The Zachary Chronicles, Episode 2: Time Dilation

Zachary turned 2 weeks old today and it’s pretty incredible how long these two weeks have stretched out.  Time has slowed down as if we have been on a rocket at near light speed and the world around us passed us by.

Zach had his two-week check-up this morning and it went swimmingly.  Your average baby tends to lose weight after birth and by 2 weeks, is back to their birth weight.  Zach was born at 7 pounds 1 ounce1 and he was down to 6-1/2 pounds when we left the hospital.  Today he weighed in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, adding an ounce to his birth weight.  This came as no surprise to us as he has a hardy appetite. No kidding.  This baby could eat Fat Bastard.  He also grew an inch, passing 19-1/4 inches in length.

– ZPR –

He makes faces and we’ve come to recognize those faces.  Our favorite face is one we call his “E.T.” face.  In this, he typically stretches, cants his head to one side and with his eyes closed, raises his brow sharply and draws in his lips.  It’s adorable.  He has also started to smile.  At first it was just on once side of his mouth, which is fairly common.  But gradually over the last week, we’ve also seen him make full smiles and even a giggle or two.  Common belief ascribes these smiles to gas, but I can tell you this is not true for two reason.  First, he does not smile when he’s got gas, as we learned very well this week.  Second, the most recent research seems to indicate that these early smiles are completely random–his neurological systems running various self-tests.  That’s not to say they aren’t adorable.  Our hearts melt every time he cracks a smile.

– ZPR –

On Tuesday, the stub of Zachary’s umbilical cord finally fell off.  I found it on the changing table on the Pack n Play when I went to change a diaper.  Apparently, there is a school of thought that this anatomical treasure is something to be kept, perhaps pressed into a baby book, bronzed, or something.  We threw Zachary’s away.  For one thing, neither of us are overly sentimental.  For another, I have my diary and this blog to record the incident; I don’t need the physical evidence.  Finally, as Rachel reminded me, their dog Cali managed to consume Ruby’s when it fell off and I could just imagine one of the cats getting it and batting it around the house as a little toy.

We did celebrate the event, however, by giving Zach his first bath.  We bathed him in the Whale baby tub that Carmen got for us.  He gave it mixed reviews.  When we first put him in the bath, he reacted like a gourmet food critic in a McDonald’s restaurant. However, as we wiped him down with the warm water, he calmed down a bit and he might have even enjoyed it a little.  He definitely seemed calmer after the bath than before, something we filed away for future reference.

– ZPR –

The bulk of this week, however, has centered around air: the air in Zachary’s lungs and the air in his belly.  Gradually, over the course of the week, Zach grew more and more agitated.  We could tell he was straining and that frequently resulted in gas. He did not like feeling gassy.  In fact, he screamed and boy oh boy does that kid have a set of lungs.  This might have been amusing at first but it quickly grew frustrating. For one thing, he would no longer sleep in the crib and we very reluctantly brought him into bed with us.  This is not something we want to do, but we were reassured somewhat when we were told he’s not forming any habits this early and sleeping in our bed would not, at this age, impair his ability to sleep on his own.  Nevertheless, having him in the bed made it very difficult for me to sleep.  It grew worse as the week progressed.  Instead of taking 20 minutes to get him to sleep after a feeding, it grew to 30 minutes, 60 minutes, even 2 hours!  His eating habits and even his diapers were unaffected by all of this.  He simply didn’t like having gas.

Finally, on Thursday, more for our own sanity, we took him to the doctor.  She checked him out and said all systems were functioning normally, but that he definitely had gas.  She told us to try 2 things: (1) pick up some infant Gas X and give him some when he grew fussy; (2) tilt his mattress at an angle so that his feet were lower than his head.  We tried both and for a wonder, it worked!  He slept in his crib for much of Thursday night and has been generally better ever since, much to our relief.

It meant a couple of particularly tough days, however.  Kelly and I are both pretty low key and easy going.  We could hold the baby and allow him to scream and cry in our arms and it wouldn’t bother us too much.  But after a while, just the screaming gets to you.  We would therefore hand him off every once in a while.  And I got even less sleep.  When he was in the bed, I was nervous enough about rolling into him that I slept very lightly and not very well, waking up every few minutes.  When he was in the crib, I would lay in bed wondering if he would start crying any minute.  And of course, just as I started to doze off, Zach would start up.

Over the course of the week, I think I was up to watch the sun come up 5 days in a row.  Kelly slept a little better.  It really made for an odd week.  With snippets and snatches of sleep here and there, I’d manage five hours in a 24 hour period, but most of it was either between 6 am and 10 am or some time in the afternoons.  It made the days go by kind of fast and the nights go by kind of slowly, just the opposite of my normal perception of day and night.

– ZPR –

We have been taking Zach out for walks in the evening and have even worked our way back up to our normal evening walk, 1.5 miles long.  Kelly has recovered very fast from the C-section and she manages the walks with no problem.  I enjoy pushing Zach in the stroller.  He sleeps well when he’s in the stroller, or when he’s in the car.

Thursday evening, joyous after seeing the Gas X work for Zachary, we ventured out to Shirlington for dinner.  We packed Zachary into the stroller and walked to Shirlington and had dinner at Capital City Brewery.  Zach slept through the entire sojourn.

– ZPR –

I think we are both still in awe of the little guy.  There are still moments when we both think, “Hey, let’s go for a walk” (or to the store, or to a movie) and then remember that we’ve got the little guy now and can’t just go venturing out.  And despite the Gas X, he still gets a little fussy.  He was fussy tonight, for instance.  I had come up to the office to do some organizing (filing away contracts, clipping out articles I’d marked for story ideas, etc.) and I heard him crying.  Nothing Kelly had done was working, so I brought him up to the office with me.  I put on my 80s box set in shuffle mode and we sat in here listening to 80s music.  I sing the songs to him, altering the lyrics so that as much as possible, the songs were about Zachary.  We’d dance around the room from time to time.  It took an hour or so, but eventually, it put him to sleep.  It was a lot of fun, however, and in my mind, a powerful bonding experience for me.

In a way, it was odd.  I grew up with 80s music.  Many of those songs remind me of the dark days of 7th grade back in 1985 when my body was being infused with a pharmacy of hormones, much against my will.  I was just a kid.  Now I have a kid.  I wonder what his 80s music will be like.

– ZPR –

Despite all of this, I managed to (a) finish reading a book, (b) start reading another book, (c) start a new story and (d) get an existing manuscript out in the mail.  I finished reading Jack McDevitt’s Polaris and started reading The Lord of the Rings.  I haven’t read that book since I was much, much younger.  In fact, when I’m trying to calm Zach down and we are sitting in the glider, I read to him from that book.  I really like reading to him, despite the fact that he can’t understand a word I’m saying (yet).  It does seem to calm him and furthermore, it allows me to practice reading aloud so that when he can understand me, it will make for a more enjoyable experience for him.  It has also got me thinking about all of the wonderful books I read growing up and how I can’t wait to read some of those books to Zach (or even better, when he can read them himself).

The new story is an attempt at humor on my part.  And it features on the critical appurtenances of new parenthood:  a baby monitor.

– ZPR –

In the coming week, my parents arrive to spend a week with us and meet their newest grandchild.  On Monday, I go back to work (part time).  I’ll be working part time for the next 6 weeks and then, around the second week in August, I’ll be back to work full time.

In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy the time I’ve got with Kelly and Zachary as much as I possibly can.

See you next week!


1. Of all the English measurements, I dislike English mass the most.  It makes absolutely no sense and I can only hope that Zachary grows up with the far superior Metric system of measurement, if only for mass.  3.2 kilograms is far easier to say than 7 pounds and 2 ounces.

Originally published at From the Desk of Jamie Todd Rubin. You can comment here or there.