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Posts Tagged ‘CT stay at home dad’

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As I write this I am sitting in front of a fireplace without my wife and son at a summer camp after spending the entire day working outside.  I am tired, sore, mildly under the influence and content.  I believe that it is important to temporarily remove yourself from whatever your day-to-day situation is so you can evaluate and appreciate what you have.  Leaving CT and coming here to work all day with my hands surrounded by wonderful people has given me that opportunity.  So what has this evaluation of my situation revealed?  Exactly what this picture my wife took reveals.  I have an awesome son who I get to spend every day with.  I have a loving wife who supports my choice to be a stay at home dad.  I love my family and get to spend every day taking care of them. What more could a dedicated father ask for?

I have not talked much about it but before I was a stay at home dad most of my identity came from my work.  When I first became a SAHD I was unsure of myself.  I felt like I was in limbo and while I publicly trumpeted my new role I still had a hard time letting go of my old identity.  It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this change and I believe that the struggle to do so was what drove me to write this blog.  These last few weeks it has been difficult for me to write and I have not been able to understand until now.

My writer’s block came from being too happy to write.  I think that much of my motivation to write has come from irritation and general angst.  I have not had either in abundance for a while because I have fully embraced my role as a stay at home dad.  I have always enjoyed spending time with my son but these last few weeks have been extra special.  He is doing lots of new stuff and has developed quite the little personality.  While all this is true the biggest change has been in me not him.  I was doing quite well in my relatively new role as a stay at home dad for the first few months but lately I have gone from being in a good place to being in a great place.  I went from liking spending all day with my son to loving spending all day with him.  Simply put, I am happier.

So how have I overcome this writers block?  I took time to reflect on my life and I came away with a new appreciation for what I have and what I am doing.  I discovered that if I focus on what is best in my life I can motivate myself to write more consistently.  Here’s hoping it continues to work!

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2013-03-05_09-04-54_698

This is our diaper changing station, also known as CT central command in a stay at home dads endless fight against the forces of urine and feces.  From here (in the name of truth, justice and a dry butt) I wage war on things that would seek to cause diaper rash and lots of fussiness. I have everything I need within easy reach so that I am prepared to respond quickly when my son craps up his back or tries to pee in my face.  Starting from the right, light, garbage can, diaper genie, towels, vaseline, wipes, non sterile 4×4 gauze pads, uncovered changing pad, pacifier(not visible) regular diapers, overnight diapers, extra wipes, extra gauze and extra diapers.  There are other helpful items we store on the shelves such as burp clothes and blankets but the focus of this post is on diapering.

I get lots of questions about the gauze (which by the way can only be purchased online) so I will explain it by walking you through a typical “O pissed his pants again” scenario.  I set him on the pad, take off his pants, open his onesie and pull it up around his armpits in case he pees.  I find that his Pamper’s Swaddlers are clearly wet due to the yellow line turning blue.  So I grab a short stack of two gauze pads, open his diaper and put the gauze on his junk to prevent him from peeing on me.  This has the added benefit of absorbing much of the urine if he pees, plus if needed I can quickly grab more to soak it up before his back and butt are covered.  I grab a wipe, move the gauze and quickly wipe him off.  I then blot him dry with one side of the gauze.  This step  is important for preventing diaper rash so do not skip.  I flip the gauze pads over and put them back on his junk so that the damp side is up.

The next step is applying Vaseline to his leg creases and all over his butt/everywhere in between.  Vaseline is important because it creates a barrier so that the next time he sharts or wets himself it will not stick to his skin and irritate it.  The other benefit is that during the next diaper change you will wipe off soiled vaseline instead of trying to scrub the excrement or smelly liquid off of his skin.  It’s also cheap so there is no reason to be stingy with it.  Then I use the gauze to wipe the vaseline off my finger and get another diaper ready under him.  I start to close up the diaper and quickly remove the gauze followed by the buttoning up of his onesie.  I roll everything up in the diaper and toss it in the garbage can.  If it’s a turd filled diaper it goes in the diaper genie to add to what will surely become an epic poop snake.

That’s a typical diaper change for my little man!  Having everything easily accessible makes this process a lot easier and the more often you do it the faster you become.  As a stay at home dad I get lots of practice! A special thanks to my father in law for building the side shelves and to our CT friend Debbie for giving us the (insert furniture name here) that our diaper changing station is built around.  Whats your diaper changing secret technique? Do you have any must have items that you keep where you change your baby? Any questions about what we have on our changing station? Leave a comment!

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My wife and I attended another Central CT Babywearers meeting and it was much less intimidating this time.  No other stay at home dads were there but it was more low key and there were definitely fewer moms/kids.  I had a couple of great conversations and felt relaxed and at home as I practiced putting O into a front and back carry in the Boba 3G.  The biggest advantage of going to the meetings is being able to try out different carriers and practice using them before you put down what is sometimes a sizable amount of money to buy one.  I had already tried the Boba 3G but I was not sure if I wanted the black “Montenegro” the gray “Dusk” or the blue and black “Glacier.”  Clover Heske from Bean Tree Baby brought along the three different colors of the Boba I was interested in so I could compare them.  I initially wanted the all black version but I was concerned about it getting too hot in the sun since I want to use the carrier primarily for hiking and walks around town.

I clearly settled on the all gray one as you can see from the picture.  The day I took it he was a little sick and fussy so I just put him in the carrier and he settled right down.  He loves to gum the top of the carrier and soak it with his drool.  The Boba 3G is very comfortable to wear and quite cool since it is made from 100% cotton.  It can also be used as an infant carrier and comes with a sleep hood and stirrups to keep his little legs in the proper position once he gets bigger.  Its rated up to 45 pounds (roughly until he’s 6) and built quite sturdily.  O and I are joining some moms from the Central CT Babywearer’s group for a mall walk next Tuesday 3/5/13 so maybe he will make some new friends!  Anyone interested in joining us?

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2013-02-15_19-44-48_176

Guess who’s started solids!  We decided to go with a baby led approach to solids and it’s been pretty hilarious for us and lots of fun for O.  With baby led weaning you put out the food and let him choose what he wants to eat and when he is done.  The first couple of months are generally full of messy playing mixed with a little bit of ingestion.  The idea is to allow him to explore food at his own pace and in the process learn how to chew and move food to the back of his mouth and safely swallow.  He will ingest more as his nutritional needs evolve and his digestive system is ready so in the meantime it’s all about exposing him to new textures and flavors.  A common concern with this approach is choking, however if a baby can sit up on their own and reach to grab food off their tray then this is a minor concern.  You do not start baby led weaning until after 6 months and at that age the gag reflex is pretty high up on the tongue so anything a baby bites off will be quickly spit back out.  Babies learn what they can and can’t swallow and after a short while they can safely eat a wide variety of foods.  I have a link to an article and a blog about baby led weaning on my articles page and the book I used is also listed on my books and dvd’s page for anyone interested in learning more about this approach to introducing solid foods.

We started O with steamed broccoli, carrots and asparagus.  My wife cut the carrots into finger sized sticks so that he could easily grab and handle them.  He loved trying all three and he made quite the mess.  The broccoli got everywhere!  I wasn’t sure if he got any down any since I spent quite a while picking chunks out of his hair and high chair but I found some in his poop later on so I know he swallowed some of it.  It’s definitely a messy approach but it is hilarious watching him choose what he wants to eat as tries to figure out how to eat it.  He makes the funniest faces the first time he “eats” a new food as he explores its flavors and textures.  Here he inspects, tastes, and re-inspects a piece of broccoli that he will end up wearing.

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One of the major benefits of baby led weaning is that when we eat out he can pretty much eat off our plates!  We went out with friends to one of out favorite restaurants in Newington CT for Greek food this past weekend and O got to try all sorts of fun stuff.    He ate off of my plate as he had his first pita, humus, cucumber and salad dressing!  I don’t think the pita agreed with him, but he sure seemed to like chewing on it as he sucked off the humus.

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One of the other joys of baby led weaning is seeing all of the weird ways they combine their food.  The next day we gave O a gob of the leftover humus and he got to try his first pieces of banana as he mashed it up and mixed it with the humus.  This is by far the messiest meal he has eaten so far but I am sure he will surpass it soon enough.  It is also a great example of how babies can use their hands to eat mushy foods by sucking it off their fingers or a dipper like a cucumber strip.  We have also starting skipping the shoulder straps on his high chair so he can lean forward easier.  This is important when he gags and needs to lean forward to spit it out.  Banana flavored humus anyone?  My little man will take an extra-large helping!

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It’s often seems like he didn’t swallow anything because it always ends up in the chair or on the ground or stuck to his face but I keep finding evidence in his poop that he got some down.  Today we had lunch at home with another stay at home dad and his daughter.  O’s lunch consisted of pepper strips, cucumber strips and firm baked potato wedges.  I adjusted the high chair so he could truly sit at and eat off of the table with us.  I think it worked out well!

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Through all this he has made some pretty big messes and he gagged twice and spit out what was in his mouth but his joy in exploring solid food has far outweighed either of these drawbacks to baby led weaning.  I wholeheartedly recommend this approach to anyone willing to read up and commit.  It’s not for everyone but the rewards for us so far have been tremendous.  If you choose to use this approach make sure to read as much as you can about it before you get started.  It’s relatively simple but you want to make sure you fully understand what you need to do to make it work for you in a safe and happy way.  I have really enjoyed introducing solids to him and can’t wait to give him some new tasty foods to taste and play with!

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Guess who just had his 6 month checkup!  We love his pediatrician Dr. Ramanan because she is easy going, answers all our questions, and her West Hartford CT office is convenient for us.  She even puts up with my stupid jokes and need to babble on about unrelated topics!  I have not been to his pediatrician’s office since his first appointment because my wife has been taking the day off to bring him so that I could get some rare guaranteed sleep time.  I guess I feel a little guilt but as a stay at home dad I have learned to treasure the kind of sleep that you get when you know you aren’t going to be woken up 20 minutes after your head hits the pillow.  I also have not been in a while because his checkups generally include two of my least favorite things: needles, and his scared/hurt cry.  He got 4 shots today and he did well considering the nurse stuck him again, and again, and again, oh and one more time.  Each time his cryingpu got worse, and each time I knew it was because of those needles and the nurse wielding them.  If someone I just met was hurting my son under any other circumstances they would soon wish they had never touched him.  Under these circumstances all I could do was watch, listen, and do what little I could to soothe our son as he wailed away.  Obviously the picture above was not taken immediately after his appointment.  When it was all over my wife was able to quickly use the magical power of the boob to settle him down.  I am sometimes jealous of her booby powers but then I think about pumping and soreness and my jealousy subsides.  I am not looking forward to going back in 4 weeks for his flu shot booster, but I guess I will just have to do my best to help him deal with the pain dealt him by the nurse brandishing needles.  Anyone else have a pediatrician visit story?

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A few days ago I went on a most excellent walk at Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT with another stay at home dad.  The weather had been so crummy that this seemed to be the best option for us to get out and about.  I find our weekly get togethers very helpful for my general well-being.  I love taking care of my son, but I also miss adult conversation during the day.  His daughter is a month and a half older than O so it’s also great to talk to him about what will come next for my little man and hear how he had handled it.  We sat down almost immediately and fed the kids, followed by watching them stare and make funny noises at each other.  We walked and talked quite a bit, got pretzels and checked out the random kiosks selling transformers bling.

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This bling is key for the sharp dressing autobot or decepticon.  I was also reminded that I like our stroller, but a Boba carrier would work better for most outings.  I’ll have to get on that as soon as I can come up with the money!  Our weekly get togethers are great, but I would love add some more stay at home dads to our group so leave a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter and lets set it up!

 

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I have spent a lot of time on the road with my wife and O over the last week and I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the lack of changing stations in men’s rooms.  This got me thinking about how dads are asked to improvise if they are on their own while moms almost universally have easy access to changing stations anywhere they go.  Sometimes I just assume that a place does not have a changing station in their men’s room and awkwardly change him in my car.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know before going into a place?  I did some searching and there is a guy in New York who has put together a map of all the places in NYC that have changing stations in their men’s room.  I thought, “Why couldn’t I do the same thing?”  So I have begun putting a dad’s changing station Google map together for Connecticut with a focus on the central region.  I will put the link for the map up once I have 25 bathrooms with men’s room changing stations.  If you are interested in collaborating let me know.  You can send me the names and locations of places you have found and I can add them or I can give you access to the map so that you can put them up as you find them.  I think this could be a huge help for stay at home dads, but we are certainly not the only fathers who take their kids out without mom.  So dads out there, if you find a changing station in a men’s room you can leave a comment below, post on the Facebook page or drop me a tweet @ctstayathomedad.  Whatever is easiest!

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