The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: February 2013

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationWe have a bit of a commute in the morning, the little guy and I.

Breaking it down to even numbers, it’s about a half hour for us to get to his grandmother’s house in the morning, and then another half hour (roughly, maybe slightly less) for daddy to get to work from there.

Needless to say, that gives us quite a bit of time together in the car, even though, on good days, he sleeps through most of the ride. Which, for a little boy who doesn’t take naps, we will gladly take right now so he’s getting SOME sleep.

What has happened, though, and has turned into routine, is the type of music we listen to in the car to and from each morning. I’m fortunate enough to have Sirius XM Radio in my car, and have been switching between their Pops channel and Symphony Hall channels in the morning and evening rides. You can likely use any free, public radio station that pumps classical, though.

It’s been calming for him, and apparently for daddy too, because while I used to switch it back over to 80s on 8 or The Bridge for some Simon and Garfunkel after dropping the little guy off, I find myself, without even thinking of it, continuing to listen to the classical stations even after I’ve dropped him off and before I pick him up.

While not the intention of my post, it’s hard to write a post about classical music and children and not mention that there are some studies out there that believe classical music can help boost a child’s ability to learn, their coordination and other attributes. Some people dispute these studies, so take them as you like. I’m not here to prove a point one way or the other on that one. We just enjoy listening to the music, that’s all.

However, I will mention some other recorded benefits of Classical Music while we’re on the topic. Reportedly, in London, England, when the British Transport Police piped classical music into London Underground stations in some of the area’s most dangerous neighborhoods for six months, they found that robberies were cut by 33 percent,staff assaults decreased by 25 percent and vandalism went down 37 percent. Some studies in hospitals found that heart patients s from listening to 30 minutes of classical music as they did from taking the drug Valium (which I think is phenomenal, as I’m a big proponent of not having to pop pills whenever possible).

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can be used to help people of all ages with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities; Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, physical disabilities, substance abuse and even help mothers in labor.

You be the judge, though. Give some classical music a try in your life and see if it boosts your spirits. It might boost some other things in your health, mental and physically as well, but that’s for you to decide.

We’ll take it, though.

Whether it’s been Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, or any other composer joining us for the morning ride, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying your company, guys.

Superman-fleischerI recently mentioned how, while home with the baby being sick, I spent some time watching cartoons on Netflix.

The two animated films I watched while the baby napped were Justice League: Doom and Superman vs the Elite, both part of the ongoing releases of animated movies across the DC Comic Universe from Bruce Timm and company.

They were both enjoyable, but for completely different reasons.

jl doomJustice League: Doom was standard superhero fare. A group of villains team up to best their foes and destroy the world. Always fun to see more obscure comic villains get animated, like Vandal Savage, Mirror Master, etc. On top of that, any time Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly (or George Newbern) voice Batman and Superman, respectively, just as they did since I was watching their respective animated series 20 years ago, it’s a good time.

However, the entire reason I’m writing this post is because of the second film of the two – Superman vs the Elite. In it, Superman meets a group of anti-heroes out of England who have tremendous powers, but not much of a moral compass. They like the hero gig, but find Superman outdated, and go from looking up to him to feeling that heroes need to take things where he won’t – namely to kill those criminals, villains, warlords, etc, instead of leaving them for justice departments to decide.

manchester supermanInitially, the public loves it. They eat it up, and agree that Superman just isn’t the hero for modern society. This new group, the Elite, become the idols of children, while the kid playing Superman on the playground is suddenly an outcast.

What happens very quickly, however, is that the Elite become more than just anti-heroes, more than just vigilantes, even. They become the watchers of society, telling them to be good, or be dead. Their choice. The choice isn’t just limited to super-villains and despots, though. Even the average pickpocket faces an executioner for their sinful deeds, no matter how misguided.

dark supermanNaturally none of this sits well with Clark Kent, leading to an all out showdown with these young turks, and a display of what would happen if Superman really were to become the darker version society is clamoring for.

When the dust settles, it’s not the animation, not the action that makes this the draw that it was for me. It was the message.

This is why Superman is important; this is why his character remains relevant, even today.

superman-gary-frank-1Superman is the embodiment of all the good that we, as the human race, have contained within us. A man with unlimited power, who uses that power to not only help others, but to show others much needed compassion.

Clark Kent never takes it upon himself to tell us how to live our lives. No. Instead, he sets an example for us. He shows us that great power does not have to mean oppression, corruption, or rule. No wonder Lex Luthor can’t stand him. Lex feels power should be all those things.

No, Superman shows us that the world can be better; that we are the ones who have the ability to make it so. Instead of looking for the bad in others, he looks for the best in other people, believing all to be generally good people on some level.

He may be a captor, he may be a jailer, he may be an enforcer, but he is never a judge, a jury or an executioner. He is a symbol, of all we could be, of all the good we could do. If a man with all that power can avoid finding the worst, avoid being corrupt, avoid abusing that power, why can’t we, as mere mortals?

chris reeve supermanIt’s like that classic line in the 1978 Superman movie, by Jor-El, Superman’s father, who sends his baby away from their dying planet to Earth in order to save him.

“They can be a great people, Kal-El, if they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”

Funny that it takes an alien from the planet Krypton to make us realize that.

If we all tried to be a little more like Superman, just think of what a world we could live in.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationThis past weekend I turned 33 and one of the things everybody asks me is “what did you do for your birthday?”

The non-intrusive answer is “spent time with the family,” but the real answer is – I got sick. And so did Meg. And so was the baby.

It’s oddly becoming a bit of a yearly tradition for the household to get sick when my birthday rolls around. If it hasn’t been me one year, it’s been Meg. If not her, me. It goes back and forth. Only this time, we had an entire household hacking and wheezing and blowing our nose. For the record, the baby hates it when you wipe boogies from his nose and face.

We made the best of it, even though the baby was pretty cranky. I can’t say I blame him. When I get sick, I get miserable. I hate feeling that way, so for someone so small and new to the world, I can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with a sore throat, a cough, mucus, etc, ESPECIALLY when you can’t tell people how awful you feel other than with a cry or scream.

starman omnibus 5I got some nice shirts and a tie for work from Meg and the little guy, as well as two graphic novels I’m really looking to delve into (Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner, and a volume of the Starman Omnibus by James Robinson). 

So, while birthday dinner consisted of some beef vegetable soup and tea, with birthday cake Meg made for dessert (although she made some delicious steak the following night), we spent it together. We watched some TV, we did some laundry, we relaxed with the baby (when he’d allow it of course), but the important thing is, we did it all as a family.

I guess The family that’s sick together stays together.

The next day I was committed to a meet and a greet at a Home Show in casino event center about 45 minutes or so away. So, with cups of tea firmly in my hand, I plowed through, said hello to some folks, took a good ribbing from others who wondered why the heck I was there promoting myself and the news station I work for, but generally had a nice time.

After that, I caught up with some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while for a lunch (mine consisting of soup and water, of course, with the current state of things). This is the same crew who I occasionally hit up a comic show with. These days, schedules as a parent have just not been conducive to really catching up with folks the way I used to, so it was nice to see them for a little bit, and geek out over what comic titles we were reading that had been cancelled, who was working on what projects, and just what they were each up to in their lives. They’re good people, and I’m glad that we still find time, even if it’s only occasionally, to catch up.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Not Me – random stock image of ‘man coughing’

Today, I was off from work and took advantage of the time to go to a nearby Urgent Care Center where they determined I have Bronchitis.

I’m not the type to really take medicine if I don’t have to, but this thing has been knocking me on my butt for days now. In fact, last night, I found myself unable to even take full breaths, and felt like I had a weight sitting on my chest. So I submitted to the prescription and will be heading back to work in the morning, hopefully on somewhat of a road to recovery.

The little guy may only be 7 months, but he actually helped color the heart on this one.

My card from the little guy. While mommy did most of the work, he actually did help color in part of the heart.

I spent this Valentine’s Day with our little guy.

As we’re still battling the croup (and its  effects slowly making its way into mommy and daddy’s adult-sized bodies now), we’ve been alternating taking days from work so that someone can stay with the little guy at home while he’s sick and administer his nebulizer treatments.

Today was my day and we began with a bottle, something I realized I hadn’t done in quite some time because most of my time with the little man is at home, where he’s normally nursing right from mommy. She left us a good supply of milk in storage, though and that turned out to be a good thing, because he wasn’t keen on eating his solids today. We tried his rice cereal, he wouldn’t have it. We tried his Stage Two Pears from Earth’s Best and he wanted nothing to do with those.

Mommy’s milk, though? Man, THAT he wanted.

You can definitely tell that he’s sick, and I’m not just talking about the coughing fits. Usually when I set him down in his roller-walker while we’re in the kitchen, he loves it. He’s been moving from one end of the kitchen to the other in that thing, his little legs going as fast as he can. This time, though, I wasn’t able to get a few feet away from him to prepare his bottle without I’m getting very uncomfortable and upset.

So, we spent most of our day on the couch. Talking, having a bottle, playing with toys, and eventually, napping. Of course, he was falling asleep right in my arms, and him being as sick as he was, I wasn’t about to move him. So, we spent most of our day planted right there on the couch, unless the situation called for a diaper change or more milk, of course.

I prepared beforehand though, and had a series of remotes within my reach, along with pad and paper for writing if inspiration struck. Mostly, though, while he slept, I watched cartoons on Netflix and DVD.

When my wife came home at the end of the day, I think she was relieved to see that we were both not only alive, but that there was minimal damage to the house or us, save for a few globs of pureed pear that I was wearing on my sweatshirt.

It was a Valentine’s Day like no other, that is for sure, but aside from him being sick, we were all together as a family, and the day was definitely all about love. We wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

You couldn’t have written it to unfold any scarier.

The weekend had been great. We went to sleep with every intention that we’d wake up with just another Monday, despite an ice/snow storm raining down through the overnight hours.

But as the clock switched over to midnight, the baby suddenly awoke in his crib, making a gurgling sound as he coughed, sounding like he was gasping for air. We tried to comfort him but the more he coughed, the more panicked he became, which just compounded his fear and anxiety.

I am sure that as time goes on there will be situations where I feel even worse, but I’ve never felt more helpless than having your baby look at you, not understanding what’s going on and why they can’t stop this feeling, this coughing, why they don’t feel right, and looking to you for help and you can’t do anything to help him.

Meg’s mom even showed up around one in the morning to lend a hand, but there wasn’t a lot that could be done for him at that time other than wrapping him in Meg’s arms, rocking back and forth with a cold mist humidifier spewing, and he eventually fell back asleep, his cough lessening as he dozed.

First thing in the morning, we called our pediatrician, only now we had added a fever of over 100 and vomiting to the mix since the nighttime. We were able to get an appointment 45 minutes from when we called and rushed out of the house and to the office to get him looked at.

The culprit?

The doctor says none other than “the croup.”

It’s a respiratory condition that comes from a viral infection in the upper airway. In fact, our pediatrician drew a very nice picture on the paper sheet in the examination room of the respiratory system and how the virus effects the system. I’m kicking myself for being lost in the worried-parent moment and not taking a photo to use on this blog because it was such a good sketch, but what can I say? I was more focused on the little guy and what was wrong than I was thinking of turning that experience into a blog post.

Anyway, the virus effects the upper airway and causes swelling in the throat, interfering with normal breathing and creating that barking cough. The symptoms also are known to be more persistent at night.

I’m no stranger to the croup. It was something I was all too familiar with in my own childhood, even tackling it in years when I was much older than our little guy. I remember many a night of being carried outside into the cold by my parents on a chilly winter night to break up whatever was building inside me, or the numerous times when I was mobile on my own and had to sit with my head above a pan of hot, steaming water with a towel over my head as I inhaled.

It wasn’t pretty, but then, as we sat there with our seven month old baby intermittently smiling and barking like a baby seal, I realized, it never is pretty.

This week we’re alternating taking sick days to stay home with the little guy, as the doctor prescribed 2-3 doses of a non-albuterol version of a nebulizer. It’s awful watching the uncomfortable, sometimes scared look on the little man’s face as we put this mask on him for the breathing treatments.

We’re just hoping that in the days ahead, he will begin to feel better and breathe easier.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationNight Terrors.

Even the name sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is, for both child and parent alike.

Fortunately for a lot of people, not every child goes through it, I’m told, and I’ve asked around and found that only a small percentage of parents I ask had a clue as to what they were, let alone had their child go through it. Which is good, because it’s frightening as hell.

My parents tell me that I had them as a kid, but was at least a few years old when they came about. Typically, they occur in children from 3 years old to 12 years old.

For us and our little guy, though, it started very early; within the first few months type of early.

For those who may have been lucky enough to not have gone through them, don’t confuse this with bad dreams or nightmares.

Oh, so different.

It can sound like normal crying at first, it can sound like a sudden shriek, but what it becomes is a long, arduous bout of exactly what it sounds like – continuous shrieks and screams of absolute terror from a baby who has only been alive for half a year and shouldn’t have to experience such fear, whatever he’s experiencing.

Seeing your child in pain, fear, etc, is hard enough for any parent, but here’s the thing about night terrors – you can’t do anything about them. You just can’t. The baby is not even awake for them. So, here we are, holding this tiny little guy, who is fast asleep, eyes closed tight, with no notion that you’re there showering him with hugs and love to comfort him, as he cries out in fear over and over again.

It gets even freakier and heart wrenching, when his eyes open a little bit during it, even though he is deep asleep and not even close to awakening. We’ve had night terrors periodically for months now, and last night was the first night I saw his little eyes open during them, while still asleep.

Believe me when I say I have never felt such heartache and helplessness as I did looking into his eyes and seeing the absolute terror on his face as he screamed, knowing there was nothing more we could do but hold him close, shower him with love and let him know we were there for him to come back to.

He’s absolutely inconsolable and unable to awaken and it’s quite scary.

I’ve heard a lot about night terrors, from doctors who say there’s nothing that can be done other than allow him to outgrow it to more metaphysical theories of night terrors as the process of babies experiencing trauma from a past life. When I think of that I just think, my god, if that’s true, what type of horror must my poor little guy have gone through in another life to be this frightened and tortured.

Regardless of what’s behind it, both theories prescribe the only thing that can be done – hold him, love him, let him know you’re there.

It’s the only thing we can do.

As gut wrenching as it is in the meantime, I just hope that one day, when I look back at this entry, I will go ‘wow, remember that?’ because the episodes will have become so far in the past, and he will be sleeping peacefully in the other room.

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