We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

Yesterday I was thinking about fatherhood and the relationship that’s developing
between me and Baby Happy. One thing
I found funny about him in his first two weeks of life was that he hated having
a
messy
diaper, but he hated diaper changes even more. He would fuss in a matter-of-fact
sort of way to complain about the fact that he was wallowing in his own filth,
but then he would wail and flail and do his best to make the mess even worse
when I removed the nasty diaper and cleaned him off. I, of course, had to work
through
the unpleasantness, immobilizing his legs and feet so that I could wipe away
the nastiness and
install a clean new diaper. I never meant to make him unhappy, but I wasn’t
about to leave him in a wet or poopy condition just so he wouldn’t cry.

He sometimes felt miserable in his condition. He had to be changed, but the
change was more troubling than the problem itself. However, he
always calmed down afterward, perhaps realizing
that things had gotten better.

I don’t know if he has come to understand the purpose of diaper changes or
if he’s just mellowed out, but he accepts them with more patience now. Or he
just trusts me more.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

I can’t stop posting baby pictures!

As of today, when these pictures were taken, Tater is 25 days old and he has
grown cuter on every one of those days.

Already, he is obviously pondering some pretty serious questions…

…and holding his own bottle.

These pictures were not in any way posed. He doesn’t actually
pick up the bottle and put it to his lips, but he does sometimes grip it in
both hands while he’s being fed. His grip is so strong that he can actually
hold the bottle in place for several minutes.

I know I’m obnoxiously proud, but how could I not be? Regular
blogging will resume shortly.

A few things…

If there’s one thing fatherhood has taught me, it’s that a baby leaves you
little time or energy for blogging. Also, you have to get control of his feet
before removing a diaper. I guess that’s two things. I’ve also learned (this
brings us up to three now) that a really good baby can make all kinds of interesting
facial expressions. He
can look intelligent and ponderous and still have trouble finding his own thumb.
He will find it eventually, though, with spectacularly cute results.

But if
there are four things fatherhood has taught me so far, the fourth is that
if
you
can’t
get
noticed
by Glenn Reynolds,
the
next
best
way
to
draw
new readers is to post baby
pictures. That simple act
can
increase
your blog traffic by up to 50% even if you write less.

I guess that’s all.

His and Hers: Family resemblance

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage.

What physical or personality traits do you think your
child inherited from you?

Mrs. Happy’s response

His sleeping abilities (anywhere, anytime, for any reason) and all the moaning
and whining he does about being woken up.

Curt’s Response

He has dry skin, passes a lot of gas, and has a full head of hair dominated by cowlicks. He has also developed an array of
very serious facial expressions. I just hope there is a playfulness behind
them.

Some excellent new music and blogging

I don’t make friends easily. When I do make a friend, the relationship tends
to be pretty casual and short-lived, especially if my friend or I moves away.
Currently, I have only two old friends who I really keep in touch with. One
is Jeff, webmaster for the town of Peachwater,
Texas
. The other is my oldest friend (in terms of duration), Matt Nightingale.
I met Matt in college in 1990. The first time I saw
him, he was doing an exuberant impression of Tina Turner singing What’s
Love Got to Do With It
and I thought, "What a freak." When I
actually met him, though, we became fast friends. We both studied music in
college—he as a vocalist and I as a clarinet player. He finished with a music
degree while I wandered the country and somehow ended up with a journalism
degree.

I remember walking down the hall of my college dormitory one
day
long
ago. I remember this day specifically, because I heard the song How
Long
Will Be Too Long
coming from someone’s stereo. I had heard the song before,
but this particular version featured a high, whiny, weak voice as the soloist.
I immediately became enraged that someone had the gall to so badly butcher
that powerful song of yearning, then I became even angrier that anyone
would validate such a musical travesty by playing it loudly enough for innocent
bystanders to hear. I rushed into the room that housed the stereo and demanded
from its owner the name of the "musician" and his rationalization
for supporting him. I was informed, rather sharply, that the singer was one
Michael
W. Smith and that any disparaging remark I might make about him would be better
discussed outside. I left quietly, partly out of fear that such a discussion
would have been depressingly one-sided, but mostly out of shock and amazement.

MWS was probably the first musician I ever considered my "favorite." I used
to consider him one of the finest musicians in the world, and I still have
a great deal of respect for him. The problem was
that
I had
heard
that
particular
song
performed
much better by my friend Matt, backed up by the rest of our college vocal group.
His strong baritone voice (which has since changed to tenor) supported the
message and the music infinitely
better than MWS ever could. Years later, I was a groomsman at my college roommate’s
wedding. Matt was there as well. He sang I Will Be Here,
and his interpretation gave me chills in a way that Steven Curtis Chapman never
has. Matt possesses all the elements of a great singer: incredible voice, commanding
presence, distinctive style, and talent pouring out of every pore. For that
reason, he has been and is currently my favorite. It makes me feel really cool
that
I’m friends with my favorite singer—Mrs. Happy can’t
even get a "hello" out of Sting.

I bring this up because Matt has, at long last, recorded and released a CD,
produced by Mike Roe of The 77s, if that means anything to you. His song Always
Entertaining Me
is currently ranked sixth on Indieheaven
Radio
. The CD is called
Still Standing, and it is listed
on Amazon
but for some reason
not sold there. Fortunately, there are other ways to purchase it, the most
exciting of which is via iTunes download. Another way is to go to Matt’s
web site
, where you can listen
to a few songs
and purchase
the CD
. Also on the site, you’ll find his relatively new blog, where he
discusses matters of faith and art and the many different ways they come together.
Please give him a
visit
. As a bonus, if you browse through his blog archives
you can find out what I named my son. Just don’t tell anyone.

Baby dreams

A friend of mine recently posed the
question
"After
winning a karaoke contest, you’re awarded the grand prize from a local
radio station: you get to perform ONE song alongside your favorite group! Who
do you sing with and what song?" I answered Enid, by Barenaked
Ladies. I’m changing my answer. I’d still go with the same band, but I’d sing
their song When You Dream:

With life just begun, my sleeping new son
has eyes that roll back in his head
They flutter and dart, he slows down his heart
and pictures a world past his bed
It’s hard to believe
As I watch you breathe
Your mind drifts and weaves

When you dream,
what do you dream about?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?
Do you dream about
music or mathematics
or planets too far for the eye?
Do you dream about
Jesus or quantum mechanics
or angels who sing lullabies?

His fontanelle pulses with lives that he’s lived
With memories he’ll learn to ignore
And when it is closed, he already knows
he’s forgotten all he knew before
But when sleep sets in
history begins
But the future will win

When you dream,
what do you dream about?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?
Are they colour or black and white,
Yiddish or English
or languages not yet conceived?
Are they silent or boisterous?
Do you hear noises just
loud enough to be perceived?
Do you hear Del Shannon’s "Runaway" playing
on transistor radio waves?
With so little experience,
your mind not yet cognizant
Are you wise beyond your few days?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?
When you dream,

It’s so weird. He obviously dreams. His limbs and head move too deliberately
to be random muscle movements. It’s also odd to realize he moved exactly the
same way when he was in the womb. I just wonder what he thinks, and what he
dreams.

Scattered thoughts on fatherhood

I’ve had a number of intense thoughts and feelings over the past week or so.
I can’t think how to organize them except as a series of short things. I can’t
even think of what to call the things. I’m reminded of an episode of the Simpsons
when Homer says something to the effect of

Oh, Lisa, you and your stories. "Bart’s a vampire. Having a new baby scrambles
your brain." Now let’s go back to the…place, where the beds…and things…is.


I
hate obnoxious new parents, but I’m the worst one. I recognize that, but here
are a few things anyway:

  • My
    baby
    could lift his head before he was out of the hospital. At 11 days old, he can
    even hold it up for several seconds before it comes crashing down onto
    whatever surface he happens to be lying on.
  • Today he received his Social Security card, so he is an official person.
  • He goes to sleep at 8:00 p.m. He
    wakes up hungry at midnight and 5:00 a.m. I have never heard of
    a newborn who sleeps so soundly and so consistently.
  • He has already developed an infinite
    variety of facial expressions. (See one of them to the right.)
  • At five days old, he spoke his first word: bahgo. He said it quite
    distinctly. I didn’t know what it meant, so I had to look it up. Apparently
    it is a chemical
    compound consisting of barium, mercury and oxygen. It plays a role in
    several important formulas. He doesn’t talk much, but when he speaks, it is
    seriously profound.

I could fill up the internet with stuff about how perfect Tater is, but suffice
it to say he is perfect.


My wife is such a stud. She has taken to mothering the way a horse takes to
running—full speed and right away. I love her more than ever.


When you hold a 10 pound, 6 ounce, 22-inch-long baby, he doesn’t really seem
that big. He’s just a baby. But when you put him alongside a bunch of other
newborns, he looks like a giant. My mother took Mrs. Happy to the pediatrician
the other day, and inquired of the other mothers how much their babies weighed
and how old they were. He really is as big as a child in his third month. It’s
a stupid thing to be proud of, but I’m so proud.


I’m
working a temp job right now. The other day, a woman in the office asked me
how much my baby weighed. I told her 10 pounds, 6 ounces. "Ha!" she said.
"I’ve
got
you
beat.
Two weeks
ago I had one that was 10 pounds"—and here she pointed at me emphatically—"9 ounces!"
Suddenly I felt very protective. Several responses occurred to me immediately:

  1. "Well, you’re 5′ 6" and already weigh 190 pounds. My wife is 5′ 1′ and
    usually wears a size 6 dress. And my baby was taken by C-section nine days
    before his due date, so if he had gone full term, he’d've kicked your baby’s
    butt.
    He probably could anyway." —I decided not to say that. It seemed too confrontational.
  2. "Your baby is two weeks old and you’ve already handed him over
    to someone else to raise?" —I decided not to say that. It seemed too judgmental.
  3. "Your baby may be three ounces heavier, but mine’s a lot more
    attractive." —I decided not to say that. It seemed too mean.

I chose to respond instead with an uncomfortable chuckle that expressed the
sentiment, "What a sad little life you must lead to care about such things."
Hypocritical, yes, but I couldn’t think of a single gracious thing to say.


I have never met a new parent whose company I could bear for more than a few
minutes. On the other hand, I have always been impressed with the heroic lengths
new parents go to in order to make sure their baby is happy and comfortable.
I have heard parents describe at length how their baby doesn’t sleep at night,
but their tone is almost always one of concern for the baby rather than complaint
on their own behalf. I had one friend in particular whose baby had acid reflux.
He wanted to make sure that if she spit up in her sleep she wouldn’t choke,
but he’s a heavy sleeper himself so he was afraid to go to sleep because she
might not make enough noise to wake him. He got even less sleep than most new
parents, but he never complained for himself—he only wanted his daughter to
be okay. I also remember my dad squashing a wasp with his bare hand after it
stung me, and my mother reaching through floating poop logs to retrieve a favorite
toy I had dropped in the toilet. This stuff is heroic. But now I know that
I should be neither annoyed nor in awe of parents who brag excessively or sacrifice
themselves for their kids any more than I should criticize or praise them for
breathing. They We have no thought of inflating the
truth or becoming martyrs for a cause. Our babies really are the best in the
world, and there is nothing to do but take care of them by any means necessary.

Marriage links for the week

Ben Wilson continues his review of Love and Respect. Since my last roundup
of
links, he has written four posts on the book: one,
two,
three,
and four.
He also has a great review of the movie Sex,
Lies, & Obsession
, which is all about the nature of sexual addiction.

Marla posts a
cartoon
that I’m afraid will apply to Baby Happy in a few years.

Irene revisits what
she’s looking for
in a spouse.

SillyDad spends some of his alone time writing
a poem
. I think we should all set aside some time in our day for such artistic
expression.

Steve Lynch continues his review of the book Covenant Marriage with
Chapter
16: Overcoming the Barriers of Defensiveness
.

Jungle Pop asks: What
do you call your in-laws?
I fretted about this for a
while in the early years of my marriage. I sort of avoided calling them anything,
but I envisioned a situation in which I would have to call one of them something and
whatever I called them would sound awkward. Finally, I just came right out
and asked them. They suggested their first names, so that’s what I call them.

A few thoughts from Baby Happy

I must apologize for my outburst
last week
. I temporarily "freaked out," as
my daddy says, and forgot myself entirely. It’s not that being born caught
me by
surprise—I simply did not expect it to be quite like that.
I understand more now, and were I to have the same experience again, I believe
I could control my words. Sadly, though, I will never get that second chance.
Daddy tells me I will have experiences in life nearly as traumatic as birth,
and some even more so, but no one can prepare themselves for these events.

I was afraid for a long while that life would not be fun. Mama barely moved,
a motley assortment of women in white uniforms persisted in violently shoving
my face into her breast, and the other babies seemed capable of nothing but
crying. I understand now that the hospital was only a temporary residence.
Mama can walk more now, and carry me with her; I have discerned that her breast
is a source of nourishment; and I may never have to tolerate the presence of
another baby again, thank goodness. I still do not understand what they hoped
to accomplish with their wails. I have found adults (Mama, Daddy, and Granny
in particular) to be quite attentive and perceptive concerning the various
sources of my discomfort. Whether I find myself hungry, dirty, or tired, I
need only voice my feeling momentarily (and at a tolerable volume) before one
of my grownups remedies the situation. Other babies simply scream. Had I been
able to walk in the hospital, perhaps I could have intimidated them into hushing—I
outweighed them all by an average of three pounds—but alas, I am just a baby
myself.

I hope I still express myself adequately. When I lived inside Mama,
I could focus every bit of my energy on thinking. Now I must devote nearly
all of my attention to learning how to eat, and it is exhausting. Before birth,
I did not have to work for my sustenance. Now I must use every bit of my considerable
strength just to get a few drops of milk. My remaining strength I reserve for
rebellion against diaper changes and the rare moments when I need to cry. As
a result, I have little energy for anything else and sleep for most of the
day.

Disordered as my thoughts are right now, I just realized I started out apologizing
for letting language and emotion control me rather than the other way around.
I do hope I did not offend anyone (though Granny still seems a little miffed
at a few of my words); I feel sure that everyone who remembers their own birth
will understand.