Sunday, March 20, 2011

Early Days With Jamieson

I just found this in my rough drafts. It is two years old and I never posted it, I guess I thought it would be too tough for some people to read, and also that it would be too personal. This is LONG before we found a doctor that would help us solve Jamieson's food allergies. Reading it now, unedited, makes me sad at now helpless we were to help him and angry at the "experts" that kept telling us that nothing was wrong. We begged for help, and were made to feel like we were the ones that didn't understand. At the end, I make a mention of seeing a pediatric GI, I can still hear the snark in the voice of his first doctor "If you REALLY want, you could take him to the GI, but thats NOT going to help... He is just "highstrung"". Ironically that visit that with the GI (Dr. Annette Whitney who is great) is when everything began to turn around. We never went back to that first pediatrician.

Here is the post I composed when Jamie was just a tiny (well, never tiny) screaming bright red klaxon of distress and I was sick with worry for him, Katy and our family.

What do you do when the two people you love most in the world are in conflict? Not just a normal conflict mind you, but a soul draining contest of endurance versus need that shakes everyone involved to the core and could be described as the hardest challenge any of you has ever faced.

You put yourself between them and try you best to absorb as much of the discomfort as you can take.

I don't know for sure that Jamieson is more needy than other babies of his same age but it would not surprise me to find out that he is. Since he was born, he has on average wanted to be feed every 2 hours (often times less). For short periods of time this has stretched out to 3... but it quickly snaps back. Now consider that it takes about 30-45 minutes to feed him, that only leaves a very short window to sleep and rest between feedings.

Also he cries a LOT. It seems to me like he has problems getting rid of lower gas. He wakes from a dead sleep and will start to kick and flail if he has not passed gas within a few minutes he will become frustrated and begin to cry. These episodes can quickly escalate into massive shrieking freak-outs if he is not quickly comforted. He will still cry, kick and flail for long periods of time even if held and if you do manage to get him to sleep in your arms... you CAN'T put him down. The comfort is like a counter balance to the pain/discomfort in his gut. If you remove the soothing... the tower topples and he is back in crisis. If he starts to break wind... a lot of wind. Then he starts to relax and can sometimes be put down.

So combine those two things and you have a baby that requires a lot of attention.

I have been desperately trying to provide as much of that attention as I can I am a seasoned insomniac... Katy is not. She is learning the ropes of how to survive on so little sleep but it has been really tough for me to watch her get raked over the coals on this. She is a person that NEEDS her sleep.

So for weeks now I have done everything I could to keep him soothed and get her more sleep. Since I don't need much sleep I keep him downstairs with me in between feedings because it is seldom that he sleeps from one feeding to the next. Its MUCH more common that he needs to be held and comforted, often the entire time between feedings. If I am really good, I can keep him asleep for 2.5 hours in my arms... but this usually means that I can't move or do anything else because if I do he will wake up and instantly want to be comforted with food.

So, I am very caught in the middle. He wants and needs to eat and I know that if I take him up to her she will be loosing sleep that she needs! I try to keep him soothed because sometimes he just wants to "snack" for comfort or eat early because he woke up due to gas.

these have been my goals over the last few weeks

1. Make it possible for Katy to go to bed at an early hour. (front load sleep)

2. Keep Jamieson downstairs with me between the 2-3 feedings after katy has gone to bed so that she gets chunks of undisturbed (if not uninterrupted) sleep. This helps her be more alert during the 2-3 late night feedings that I am likely to be asleep during, and hopefully gives her the energy to deal with him when he won't sleep between those feedings. I know that we only got her less than a couple of hours of "up front" sleep last night and she told me she was up with him the entire time between the next two feedings... I have to try harder to keep us on track so that its easier to deal with when this happens.

3. Wake up and take him downstairs between the first couple of feedings as needed. This is great for her catching up on sleep as he seems a bit less "fussy" in the mornings and I can keep him soothed and encourage him to sleep longer, but its also the prime time that she wants to be pumping and since it the time he is lest likely to be cranky its also the best time of day to play with him and have him be a bit more interactive and less distracted by his own discomfort.

4. Change every diaper I can get my hands on. It's a little thing, but I enjoy it and it is one less demand that she has to feel he is putting on her. I am sure she wouldn't mind changing more... she lets me do it because I have made it "Daddy's Job".

5. Soothe him as much as he will let me. Now when I said before that he gets upset, I am not sure I communicated what really happens here... I have seen him will turn dark purple over 100% of his body, go stiff as a board from head to toe and cry so hard and intensely that he seems to forget to breathe. At first, this upset Katy a great deal, I also get very unnerved by it.

I know Jamieson is on the verge of making a breakthrough in his eating and sleep schedule and I just have to wait it out a bit longer... but it is getting to me, I hate that I can't seem to do more for him when he is really upset and I feel like I have to absorb as much of his cranky-ness as I can and try to lessen his impact on Katy when he is being really demanding, That may sound odd to some people reading this but maybe people with difficult babies may understand. She is giving so much of herself to him as it is, I feel I need to deflect the screaming/complaining if I can. when I can't, I feel like I have failed.

I have had to compose this post over several days because I never have a long enough stretch of time to finish a complete blog post without needing to pick him up. Actually he is in my arms now but he is quiet enough that I can type (slowly) with my free hand.

It is now months later (around may 2009)... from a note I started to write someone then decided to not explain...

I know we probably discussed that he has had a rough start, He just has never been comfortable Like something was hurting him badly. I know I may have seemed over protective at the CPR class, But he has me well trained to respond quickly to his signs of distress early and try to stack the deck on the side of his comfort and happiness otherwise he can quickly get upset to the point were people question weather something is dramatically wrong with him. The way he responds to his discomfort can be a bit shocking to people if they are used to babies acting like "normal" babies.

I am sure it would not have surprised you, but I think it would have disrupted your class if he had reached the peak of what he is capable of.

Now all that sounds pretty dramatic, but he is a great and amazing baby when he fells well! So I have every confidence that when he finally "outgrows" the colic completely. Or his little digestive tract gets working a bit better... he will be able to let more of that side of himself shine.

We have been frustrated by our pediatrician and how her answer to everything seems to be "he is growing and thriving, so he is therefore fine" Wow, I sure am glad MY doctor doesn't take that attitude with me. "Oh, Doc you gained 5 pounds so clearly nothing else is wrong with you!" We are just now coming to the conclusion that he is allergic to something that he has been eating and we have finaly made an appointment with a pediatric GI in hopes that they will be able to shed some light on his discomfort.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Man Movies? Fella Flicks? Sensitive Gentleman Cinema?...

The fact that there is not a popular nickname for the type of movie I am about to talk about should clue you in to how rare they are and why I feel they need more attention.

So for a while now, I have been keeping a short list in my head of films that I think communicate (in some small way) what its like to be a man in the modern world. These films deal with issues that men face. We live in an increasingly technological and feminized world, which strike me as good things in general... But very little art is created to give a voice to mens emotions about our changing role in this culture or the fact that in some ways we are being displaced altogether. We once where hunters, warriors, protectors, fathers, explorers, risk takers... and now we are often asked to tightly control all those instincts and yet it is those very things that still make us viable and desirable biologically. We are being pulled in two different directions. Now before I start losing people, keep in mind I am speaking about individuals. I won't argue that men have needed to share the power, but our culture doesn't seem to have collectively given a rats ass about how these sweeping changes have affected men emotionally. Of course, men are not supposed to HAVE feelings, and women may not notice because they are enjoying the improved status that has been so hard won over the last century. In many cases our culture is counter balancing too dramatically on the individual level and many poor schmucks (is that word an old slang for penis?) get bowled over by the changes, never really knowing what exactly is expected of them. It seems that the pitfalls of being a man (not a boy, by the way. Boy-hood is still highly praised and tolerated, which is part of the big joke) are more treacherous than ever. It would be nice if our entertainment didn't treat us all like uncaring, action addicted, warmongering, sex crazed, bumbling fools.

These films at least take a stab at it... they are so few and far between that it makes me sad. Hopefully there will be more as men and women wake up to the need to stare down the changing role of men.

Growing list, first draft: (Got suggestions?)
World According to Garp
Bottle Rocket
Punch Drunk Love
About Shmit
Lost In Translation
Falling Down
American Splendor

Notice something interesting about that list? They are all pretty small films. I would venture to say that most people have never heard of most of them.

Oh also, here is something fun to do... go into a book store and ask to see the "Men's Studies Section" if they have such a thing... laugh at how pitifully small it is in comparison to books for women or LGBT folk.

*June 2013 Update*
The Trip with Steve Coogan
Actually Mr. Coogan is making this a theme in his work I also just got done watching Saxondale and although the title character is difficult to "love" he is struggling with a lot of these same issues. getting older, losing respect, being seen as ineffectual and weak. it is a very melancholy comedy and I really liked it.

Also notable is the absurdist comedy series Snuff Box. With Matt Berry. You just get the feeling that Matt Berry's Hangman character can't seem to escape his own bad behavior and realizes that he can't be loved. He is sabotaging himself with everyone (even his dimwitted best friend) so he won't have to face how lonely he is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

And Thus The Identity Crackdown Begins...

FaceBook has launched a new service that ties commenting on other sites to your FaceBook account. So if a website turns it on, (and I think many will make it the default) most commenters will no longer be able to post with anything but their ACTUAL identity.

I have encouraged people to be themselves online for years. I knew that everyone running around pretending to be 20 different people and acting in a range of bad behavior from impolite to horrid, would not be tolerated for long. People were just loading up corporate cannons with reasons for a siege on anonymity. I also knew that when it DID start to change it would probably be at the hands of a big powerful entity. Back in the 90's I would have thought MS would be the one, then maybe Google... but of course the big winner of all our data now looks like it will be FaceBook, Google only WISHES you were building such a detailed profile into their database compared to what you shovel into FB each day.

I am of two minds, I look forward to a day when there is two thirds less crap polluting the web, but of course I don't want to tie all my opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams back to a single (clearly untrustworthy) corporation. I just wish more people had decided to act civilized and not made such a service an easy sell.

The internet is the MOST public place you will ever make your voice heard. I believe that anything you post may someday be attached to your actual identity and viewed by anyone. I am a firm believer that de-anonymization tools will largely remove the illusion of anonymity in the near future. So its best to act the way you would in any very public place. Your home, work, or even a bar, all seem to be much more private places than any place you post online... but strangely, others seem to imagine the internet as the most private of places and assume everything they post under a pseudo identity would never be tracked back to them... even long before all the successful de-anonymization research, I just could not see that lasting.

In real life we feel pained and sometimes shamed for the stupid things we do and say, I causes us to examine ourselves and hopefully grow, mature, and respect others. Being held accountable for what you say is a fundamental part of being a person that exists in society. Bringing that accountability to the internet is long over due. We can't have a more meaningful dialog without looking each other in the eye.