We Found a Water Monkey in Our Luggage

It’s official – she is part human, part water monkey. My wife and I took Isabella down to the pool while on our trip to Chicago and she LOVED the water; splashing and yelling as we took turns savoring the joyous moment.
The mere mention of “pool” or “swimming” made her body shake with excitement. Her hands waved back and forth as if she were already splashing in the pool and a smile took up most of the real estate on her face.
We changed into our swimsuits faster than a pitstop in NASCAR and hurried to the pool.
The scent of chlorine filled the hallway – we knew we were close. Finally, there it was. No one was around. The hum of the jacuzzi on low provided the perfect white noise. Everything was calm and quiet…but not for long.

The water introduction was slow; cautious. We didn’t know how she would react.
Splash! Splash! Slash!
She wasn’t shy. She loved it! Screams of excitement filled the peacefully quiet pool area.
Hands waving- feet kicking- smiling from ear to ear. She literally looked like a monkey in water the way she splashed and screamed at the fun she had.
Bringing her for water rides around the perimeter wasn’t just a ride as Isabella began to kick, unprompted. We don’t know if it was natural water form or sheer excitement but we really don’t care because the look in her eyes and the smile on her face was satisfaction enough to know that she loves the water and loves us for sharing in that moment.

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3 Tips: How To Give Your Infant Medicine Orally

Almost every infant needs medicine at some point in their lives (sad, isn’t it?). I’ve attempted an assortment of different ways to give our daughter a mere teaspoon of medicine and here are my suggestions…

  • Preparation. Infants rarely have control of their limbs which can make feeding time more like a feeding frenzy. Have all your tools at arm’s length and ready. Open the wipe container, grab a bib, find the serving utensil… I like to have a napkin to place the utensils on (babies need cleanliness because their immune system is fully developed).
  • Insider Tip: Using a syringe is a great way to reduce the mess of a spoon. Simply suck up medicine and dispense small amounts into infant’s mouth.

    • Smile. You’ve heard the saying Smiling is contagious, right? Well, even beyond that, research has shown that babies responded to our actions or facial features. When we smile, our babies recognize the positive energy and acknowledge their own actions as acceptable, provoking more of those actions. So if you smile while giving your baby medicine, chances are very good that they’ll smile and accept that medicine willing. [Paraphrased from the work of David Chamberlain, PhD who is a pioneer in birth psychology, and one of the founders of APPPAH (Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health)]
    • The PMPU (Post-Medicine Pick-Up). When you’re finished and your baby is clean, pick them up and hold them. Even if they liked the medicine all babies want comfort. Hold you baby close and walk with her. Make her feel important. This provides another great bonding moment.
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    Why she cried

    Emotional bonding

    Out of the entire animal kingdom, human babies need the most attention and nurturing. A baby Wildebeest walks within minutes of being born [Animal Planet] while a human baby typically takes 6-12 months before it crawls. Nurturing a newborn is not only physical, but emotionally vesting. 

    I recall the very first day I left for work after my two week vacation (for the birth of my newborn daughter). It happened to be a Thursday. That Thursday, Isabella was miserable! Crying and at times, screaming. She had her mother to provide love, warmth, compassion -even her meals. And my wife called to notify me of the situation… 

    “She’s hysterical. I don’t know what is going on? She got her sleep and she’s eating – it’s just something else,” she said. 

    I came home and Isabella made a liar out of Natalie. If I hadn’t heard the cries over the phone, I might have thought Natalie wasn’t getting her recommended hours of sleep. 

    Now it’s Friday, I go to work again and I get the same phone call. Isabella is having fits and is just distraught all day. 

    At this point, it became serious. Does she have gas or intestinal issues? Is she sick? Does she need to eat more? We’re totally puzzled because you have to understand: this baby doesn’t cry. For the first two weeks, if Isabella wanted something, a noise or gesture was all she made. She didn’t cry for food. She didn’t cry for attention. She didn’t cry when she was tired. So why cry now? 

    Separation Anxiety. The idea of having the two of us around her 24/7 seemed normal so when I had to leave and be away for 8-10 hours, her world was turned upside down. Natalie would typically talk to and feed her while I would burp and walk with her. This was our routine and now it was broken. That was her life and she had the two most important people in it for 14 days so why should anything change? Well, she’s too young to understand the concept of work and paying for a house. You have to think on her level: Mommy and Daddy have been here for X amount of time thus they will be forever. Why would things change? 

    Oh if life were so simple, Isabella. 

    One form of baby communication is crying. They have plenty of non-verbal forms of communication, but crying is most commonly associated with babies. Usually, a cry is a sign of distress or discomfort so allowing your baby to “cry it out of their system” is only opening the door for further discomfort and probable future insecurities. I hold Isabella as soon as I can and as often as I can. Some say I am spoiling her but I believe she will grow up to be a secure, strong, independent young lady. Only time and strong parenting ethics will tell. 

    So that weekend I reassured her that I will be around by spending an ample amount of time with her. And during that time, I apologized up and down for leaving her; I’ll ask later in life if she remembers my apology.

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    The Day I Became Daddy

    What a whirlwind! In one huge moment I added a new position to my personal career: Father.

    It was one day past our baby’s due date. My wife and I were relaxing, watching a movie. The movie ended around 11:30PM and I thought it was time for bed. I thought wrong.

    I could sense some discomfort from Natalie, my wife, as she clutched her stomach and grabbed her back as her contractions originated from her back and surged across her sides to her naval.

    “I think this is it,” she said with pain in her voice. “Pack the car. I think we’re going to the hospital.”

    My demeanor on the outside was calm and collective – I was there to support my wife with ANYTHING she needed. I did my tasks and I did them efficiently. On the inside, sirens were sounding as if I were in war and the enemy was near. “RED ALERT! RED ALERT! This is not a drill – we are going to have a baby! Move soldier! Move! Move! Move!”

    The back seat of our Ford Escape was filled full of luggage. Blankets, the baby’s car seat, notes, and snacks were part of items packed for this trip – you would have thought we were going out of town. Out the garage, down the driveway and to DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital so we could meet our special little visiter.

    There are so many thoughts that ran through my mind on that trip.

    “What do I do? Where do I go? What will the first words to my baby be? What should I say when assisting my wife through labor? What should I NOT say when assisting my wife through labor?”

    …Fast Forward to post-labor…

    At 7:51AM, a beautiful baby girl came into our lives, changing it forever. Isabella Cristiana Fuoco greeted us peacefully and quietly. So quietly, the nurses had to slightly shake her to make sure all fluids had left her lungs…all was good.

    This is the moment when you realize the reality of the situation. I looked into Isabella’s big eyes and saw my future as a proud parent. I saw her crawling, walking, talking. Birthdays. Schooling. Sports. Friends. Graduation. Minor Disagreements. Embarrassing situations. Life lessons. I saw a curious child thriving for answers and more knowledge. I saw a little piece of me in her. I saw my life change for the better and a tender side develop. My heart melted and in that instance I vowed to protect and guide this little soul by actively participating in her growth and development.

    From now on, I am a father…


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