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.
hate obnoxious new parents, but I’m the worst one. I recognize that, but here
are a few things anyway:
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
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.
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.
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:
- "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
He probably could anyway." —I decided not to say that. It seemed too confrontational.
- "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.
- "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
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.