Tag Archive: Baby

Jun 13

First Step

My son took his first step this morning. He’s been standing unassisted for several seconds at a time since last weekend, and standing up without using furniture for about as long, but this morning was different. He was clinging to the door frame in the kitchen and was making inarticulate “Daddy, come here” noises. I moved to about two meters away and motioned for him to come to me.

“Come here, Hammy!”20140530_093855-Edit

Usually, he’d let go of the door frame, drop to a crawl, crawl over to me, and then hoist himself back up using my legs for leverage. Today, he let go of the door frame and took one clear step toward me, and then half of another one before sinking to his knees.

But that was his first clear step, and I’m so happy that I was there for it. Given that he spends more than half of his waking hours at the preschool during the week, and that it’s usually my wife playing with him on the weekends, I feel pretty lucky that I was present (the only one present) for at least one major milestone of Hammy’s development.

He’s actually behind most of his contemporaries for walking. Both the other 13-month-old kids at the preschool are already toddling around and have been for a couple of weeks. But that’s okay. I was a late walker too. I’m still a slow learner—I really don’t like doing anything until I’m sure I can do it. (He’s way ahead on climbing skills, though.)

20140612_170125Speaking of the daycare, yesterday was an official parents-visit day. This week and next week are, in fact, days when parents can book themselves in for a morning and participate in classes. (That’s him in the cardboard box in the photo on the left.) We’ve been told that Hammy is an angel at daycare usually, and I believe it. He rarely cries when I drop him off, and even then he’s forgotten about me within 30 seconds of saying goodbye and is playing contentedly. When I drop him off and pick him up, I frequently see or hear a lot of the other children in his class bawling their wee heads off, but I’ve only seen him do it once—he’d only napped for 40 minutes that day and was overtired.

But yesterday, after he noticed that I was staying, he broke out of his blissful mode, crawled over to me during morning story-reading, and started fussing. He was a huge pain in the backside for about 75% of the time I was there, being just as fussy as he usually is in the evenings when I bring him home. At least, my wife told me, they’ll have some idea of what he’s like at home.

Sure, I guess. But I’d kind of like them to go on thinking he’s always that beatific boy I drop off and pick up.

Apr 30

Almost One Year of Ham

IMG_8539Hammy turned 11 months two weeks ago. Only a few more weeks until we celebrate his first birthday. I thought I should make some comments on him, or fatherhood, or something. I wish I’d been less busy and able to do it incrementally, but even writing in his baby book became difficult with a big show and fundraising campaign on the front burner.

So much has changed since I last wrote about him. When was the last time, anyway? Like six months ago? He’s got teeth now, four of them, which he occasionally uses to bite us with. His behaviour is become more discernable. He’s started pointing in the last few weeks, although figuring out what he’s pointing at is a crapshoot, since he doesn’t seem to understand that his finger needs to target the object. He tends to raise his arm almost straight up and then point his finger in a downward curve no matter what he’s trying to point at.

What else? I think he’s started to understand kissing in the last month, and hugging in the last week. He doesn’t really kiss. He places his mouth on someone (or something in the case of the giant stuffed gorilla Rau-chan) and drools. But it’s close. A bit disconcerting when he unexpectedly does it on one’s open mouth while one is talking to him. I certainly hope his technique improves before he starts kissing for real in his teens. The hoikuen (daycare) reported to me yesterday that he really likes hugging people. Given that we’re always hugging him and each other at home, I don’t find this surprising, but it’s nice to hear that it’s been noticed.

Kumiko’s _IMG_1372In the last month, he’s started getting picky with food. Nothing specific. It changes from day to day what he will and won’t eat.

Speaking: It’s been “abwaaababa” or some variation for a while now. About a month ago, I’d trained him to say “da” and “dada” as well, but he seems to have lost that as well while I was off doing my show. Although one morning in production week, he woke me up by standing at the foot of the bed and shouting “DA!” at the top of his lungs.IMG_0239

Right: standing. Still not standing unassisted, but since February he’s been cruising around using furniture. Recently, he’s added walls to his repertoire. He’ll readily walk around the house if someone holds his hands for balance. He also loves to climb things. I am seeing a few bruises and possible broken limbs in his future as he gets older and more adventurous.

I could add that Hammy seems very interested in technology, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid observation on my part, or a tendency to project parts of my own personality onto my little offshoot. Until he can talk, we won’t know, and I’m going to do my best not to Kumiko’s _IMG_2532influence his interests in that regard. I really look forward to giving him his own computer in a few years, though.

Rolling back for a second: Hoikuen.

Hoikuen is basically the Japanese version of daycare. Why is our 11-month old in daycare? Well, places in daycare are hard to get, and if you don’t get in at the beginning (age 0+), when there are the most places, you may not get your kid in at all. Since my wife and I both work, and my mother-in-law is busy babysitting the four other wee ones in the family, daycare is a necessity. My schedule means that I’m frequently working at home, but during the weeks leading up to a show, I could be away from the house from 9:00am to one 20140328_174718o’clock the next morning. Also, at any time I could get a job that requires me to work my pants off (figuratively speaking: those in the know understand that I rarely wear pants) for a week or more on a special project of some sort. Also, from this April, I’ve started teaching acting one day a week at a university in Saitama, which means I’m out of the house from 7:00 to 21:00 or later, depending on trains and how much I need to talk with my students after my last class. So yeah, we need child care enough, and only the full-time option is subsidized by the city. No brainer, really.

Hammy cried the first couple of times we left him there. Once he figured out what we were doing, anyway. He would glare at us and scream the scream of raw betrayal. From the second week, however, he hardly acknowledges us leaving… he’s so eager to go explore and play with new toys. I have to take his temperature in the morning when we arrive, and if the group starts singing the clean-up song while I’m doing that, he starts squirming because he wants to go join them.

So far, though, he is gratifyingly happy to see me at the end of the day when I go to pick him up. 


I guess I should sum things up here, but honestly, I don’t have a summation or a conclusion. I’m not quite 12 months into being a father, and I really probably won’t know what to think until after it’s all over and baby Hammy has flown the nest.

It’s going to be hard to get out of the habit of calling him Baby Hammy, though. Maybe I should do it into his teen years for maximum embarrassment.

Aug 24

99 Days of Ham

Tomorrow is Hammy’s 100th day, so I thought I should write something about how it’s going: 

So far, so good.

That about sums it up.


The First 30 Days

My mother flew in on May 31, which made things much easier. Having her there to do dishes and several other chores really freed me up to get other work and the heavier chores (like gardening) done. Also, my mother, my wife, and myself get along very well, so it also made the adjustment of having a baby in the house easier on the mental side as well. My wife and I were very sad to bid farewell to her at the end of June.

From the beginning, my wife has let me sleep through the nights, which has been very nice… especially at the beginning when Hammy would wake up every couple of hours for a feeding. We’re all sleeping together in the upstairs tatami room, on futons (Japanese-style, so right on the floor), so every once in a while, I’d offer to put him back to sleep after he ate.

Best song to get him to fall asleep during month 1? “Do You Hear the People Sing?” sung at full belt. I’m not sure my neighbours appreciate that at any time, let alone midnight, let alone with my voice, but there it is. My hope is that they prefer my marginal singing to the squawling of an infant. “Danny Boy” also worked a charm. These songs have recently lost their full effectiveness, but they still come in handy.

Month 2 & 3

My wife is still letting me sleep through the nights, which is really nice. I get physical symptoms (migraines, sleep paralysis) if I don’t get enough consecutive hours of sleep, and I have more trouble falling back to sleep than she does, so I really appreciate it. She goes back to work next spring, though, at which point I am hoping he sleeps through the night, because as the main breadwinner, she’s going to need her sleep more than me.

Near the end of month 2, we started getting real smiles and laughter from Hammy—not the ones where you wonder if he’s just squeezing out a particularly stubborn fart, but real ones. He’s also started looking at things. When something moves out of his field of vision, he’s started turning his head to follow it.

For the nonce, he’s settled into a pattern of sleep where, except for waking briefly to feed once or twice a night, or waking because he’s accidentally shifted around and fallen off his futon or kicked a wall or something, he sleeps about 8 hours at night, and maybe 4 hours in naps throughout the day. It means fewer long breaks to get stuff done during the day, but it does mean more smiles and giggles during that time, so it’s a decent trade-off.

Unfortunately, he’s also figured out how to scream over the last week. I suspect Graig Russell taught him how when I wasn’t looking last week.

Today, Hammy rolled over for the first time. He’s been rolling over for about a week now, but hasn’t been able to get all the way from his back to his belly yet. My wife and I have been waiting, cameras poised, every time he tries. So of course, he waited until both of us were not paying attention to finally do it. The photo at the top of this post is from moments after we discovered him.

100 Days

Wha--?!Last week, we went to a photo studio to get some photos taken to celebrate 100 days of Hammy. It was an interesting experience, but I’m glad we did it. It was reasonably inexpensive and allowed me to just be there rather than worrying about lighting, composition, etc.

(My only complaint was that the digital files they gave us were only .jpgs and they refused to release RAW or TIFF files. I could understand if their business was selling prints, but their recommendation was to get the .jpgs and make the prints ourselves at the local camera/electronics chain!)

So yeah. Like I said: so far, so good.

May 13

Thoughts About Incoming Ham

Picture 5-EditTwo weeks, one week, a few days… a few hours? That’s how long I’ve got before my offspring comes kicking and screaming into the world. The actual due date is May 16, but the doctors have said pretty much any time between last Friday and the 25th. Well, that’s if they don’t get antsy and force a C-section if Hammy doesn’t enter on cue.


I may have mentioned in an earlier post, or elsewhere in social media that I am less than impressed with the clinic we’ve chosen. They are not unusually bad, it seems. We’re hearing from various sources that what we’ve faced is pretty common these days, particularly in Kanagawa and Tokyo, it’s just that other people don’t get so worked up about it.

My wife had her heart set on a different clinic that emphasized natural childbirth, but we weren’t able to reserve a place there. My main problems with our current clinic are as follows:

  • The father is not allowed in the examination room except once, at week 34. This means that I didn’t have the experience of seeing my larva’s heart beat at week 12, something other fathers gleefully post about on SNS and talk about for years to come. It also means I wasn’t there when doctors said things to my wife that were upsetting (see below).
  • There is one doctor there who is not just blunt, but seems to have no patience with expecting mothers and was reportedly rude to my wife (I wasn’t there; see above) when it was thought we were going to have to book a C-section. Hammy was in breach position at the time (27 weeks, I think), and this doctor treated my wife like an idiot when asked about the possibility of manually turning the baby. (Strangely, this doctor was a woman—I mention it because I have the terrible gender stereotype that a female doctor should actually be more understanding to a pregnant woman worried about the delivery of her first child via having organs yanked out temporarily.) A midwife hastily removed my wife from the examination room at that point and explained things more clearly, but the damage was done.
  • The place is C-section happy. If a baby even looks at a doctor funny, the mother goes under the knife. You actually are required to sign a document enabling the doctor to force you to do this even in a non-emergency. My wife, thinking the form was standard, signed it. It is not standard, though increasingly common. My wife questioned this policy when talking to the head doctor (who owns the clinic), and his excuse was “it’s hospital policy”. Dude, you own the hospital. ??!?
  • The night/emergency entrance door has a semi-automated buzzer mechanism that even the staff seem to have trouble with. We went into the clinic once in a panic over some unusual bleeding, and spent 10 minutes trying to get in.


On the other hand, I do kind of like the head doctor, and if we do make it to a natural delivery (Hammy turned in week 28), I trust his expertise. I think. Also, it sounds like my wife will be using a birthing chair, which I think is cool.



Of course, this is all distraction from the real issue, which is am I ready? Have I read enough books? Absolutely, positively, fucking not.

Have I read any? No.

On my list:

The two books on infant noises by Priscilla Dunstan (I will probably order those tonight), and the No Cry Sleep Solution (coming via mother express on May 30).

But even better, we’ve got two baby books. That’s right, mofos, count ‘em: two.

We went to the local department store to buy a Japanese one. However, they are basically glorified photo albums with the baby’s name embossed or embroidered or whatever on the front… and they cost 6000 Yen and more. (That’s $60+ bucks for you non-FX types.)Baby Books!

So I went on amazon.co.jp and bought two, because they were much cheaper and I couldn’t decide which one I liked the best. We’ve decided that I will keep one in English, and my wife will keep the other one in Japanese. They are insanely cute, and I may be posting more photos of them as we fill them out.

My wife will be doing the more traditional Claire Beaton one, while I will be writing in the more open and somewhat spartan Sara Midda tome.

2013-05-12 23.54.34I also caved in and ordered two of my favourite childhood books. Yes, I totally could have waited until Hammy was born, let alone old enough to understand them, but the D’Aulaires’ books of Greek and Norse myths were so important to me growing up, that I wanted to have them in the house right from the beginning.

I’ve also received a couple of books from friends, including Ten Toes, Ten Fingers or something like that, and a Ladybug book by the guy who wrote The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar. Those are much more age appropriate, and I look forward to reading them to Hammy soon!

Actually, I’m planning to read whatever I’m reading out loud to Hammy until language skills start to develop. I want to make extra sure my infant gets enough exposure to English.



Not. Not at all.

May 12

The Hammy (Baby Photos) Broadcast System

Since this seems to be the meme of the hour, here's my entry.In anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks, if all goes well, I will be adding a new member to the family. I know how annoying it can be to be inundated with friggin’ baby photos and posts about babies, so I am going to restrict my posting to a non-front page category of my blog.

I was resolving not to post very much at all, but certain friends and family members have told me that they want to be inundated with obnoxious amounts of photos and posts.

IF YOU ARE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE, there are two ways you can receive these updates.

1) If you use an RSS reader, subscribe to the feed: http://squeeze-box.ca/?cat=583&feed=rss2

2) If you do not, join Google+ and circle this page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106979346208502654045/posts (Seriously, if you’re not on Google+, this is the time to join. It is a million times better than Facebook and is worth it for my BABY PHOTOS alone.)

I will only be posting very occasionally on Facebook about my offshoot.


If you do not want to do either of these, you will have to periodically visit the baby section of my blog here: http://squeeze-box.ca/?cat=583

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