I felt so unable to care for him. If S had been here, she would have fed him right after our walk, calming him before bathing him. I had moved forward with the bath because I had only one bottle of milk and didn’t think I could stretch it over two feedings. Not only that, I selfishly wanted to get in front of the television in time for my damn program. I figured the bedtime routine would hold some magic of its own, quieting him and making him drowsy, when Felix was communicating in the only way he could that he was in need of holding and feeding and comforting. Comforting I couldn’t of provided.

Fortunately, after the bottle and a lot of rocking, he settled down. And by nine o’clock he had managed to get to sleep, while I had managed to whip up a quick omlet for dinner. S was happy with her time out on the town with her friends; it re-energized her to get away for the night. Which is great, because I’m going to need a lot more practice being with him alone–and I mean alone as in there’s not a breast a short distance away to latch him onto when he’s losing it–before I feel more confident and capable caring for him for a long stretch of time on my own.