Daycare At Last

My wife went back to work the first of the month. For three weeks we were both working full time jobs and the baby was still spending her days here at home. “It takes a village” is so right: we would not have gotten by if not for many hours of baby sitting provided by family and friends. In particular, my father-in-law was spending 10-15 hours a week here each morning. In addition to any baby sitting hours folks could provide I’d work from 6am-7:30am and 5:30pm-9pm most weekdays then as much as possible on weekends.

On top of all that was all the wrangling of enrolling in a daycare. All the best facilities have long waitlists – “up to year” was  phrase I began to loathe. In the end we submitted application fees to three different places waitlists, and looked at doing a part-time schedule at less awesome facility that had no waitlist.

It was hard scrambling it all together, but thankfully my employer provided the flexibility of time that we were able to make it all happen. It’s really pushed me, but it’s all worked out. Grace started daycare today and it went as smooth as anyone could hope. A tiny bit of tears at the drop-off, but the rest of the day she was a champ.

I was glad to work a 9 to 5 for the first time in a while. I think I can finish this month out with a good amount of work completed and this stressful time behind me. Many thanks to everyone who’s helped us out this May.

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Interviewed for the LA Times

I was interviewed about my experience with Automattic’s awesome parental leave policy for an article in th Los Angeles Times. Ended up not being too important to the article, but it’s still cool to see.

Why so few take paid parental leave by Natalie Kitroeff

A day after Alex Gustafson’s wife gave birth to their daughter in December, he officially began the 12 weeks of fully paid family leave offered by Automattic Inc., the San Francisco tech company where he works.

A couple points of clarification for my side of it…

Automattic is based out of San Francisco, but we’re fully distributed. You can work from anywhere you like. I live and work in Louisville, KY. We’re also hiring.

12 weeks of paid leave is also just what I took. The policy is more flexible that that. You could easily arrange more unpaid time, and potentially more paid time. You can spread that time out over more spurts instead of all in one go. All it takes is a bit of communication with your team lead and our lovely, helpful HR folks. We communicate all the time anyway so the whole process is easy. Having a new baby is hard enough.

The article is still worth a read, and isn’t really meant to be about Automattic. Natalie did a great job and it was pleasure to chat with her.

Clean Floors

Cleaning never meant much to me. I’ve gotten better at it since living with Ber, because she really appreciates it and that’s enough reason for me to do anything. Mostly I do what she would say is ‘straightening up, not cleaning’ which is more putting things into their proper place and less spraying cleansers or sanitizing surfaces. But when it’s time to clean I’ve stopped trying to get out of doing my fair share. Only took me 25 years to learn that lesson. Sorry, Mom.

Ever since baby has come along, having a clean house is one of the few things that can make us feel like life is still moving along. Yeah, the baby is still screaming and we’ve eaten nothing in the last 18 hours but dammit that kitchen counter smells like lemon! We’re still the ones in charge here.

Today Ber’s mom brought us breakfast and helped a lot with the baby. Doing my part for the day, I hard-core vacuumed all the floors. Moving furniture around and using all the attachments available, I was cleaning out corners and nooks that haven’t been touched in months. And it felt amazing. Knowing that every room had a clean floor left me calm and refreshed.

Maybe this why some people obsess over having a clean house. It’s like a drug that reminds you that you’re capable of being an adult if you try. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about Vacuumisol; mileage may vary.

Do These Things Before Having a Baby

Caring for a baby is no walk in the park. In fact, it can be disheartening enough that I wouldn’t say it’d be fun to even try the baby-caring stuff any sooner than you have to. However, some training while you’re still baby-free will come in handy. These are some things worthwhile to your regular life and just happen to be helpful if you do find yourself living the #dadlife.

Polyphasic Sleep

Sleep is supposed to be simple, right? You get tired, you lay down, you fall asleep. Some common advice you’ll hear is to “get some sleep” before the baby comes because they won’t let you sleep through the night. My advice is instead to get used to the idea of sleeping more often for shorter lengths of time. The baby won’t let you stick to the tried-and-true schedules, but you should learn what it feels like to sleep briefly, wake up and work frantically, then go back to napping.

The first couple weeks were insanely unpredictable for our sleep, but more recently its been settling more into sleeping about 6.5 hours of sleep over the course of four segments.

Homebrew

Most folks live without giving much thought to sanitation, but your baby needs cleanliness. You’re destined to become a bottle-cleaning master, and the chore is not fun. What you need is a reminder of how ‘worth it’ all this cleaning time is.

When homebrewing, the most common mistake new folks make is inadequately cleaning and sanitizing their equipment. The beautiful thing is that as you clean better, your beer tastes better. You slack off? Crappy taste for you. Don’t make your baby drink your mistakes, make them with beer instead.

Workout

Good squat form should be a pre-requisite before being discharged from the hospital. When you have a sleeping baby in your arms, you’ll be glad you have the strength not only to hold them still, but also to sit/stand/jump/squat/carry-other-stuff-too at the same time. Cardio is all well and good, but strength training has been the single-most valuable thing I’ve done to prepare for caring for an infant. It’s not unhelpful for the baby-less either.

Cook Casseroles

Julia Child wouldn’t take the time to cook dinner every night if there was a baby screaming like yours will. Do yourself a favor and find multiple casserole recipes you enjoy. Cook once, eat a lot. That’s efficiency, people.

Photos of My Daughter

Over the weekend we got a belated Christmas present. Our daughter, Grace, was born. However, if you follow my inane postings on social media, you’ll notice they’re largely text and only mildly worth seeing.

I wrote about this before, but figure it’s worth a reminder. For the most part, we won’t be posting pictures of Grace on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Other folks (friends/grandparents) will do more I’m sure, and we’re not going to hassle them about it. It’s just hard to predict exactly what will become of all the data we put onto the web by the time Grace is old enough to have an opinion about it.

With certainty I can say I’m very happy my baby book is not open and available for the internet to see, even though I’m sure there were friends and family who wanted to see more pictures of me when I was a baby. Just because we can make photos more available to everyone doesn’t mean we automatically should. Not putting our photos on facebook everyday doesn’t mean we’re hiding our daughter from her grandparents, we just don’t prefer that medium.

However, I’m not sure of a solution that really fits all the new social norms and still satisifies this desire of mine. We still posted a picture to make the birth ‘facebook official’ and I totally approved of grandparents posting pictures of them and the baby on social media as well. For my part though, I plan to keep most of the pictures at least partially obscured away. When Grace is old enough to have an opinion, we can always open them up to everyone if she’d like that.

If you’d like to see pictures of Grace, we’re blogging them at https://babygustafson.wordpress.com/ .

You’ll need a password to view any of the posts, but we’re happily providing access to any friends or family. If you don’t have the password but would like it, just contact me in real life or use the contact form for the photo blog.