The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Successful Family Outings

Outing #1
Boy's been fed, content and sleepy, let's go. Saturday, after dropping off Grandma Campbell at the mall, we take off to TJ's Kids Store to buy a Swing-a-ma-Jig or whatever it's called; it swings, it soothes, it takes up space, you know what I'm talking about.

Anyways there was a sad little boy not more than a few feet away from me bawling his eyes out (next to a neatly arranged display of mini-toilets - I didn't know potty training was that difficult). I just don't hear crying babies anymore. A year ago that boy would have sent me running for the door, today I just glanced over and "eh." Mind you a year ago I wouldn't have been caught dead in TJ's.

On our way home we stop for lunch at Solly's Bagels. Harris was still sound asleep so we unhitch the baby bucket and haul him in. The bucket unfortunately squishes his shoulders up to his chin and makes him look like Michael Moore, not a good look. Every time someone peeked in at him I wanted to say "He actually cuter." What a proud dad.

Outing #2
Lazy Sunday dinner - pizza. Packed Harris into the stroller, 10x cuter, we're good to go. We walked down to Lombardo's Pizzeria to get a take-out pizza. Harris was out like a light, so we decided to eat in. Patty gets so house-bound it's good to get a restaurant meal in once in a while. Nice bottle of Cabernet Franc and a Pesto Pizza. People are surprised when we tell him he's only 15 days old. Are we supposed to lock him away until he's two or something? Still don't see what the big deal is.

Outing #3
Parent and Baby Drop-in at the community health office.

***Alert. Alert. Only Adult Male Present. Alert.***

But the Moms were super nice, and in hindsight I don't really know what I was worried about. What were they going to do, boo me? I wasn't expecting a Sausage Festival, but still it would have been nice for at least one other father to be there; scratch our nuts (our own, not each other's) and exchange knowing glances - y'know male bonding.

This time Harris was hungry. I leaned over to Patty and whispered, "If he cries give him to me and I'll walk him around the lobby." Then I thought "why?" Wailing babies abounds in this room, in fact Harris was one of the quiet ones. I guess I really don't notice the crying babies anymore.

Fists of Fury

Long, chimp-like arms. A round-house punch that rivals Lennox Lewis. A fury even greater than a woman scorned. Does the boy have a future as a boxer?


Friday, August 26, 2005

Stylish Baby Furniture

I've always wondered why baby stuff always has to be sucky-coloured. While designers are starting to come around, the skew is still toward cutesy-whutesy.

Good post on
a popular fatherhood blog, about some new designer cribs: Black is a hot color for cribs

While I'm on the subject, here are a few other good blogs.

My colleague Christine is about to have a baby any day now. Follow her trials and tribulations at

Daddy Types is a great blog for new dads. Love the pun as well.

Laid-off Dad is an entertaining read.

So is Rebel Dad.

Pandas are SO bears

Growing up the only Teddy Bears that I had were Panda Bears - understandable seeing I am Asian. When I met Patty I was floored when she told me she never had a Panda Teddy Bear.

"What? Those are classic, everyone had a Panda Bear."

"Not me."


So what was the first thing I asked my parents to buy Harris? A Panda Teddy Bear. That boy's going to grow up right!

"You know, Pandas aren't really bears."

Okay technically Pandas are marsupials, but that's really splitting hairs. Even Harris was beginning to have doubts, I had to move fast.

Get this marsupial away from me...

"If it looks like a bear and acts like a bear, it's a bear." I pleaded. "I mean tomatoes are technically a fruit, but no one eats a tomato like fruit."

"I do."

You would.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

First Week Report

Harris has been home for a whole week now, and so far so good. He's tons of fun, well he's not 'interactive fun' but we pretend. He's becoming quite the gourmet, spending hours at his favourite table at "Chez Patty". He feeds for hours at a time and then sleeps for 4-5 hours.

While this pattern means good sleeps, it gets pretty hard on Patty. Basically every time Harris is hungry she gets stuck behind a pillow fort for hours. She's exhausted, and tired of me attacking her with toy army men. Forts are meant to be attacked aren't they? So right now we are managing to get decent rest at night, but tomorrow's a new day so it can all change.

Otherwise Harris is doing really well. He got back to his birth weight right on schedule and the touch of jaundice he had is gone. As I mentioned he's eating, and performing all the correct bodily functions. Like all caesarian babies he's got a lot of body hair (more than me!), but that should disappear over the next few weeks. Maybe I'll have to wax him, even on a baby who likes a hairy back?

We are getting really good at doing things with one hand while holding him with the other. From simple things like turning on the lights (okay I'll admit that never really was a two-handed operation) to more complex things like typing and wrapping a receiving blanket, it's really surprising how well we've adapted. The cats, Orange Cat and Foot Foot, have no interest in him at all. If he can't feed, water or clean their litter he's a nobody to them. They just sniff him and walk away. It's a relief really, I've heard stories of jealous pets and new babies -"When Good Pets Go Bad".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What's in a Name

A lot of people have been asking how we came up with Harris' name. There's no real significance to the name (in fact it's almost anti-climatic when I think about it).

It's always every parent's objective to name their child something unique, yet not freakish. Although the current trend is skewing on the freakish side - ESPN, Dixie-Dot, Sin, Dwarf, Chevette (what does it say when you name your child after one of the worst cars GM ever built? Why not Gremlin?) - we decided to buck the trend and pick something a little more normal.

Around 48 weeks into the pregnancy Patty and I started kicking around baby names. Some were straightforward - Oscar, Spencer, Owen. Some were more unique - Clement, Chet, Quinn. And some were just thrown in for a laugh - Toast, Rasputin, Socks. But nothing was making an impression on us. Patty started pouring through Baby Name books and that almost made things worse.

I was sitting next to our bookshelf and started glancing at authors' sir names that might work as first names, Anderson, Cooper, Doyle - we were on to something. We starting thinking about sir names that we liked and Harris really, really resonated with us. So which Harris did we name him after? Ed Harris. Not that we're huge fans of his, he just had a last name that we happen to like.

Name your children for the future we've been told (although I'm not sure what sort of future the aforementioned Dwarf is going to have). Makes me wonder about two babies I recently heard about: Satin and Electra. I suppose those parents want their girls to have a future in porn.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Physics of Cloth Diapers


Newton's Law of Motion. Where f is force, m is mass and a is acceleration.

I have learned a valuable lesson in the physics of cloth diapers - wrap the leg fold too tightly will greatly increase the acceleration of the discharge (aka poop).

So in this example the force is the pressure excerted by Harris' apparently well developed colon, the mass is the poop itself and the acceleration is the variable.

Knowing the force and mass are constant, you need to provide enough space in the diaper for the mass (poop) to accumulate. If you wrap the leg fold too tightly the mass doesn't have any space and it will accelerate out of the sides of the diaper. It's like squeezing packet of ketchup but more yucky.

It Comes Naturally

Before Harris was born I remarked to a colleague that as soon as we get home with the baby we're going to have a "Now What?!?" moment.

"As soon as your baby's born, you'll just instinctively know what to do." was his advice.

You mean:
>Don't feed him poison.
Check. Already knew that.

>Change his diaper when dirty.
Yes. Read that somewhere.

>Sunday Morning breakfast for him should not consist of pancakes.
He's definitely on Atkins till he's older.

>Brushing his hair too often will give him split ends.

But those things are obvious, I was getting really worked up over this.

In the end he was right, you do just 'know what to do'. Newborns basically do four things; eat, sleep, poo and burp. Of course there are variations to this theme, but really boils down to those four. So yeah, put the parenting books away for now, you really do just become parents.

Oh there will be times we'll need parenting advice - teething, toilet training, why Michael Flatly, Lord of the Dance is an idiot - we'll just tackle those as they come.

Another Oxytocin Story

Thanks to Shona for sending this to me. An editorial in the Globe & Mail by Amy Zidulka about her labour . Remarkably similar to our experience; overdue momma, Cervidil induction, Oxytocin, sudden flurry of doctors and nurses, C-section.

Everyone does their birthing best

Free for the next couple of days, so if you're interested read it soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Just five days old and Harris already has a nickname - Thunderpants; so named because his diaper literally rumbles with relief. Earlier I was playing with him on my lap and he actually made me jump after launching a particularly powerful salvo.

I just hope it doesn't become one of those unfortunate nicknames that stick around for life like 'Meat Loaf', 'Mr. T' or Gary Coleman.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Harris Shane Lowe

Approximately 57 hours after Patty was first induced, dozens of painful contractions, one anxious moment and a Caesarian Section later, at 4:37 pm, August 13, the eight and a half pound Harris Shane Lowe sprung into this world. I always promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those parents that would gush on and on about how adorable their baby is - I'd be the first to admit that newborns pretty much look large prunes with limbs - but I will say this: we were smitten at first sight and, he can stick his fist in his mouth.

Of course we think he's best-looking baby ever (and so begins the cycle of parent one-upmanship) but as I said earlier, we're smitten. This is hands down the coolest thing to that has ever happened to us. So the 'babymoon' is full on! I just change my first crappy diaper today and didn't even mind - ask me again in 150 diapers and I might tell a different story.

The doctors and nurses at St. Paul's hospital are great. We have a happy baby boy and owe a lot to the staff for making the experience a good one. Patty was amazing through the entire labour. She kept it together the whole time, made jokes between contractions and only swore a total of nine times, remarkable considering her nickname is Miss Potty-Mouth.

It wasn't an easy labour. At 10:00 pm on Friday night, we returned to the hospital. After several hours of painful labour at home they determine Patty's close enough to be allowed to stay and at Midnight we're admitted into the Maternity ward. We're assigned the "Princess Room", the largest room in the ward (all maternity rooms at St. Paul's are private) and manage to get a couple fitful hours sleep.

Even though Patty was in active labour, her contractions actually space further apart, so around 7:00 am they suggest using Oxytocin to move things along. They start off with a low dose and it appears to work. The contractions are more painful and they give her Nitrous Oxide, or laughing gas as it's more commonly known. It's like smoking a bong. Patty loves the gas.

So do I.

At 2:30 pm Patty has a painful four-minute long contraction that seems to affect the baby too. I was dozing on the couch and woke up to a nurse strapping an oxygen mask to Patty's face. Four nurses and a doctor are buzzing around. Patty is freaking out, my heart's racing but all I can do is watch. In the end it turns out that neither Patty or the baby reacts well to Oxytocin, and while there was never any danger they had to move fast in case there was. After that ordeal, and the fact Patty's labour wasn't really progressing we decide to have a C-section.

The rest of the story you know.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ghosts of the Maternity Ward

The other Dads I see at the hospital are just like me - Ghosts of the Maternity Ward. Forgotten souls whose only purpose is to support the mothers. Sleep deprived, we grunt at each other in the hallways before returning to our rooms. Relegated to fetching ice water, changing diapers and putting the toilet seat back down. The focus here is on Mom and Baby, so Dads are pretty much ignored. But if I was trying to pass something the size of a rugby ball, I'd expect to be the centre of the universe too.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Details in a day or so. We're exhausted.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Day Six - Baby Still Inside

False alarm. At 11:00pm last night Patty's contractions felt intense and about 3-5 minutes apart. She called the hospital and they suggested we come in for look-see. They hooked her up to a monitor and she was indeed getting contractions close together, but they weren't the "right" contractions as it were and she wasn't dilated, so they sent us home.

This morning we went back to the hospital for a second dose of the Cervidil. The first dose seemed to do everything it was supposed to (except pop out a baby). I'll spare you the gory details, but basically Patty is much more ready to give birth. The baby is doing really well, twisting and turning, just doesn't want to come out. The second dose should do the trick, but at this point all bets are off.

Our parents are all on edge, but somehow we staying surprisingly calm - too calm for their liking.

>You should go to the hospital now
No they'll just send us home.

>Then you can wait in the waiting area
Hmmm... that would be comfortable. We'd rather be at home.

>You're going to drive to the hospital right?
Actually we were thinking of riding our bikes.

Of course they're just really excited for us and we appreciate their support. Just funny sometimes.

So we are back at home right now, relaxing and listening to the new Eels CD - "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations". Their slickest release to date, and it's almost happy. Well worth a listen.

On our way back from the hospital we stopped for a tasty bowl of Chicken Udon.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Getting Closer

Just finished going on a 2-hour walk, it wasn't really that far but Patty isn't walking all that fast right now. We took a stroll up to Trout Lake for an ice cream and back, about 20 blocks in total. Along the way her contractions started, and by the time we got home they were seven minutes apart.

All I can do is provide as much support as possible, but there's no way I can relate. Patty was in intense pain the whole walk and the best I could muster was an ice cream headache.

She's hanging in there though. I'm really proud of how she's handling all this.

Are we excited yet?

People kept asking us that, and I'd have to say that really we weren't, probably because we didn't know what to be excited about; it's all new territory for us. But now that Patty is in early labour I have to admit we're little more charged up. There is a chance that the treatment won't take and will have to be repeated, but so far things seem to be working.

We went and had lunch at Stella's on Commercial Drive, likely Patty's last good meal for the next few days. If you've never been to Stella's - highly recommended. Belgium themed tapas bar. Our Dutch friend William calls Belgium the "Newfoundland of Europe" - you can figure that one out for yourself.

Patty is napping right now, and I'm downstairs putzing around. Is it too early to start drinking?

The Show is About to Begin

They are inducing Patty right now. Low-level dose, so they're sending her home. Now it's going to get fun!

Day Five

Everywhere she goes, Patty becomes the center of attention, and it's making her feel like a sideshow freak (anyone reading this who also considers themselves a freak, I use the word in the most endearing way). She appreciates the support, but you can only say "I feel like crap" so many times before it loses all meaning.

Today we're off to see the obstetrician to plan our next course of action. All signs are pointing inducing labour, but we'll know more after the appointment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Day Four - Nothing Happening

Patty is pissed off, and who can blame her. It's now four days past term and she is tired of being pregnant. There's the occassional contraction or cramp, but otherwise barely a tremour; she feels like she is going to be pregnant forever.

But while Patty swings from cranky to grumpy to angry to sad, she is amazingly managing overall to stay upbeat and have a laugh. I can't imagine how she's able to do that, so good on her.

On the positive side, we've heard there is a less chance of a baby being colic the closer they are to term. So a few more exhausting days for Patty might translate into months of less crying down the road. Easy for me to say though, I'm not the one carrying this monster baby inside of me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Still No News

Third day overdue and still no action on the labour front. Patty is getting lots of sympathy from strangers, and interestingly a lot of advice about how to jump-start labour. Here are a few:

  • Eat lots of raspberries
  • Drink lots of ice water
  • Walk up stairs
  • Walk down stairs
  • Press between your thumb and your index finger
  • Watermelon
  • Drink beer (hey why doesn't Patty take up smoking while she's at it)
  • Walk with one foot on the curb and one foot off
  • Go on a hike
  • Make love (very surreal when an absolute stranger tells you to go do this)
  • Eat spicy foods
  • Take Cod Liver oil (what is this - 1935?)
So it's obvious no one knows what they're talking about. I suspect what happens is someone tries one of these "remedies" just when they were about to go into labour anyways. So it's pure coincidence, although #10 is a technique we are practicing regularly.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sign Language

The new hot thing right now is to teach your infant how to use sign language. It's apparently easier for babies to learn than speaking, so they can start communicating with you sooner. Cool, but I do see some downsides, "Hey! Your baby just gave me the finger!"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Eddy Munster Stands In

We got one of those Baby Trekker carriers so we can haul the kid around town straped to our chest. They suggested practicing using it before trying it out with a real baby (good idea!).

The scratch marks on my chest now serve as a painful reminder, cats don't enjoy being strapped into a baby carrier. You'd think I would have learned my lesson when I tried to demonstrate breastfeeding with one of them.

Our Eddy Munster doll went much better.

Day 1 past term

Patty poops a lot, apparently she's lucky, most pregnant women don't. Guess it really depends on how you define the word 'lucky'.

She's pictured here resting, thankfully not pooping. In that regard, we can consider ourselves all very, very lucky.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Saturday Matinee

Ended another long walk this afternoon at the movie theatre. March of the Penguins seemed like a good way to cool off; dark theatre, giant screen full of snow, penguins. Not a bad movie, had a "Hinterland Who's Who" feel to it, but darn it those penguins are sure cute.

A timely movie for us to see. It was all about parenthood, penguin parenthood but parenthood nevertheless.

Otherwise the day's over and no contractions for Patty.

Due Date - Nothing

No one comes up to Patty to touch her belly, apparently she looks as pissed off as she feels. Today is Patty's due date - labour not happening. She's feeling crappy, hot, itchy and all around grumpy. Even the best efforts of our two cats - Orange Cat and Foot Foot - can't cheer her up.

If nothing happens soon, the doctor will induce labour. Basically sometime within the next 10 days we are going to be parents.

Welp, off for another long walk. My legs are looking great!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Season of Long, Long Walks

Tonight we went for a 7km walk. Near the end of it Patty got all swollen and puffy - it was like strolling along side the Michelin Tire Man. Didn't find it so funny when I actually started to discuss tires with her.

Walking helps lower the baby and start labour, so "Bib" and I will be doing more of this over the next little while.

Baby is Happy. Maybe *Too* Happy.

Today is the first day that Patty is visibly grumpy. Big baby, small mother - you do the math. She has been getting tests done and all signs point to a healthy, happy baby, so happy he doesn't want to come out.

She saw the doctor today and the head still hasn't engaged. Jasper is really good at twisting and turning, but not hitting the 'target". Appears my hopes s/he becoming the next NHL Scoring Phnome are already slipping away.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Five Days and Counting

It's the middle of summer and Patty, my delightful wife, is pregnant, hot and itchy! But it can't go on much longer, she's at 39 weeks. All I can do is reassure it's going to happen soon.

By hook or by crook that baby is coming out - hopefully not by hook.