Having Penelope delivered by c-section was the sort of organized, clinical, down-to-the-minute arrival that I never realized was possible with babies. We were scheduled to come into the hospital on a Friday morning at 6am, we went into the theatre at 7am, and we had little Penelope with us by 7.55am.
Of course its easy for me to say this when I’m not the one under the knife but it was a quick and efficient process and I was pleased at how Jen was looked after by the hospital staff during the whole process. Her overwhelming emotion after the birth wasn’t pain, but sleepiness.
There was a really calming, almost jovial mood to the proceedings in the delivery room. We had our Spotify Playlist For Penny providing a soothing accompaniment to the proceedings and while I was holding Jen’s hand and waiting for the big moment, the white noise in the background was a mixture of hospital equipment beeps and chit chat from the operating team discussing their favourite crooners (there was quite a few oldies on our playlist).
It’s A Girl!
We chose not to find out the gender before Penelope’s arrival. She was just known as Littlefoot to us. If I was to do it all again, I’d definitely do it the same way again. We’re thrilled to have a girl too! Penelope has lots of awesome role models to look up to in her family.
Before the birth, we had a shortlist of four names for a girl and two for a boy. I can’t really articulate why, but I found it much harder to find boy’s names that I liked compared to girl’s names. It took us a couple of hours after Littlefoot’s arrival before we settled on Penelope Jean. We already have a lot of nicknames – Penny, Pajamas, PJ.
Eat. Sleep. Poop. Repeat.
I quickly learned that in the early days of parenthood, there’s a small list of tasks that you do over and over with great repetition. Nappy changing, swaddling, feeding and occasionally bathing. Rinse and repeat a million times over.
Nappy changing wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve only been wee’d on a couple of times.
Bottle feeding is one of my favourite ways to bond with Penny in the early days. As a Dad, its a great way to be involved, whereas a breast-fed newborn would leave you sidelined.
My swaddle game needs work. We were shown a few different techniques by the midwives. Jen quickly mastered her own way to bundle Penelope into a compact baby burrito. Try as I might, most of my swaddles are undone by Tiny Houdini who has her arms free in minutes.
The toughest part of being a new parent. Penelope has three feeds most nights. Jen and I share the load on this so we both can get a few hours of sleep each. It’s a lottery though. Some of the feeds take a matter of minutes, she gets burped and then settles in minutes. Other nights she’s restless and it takes forever and those feeds are energy sapping.
Those first few days you are in this weird state of paranoia where any noise you hear coming out of the cot sends you charging at her to find out whats wrong. Over time you find out that baby’s just make super weird noises a lot of the time. Some nights Penny is like a tiny baby velociraptor with the noises she comes out with.
Spotify Is Our Saviour
We like singing lullabies to Penny and settling her with music. Our favourite lullabies to sing are I’ll Take You Dreaming by Danny Kaye and Dear Theodosia by Leslie Odom Jr.
When it comes to relaxing tunes for settling babies, Spotify is a godsend. On heavy rotation is The Beatles, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Beverley Kenny and Howard Keel. There are also some pretty good instrumental playlists on Spotify like Sleep Baby Sleep and Lullaby Baby.
Somewhere in the whirlwind of parenthood, you have these occasional moments where your kid will actually sleep and holy cow, you actually have this tiny window of time to entertain yourself (if you’re on top of the laundry, groceries, house cleaning, mowing the lawn etc). That’s when you have to figure out what new forms of entertainment will work for you. Things that can be enjoyed in small bite-sized chunks of time that can be quickly stopped at the whims of a baby’s feeding cycle.
For watching shows, Netflix is obviously a great outlet since you can be logged in on multiple devices at once and it remembers your spot if you turn it off abruptly. Seth Myers and Stephen Colbert are great to watch on Youtube since most of their clips run for the same length of time as a feed.
I want to keep playing video games but I’m having to adapt the types of games I play and which device I use. The handiest system to game on by far is the Nintendo Switch for its portability and pick-up-and-play nature. But the Playstation is also great since it runs Netflix as well.
I’m hopeful to keep up my twice-weekly indoor soccer as its my primary outlet for exercise. And if everything is going really well, then hopefully I can maintain reading a book every month too.
It Takes A Village
Raising a baby is hard as hell and can feel pretty daunting but Jen and I have been blown away by the generosity and helping hand we’ve received from family and friends.
In the last few weeks, we’ve had heaps of family members come by the house and help prepare it for Penny’s arrival, putting in hours of their free time on weekends etc. And we can barely keep track of all our friends who have handed down clothes, toys and other essential baby products to us, some of which is worth hundreds of dollars. It all helps.
When I think of all the people who have already had a hand in helping raise Penelope, it gives me a warm glow.
Late Night Snacking
On some of those restless nights when you end up awake for hours, I find myself getting super hungry and drawn to midnight snacking. It’s not been great so far – I’ve mostly been demolishing chocolate – but on advice of some friends I’m going to try and switch to water and apples. Fingers crossed this works otherwise I’m going to be the size of a house by the time Penelope is six.
I wasn’t really sure how Shadowfax and Hagar would take to Penelope. I kind of suspected they would just run a mile away. But instead they’ve both shown a lot of curiosity towards Penelope and both like to sleep outside our bedroom door, like a couple of tiny little bouncers, watching over her. Shadowfax and Hagar are both very young so I look forward to Penelope growing up with them as her Fur Brother companions well into her teenage years.
Warming The Heart
Babies don’t smile until they’re about six weeks old. They barely respond or react to your presence. They’re exhausting to look after and at the end of a long day, sometimes they’ll pee on you. And yet here we are, three weeks in, and Jen and I are absolutely smitten with Penelope. She couldn’t be more perfect to us.
I like making eye contact with her when she feeds. I love the quiet coo-ing noise she makes when we bathe her. She looks positively angelic when she sleeps. And I’m even warming to the weird grizzly velociraptor noise she makes in her sleep.
We’re only just getting started. We learn something new with her every day. But it’s already been a hell of a ride. She’s changed our lives.