Learning to become a parent

First things first: a big thank-you to my mom for all sorts of things that I’m beginning to understand now that I too am faced with the only-a-little-terrifying responsibility of getting a tiny human being safely launched. A big thank you to W-‘s mom for raising an amazing person, too. I can’t imagine doing something like this without W-‘s support and awesomeness.

2016-05-04d Parenting - things I'm learning -- index card #parenting

2016-05-04d Parenting – things I’m learning – index card #parenting

I was more than a little scared, going in. Before committing to this path, I followed Stoic advice and spent a lot of time contemplating and accepting the different ways things could go wrong. As it turns out, even though we have to help A- figure out how to deal with two congenital defects, it’s still much easier than it could have been. I’m alive. W-‘s alive. A-‘s alive. The rest is gravy.

The biggest revelation was seeing an even more wonderful side of W-. Watching him come up with funny songs and games (the goldfish must be seen to be understood; I hope I remember how amusing it was even when I’m much older!), knowing that I can count on him when I’m too tired to stay up with A-, being steadied by his reasoning… Priceless, especially during those difficult weeks when we had so much to figure out and before A- learned how to smile.

Man oh man. Public health in Canada. Our tax dollars hard at work. I’m still getting the hang of talking to all the different people, but every time I walk in and out of a specialist’s office without a bill, every time I can get the help A- needs without worrying how to fit it into our budget or long-term plans… Wow.

I’ve also come to appreciate the family-oriented social services that hadn’t been on my radar before, such as baby activities at the library and the neighbourhood Early Years Centre. It’s been awesome starting to plug into the community of fellow parents swapping tips, clothes, and other resources. I’m looking forward to learning even more.

I planned my 5-year experiment with an eye towards having the flexibility to focus on childcare if needed, and that has paid off wonderfully. Sleep disruption? No problem. I can sleep a little longer. Task interruptions? I’ve got systems to help me remember and automate, and we’ve simplified our life to make things easier. Uncertainty? I’ve been learning how to plan around questions. Learning how to learn, too.

There’ll be many more questions and uncertainties and challenges ahead, and many more smiles and laughs and epiphanies. So far, so good. I could get the hang of this.

Other parenting-related index cards

Weekly review: Week ending May 6, 2016

The week started with the 80th birthday party of one of our in-laws. It got me thinking about what I might like my life to be like when I’m eighty. I hope to still have the habit of reviewing my life and learning more. It would be nice to participate in a few offline and online communities (ooh, can you imagine how cool it would be to have a vibrant Emacs scene in the 2060s?). It would be great to keep helping people and accumulating good karma, and to see the effects of that help down the road – I’m sure I’d have learned a lot from those people, too. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

A-‘s 100-day party is coming up. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to sew her an outfit, so I bought a red blouse for her just in case. Could be a good excuse to learn how to make a teeny tiny cheongsam or jacket, though. Anyway, my eldest sister Ching is flying in for the party, yay!

I took A- for a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician, who confirmed her slow weight gain and started the referral process to a dietitian who can help us make a plan to fortify A-‘s milk with extra calories. Feeding A- will probably be my primary focus for the next little while. Gotta get her growing.

A little bit of coding here and there. I did a quick report for my consulting client, and I started thinking about the add-on they’d like me to develop. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to redesign the interface and port my code, but it’ll be something to think about here and there.

We reorganized our basement cabinets, and the new system feels better. Yay! I need to sort through my sewing stash and reduce the clutter there. Looking forward to more projects, especially once we sort out feeding. I sewed a baby sunbonnet following a free pattern from Purl Soho, and that’s come in handy for a few walks already.

Lots of drawing and thinking time this week, spurred by questions and planning. Good to be able to sort through my thoughts!

2016-05-08a Week ending 2016-05-06 -- index card #journal #weekly

output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (4.1h – 2%)
    • Earn (2.8h – 69% of Business)
      • ☑ [#A] Prepare invoice
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (1.0h – 24% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (1.0h)
    • Connect (0.2h – 5% of Business)
  • Relationships (9.1h – 5%)
    • ☑ Go to W-‘s extended family thing
    • ☑ Take A- for vaccinations
    • ☑ Do midwife evaluation form
    • ☑ Inquire with Kindercare
    • ☐ Ask breastfeeding clinic about SNS
    • ☐ Call Lisa on May 10 to see if we can reschedule
  • Discretionary – Productive (15.7h – 9%)
    • Emacs (1.3h – 0% of all)
    • Coding (2.3h – 1% of all)
      • ☑ Main screen wet to cloth option
      • ☑ Add supplementation tracking
    • Sewing (2.9h)
      • ☑ Try the hat sewing pattern Kristina mentioned
    • Writing (2.3h)
    • ☑ Complete census
  • Discretionary – Play (1.3h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (18.9h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (66.5h – 39%)
    • Childcare (55.2h – 32% of total)
  • Sleep (52.5h – 31% – average of 7.5 per day)

Monthly review: April 2016

Last month, I wrote that I was looking forward to:

  • working more closely with the healthcare system and learning more about what to do
  • improving our routines and tools
  • gradually building a habit of going out (parent/baby groups, exercise, etc.)

A- is gradually moving past the slug stage of infancy. We’ve reached the awesome milestone of social smiles and cooing, hooray! That’s been helpful in getting us through those early morning wake-ups and occasional fussiness. W- has been super wonderful. I’m starting to feel like I might actually be getting the hang of this, too!

Warmer weather and A-‘s increasing wakefulness encouraged me to take her out for social activities. I checked out lots of free baby- and parent-oriented activities in the neighbourhood. They provide good excuses to go for a walk, A- gets to hear lots of words, and I’m learning from being around other parents and kids.

It’s great that there are so many resources available in the city. After a close call with a plugged duct, I started going to the breastfeeding clinic nearby. The weight history they’ve been keeping has shown that A- is gaining weight more slowly than normal. Based on my research and my conversations with the nurse at the cardiologist’s office, this is probably due to her heart defect. Having graduated from midwife care, we’re now seeing a pediatrician. I hope she can help keep an eye on the big picture, what with all the medical professionals we need to talk to.

The benefits of continuous improvement are starting to build up. Here are some of the little changes we’ve been trying:

  • Pizza is a handy way to use up leftovers.
  • The ring sling is a handy way to keep A- close, especially when she’s fussy and wants to be held. I can put it on even if I’m holding her.
  • Salads are fresh, convenient, and easy to eat. If I cut up ingredients and put them in containers, that makes mixing a salad pretty straightforward. I want to get us used to eating more vegetables, so I’ve been exploring salads. I think I’m getting the hang of having salad ingredients on hand, and I’ve been having fun exploring classic combinations too.
  • If I do laundry every other day instead of everyday, that saves time and energy.
  • If I brush my teeth and shower after dinner instead of timing it for before bed, then I feel better during A-‘s bedtime routine.
  • If I forget to do my pre-bed routine before A-‘s bath, I can brush my teeth while W- washes her.
  • If A- is cooing and not quite ready for bedtime, it can be a good opportunity to call my parents over Facebook Messenger so that they can interact with her.
  • If I draw my journal in the morning instead of at night, I don’t have to try to squeeze it into our bedtime routine.
  • If I keep lots of small towels handy, nursing becomes a more civilized affair.
  • If she’s crying, I can give her a short period of time to try settling down before I pick her up and more actively try to calm her.
  • If I loosen the bottom rail of the ring sling a little bit more compared to how I was doing it before, A- can sit more securely.
  • If I start Emacs as a daemon, I don’t have to worry about it crashing when I restart X.
  • If I use Tasker to set up call forwarding to either my home phone or a free voicemail service depending on location, I can worry less about missing calls or messages.

As our household routines improve and A- grows, W- and I have been gradually getting back more time for discretionary activities, too. W-‘s been getting back into woodworking, and he has also been able to go to the gym a couple of times a week. He’s great at coming up with songs and rhymes for A-, too, and she has come to enjoy bathtime.

I’m less worried about squeezing in naps while A- naps. I know that I can sleep in or start the bedtime routine a little earlier if I’m feeling tired, and I can call in W- for reinforcements if A- is fussier than usual. This has freed up time for me to learn more things. I’ve been sewing clothes, accessories, and stuffed toys. In terms of coding, visualizing baby data has helped me feel more comfortable with the d3 library (including animations, yay!). I applied that experience on my consulting gig, creating a couple of visualizations of their data. My drawing and writing still tends to be pretty journal-focused, but I can now take the time to explore other thoughts or go into more detail.

Most of the next big steps in terms of A-‘s medical stuff will be in June (cardiology update, eye clinic impression-taking). May will probably be more about improving our routines and skills. More social stuff, too. W-‘s parents are hosting a 100-day celebration for A-, and my eldest sister Ching is flying in for that. I’m looking forward to bringing A- to more get-togethers for exercise and stimulation. It would be nice to get back into the swing of drawing and blogging non-journal-type stuff – perhaps more kaizen posts. More salads and gardening, too! =)

2016-05-04b April 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0
Discretionary – Play 1.5 0.4 -1.1 0.7 -1.8
Unpaid work 41.6 42.2 0.6 68.7 1.0
Unpaid work – Childcare 35.6 36.8 1.2 59.9 2.0
Discretionary – Social 0.7 1.7 1.0 2.8 1.7
Discretionary – Family 0.7 0.3 -0.4 0.5 -0.7
Sleep 36.9 33.5 -3.4 54.6 -5.6
Business – Connect 0.5 1.2 0.7 1.9 1.3
Business – Earn 0.3 1.2 0.9 2.0 1.5
Discretionary – Productive 6.5 6.5 -0.0 10.6 -0.0
Personal 11.1 12.7 1.5 20.6 2.6

Childcare’s a bit up and sleep is a bit down, but that’s probably influenced by the fact that I’ve improved my tracking system to allow me to capture more details for late-night feeds. I thought about breaking childcare down into subcategories (maybe stimulation, routine care, medical stuff, nursing, and other?), but I can handle that with notes instead of separate categories for now.

2016-05-02 Emacs News

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending April 29, 2016

This week felt like a good one for making progress in a variety of areas. =)

We’ve been learning a little more about A- and sleep. I don’t mind letting her sleep whenever she wants, even if it means she might be up at an awkward time. It’s easier to deal with a well-rested and curious A- than a cranky and overtired A-, anyway! I can manage the occasional middle-of-the-night fussing. When I’m too tired or if W-‘s going to be up anyway, A- spends time with W-.

I’ve been researching flight options and tips for super-long-haul travel. It looks like getting a separate seat for A- could be worth the cost. I’m not sure about taking care of her on my own for the ~22+ hours it takes to go from Toronto to Manila, so any trips may have to wait until either W- files for parental leave or gets more vacation days next year. Anyway, we need more information about her medical needs first before I’d feel comfortable planning any travel. Hard to plan with all these uncertainties!

Speaking of medical stuff – after lots of research and calling, I’ve learned that our current situation (having a pediatrician) is actually pretty awesome and that it can be difficult to “shop around,” so we’ll probably stick with what we have. I got on the waitlist to switch my family doctor relationship to someone closer, though, in case I can find a good fit. We’ll find out more about A-‘s heart and eye in June. In the meantime, May will be busy enough with breastfeeding clinic follow-ups, routine vaccinations, and a visit from a nurse in the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. (Talk to all the support organizations!)

I spent some time consulting, too. I finally figured out how to animate data in d3 by working on my personal visualization of baby data, so I felt ready to transfer that knowledge to visualizations of client data. Building up the skills on my own time meant I didn’t feel guilty about charging my client for fuzzy-brain-learning-time. =) I’m looking forward to tweaking the visualizations based on their feedback, and building some more.

Since I’m doing all this stuff at home and outside, I decided to leave Hacklab. I really like the community, but I didn’t think I’d make it out there often enough to justify the membership. I wasn’t quite sure I could make the most of the space while also taking care of a baby. It’s easier to code or sew at home, where I’ve got everything I need for A- and where W- can take care of her if I need to focus on something. I’d been mentally treating my Hacklab membership as more like a donation to support something I like. Now that Hacklab’s finances are more solid, I can turn that money to other uses. I might consider rejoining it if I figure out how to make it work, as volunteering to help make Tuesday open house dinners was lots of fun.

Slowly sorting out new routines. Yay! =)

2016-05-02a Week ending 2016-04-29 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (9.5h – 5%)
    • Earn (8.9h – 92% of Business)
      • ☑ [#A] Prepare invoice
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (0.4h – 4% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.4h)
        • ☑ Check if I need to amend T5
        • ☑ Transfer from savings
        • ☑ Issue and print resolution
        • ☑ Write and deposit cheque
        • ☑ File dividend in Quickbooks
    • Connect (0.3h – 2% of Business)
      • ☑ Retrieve my things
  • Relationships (4.1h – 2%)
    • ☐ Take A- for vaccinations
    • ☐ Call TD and ask about RESP
    • ☑ Check with OHIP re name change
    • ☑ Braindump notes for flight
  • Discretionary – Productive (10.2h – 6%)
    • Emacs (0.6h – 0% of all)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding
      • ☑ Apply d3 update to histogram
      • ☑ Save last activity when we start nursing
      • ☑ Go to W-‘s extended family thing
      • ☑ Disable touchpad in init script
      • ☑ Fiddle with image composition
      • ☑ Figure out why ssh was asking for passphrase
      • ☑ Radial tree for status
      • ☑ Figure out what’s going on with BEGIN_HTML
      • ☑ Set up Tasker to forward to home phone when I’m on home wifi
    • Sewing (1.4h)
      • ☑ Peasant top
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (15.4h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (69.8h – 41%)
    • Childcare (62.4h – 37% of total)
  • Sleep (59.0h – 35% – average of 8.4 per day)

2016-04-25 Emacs News

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups