Daddy Writing

Things Are Not the Same

Once you see an entire human being come out of your wife’s private parts, things are never quite the same again. Certainly not between the two of you. The meanings of time, sleep and food are instantly remade. Even your house gets turned around. While our friendly post-partum doula and midwife pass through upended rooms, circumnavigating the shipments of diapers and gifts, consulting on this and that, my wife walks around with her shirt off, the shutters stay closed for modesty’s sake, and in the darkened rearmost chamber, the sound of a heavy rainstorm loops on an iPod Shuffle, along with the recorded sound of a vacuum cleaner, in order to soothe the baby. I am apparently living in some kind of post-natal submarine. The cat is especially confused. 

Now we sleepwalk in this ‘fourth trimester’ baby containment vessel, and to keep my sense of humor I try to enjoy the loss of boundaries. I open the freezer, once reserved for food, to see a stack of Maxi Pads soaking in Witch Hazel. My bathroom has become an op center of bottles, feeding gadgets, breast pump components. My wife’s placenta has been fashioned into pills that reside on the nightstand. The purpose of this, as I understand it, is to reintroduce beneficial hormones and also to freak out husbands. It’s working. I am freaked out. What else, I wonder, will they be making into pills for us to consume?

I have two older children now grown, and when I did the baby thing those first two times we had owner’s manuals, well-thumbed and dog-eared copies of Spock and Brazelton that we consulted at the slightest peep from our progeny. Pediatricians, also, were much more Moses-like in those days, prone to pronouncements that young parents obeyed without question.

Different, now. We are inundated with opinions, some actually based remotely on facts, about how to diaper, when to feed, when to vaccinate if at all, how to medicate, how not to medicate, and what constitutes an emergency that merits calling in a professional. (‘Poop in the screaming yellow color of a traffic detour sign? – oh, that’s normal’).  There is Tiger Mothering, advice from fans of Chinese and Hindu cultures, and the terrible spectre of potentially practicing ‘Attachment Parenting,’ whereby the parents and their child are together at all hours day and night,  their bodies touching skin to skin, sharing fluids and consciousness, for as long as six years.Then the parents are led off to an insane asylum. The children must be raised by wolves. Not sure I got that right. Get back to you on it.  For now, at three in the morning I will occupy myself with the things that really matter, like how many millilitres are in an ounce. (I checked: It’s 3,256.) 

If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like their peas touching their carrots on their plate, you will have an interesting time as a parent. Conceptually, everything has contact with everything else. It’s the end of a world and the beginning of the next. Note to self: Must remember not to eat the placenta burritos in the refrigerator.

I have learned, by the way, that my newborn son has been writing a blog that has become very popular. I should be used to this, as my older children have taken a few laps around me already, becoming cooler, more articulate, better traveled and capable of creating things I can only think about. It stings a little when your offspring surpass you, and the sting is worse for me, as the surpassing has been accomplished in the first days of life, and with the excellent use of words. I have tumbled along for thirty years of writing and image-making, and then some kid shows up who’s got badda-bing timing and iconic photographs — and he takes the prize in the first couple of weeks of his life! Well, I am comforted to know it was ever so and shall ever be.


My First Week – Notes from an American Baby

Is that title pretentious? Hope it works for you, cause I’m going for something kinda grabby. I want to get on Stewart or Colbert as soon as I can talk.

People have wondered  whether I will keep up blogging, considering the lack of sleep. Let’s be clear: I do not have a problem with sleep. My parents have a problem with sleep.

I am getting plenty of microsleep in 10-minute intervals which, by the way, is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

From the early days (and nights) of human development we slept around campfires with lots of dangerous animals lurking outside the flickering circle of safety. If everybody fell asleep, they’d be eaten. So we learned to sleep in short bursts. Infants like me are simply continuing this sensible practice.

By the way, I have been practicing singing in a loud, loud voice. My father calls this ‘screaming.’ He knows nothing about music. My plan is to keep singing as loud as I can until my parents become confused and compliant and give me what I want. It’s been working so well! They are becoming more cranky and vulnerable every day. Yet, over the past 72 hours or so, I have discovered a problem with my perfect plan. My parents do not speak baby. My lyrics are great and my tunes are catchy. Everything I do has a hook that Jay-Z would envy. Sadly, my people here are not understanding a word. Like an American in a foreign country, I’ve tried speaking louder. I’ve tried texting them, but they’re too tired to find their phones. I can’t email them. There’s no WiFi in my crib. So I just keep singing my aria, arpeggio upon arpeggio to rival Caruso, until they get the picture. I know it’s going to work.

Update: I took a ride in my stroller with my mommy. She is producing lots of milk now and I chug it down like mother’s milk. (Sorry, I haven’t mastered these metaphors yet.) I like to stretch out next to her in the big bed and stare into her green eyes. I love to feel the energy glowing between us like an eternal light. I saturate her with my Buddha-nature and my intoxicating cocktail of hormones, and I set an intention, for us, together. Mommy, before I graduate high school, I expect you to buy me a car.

I kid you, though. I know my mommy loves me. And even though my dad is kind of gruff when he is changing me at 3:30 in the morning, I know he loves me too. He is getting a little edgy, though. We have run out of coffee filters and my dad is in the laundry room right now ripping apart an old t-shirt so he can put coffee through it. Next time he is changing me I am going to recommend he try a little cup of breast milk. It’s very calming. Note to self: Would they object if I set up a breast milk stand out front like some kids have lemonade stands? People find this kind of capitalistic enterprise charming in children, and I could pick up a couple extra bucks.

Another update:  I went to the doctor today for my second checkup. Everything is good. I’ll hit my birth weight soon. They talked about my poop again without an opt-in from me, which is a worse violation of my privacy rights than any Facebook has committed.

Well, anyway, looking back, it’s been a helluva week, although I have no concept of ‘week’ because I can’t discern the difference between night and day. Until I figure that out, I am working on something I’d like to share with you. Reaching out to other babies reading this, do you think it’s better to wait until my dad is almost done changing me to pee on the changing table? I can soak my clothes pretty well that way, but it’s literally hit or miss. Or does it work better to let a high stream go in a graceful arc, creating maximum coverage, but risking peeing myself in the face, which I wouldn’t really mind anyway? Fellow babies, feel free to comment below or let me know about other tricks you have to make changing more fun.

My dad says he is working on his blog. We will see how it stacks up to mine. Got to get some sleep now so I can wake up my parents later. See you soon.


I have arrived

Okay, I’m here. I got a couple of minutes between naps so I’ll give you some first impressions.

First of all, Mom, I gotta tell you that was one wild ride, easily the craziest Saturday night I’ve ever had. It’s only, like, less than a foot to travel, but it’s an amazing journey.

Oh, and the thing about getting wrapped up in our umbilical cord? I was just messing with you. The labor process was going kind of long, I thought the storyline was dragging, so I punched things up. Hope it worked for you.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because I’m a baby and a nonlinear thinker, and also because it’s hard to type with these small fingers and not think about breast milk. More on that later.

I think the spicy Thai food to get our labor started was a good choice. Sorry about the 1:50 Friday morning wake up with our water breaking. I didn’t mean to do that. I was just poking around and the next thing you know, it’s Niagara Falls. I think you made some good choices moving around the house and trying different labor positions. Assigning the cat to watch over filling the birth pool was … interesting.

After all the hard work we did at home, I’m totally ok with you moving our thing to the hospital. I’m a big guy, eight pounds, 13 ounces, 21 and a half inches tall. We needed a little more help. By the way, all those newborn clothes and diapers that you got for me? That’s all going to last me about two days before you have to go back to Target and get me some real clothes. Just saying.

At the hospital, we were met at three the next morning by a great team who were surrealistically kind for that hour.  Mom slept for a while, labored for a while, my head was getting squished, people were cracking jokes to loosen up the room, my mother was cursing and then the next thing I knew the doctor caught me on the way out. Just as I was taking my first breath (there’s this stuff called air – it’s pretty good) a team of pros seemed to appear out of nowhere like Navy SEALS to give me a rubdown, a hit of oxygen, a couple of tests. My mom looked on adoringly, which was nice. Then I got to hang out with her for a while, which was better.

The team exited out the window using bungee cords and grappling hooks, which I thought was overkill, but I wasn’t directing this picture. I glanced at the clock. It was 5:54 Saturday evening. I had arrived on my due date, so my dad says they’re expecting this kind of on-time behavior going forward. Ha! I will be starting a big file labeled Dumb Ass Jokes My Dad Makes.

This is a family blog, so I feel awkward writing in detail about breast feeding, but I can tell you that, man the stuff is really GOOD. Really hits the spot after spending the whole day climbing the evolutionary ladder. We start as fish living in liquid, push out onto land, poop everywhere like monkeys, walk upright as we become homo erectus, and then assume credit card debt.

I don’t know yet how I’ll be making a living in 2032, but I realize that you have to learn to crawl before you can code. I will focus on crawling. Did I mention breast milk? I am working on that too.

Let me close out my first blog by thanking everyone involved in this thing. My father, for providing genetic material and overall guidance. The heroic work of my mom, for building me, sustaining me, believing in me, singing to me, and moving me out into this world. My midwife, midwife’s assistant, day nurses, night nurses, delivery doctor, Navy SEAL baby toners, lactation consultants, pediatrician – you’ve all done a fantastic job. I would thank my agent and publicist, but I don’t know what those are yet.

Well, gotta get back to sleep now. See you.