Monday, September 7, 2009

More Baby Stuff - 7 Sept. 2009

Before we get to the latest photos, here are my most recent baby-related ponderings…

Consider these two words – “straitjacket” and “swaddle”…

1. a garment made of strong material and designed to bind the arms, as of a violently disoriented person
2. anything that severely confines, or hinders: Conventional thinking can be a straitjacket, preventing original thinking.
verb (used with an object)
3. to put in or as in a straitjacket: Her ambition was straitjacketed by her family.

verb (used with an object)
1. to bind (an infant, esp. a newborn infant) with long, narrow strips of cloth to prevent free movement; wrap tightly with clothes
2. to wrap (anything) round with bandages
3. a long, narrow strip of cloth used for swaddling or bandaging

One (straitjacket) has an extremely negative connotation. It is associated with crazy, violent, out-of-control adults in mental hospitals. We put them in straitjackets against their will to keep the people around them safe. We do this because it’s what’s best for that individual and for everyone around them.

The other (swaddle) has an extremely positive connotation. We think of little baby Jesus in his "swaddling clothes". We swaddle cute little innocent, precious newborns until they look like the Homewrecker burrito from Moe’s with a tiny human head sticking out of one end. We do this because it’s what’s best for the baby and for anyone else within earshot.

After a little more than a week as a dad, I have an insight for you all: *** STRAITJACKETING AND SWADDLING ARE EXACTLY THE SAME THING. *** The major difference is that babies, though they fight you during the swaddling process, love it – even need it – once they’re all wrapped up. It makes them feel safe and comfortable, almost like being back in the womb. They calm right down. Mental patients, on the other hand (at least based on what I’ve seen in the movies and TV) tend to hate being put into a straitjacket and continue to hate being in the jacket once the straps are tightened. They fight it and loathe every minute of the experience.

So what gives? I’m not sure what changes, or when, that causes human beings to do a total 180 with regard to our response to being wrapped up tightly, so as unable to use our arms. You guys feel free to let me know if you have the answer, and I’ll keep you posted as I observe Elsa’s tendencies. Even now, at the 10-day-old mark, I feel like the tight swaddling might be a thing of the past. She’s really into moving her arms and legs around right now, and I imagine that trend will only continue.

Oh and one more thing on the swaddling – a little advice for future moms and dads of newborns: The nurses at the hospital are professionals at this. It will be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to swaddle as well as they do. We tried. Sometimes we came close to their level of excellence; most of the time we failed. Until we made a great breakthrough: athletic tape. After we got home from the hospital, we started putting a couple of strips of athletic tape on the blanket to keep the swaddling intact, and badabing badaboom, a tight swaddle that held strong. It worked like a charm. Some may call this cheating. I call it ingenuity. So if you, like we, have trouble getting that nice, tight swaddle to tuck and hold itself in place, just get yourself a roll of athletic tape and don’t be afraid to use it. I guess you could call this my first-ever fathering tip.

Oh – real quick – the latest stats: At the one-week checkup, all was well. Very healthy – both mom and baby. Umbilical cord still hanging on, should fall off any day now. Many babies lose weight during the first week, but Elsa is up 180 grams. She also grew four centimeters (from 50 at birth to 54 at one week). That seems like a lot to me, but what do I know? And today (day 10) she’s officially outgrown her “newborn” clothes and is moving into the “0 to 3 months” size. Thanks again to all of you who gave clothes and other gifts! We’re putting them to good use. Also, at her two-week appointment, we're going to be very Mexican and have her ears pierced. It's very typical for newborn girls to have their ears pierced down here, so we're going with the "When in Rome" strategy on this one. Should be super-cute!

Okay, then – on to the photos!


Synchronized napping with Lucho.

This is how I have spent the 10 PM to 1 AM time slot the past several nights while Erin caught up on her sleep. TV with the little one totally zonked out on my chest.

Finger puppet time with la abuela.

Elsa looking up to her role model.

Big eyes.

Making faces again.

Thanks for all of the prayers and encouragement. Keep 'em coming. And here's a challenge for those of you reading this from far away: If you're feeling up to it, go find a young couple or single mom in your local community and cook them a meal or buy them some diapers and generally help them out. Show them the love of Jesus the way so many have done for us these last few days. It'll mean the world to them, I promise.


  1. we are at almost 4 months and still swaddle religiously (we pray while we wrap). judah can bust every swaddling device known to man, but he sleeps amazingly well because of it. unfortunately, i think he was a little slow to reach and grab because he didnt realize he had arms for a long time due to the sleep swaddling. if your lil' e can sleep without flailing and scaring the crap out of herself then i say forget the swad. i think we missed that window of opportunity. hopefully we havent created a heavy dependance. i think when they can walk and talk you HAVE to call it a straitjacket. (is it really not straiGHTjacket? must be excited). p.s. this is long.

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.