We've been going through a pretty hard time. Baby has had colic for the past few weeks (colic = mysterious crying, probably due to GI pain). It's pretty reliable in the evening, usually about 2 hours, but on really bad days it can be 5 hours. It's brutal and exhausting. The only thing that soothes the crying is constant walking around, patting, cooing, various distraction techniques. It just takes massive amounts of energy. Wifey and I both get super exhausted doing it and then we start snapping at each other.
Some of the silly books say "start to establish a going-to-bed ritual". Okay, got it. Cry inconsolably. Parents start thinking "fucking baby I'm going to kill you". After 2-3 hours of crying, go to bed. Yay, we've got a ritual! On the plus side, after the big cry session, she is exhausted and sleeps pretty solidly through the night.
But it's getting better I think. She's recently learned how to get burps out mostly on her own and without a huge fuss about it, and I think that's relieving a lot of it. We're also getting better at learning the soothing techniques. We've had a few days with hardly any of the crazy colic crying at all, and those are like "wow, this isn't that bad". (addendum : in the weeks since I wrote this and haven't posted it, it's continued to get better and she seems to be down to basically just fussy baby crying, not so much the evil colic stuff).
Just in the past few days she's started reaching for things and grasping. She still has zero coordination, so the reaching is like random flailing of tentacles, and if one of them happens to hit the target then it locks on. She does pretty amazing smiling laughing now, which is adorable (the cutests ones are when she gets so happy that she just can't handle it and explodes with this flailing of arms and has to turn her head away like a shy Japanese schoolgirl). We have nice little "talking" sessions of err-ga's and such. I rhetorically wonder if she has any concept that the sounds I make at her (or the sounds she makes back) have any meaning (or any possibility of meaning) at all, or are they just random sounds?
My mom visited and helped out for a while, which was amazing. It was so nice just to be able to eat dinner together (wifey and I), or work in the garden, or just generally have some time when Wifey and I could both be baby free. To all of you baby owners who had parents nearby to help out with yours : suck it. (or, you know, thank them).
I'm so looking forward to when my kid(s) are like 5-10 years old and can actually do stuff with me. I took baby on a walk by the lake the other day, and saw families with their little kids swimming in the lake, and damn that is the part that I want. It's what I've always wanted; I want to swim and ride bikes and play in the park. I've been doing it alone as a creepy old single man in the park ("hi, cute kid you've got there") for the past 10 years and I'm ready to do it with my own kids (not the creepy part, just the playing in the park part).
I think the 5-10 years old phase might be the most unconditionally happy time in life. I mean yeah things are better in many ways when you're college age and finally free and having sex and all that, but in those early years (assuming you have a good family) you're just totally free of worry, life is so care free, it's before the horrible teenage years where you start feeling the societal pressures and stresses of having to do well and so on. You can just live in the moment; like hey I'm at the park, I'm gonna run around the field and there are zero thoughts of what I have to accomplish, the fucking health insurance up-coding I have to fight, my excessive job todo list, etc.
Hmm, Charles's life map :
baby : who fucking cares you can't remember it
adolescent : playing, making bows and arrows, sweet parents, yay fun times!
teen : oo I'm so mopey, life sucks, listen to emo music and pout
college : I'm free! do drugs, have sex, go clubbing, party time oh yeah!
post-college : ugh wtf do I do with my life, I'm so stressed out, work sucks, new baby sucks
child is adolescent : playing, making bows and arrows, sweet parents, yay fun times!
child is teen : fucking ungrateful annoying mopey bastard kid, I'm so stressed out, work sucks
child goes away to college : we're free! do prescription drugs, drink wine all day, oh yeah!
We've now tried almost every single baby carrier that's made, and none of them are working for us. Thankfully we inherited most of them. We have a Peanut Shell, a Moby wrap, a Babyhawk Mei Tai, a traditional Mei Tai, and an Ergo. Baby pretty much hates all of them. It is possible to get her in the Moby in positions she likes, but it takes about five hours so by the time you get it all tied up she has a dirty diaper and wants to eat again so you have to take her out. We've got a few difficulties with them. One is that she hates not being able to see the world, and the vast majority of them stick her face directly in your chest which she won't tolerate. The other is that none of them work very well with small baby's feet/legs. She's too young to really wrap her legs around our torsos, but the alternative is to just fold up her legs inside and they get all crushed (I suspect all the carriers will work better once she gets to the wrap-legs-around stage). It's been a frustrating ordeal, trying over and over to get her to tolerate a carrier only to have to bail out after five minutes because she starts screaming.
(addendum : we finally caved and got a Baby Bjorn to use front-facing, even though you're "not supposed to" because it's perhaps bad for her hips (*). Yep, it works. It's the only carrier she'll tolerate for more than a few minutes when she's awake).
(* = the "not supposed to" being the standard line from the internet clique of chattering moms who spew a lot of nonsense that's not based on any facts and then repeat it over and over as if it came from some solid source. The anti-rational-thought-basis of the modern internet mob is pretty sickening to me.)
One of the things that's been really difficult for me personally is adjusting my night schedule. I used to use dinner as my transition point from hard-working-mode to relaxed-day-is-done-mode. I loved to have a very slow dinner, lying down and nibbling for a while like a Roman, having a glass of wine, taking some deep breaths. It's great for the digestion to just really relax and eat slowly. Then there would be no more work for the rest of the day. No longer can I do that; dinner is a frantic rush to cram some food in my mouth while we take turns holding baby, and the work day is not done until we get her down to sleep at night, so I can't really start relaxing until then. It all means that my "on" time is so much longer, it takes more endurance to stick it out, and then after we get her down I have stay up for a few more hours to get that relaxation to get to sleep. Oh well; life changes.
Just recently I started working near full time again, and it's such a change. For one thing it's actually easier. Work is a relief compared to baby care. (though the hardest thing of all is trying to squeeze in bits of work and still do masses of baby care and try to keep a good attitude about it). On the negative side, I could feel my closeness with baby slip away almost immediately.
In the first few weeks when I was baby-caring full time, I felt almost as close to baby as mom was. Obviously she had the breastfeeding advantage, but I could soothe baby just as well, and interpret her signals, and I didn't feel like there was any huge gap. As soon as I started working full time and I was away from baby for long stretches I started seeing a difference. Suddenly baby wanted mom more than me; mom could read signals I couldn't read; baby would sometimes get fussy and I couldn't console her, but a hand-off to mom instantly calmed her down.