Wednesday, February 09, 2005


My wife and I had a healthy, happy baby girl two weeks ago. I have been home enjoying her fully, hence the dearth of posts.

Similar in concept to that great lament of Willie Nelson, "Pickin' up hookers instead of my pen, I let the words of my youth slip away," I picked up my baby instead of the pen, so some of the more potent moments I made a mental note to record once I got around to writing this post have disappeared down the memory hole. Of course, I consider it time well spent, even if some thoughts died before being recorded.

I do have some random thoughts that have stayed with me, though:

- She had a lot of nightmares her first few days of life, and as I sat there holding her, watching the fear and dismay play across her freshly minted face, I wondered what in the world something so new and pristine could have nightmares about. And it began to worry me that she appeared to have only nightmares - no happy, serene dreams. After all, hadn't she just spent months in a spa with all the amenities? Surely good times were had. About day 4, though, the most beautiful smile blossomed across her dreaming face, and soon thereafter she smiled more than she frowned in her sleep.

- It's striking how much personality and behavior comes built in. As your child ages (we have an eight year old girl, too), you tend to forget all the little habits and flourishes that were there from the very start. This baby huffs and complains differently than her older sister did. She has this little annoyed hack she makes before she really hauls off and wails. The older one's eyes would roll (alarmingly) into her head when she would fall asleep, and they would go walleyed, like a Simpson character. This one goes cross-eyed when she gets tired and is about to drift off.

- Babies actually say "wah" when they cry. They form the whole word.

- Babies fart like weightlifters the day after Oktoberfest.

- Both the dog and the cat had to figure out what this new entry into the household was, and where it stood in the pecking order. Animals are cautious about their species' politics, so both remained ciphers at first. After a couple days, though, they had figured it out, and both animals made a show of licking the baby on the head in front of us, showing acceptance of the new whelp. The cat took longer, and acted as it was more of a blessing than an acceptance, of course, but I was surprised how similar cat and dog politics are in this regard. They know this is a new boss and not a new flunkie. (The dog proceeded the cat, but is still the flunkie in their little clique.)

- It's difficult to photograph something as tiny as a newborn. I had to discover all new settings in my camera just to let me get close enough, and to not dazzle her with the flash so she would close her eyes tight thereafter. I still have yet to get a good closeup.

- You know all those tribal tattoos that the female young'uns are getting directly under or around their navel? Imagine how those might look after one pregnancy. Or three. (For the record, untattooed tummies, like my lovely wife's, usually recover quite nicely, since there's no artificial pigment to throw off the aesthetics. Girls, take note.)

- Baby technology apparently grows in leaps and bounds. The swings, toys, and devices now available for babies are phenomenally improved from their state a mere 8 years ago. Strollers alone are a work of art and convenience unto themselves, with the cupholders and storage places and the ride that's smoother than a new Mercedes. Baby monitors are now so sensitive and modulated, I could tell which child was smacking her lips in her sleep from two floors away. I could hear the cat pass in the hall outside, even. Freaky. When I enter our bedroom now (where she'll sleep until she's big enough to move to her room), and the monitor's on, I automatically go into "cone of silence" mode, for fear that one of the neighbors might have a baby monitor on our frequency and could potentially hear me absent-mindedly scratching my ass.

- The processes and mysteries of lactation are something to behold. My lovely wife will be just standing there, minding her own business, and suddenly pools will form (more like "erupt"), and she'll say, "Oh, the baby must be getting ready to wake up and nurse," and sure enough, the pre-wail "I need attention" hack will arise within moments from the babeh. It reminds me of that old thermos joke: How do they know?

- Even if it doesn't stay as pure, everyone is blessed with complete and unconditional love for their child from the moment they arrive. It is quite the emotion to be in the thrall of. The intensity and depth is as frightening as it is exhilarating. You can sit and gaze at your baby for hours, and your stomach might rise and fall as if you were strapped into an actively rocketing roller coaster. Then you gaze at your other kid(s) and realize that emotion is still there for them, even if you're somewhat more accustomed to it. Ask any new parent, and they will be unable to describe it properly, but will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Welcome to the world, little one. I'll show you everything.

No comments: