Home Alone


Yesterday, I spent most of the day in seach for a family car.  My car is a two door sports car, so its not really suitable to haul Haruka in, although she seems to enjoy the roughness of the ride.  So, my wife and I decided that getting a more practical second car is in order, and we needed to find something big enough to tote the dogs along too.  After looking on the internet for the car we are looking for, I managed to located one up in Saitama Prefecture which is about 70 kilometers away. 

Unfortunately, when I got up to the dealership, they had just sold the car that I was looking for.  As a matter of fact, the car was still sitting on the lot waiting for it’s new owner to come and pick it up.  I was quite disappointed because it looked to me just what we were looking for.

Today was my wife’s turn to go out on her outing, and my turn to stay home alone with Haruka.  The last time I stayed home with her, the day went very smoothly.  And aside from a few moments of fussiness during the afternoon, today was pretty uneventful as well.  Haruka slept for most of the day after having a huge bottle of formula.  I was even able to watch my DVDs and write my emails, so I can’t complain.

The very few moments when she was awake, she was a bit fussy, but after bouncing her on my lap for a few minutes, I managed to get a real exciting and very loud laugh out of her.  It was the first time I heard her laugh like that so it was a pretty great moment.  But after several minutes of boucing her around, she started to cry to indicate she had enough, so I put her in her cradle and she fell asleep soon afterwards.

Haru, having a “good” hair day

Another shot

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Bad 1987


As of last Friday, I finally got my Japanese driver’s license.  Apparently, according to the Japan Traffic Act 107.2, as of 2003 it’s illegal to drive more than 12 months using an International Driving Permit, which I had been doing.  So in turn, I have been driving illegally for the last 4+ years. 

So for the last 6 months or so, I have been trying desparately to get a driver’s license in Japan.  It doesn’t sound too difficult, but in reality, it was literally much easier to get permanant a residence card.  But that’s all in the past, and now I am licensed to drive (full story here).

Over the weekend, I was experimenting with different ways of getting Haruka to go to sleep faster.  Although the cradle and rocking her to sleep is effective most of the times, sometimes during the day, she is too energized and can’t sleep.  So I figured the best way to get her to sleep when she is so pumped up full of energy, is to tire her out.  Not an easy task as you can imagine, and usually I’m the one who tires out first.

But by chance, I had stumbled on a couple of really effective ways of helping her use her excess energy.  One way is to make her stand.  As mentioned in a previous entry, Haruka likes to stand on my lap, and she is getting better at it everyday. So last Sunday, I stood her on my lap and bounced her around for a while.  At first she really enjoyed it, making all kinds of happy noises.  But after a while she got tired and started to whimper.  Instead of sitting her down, I made her stand a bit longer until her whimpers turned into a full cry, then I sat her down on the sofa.  She’ll sat there for a while and either watched TV or looked around the room for a while.  After several minutes of sitting she then start to whimper again.  And again I just let her be until she started to cry.  Then when she started crying I picked her up and cradled her in my arms a bit.  After a while of that, she got fussy again which is the signal that she wants to sleep, so I placed her in her cradle and she fell asleep.  My wife repeated this process while I was at work yesterday, and she said it worked, so we found one good method.

The second method, which I discovered today, is to watch Michael Jackson’s 1987 Bad concert DVD that I downloaded.  Since there is a lot of colorful lights and music in the video,  it really got her attention.  As a matter of fact, it kept her attention for a good 20 minutes until she started getting tired and started to whimper.  This is a lot longer than anything I’ve done before.  It was quite impressive that a concert DVD could keep the attention of a 2 month old baby for 20 minutes.  Eventually she fell asleep from over stimulation.  Obviously, this isn’t something I can do everyday, so the first method seems to be the method of choice.

Finally, Haruka turned 8 weeks old today. She is progressing nicely and makes all kinds of funny sounds.  My wife and I talk to her a lot, and this seems to encourage her to make more noises.  Hopefully her language skills develop quicky so she can talk back to us sometime soon.

By the way, the gallery has been updated.  The next updat will be next month.

 

The little sofa queen

More of the sofa queen

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She’s Got Personality


Yesterday, we went out on our first outing with the dogs.  Actually, since it was quite cold outside, so we just took a quick stroll around the block.  Haruka didn’t partically show a like or dislike to being outside.  The sunlight seemed to have bothered her a bit, but that was really about it.

Up until recently, Haruka has really been nothing more than a pooing, peeing, burping, sleeping, vomiting, screaming, and crying maggot with no real personality (to put things harshly, but very frankly).   Her only real means of communication was to cry, which put an immense amount of stress on all of us (including the dogs, who would put distance between themselves and her, everytime she start her little fits.)

Little by little, things are starting to change.  Haruka is discovering new ways of communicating other than crying and waving her arms and feet around, like she has been.  Before, when she woke up in the mornings, the first thing she would do is cry.  And although that hasn’t really changed, instead of continuously crying until we shoved a bottle in her mouth to quiet her, she would stop as soon as one of us picks her up.  In some cases, just walking over to her crib or cradle or wherever she happens to be, is enough to quiet her.  Futhermore, she has been making a lot of eye contact with us and laughs when we talk to her.   She’s particularly fond of when one of us says “oooooooo” to her.  Not sure why, bust she seems to be the most responsive to this sound and often repeats it or laughs when she hears it.  This is a refreshing change from just shoving a bottle in her mouth when she cries, and rocking her to sleep when she’s done.  Now I feel as if I have to some degree established a better bond with her, whereas before she seemed to be no more than an oversized goldfish with a very loud voice.  I  know that she still has a long ways to go, but at least the change has begun.

Smiles everyone, smiles!

More…

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A Hard Day’s Night


Just a quick note:  I have made some changes to the configurations on this blog server.  If you are seeing this, then everything went as planned, otherwise you would be seeing nothing.   Seeing that I am able to access this page from work now, then I think I can safely assume that things went well.  Up until now, I wasn’t able to access my blog from work because they (my company) had blocked out port 81 (an alternate http port), which I use for this blog server -as opposed to the usual port 80.  So I would have to do all my updating from my home PC or a nearby internet cafe.  This is also in preparation for installing a live web camera in the future, which I am testing now.  After using port sniffers and other what nots, I have discovered that they don’t block port 8080 (another alternate http port),  so I have changed this blog server over to port 8080.  An easy task in theory, but with all of the search engines still pointing to 81, I had to create a few redirects, and change the DNS redirect ..blah blah blah.  The bottom line is, now I can access my blog from work now, and no one should have any problems accessing my blog unless you have port 8080 blocked (which is unlikely).  Access should be still be transparent to everyone. 🙂

Enough with the tech talk.  Haruka’s uproars are still happening, but less frequently.  She gets very fussy between the hours of 6pm and 9pm, which seems to be quite common for babies with colic.  Nothing can really explain why colicky babies tend to get the most fussiest between these hours, but in a way it’s good, because we can now predict approximately when she will have her tantrums.  Up until last night, her crying would be small little whimpers, as if she were complaining that she was sleepy, and all we would have to do is just rock her to sleep.  But last night was a bit different.

I got home from work a bit earlier than usual, and Haruka was wide awake.  She wasn’t crying, but I could tell that the 7 o’clock show was just about begin, and I had front row seats.  The usual routine would be to prepare her formula and feed her before she started the real blood curddling crying.  And as usual, she took to the milk and looked to be falling asleep as she sipped down the last few drops that were left in the bottle. After her feeding, I waited about 30 minutes until her mouth opened and she started snoring (the usual sign that she is fast asleep -deep sleep).  This was about when the usual routine de-railed.

After I placed her in her cradle (as I usually do) her eyes opened widely and she stared right at me, as if she were potesting, where are you going?  I’m still awake!  No worries, this happens sometimes, and the usual solution would be to turn on the rocker so that the cradle swayed automatically.  But for some reason, this didn’t work.  She started to whimper, which escalated into crying.  There was about another 2 hours to go before her bath.  Bathing her too ealier would screw up her schedule.  And although I am not the one for sticking to monotonous routines,  this is one routine that you did not want to change.  Two hours could  be the difference between having to wake up once at 4 AM or waking up serveral times and feeding her.  And although I am no longer in charge of her midnight feedings, we try to make things as convenient as possible for my wife and Haruka. 

So the chore was to keep her fed, changed, and entertained until her bath time.  Easier said than done!  When she’s asleep, there is usually a grace period between the time she soils her diapers and the time she starts to let us know about it.  But when she’s awake, there is no grace period.  It’s an almost instantanious reaction which can happen several times in a period of 30 minutes.  There were times when I had just changed her, only to find out that she needed changing again less than a minute later. 

Feeding is less of a hassle, but still a hassle none-the-less.  Haruka likes having a full stomach.  A trait she undoubtedly inherited from her mother.  When she’s asleep, she doesn’t complain about being hungry until her tank is low.  But when she stays awake, and burning calories from her constant wiggling around, she tends to start complaining when the needle is pointing to 3/4 tank.  That means that she has to almost constantly have a bottle in her mouth.  And god forbid if that bottle ever when empty, all hell would break loose.

Finally the REALLY challenging part: keeping her entertained.  We could have a three ring circus in the living room and it still would not be enough to keep this girl’s attention.  Haruka’s latest phase is her fondness for sitting, as opposed to being cradled or laying on her back.  I take the blame on this one, because I am the one who introduced her to the glorious world of sitting on the sofa.  And of course she can’t do this by herself yet, so we have to monitor her constantly as she sits on the sofa and takes in the sights of the vast space we foundly refer to as the living room.

After a while, sitting on the sofa also becomes a bore for her,  so she demands to do her second favorite fun activity.  Yes, I have take the blame for this one as well.  Haruka adores standing on my lap or anyone’s lap (with support of course).   I guess this allows her to exercise her leg muscles, so it maybe helpful.  But since she finds this so entertaining, she would have not have any problems with standing for hours.  If only I could somehow communicate to her that later in life she will have more than PLENTY of oppotunities to stand ( in lines, buses, trains, etc.) so she shouldn’t be in such a rush to do it. 

So after 2+ hours of keeping her fed, changed, and entertained while trying to get her to sleep all at the same time non-stop all in an effort to prevent her from bursting into an uncontrollable tanrum, she finally got tired and dozed off.  Unfortunately, she fell asleep at bath time.  I was more than willing to skip one night of bathing her in exchange for a moment of peace and quiet, but the wife insisted that after all of the crying and spit-ups, among other unsanitary human functions, she really needed a bath.  Luckily, Haruka rarely cries while bathing, and she usually falls right to sleep after a bath.  But last night Haruka was not going to make things easy for us.

The bath was uneventful.  The near hot water seems to soothe her to the point where she nearly falls asleep in the bath.  I usually have my own set of games for her while bathing her.  One of favorites, which I call the waterbed, is holding her flat on her back and moving her back and forth in the water.  She seems to enjoy this as well.

After her bath, the usual routine would be to give her A LOT of milk that is almost hot to the touch.  Hot milk also soothes her.  Usually we give her mildly warm milk, but at bedtime, Haruka seems to prefer hotter milk.  At first, she will complain that it’s too hot, but then she would happily slurp it down as if there’s no tomorrow.  We also give her about 20 to 40ml more than the usual amount, just short of making her spit up.  This took many tries to find just the right amount. I think the feelingof being stuffed with hot milk not only makes her sleep better, but longer as well.

However, last night, since I was continuously giving her milk prior to her bath, the hot milk trick didn’t work because she was already full.  This made her very fussy because she didn’t have the hot milk to aid her into sleep.  So it was the same pre-bath  ritual all over again.  This time, minus the feeding.  The intention here was to make her hungry so that she would take enough of the hot milk to make her sleep.  This was very difficult, because we continuosly had to give her attention or she would throw an absolutely insane tantrum.  My wife and I took turns for another 2+ hours trying to tire her out.  It was two thirty-somethings versus a 7 week old.  When you factor in energy and stamina at 11pm at night, especially after a day of work, I can’t help to think that a 7 week old will win everytime in this type of situation. 

In the end, Haruka finally finished the bottle of milk I had made for her ealier, and eventually she did fall asleep.  But last night was pretty tough.  I think I will have to rest up while I am at work so I can face the challenges that await me at home.

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The Pacifier Pacifist


Haruka’s continuous crying has been extremely difficult on the nerves.  It is believed that babies who have chronic colic can cause neurosis in new parents.  As a result, many babies suffer from SBS (Shaken Baby Syndrome), from parents who sometimes resort to an act of unintentional violence againts an infant in an effort to quiet them.  Sadly, this can ultimately resort in severe brain damage, and sometimes even in death.

Admittedly, there were times where Haruka’s crying got so disturbingly bad, it really got on my nerves to the point where I wanted to put her in a closet somewhere until she stopped crying (of course, I’ve never done this, and never will).   I know that she has no control over this, nor does she mean to make anyone upset. But there were times when things got pretty desparate.  I think the worse thing I’ve done so far was to leave her crying in her crib for over an hour.  I felt really bad about this, but later I learned that this is quite acceptable when dealing with babies with chronic colic.  It doesn’t feel right, and it seems like a form of abuse in itself, but in reality its a way to cool down so that you don’t unintentially do the wrong thing.

One choice which I have contunally avoided resorting to, is using pacifiers.  I have a good reason for this which many people don’t quite understand.  Basically I see way too many babies children who use pacifiers well past the age of 2.   This, of course is in no way the baby’s fault, but rather the parent’s fault for over-using a pacifier to hush the child for their own convenience.  Everytime the child cries (for any reason), rather than trying to find the cause for the crying, some parents tend to shove a pacifier in their mouths just to shut them up. What they fail to understand is that most babies cry for a reason, and that reason should be addressed.  In turn, the child becomes somewhat emotionally addicted to the pacifier, which eventually becomes the only way to soothe them.  Even Harvey Karp, MD stated that the use of pacifiers should only done properly, which is NOT when the baby was crying. Most parents tend to use a pacifier to quiet a crying baby, when they should only really be used to soothe a baby who has stopped crying.  Karp also went on to state that a pacifier should be removed after the baby is asleep, and useage should be weaned off by 5 months of age.  I see a lot of parents who do none of these things.

For this reason, I have decided that pacifiers aren’t really to satisfy the baby’s needs, but rather a tool for the parent who can’t be bothered with the extra effort of soothing by other means. Of course this is merely my own opinion.

But having said all this,  I believe that Haruka’s crying has died down considerably lately.  As a matter of fact, it has gotten to the point when we can predict when she will cry (without a reason) because its usually the same time everyday, aside from the usual change me, feed me cries. 

Soothing her still remains the challenge.  While one method might work one day, it may or may not necessarily work the next day, or ever work again for that matter.  But we usually go down the usual list of soothing methods, and one of the methods usually will work.  And if none of them work (which is getting quite rare these days) she’ll sometimes just fall of asleep on her own.

Another picture from yesterday’s visit to the doctor’s office 

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Into the Groove


Today we took Haruka to the hospital for her one month check (2 weeks late due to the winter holidays).  And as expected, Haruka is in perfect health and flourishing well.  As a matter of fact, the pediatrician commented that she has gained more weight than normal, but still within good range. 

She was a trooper today.  She didn’t even cry once throughout the whole check up.  As a matter of fact, aside from accidently peeing all over the scale when she was being weighed, she was very good today. She made a lot of gurgling and cooing sounds as if she enjoyed the extra attention, which the pediatrician commented as being a good thing.  She even smiled a couple of times.  Fortunately, Haruka passed her 1 month check with flying colors, which made us all happy.

Seeing Haruka everday, I guess it didn’t quite register in my mind as to how much she has actually grown and changed in the last month, unless I look at past pictures.  The only real indicator was an occasional strain in the back and neck from carrying her too long, or when I noticed that my fingers don’t quite wrap around her head as well as they used to when I give her her bath.  But today, when we went to the hospital and saw a baby who was in for his 1 week checkup, it became really apparent as to how much Haruka has really grown.  Because compared to that one week old, Haruka looked huge, even though she’s still very tiny.

Later, we looked at Haruka’s growth schedule book (which was given to us by the hospital when my wife first learned she was pregnant), and did a comparison between her size now to when she was born.  The numbers tell the whole story, she’s definately showing a good healthy growth spurt.

Growth Comparison Chart

  at birth 1 month old difference
Height 51cm 54.5+ cm +3.5 cm
Weight 2706 grams 4236 grams +1530 grams
Chest size 30.5 cm 36.0 cm +5.5 cm
Head size 31.0 cm 37.3 cm +6.3 cm

Some pictures from today

Waiting patiently for her turn

Getting checked out by the doctor

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Control


Up until now, Haruka has had very little control over her body.  Often times, we would put her to sleep and she would wake up crying minutes later because she had slapped herself in the face or poked her eye with her fingers.  A few weeks ago, my wife was shocked to see Haru sticking up her middle finger at her.  Undoubtably, it was not a controlled action, but quite funny.  Swaddling has cut down the attacks from the anarchic extremities, and she is starting gain some degree of control.

Lately, Haru’s favorite past time has been to sit up and look at her mother or me.  She has better control over her neck muscles now, so she is able to sit up with some support and turn her head back and forth. She’s also getting good at immitating facial expressions and making gurgling sounds.

But the one thing Haruka likes to do the most is standing up.  Of course, she can’t do this without help, but she love to stand on my lap while I hold her up.  She even jumps up and down, or at least tries to. 

 I can tell that her legs have gotten a lot stronger.  When I lay her on her stomach, she’ll try to push herself along the floor with her legs like a little worm.  She still needs a lot of practice before her dragging turns into a real crawl, but it’s a good start.

 

Haruka sitting on mom’s lap.

Princess consoling Haruka after a session of crying.

Haruka enjoying her milk.

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Some New Stuff


Haruka has relatives in Japan who don’t read English too well but often visits this site just to see her pictures.  So lately, I have been trying to include at least one picture in each post just to give some fan service.

Unfortunately since returning to work last Monday, I have had less opportunities to take pictures of our beloved daughter.  So at times, I have had to hold off on writing new stuff until I take at least one presentable picture of her.  But now, this is no longer a problem.

I have finally completed Haruka’s Picture Gallery (link can be also be found on the left of this page).  But in the interest of privacy and safety, I have password protected this page.  I will email the password to family friends and relatives as soon as I can.  If you don’t receive email from me or my wife with the password, and if you think you’re our friend or a relative, then please just email me or leave a comment.  If we know and trust you, I will most likely send you the password, otherwise just enjoy the pictures that will periodically appear in the blog.

The pictures in the gallery will be updated once a week until Haruka is 8 weeks old, then once a month after that.  Also I have changed some of the links in the “My Favorite Links” section.  They are basically some of the sites I visit often to research baby stuff.

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“The Happiest Baby on the Block”


A few weeks ago, my mom bought us a book called The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD.  It’s about how to cope with and care for an otherwise seemingly unhappy baby that cries a lot.

I’ve read through about 98% of the book now, and aside from being a bit wordy, repetative and fluffy for my tastes, it does have a lot of useful information.  By the way, even my wife’s Japanese translation of the book was very wordy.

One of the more interesting points in the book is the so-called fourth trimester.  At first, I thought it was a ridiculous notion to think that full-term babies in general are born 3 months too early.  But after reading Karp’s reasoning for this, it did seem to make a lot of sense.  In his book, Karp says that human babies are born developementally  earlier than the other mammals, so that the can pass through their mother’s birth canal better.  Moreover, maturity-wise, Karp considers them to still be fetuses.  But, by three months of age, they seem to have a better grasp of the world, communicate better, and are more intuitive with their parents. 

This all made sense to a certain degree, but it doesn’t quite explain premature babies.  Although some premature babies tend to develop a bit slower than others, many thrive right after birth.  I have a hard time believing that a baby born two months early would be considered a fetus until they are five months old.

In the last couple of weeks, I can definately see a positve change in Haruka’s overall behavior.  Hence, according to Karp, I guess this means that she is navigating through the latter half of the fourth trimester a bit better than the first half.  She still cries a lot, but Karp’s method of soothing seems to work well.  Haruka is particularly better behaved when she is swaddled and swung (in her swing cradle), but there are still times when she is impossible to soothe, (even properly using all five of the so-called five S’s), and we all have to just ride out the storm.  Those difficult periods are noticeably decreasing though.

All and all, the book does offer some really good advice; I just wish it was written a bit better though.  If all of the fluff was cut out, the book would definately read better,  half the width, and very factual, but I guess Karp felt it needed to appeal to the general public who might need the fluff to keep from getting bored with just points and facts.

Haruka is changing in appearance almost everyday.  When I was rocking her to sleep last night, I noticed that her eye lashes have grown considerably longer in the last week.  And I’m not sure if its due to genetics, or spending most of the day asleep in a brightly sunlit room, but she seems to have darkened a bit.  She looks to have a slight tan now.

Haruka's smiling face

Haruka’s smiling face as she sleeps

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So Blessed


Today, we had Haruka blessed at the neighborhood Buddhist shrine.  With her ever changing temperament, I wasn’t sure if she would be able sit though the priest’s incantations, but she was very good through almost the whole thing.  I guess the experience of being somewhere she’s never been captured her attention for a while, but towards the end, she got a bit fussy.  But with the combination of the cold breeze outside, and possibly hunger -because it was so close to her feeding time, it’s was perfectly understandable that she got a bit impatient towards the end.  Even I was hoping that the ceromony would end quickly because it was quite cold today.  I was just happy that she didn’t cry through the entire blessing ceremony like I expected her to.

Afterwards, my wife, my mother, Haruka and I had lunch at our house and spend a quiet afternoon at home.  Originally, we were planning to go out to have lunch at a proper restaurant followed by a professional photo shoot across town, but Haruka  probably wouldn’t have been in the mood for it.  And besides, I’ve already got a whole hard disk full of pictures of her crying, so I didn’t need anymore.  So we decided to wait until she’s a bit older and has developed enough patience to sit through a photo shoot.  Also, I think it would be better to have proper pictures taken when she has a fuller head of hair.

 

Our baby orangutan in her formal attire before the blessing

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