The entire experience has been unbelievably surreal – I am a father to a precious little girl now. That long-awaited moment when I first cradled her in my hands, with her tiny head full of hair nestled softly in my palm, her gazing eyes as clear as the clearest crystal, her pouty mouth and puffy cheeks – I knew I would be transformed forever. Other fathers had offered me counsel before, explaining what that moment would feel like. But no amount of descriptive verbiage can truly illustrate the emotions that stir inside a man when he looks at his newborn child. And so, here we are 2 months removed from her born day, and that feeling has not subsided. Slowly, I have transformed into that father. People told me I would change, and I certainly have. How have I changed? Read on and enjoy my fatherly escapades.
My occupation requires, at the very least, almost 95.3 % of the work day be spent inside of a cubicle. For the uninitiated, a confined gentleman may be subject to go stir crazy. It is not unusual to see individuals drifting asleep, playing on their smart phone or tablet, or just leaving their cubicle for an extended break. Me – I pass the time looking at pictures that I snapped the previous night on my smart phone of my little one. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen them countless times. I cannot tire of looking at that cute little face. When my phone flashes green, I hope it’s a new picture my wife has snapped at home. One of my favorites: a candid shot of her after she just pooped in the bathroom. The look on her face is priceless. Even though she was approximately 5 weeks old, her face was one of sheepish mischief. Again – priceless.
- Yes, I find myself getting hysterically, albeit silently, excited over rudimentary baby movements. Look – she turned her head! Look – she’s grabbing my shirt! Look – she’s smiling at me! It’s a fine line to tiptoe: being a proud father and being obnoxious. So, I’m reserved with whom I share my baby movement updates. I really don’t need a cynic raining on my parade.
- Because, if said cynic says the wrong thing, I cannot be held responsible for what I will say next. On a base level, I suppose we are all part of the animal kingdom, and thus on a base level, we should all be protective of our young. Now, I understand that may not apply to all, but it should apply. Personally, I have probably become overprotective. I guard against danger founded and unfounded. I make sure no pillows or blankets are near her face when she’s sleeping. And even though she can’t roll yet, I make a little pillow barricade on the edge of the bed to prevent any mishaps, even though no real danger of falling off the bed exists yet. My wife just chuckles and smiles. What can I say? It makes me feel better.
- Truthfully, I was granted sufficient warning from other fathers, the inevitable would eventually come to pass. Whatever bodily fluid housed within my darling daughter would soon become a deadly, slightly gross projectile that would land somewhere on my person. Moreover, after being tagged with said deadly, slightly gross projectile – I would not even care. And so one evening, I found myself sitting on the couch with my 4 week old daughter sitting on my thigh when she suddenly performed an Oscar worthy Exorcist impersonation and began to regurgitate the contents of her tiny stomach all over me. Instinctively, I cupped my opposite hand under her chin to catch as much of the undigested breast milk as I could. Afterwards, after passing her to my wife for a clean-up, I simply washed my hands and changed my clothing. No worries. Two weeks later, I valiantly waged battle with a poopy diaper of epic proportions. Fecal matter be damned, I arose the victor. Sorry, did I mention that it was a cloth diaper that was probably too loose? So, yes, stuff was everywhere. I had to rinse her off one-handed in the sink. Grab a towel with my teeth to lay on the changing table. Remove the poopy diaper – all while my wife slept in the bed a few feet away (she was tired, she deserved the nap). Of course, I had to administer an impromptu bath, but that was okay. It just afforded more time to bond with my little girl laugh about the previous adventure.
- So, I stand approximately 6 feet and 1 inch in height. I clock in at 2 hundred and – ahem – pounds. I’m bald. I’m black. And I have a wooly beard. The presentation can be deceivingly intimidating. A co-worker once referred to me as her gentle giant. Yes, it’s true, I do have some soft spots – especially now when it pertains to my daughter. Prime example: This past weekend, my wife introduced the idea of getting our daughter’s ears pierced. Not comfortable with the whole procedure, nonetheless, I acquiesced to the idea. As soon as the pediatrician walked in with the proper ear piercing tools, I felt uneasy. I knew nothing bad would happen, but I still felt uneasy. Now, not too many things shake me. I worked in a hospital for 8 years. I’ve seen amputated feet and hands, dead bowels, handled fecal and urine samples, swabbed sputum (sometimes nasty bloody sputum), and generally worked in an environment that many could not stomach. However, my daughter’s potential cries had me rattled. These wouldn’t be normal cries – I’m sleepy, come feed me cries. These were going to be: Ouch, what the hell was that, screaming cries. I knew inside I would not be able to handle it. So I left the room. Pop! And then the cries began. Now, I either have super hearing or those walls were thin. So I decided to just leave the building entirely until the mayhem was over. Yes, I’m a mega-softy for my little girl now.
- My creativity has gone through the roof! A crying and fussy baby requires a creative father. Thus, I am more creative now than I’ve ever been. Need music to calm a crying baby? Well, I’ve belted tunes from Troop to The Commodores to The Deele to Stevie Wonder. Hell, I was even able to rock her to sleep dancing to the theme music from Taxi! Shout out to Bob James for that smooth jazz instrumental “Angela”. I read on the Internet that a baby likes the sound of a high pitched voice, so I created this one particular voice that never fails to draw her attention or garner a smile. My wife says I sound like a character from The Muppets. She never says which one. I think she is perhaps thinking of Beaker. Peek-a-Boo. Reading stories. Listening to Mozart. Whatever it takes!
I’m sure there is more to come, as she is only 2 months old. And while it is challenging, it is certainly rewarding. I would not give it up for anything. Stay tuned for more!