So a UX Architect and a Software Engineer Had a Baby

October 20, 2017

On St. Patrick’s day this year, life forever changed for me and my husband, Aaron. A baby arrived in the world after months of planning. But nothing could have prepared me for the joy my heart would feel for our Little Man.

Oh, we got this. We’re gonna nail this parenting thing.

I’m an Experience Architect (UX) and my Aaron is a Software Engineer. By our nature, we plan. I feel and empathize with end users in my role – but I can never truly know their emotions. But I do my best to empathize. In all honesty, I stay away from emotion in my personal life. I prefer to live my life with data and evidence. I’m a INTJ personality. I see systems very easily. We so got this baby thing.

Borrowing from our work lives… I read book after book. Interviewed so many people. Hypothesized scenarios we’d encounter as parents. Templated the nursery. Researched the safest furniture. We even ran through bodystorming exercises to look for the most efficient patterns in behavior to cut down on frustration I knew would be forthcoming with a screaming infant. We even started calling the baby our little MVP.

We attended Lamaze classes and they were preparing (aka warning) us of all the things yet to come. But come on… who is gonna shake their baby? My baby will never be a PURPLE cryer. Who needs drugs during labor? I’m the controlled, unemotional person.. data, remember?

But then I got more pregnant, and these liquid things started coming out of my eyes for no reason whatsoever. I was becoming something I didn’t quite understand. More and more emotion kept creeping into my life. People kept getting us presents for the baby, like a book called I love you More and More that I couldn’t even get past the first page without breaking down. SEP announced paid maternity leave for 3 MONTHS. Goodness, I became an emotional wreck. All these people supporting us. Too much emotion. No data. Stupid hormones.

So the Little Man Arrives

After a long induced labor (1/2 of it epiduralized – I gave in), our Little Man arrived. Goodness, I thought I was hormonal before… nothing, I mean nothing can prepare you for what it’s like to see your baby for the first time. So much love.

Learning the New Normal

When we got home, we had the luxury of figuring out our new lives. SEP gave me 3 months to get that figured out and Lessonly gave Aaron 6 weeks. That time was such a huge gift. So thankful. More emotion.

Lamaze taught us how to care for a new baby, but they only skimmed the surface. The crying (oh yeah, Little Man had colic), the diapering, the napping, the people who make onesies with snaps! (Who was the genius who thought of that? Zippers people. Zippers.) But the emotion didn’t stop. That kid, my kid, was now the most important thing in my life. But life with a newborn is no cakewalk. There’s a basic pattern that emerges that involves feed, rock, sleep, play, cry, repeat. Going from a day-to-day work life where I didn’t have a free moment to spare, to a very regimented pattern on repeat… started to get the better of my psyche. I found myself thinking that I know how to do my career well, like really well… there’s probably someone who knows how to do this baby thing a whole lot better than me… perhaps I should go back to work. But after a couple days of self-analysis and synthesizing what was drawing me to that conclusion… it was the emotion. I had lost the data side of me. Society has so many ways now of pushing off responsibilities to services that make our lives easy. It’s too easy to slip into someone-do-it-for-me mode. I’m not that person. It was time to buck-up-buttercup and dive into this Mom thing just like I did for everything else I’ve done in my life.

We called Little Man our MVP before, so perhaps I needed to adopt what I knew so well from my career into my parenting model. Aaron had gone back to work and I was getting way too familiar with daytime television programming. Daycare was coming up way faster than I wanted it to. Little Man was getting more self-sufficient. But in trying to raise a baby wasn’t I just planning Little Man’s next release? Could I start using a product design mentality to raise my son?

Yup, this approach had some legs. I thought long and hard about what my release plan was going to be for Little Man. Daycare was the driving force for all my decisions from there. I downloaded an app called Baby Sparks that let me have daily goals for his cognitive and physical development for incremental releases. I wanted to see Little Man be able to nap in a noisy, light, chaotic environment and have a solid pattern of routine to ensure he’d have an easy transition into a daycare environment. I mean, we embrace continuous learning at SEP, couldn’t a baby do that as well? Perhaps starting now would develop a pattern of behavior for a lifetime of learning?

So Aaron and I started doing daily standups (well sit-downs) right before we put Little Man to bed. I took the Little Man get out of the house more and adapt to life beyond the safety of home. We went for walks. We did our best to stick to a routine. We did baby workouts of sit-ups and tummy time. We explored shapes, colors, and motion. We read books. He started to get stronger and smarter. I started to get data built into our lives again with visual and behavioral feedback. We were all learning.

What I Learned

Little Man is 7 months old now, has grown like a weed (he’s the size of a toddler), and has been at daycare for 4 months. He can already say mama, dada, and he’s close to saying hi. He can sit up, pull to stand, stand for over a minute (with assistance), and probably going to skip crawling all together if he can figure out this balance thing. All that hard work paid off.

But guess what, I made the classic mistake of not understanding what needed to go into my little MVP. He won’t nap. He’s too curious of all things now – who’d ever thought I’d have a baby with FOMO (fear of missing out). He never really nailed the whole nap thing. Perhaps I should have just gotten him to nap first in his crib, instead of napping in daylight and noise first. But we all make those mistakes with our products… Perhaps I should have gone on a mom Learning Tour first to find some suggested implementations of napping behavior (ya know, my competitive analysis).

So. Many. Lessons. Learned. Oh well, we learn and iterate, right? Next kid is so gonna rock this baby thing. And this mom, is gonna fail again I’m sure, but that’s alright. I’m learning.