Ever want to feel important? Just let yourself be recognized by a baby. Move over Mr. President. Hollywood and the red carpet celebrities have nothing on you if a baby's face just lights up the moment you walk in the room. If you ever want to feel like a Superstar, just make a baby giggle and squeal. Then you are the funniest entertainer on the planet. You are the ready to sell out shows from coast to coast and maybe even play the half-time show for the Superbowl. That is the power of your entertainment. Ever want to feel loved and needed, just let a baby rest her head on your shoulder and then go to sleep. Then when you start to put her down and she whimpers to stay on your shoulder, that's when you know that you are loved and needed, that's for sure. All these things are great ego boosters, but if you ever want to feel really, Really, REALLY IMPORTANT-clean up after a blowout diaper. Your wife will be glad you did. You will be Number One in her book. And your baby will think you are cool too.
We got a card today in the mail. At first I thought it was a shower invitation but then I read it and discovered something great. Your grandma made a missions gift in your honor. Your tiny little fingers are exploring now, going into your mouth, learning to pick up and hold onto things. Pinching my nose, sometimes even pulling mommy's hair. Your little feet still shun shoes and will hardly tolerate a pair of socks. These little things of yours are part of a much bigger thing, and are being used as the hands and feet of Jesus somewhere far, far away. Still, you have delivered sermons to me here at home more powerfully than any preacher ever could. You have delivered to me Joy from your smile, Praise from your sweet baby babble, Peace from watching you sleep, Trust from your knowing that every need is going to be met, Passion from an uncontrollable tantrum, Desire from the way you look at me and Empathy from a tear glistening down your cheek.
It's no fun being sick. You got to experience that today firsthand. To your credit, you tried to carry on as normal as possible in spite of congestion. There was a grin here and there. Still a little time to play and enjoy yourself between naps and coughing fits. You probably haven't been programmed yet to milk being sick for all the pity that it is worth. I don't like to honor pity. A pity party is usually a party for one, and that person is the guest of honor. You don't seem preoccupied with things like that. Even though you are sick you would rather continue on as though nothing was wrong, making the best of it. When you get to be an adult they call that 'denial.' I call it showing us what you are made of!
I now have proof that your grandma always liked me best. She came to school and saw you. She didn't do that with your cousins. She said she was going to be coming to town and asked if she could come visit you at school. I gave her our code to get in the building and told your teachers that she might visit. She did. They said that you had a good time playing with her and introducing her to your friends. More proof that she liked me best is that I have her cell phone number. Your uncles don't. Maybe I will get 'Mom' tattooed on my arm inside of a heart. It will be our secret.
Today was your first school pictures. And they were Christmas pictures! Of course we had to try you in three different outfits for the occasion. Everything had to be just right. I took my own pictures of you in the different outfits too. Cant have too many pictures, now can we? When I dropped you off at school I couldn't believe my good luck. They were ready to take your picture and I got to see the whole thing. You were giving it your all! Big smiles here and there. Lots of personality. A couple of different poses. I Cant wait to see the results, even though I know you are beatiful already.
I just love to watch you sleep. I love waking you up too, just to watch what you do. I like to tickle your neck and chin. Blow in your ears and face. You make some of the most fascinating expressions during these times. Sometimes your brow get furrowed, like you are thinking about something really hard. I'm not used to you looking so serious and contemplative. Sometimes you puff our your cheeks and make fish lips. When you do this you usually raise your arms high and draw your knees into your chest. Sometimes you roll your eyes sleepily and then drift back away into sleep. The dreams you have usually lure you back to them unless I am persistent in my attempts to awaken you. If I am really lucky I catch you smiling in your sleep. I wonder what kind of dream you must be having when you smile in your sleep. Is it a dream of something we are doing together? Maybe reading nursery rhymes or playing in your swing? Are you and mommy playing together? Tummytime perhaps? Dancing to your lullabies? Your arms sometimes move as you sleep. So do your feet and legs. Off come those socks! Could it be that you are not in a dream at all, but in the company of Angels worshipping in the Throne Room of God?
You must have been having serious growing pains this weekend. The plan was to do some Christmas shopping Friday night. Cancelled. Due to Fussiness. Then Saturday the plan was to do some Christmas shopping. Cancelled. Due to Fussiness. Then Sunday you were fussy in Church, and that is something that is just not typical. Then we discussed doing some Christmas shopping. Discussing the plans seemed the prudent thing to do, considering the stalled state of our plans so far this weekend. Then, you guessed it, Cancelled. Due to Fussiness. At this rate we just might be doing our shopping online or risk becoming like Scrooge. Bah Humbug! I told your mother you must be going through some Growing Pains. Just don't grow up too fast because of them. One question. Because we are so entwined in your growing pains, does it mean that we are growing too? If so I'd really like grow up instead of out. We'll probably 'grow as parents' or 'grow in parental wisdom' or something like that. Why can't our gratification be instant instead of being squirrelled away like some hard bit of gleaned knowledge to pass along to you? I guess these are my Growing Pains.
Your the kid whose dad... -Drops you off in the morning, making sure to let you greet all the other infants in your daycare class. I don't care if you are the most popular, but I do want you to know how to socialize and communicate. You being the best dressed is my perogative. -Chooses to carry you in a carrier rather than use a stroller, just so we can be extra close. You seem so far away in a stroller. -Sends cards for every holiday and "just because" with your latest and cutest pictures to grandparents, cousins, and friends. -Always has new pictures just developed and showing them, hot off the press. -Holds you in my arms during Praise and Worship at Church so we can do it together. I even color coordinate what I am wearing your outfit so we don't clash. -Reads Mother Goose in different voices and sings the rhymes whever possible to make it more fun! Reconnecting to my childhood is soo much fun! -Hung a "Baby on Board" sign up in the car weeks before you were born. -Makes music mix-tapes to listen to with you in mind. Not lullabies either. -Calls people when you hit milestones, such as laughing, rolling-over, etc. It is just fascinating to me and I can't help but share these things. -Doesn't call you 'princess' because I don't believe in that, but will always be your knight in shining armor.
For a little girl, you like to do things big. Who would want to sleep in her crib or bassinet when you can sleep in the comfort of our big Queen sized bed? You have this knack about waiting for just the prime moment after nursing when everyone is resting. Then you get this angelic look about you that makes it hard to put you back in your bed. I keep waiting for a halo to pop up over your little sleeping head. You have figured out how to playing our heartstrings like a fiddle. Who would want to wake the sleeping baby, right? Just look at her. Awww! Now how can a little girl take up so much room in a big bed? Stretching arms and legs. One morning I saw your mother on about a two-inch wide edge of the mattress with you all sprawled out in the middle of the bed. Still waiting for that halo to appear.
Another thing you really love to do big is bathtime. Sink baths are for babies now that you have been in Deep Water. We still have a brand new infant tub just for you that has never even been out of the box yet. It is quietly tucked away on a shelf in the linen closet. The deep water of the big bathtub is where you want to be and I dont blame you. Afterall, daddy wouldn't fit in the sink or your infant tub. Even if I were able to fit in the infant tub with you there probably wouldn't be room for the ducks. Or penguins. You really love it when I hold your head and support your shoulders and let you float. Kicking and splashing are also so much fun in the big tub while mommy gives you a nice shampoo. Afterwards we both smell so good. So far you haven't pooped on me in the big tub. Even if you do it will be easy to clean up!
You learned how to roll over on your own, hurray! At daycare, AKA "school", one of your teachers told us that she thought you would be rolling over any day now. Well it turns out that she was right. We were lying in the floor with you playing last night and you rolled right over. You were so proud of yourself for figuring it out. You had been quite frustrated during the process, trying to get your arm out from under your belly and not quite being able to roll over completely because of it. You were so happy when it all clicked that once we put you on your back you rolled over again. And wiggled. And giggled. Holding your head up proudly. So defiant! I told your mother that you were going to be dangerous now. We thought we were the first to witness this and I was excited to tell your teacher the next day. She said that she forgot to tell us that you did it yesterday in the crib. Killjoy!
Dear Reader, There has been a gap of about twelve weeks since the last posted vignette. Let's just say I've been a little distracted; preoccupied, if you will. Not that this past quarter hasn't been without it's own daily stories. I will get on to telling those tales eventually. Until then they will be mulled over and made ferment in the tumblers of my heart and mind, eventually becoming a series of midnight vignettes. Soon the memories of those times will become all smooth, like stones from the river of life. One slight problem...the details and rough edges are what really happened and what make things interesting. The truth is you were born the way we live our lives: naked, covered with blood and screaming! This is your story. Life on the outside.
You were born on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:32 p.m., weighing 8 lbs and 4 oz, being 20 and one half inches long. It was a remarkable day. Your mother was very ready for you to come. You were already a couple of days late. I had heard from some latino friends that spicy foods could trigger labor so we had Wendy's chili on Wednesday night. At 5 a.m. on the dot the next morning your mother's water broke. She harbored a fear that this would happen during a most inappropriate time such as at work or while we were sleeping. We had bought a mattress pad just in case it happened while we were sleeping. I don't know how we would have managed the situation if this had happened anywhere else but while we were sleeping. Your mom likes to tell people that she has never seen me get out of bed that fast before. She probably never will again.
If labor has two sides I saw both that day. Your mother looked absolutely beautiful. The contractions were manageable, meaning few and far between. We took our time getting ready. Siezing the opportunity that may never surface again, I asked her if she was sure that she didn't want a picture of her pregnant belly. It could be just for us I told her, and it turned out beautiful. In fact, we were proud to show it off to people. This was the pretty side of labor: giddiness on the way to the hospital with packed bags, birthing ball, and carseat secure in place. Hair and make-up done perfectly and wearing stylish albeit comfortable clothing. We listened to worship music during parts of your labor. The other side of labor was not so pretty. Helplessness and pain from a rough patch of chemically enhanced contractions that just would not let up, but were not producing the much desired effect. An epidural that did not properly take. A second epidural administered between a series of hard contractions as she was sitting on the side of the bed. Coping. Breathing. Crying. After such great efforts, a C-section was the birthing method that was performed. The C-section was pretty neat in some ways. I was in the Operating Room next to your mother's head comforting her. The doctor asked me if I wanted to "see." "Sure", I said. I stood up and witnessed the whole thing up-close-and-personal. Note to other dads, don't worry about passing out if this happens to you. It was so fascinating that I told your mother that they could put me on the payroll at the hospital. Then they held you up and you cried. Your mother said it was the most beautiful cry.
When you were declared a girl we were thrilled! All during the pregnancy we just knew you were going to be a boy, but we are delighted that you are who you are. Before we left the hospital I tied a garish pink ribbon to the antennae of the car. It's still attatched and blowing in the wind freely. Your grandma brought two "coming home outfits." One for a boy, one for a girl. Although you are a girl, we will not be dressing you exclusively in pink. I quickly tell people that you look good in ALL COLORS! Ruffles and frills are not our style or yours, and neither are those ridiculous and impractical little dresses that certain people love, and that I love to hate. I also hate, Hate, HATE those headbands they place on little girl babies and will not permit them to be in your presence. Those things are for bald babies that don't look like little girls or boys.
The first thing I saw when you were born were those fingers. They were moving, clutching air as your arms waved wildly. Then were the toes, oh my, I've never seen such toes. Toes that resist shoes and socks almost as much as mine. Our Auntie says you are the only one she knows who can give the "peace sign" with their toes! It has been established by family members that you will be a piano-playing swimmer by virtue of the length of your fingers and toes, and by how much you like to kick.
After you were born (and we recovered) I made sure to spend lots of time playing with you, moving those little arms and legs; Making you "ride the bicicyle" and playing "Pat-a-cake." Nibbling on those little ears, fingers, and toes. I did this not only because it was fun and you were irresistable, but also to demonstrate that you weren't some delicate china doll. I had to show that you were a real live little person who needed lots of playing with. I needed to prove that you weren't going to crumble and break into a million pieces like some piece of glass. You needed touching to be stimulated and we needed to touch you to become confident that we could actually do this. The more relaxed and comfortable we became with you, the more relaxed and comfortable you were with us. All of this touchy-feelyness has been good, and we still haven't stopped.
I have learned how to take a good picture, thanks to you. I have taken more pictures the last twelve weeks than I have in the last twelve years. I even photographically preserved your first shot at the pediatricians office, tears and all! It seems like you learned pretty quick how to pose. Not just some dumb,stiff-looking "cheese" photo pose either. You have developed a knack for giving me expressions and natural poses.
Now it's time for the thank-you's. Thanks nurses in labor and delivery. We wouldn't know how to change a diaper without you! You all were wonderful. Except for the one that was stupid. Thanks OBGYBN. We are going to miss those appointments! Thanks lactation consultant. You are awesomely encouraging. To everyone in our childbirth and breastfeeding classes...let's have a reunion! Bring the babies!
Oh and for anyone who thinks that you have me trained and wrapped around your finger, or that you are spoiled already, I have a famous phrase that I keep repeating. "I don't believe in spoiling children. I only love and take good care of them. We never spoil them, because I dont believe in spoiling children!"
That was the whole ball of wax, in a nutshell. More daily midnight vignettes to come.