Note: This was all written before we had our first difficult night last night. I went to bed at 2:30, S. was up another hour or so until M. calmed down and passed out. So, minimal editing in the interest of getting something online.
Seven days as a father. Pretty crazy to consider that, and to see how much my life has changed in such a short time. I’ve been trying to think of unique ways to describe what it’s like to be a father, but all the standard clichés seem to work best: it’s an unreal, humbling experience; I’m in complete awe of my wife not only for the physical, emotional, and mental burden of being a mother, but also for being a pediatrician; it’s the most amazing experience of my life; I already see different things being important to me than what was important last Saturday; for every element of uncertainty and fear, there’s an equal element of excitement, happiness, and hope for the future. I’m sleep deprived, I have no idea what day it is when I wake up each morning, I can’t begin to get a daily routine down of my own, and with all that taken into account, I can say this: I’ve never felt the joy I feel when I’m holding my daughter and she’s sleeping, gripping me with her little hands, pushing her face into my body for comfort and security.
Here and there I’ve been working on the full breakdown of last week’s events. I’ll hopefully get that wrapped up in the next day or so and post in installments. In the meantime, I’m already making lists organized around my daughter, so I’ll share what I’ve got so far.
Favorite thing my daughter does: See above
Second favorite thing my daughter does: When she’s waking up, she throws her arms around, kicks her legs, yawns, covers her eyes with her hands, peeks out, yawns some more, and on and on. It cracks me up every time she does it.
Favorite noise: since she doesn’t truly interact with us much yet, my favorite noise is when she gets riled up before feeding time and I’m holding her while S. gets organized. She’ll cry and scream a little, then curl up into my chest and give these two little whimpers. It’s the greatest sound ever.
What makes me laugh most about my daughter: When we wrap her up in what we call her Baby Burrito, and she sits there with her only her eyes showing, sucking on her pacifier, and she just looks around for awhile. Kills me every time she does it. There are a few photos of this in the online albums.
Second funniest thing about my daughter: when she’s happy/content, her legs go up in the air. If she’s wrapped up in a blanket, she still manages to get them in the air. There’s nothing like a freshly wrapped up baby who looks like she’s in a cocoon still getting her lower half off the bed.
What she has that looks like daddy: A lot. We got my newborn pics out Friday night and were surprised at how much she looked like me (I was just bigger, at 9+ lbs). But she definitely has my ears, eyes, legs, and toes. Nose is still up in the air. Mouth could go either way, although she likes to stick out her bottom lip like her mom.
Least favorite thing about fatherhood: The emotional rollercoaster mom is on. There’s really nothing you can do about it, other than support her, force her to slow down and take naps, and try to anticipate her needs so you can avoid as much extra effort on her part as possible. Still, the tears will come.
Second least favorite thing: Visitors who don’t understand baby isn’t the only one who is tired. 90% of our visitors have been great, understanding that our nerves are frazzled, we’re working on a strange schedule, and we just don’t have our usual allotment of energy. However, there have been a few who don’t pick up the subtle hints like S.’s eyes being half closed, her inability to complete sentences, or me sighing and saying, “It’s about nap time for mommy, isn’t it?” and continue to hang out. Don’t get me wrong, we’re greatly appreciative of everything people have done for us, but if mom looks like she’s about to fall over, you might want to excuse yourself.
Biggest mistruth about parenthood: The diapers of newborns don’t smell. Nonsense. They smell like what they are: shit!
Largest injustice to new parents: corporations offering embarrassingly brief pair time off for fathers. My company, for example, offers three paid days off for new dads. Unless you plan ahead, like me, and don’t take a single vacation day for a year so you have a month off, or are willing to forgo your paycheck, you have to abandon your new child, your fried wife, and try to concentrate on work when you’re getting 3-4 hours of sleep each night. The standard should be two paid weeks off. Anything less in unfair to moms, dads, and the babies, not to mention the employers themselves who have beat down, distracted fathers who want to be anywhere other than at their desks. Fathers need more time to bond with their children and support their wives. Happier families mean happier, more productive workers. Trading two weeks of productivity shouldn’t be too much to ask for that.