December 30ieth, four days after Joakims birth, we left the hospital. Much to my surprise there was no "signing-out"-process, we just packed up the baby and left. No receipts! No manuals! And, scariest of all....no return policy....I left clutching the hospitals phone number feeling grateful they at least offered two weeks of user support over the phone!
The user support came in handy. As most new first-time parents we obsessed over almost anything, eating, clothing, weight gain, his navel, his poop... The poops were a MAJOR source of interest to us (and still are even thought the babelet is now 6 months old). Apart from the hospital I used to call my oldest sister a lot. She has three children (and one grandchild!) and has worked as a kindergarten teacher for thirty years and is a reasonable authority on things baby-related. I also relied heavily (and I mean heavily) on my on-line network for help and support.
The on-line network, aka the December Moms, originated as a mailinglist for women due in December 1996. I found the list through the misc.kids.pregnancy-group on Usenet. There are mailinglists available for each month of the year. (If you want to join one of these lists, send an email to email@example.com, with the words subscribe YOUR DUE MONTH in the body of the message.) "My" list was a goldmine of sage advice, support and humour during pregnancy, birth and after. In fact, after the babies were born, we decided to keep the list going! As the December 1997 moms would sign up we got our own mailinglist and now we even have our own WebRing - for details, click the icon at the bottom of my front page. But I digress - this page is supposed to be about Joakim, not about the December moms...
Life with Joakim is certainly a learning experience. We, the parents, learn the most I think but I hope Joakim picks up some useful stuff along the way also! Being our first (not that *I* have plans on siblings) he is forever doomed to be a guinea-pig in our laboratory of life and childraising. We did have some principles about babies....two, in fact....1) we were *not* going to be the kind of parents that talk incessantly about baby poop (see above! *grin*) and 2) we were *not* going to use a pacifier. Both those principles went down the drain the first month and our one overriding principle is now, "whatever works".
It is more fun than I ever thought it would be to have a baby. Maybe we just lucked out with Joakim (I think he is the perfect baby for beginner parents, a "Baby 101" if you like), but it is easier than I thought it would be (mind you I feared the worst). The first two months were probably the hardest. As I remember them, I did nothing but sit (or lie) in bed with Joakim attached to my breasts and the only breaks I got were nervous breakdowns ;-) There were times when I thought I would go seriously nuts and would run into the spare room and bawl my eyes out for a while but I most of the time managed to regain my sanity within a reasonable amount of time (largely thanks to Magnus!). It also helped to try to keep some sense of humour and perspective. OK, so I felt bad and upset - but Joakim had undergone a far bigger lifestyle change than either of us and so it was to be expected that he cried. He didn`t know any better whereas I had read the baby manuals and knew there was a better future ahead. I also know that sooner or later he *will* sleep through the night, chances are good he *will* be through with breastfeeding before he leaves home, and he *will* be out of diapers before he starts university (and Freud be damned, hee hee).
It all became easier after a while. Like I said, the first two months were the hardest. He slept, ate and cried. the cries were his only means of communication and neither he nor we were any good at differentiating between the various types of cries. It felt as if he only let us know when something was wrong - and in turn, as if everything we did was wrong! Most upsetting for all of us. When he first began to smile it was *such* a relief - finally some positive feedback! Then, he began "talking" and now that he is 6 months old we are really on a roll, communications-wise.
He really is a person in his own right, with likes and dislikes and a personality that shows itself more and more with time. If I were to project what he will be like in the future from how I see him today, I would predict he would end up as a rather chubby man, with a fondness for dairy products, slapstick humour and fart jokes! *grin* He is a happy-go-lucky baby who takes life as it comes. He goes along with almost everything we do (well, he doesn`t know better, does he? I quite enjoy being the norm, for a change) and enjoys life greatly most of the time. At 6 months of age, the things he likes most is eating (but not green beans, thank you very much), flirting, bathing and exploring. He is also becoming more mobile - not that he crawls yet but he pushes himself about (usually backwards) using his arms. He has two teeth already and has the CUTEST smile! But I still cried when he got his first tooth - I would never see that lovely toothless grin again...
Ever seen those lions on tv? You know, nature shows, lions in the wild in Serengeti or whatever. The adult lions are lying around in the shade, digesting, thinking, doing their lion thing....and WHAMMO, the cubs go nuts and are all over them. Crawling, kicking, clawing, biting, chasing tails and being general nuisances. Meanwhile the adult lions just lie there with really long-suffering expressions on their faces. As a mother to a 6-month old baby I know exactly how those lions feel. One of the babelets nicknames is "Clawfinger", and with good reason, too. He has just begun discovering my face (and my hair! Ouch!) and just loooves to stick his fingers up my nose. On a long-nailed day I get nosebleeds :( He also thinks it is fun to pull my hair, kick my belly (from the outside, at least that`s a change) and bite every available body part. He only has two teeth (yet!) but, MAN, they are sharp teeth!
His first two teeth came when he was only five months, now he is seven and a half and about to have two more (we think). At the ripe old age of seven and a half months he is also getting hairier (no more fuzzy peach look). But the most impressive thing is, ta-raaaa, .....FORWARD MOBILITY!!!!! His motto these days seem to be "I Am Baby, Watch Me Crawl"! He doesn`t crawl, exactly (not yet anyways) but he moves about with ever increasing speed and a variety of techniques. But he still has to learn that one goes around, rather than through, furniture. For some days he has been trying out a new style that might in time turn into crawling proper: He stand on his hands and knees, rocks back and forth a little, lifts one hand and stretches it out WAAAAAY in front of him .... he then understands he is about to fall flat on his face if he lifts another limb and stays put, looking dead daft. After a while he puts his hand down and repeats the process with the other one. I suppose he will get the hang of it eventually!