Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Second Impressions of Fatherhood

Jonah is six weeks old today. It’s hard to believe how quickly it's gone, and how much he has grown and changed in that time.

1) He is already learning to use his hands, which is fascinating to watch. He tries to reach for things, but does not quite have the arm control to keep his arm stationary yet. He has also started to learn how to grab onto things with his fingers (though I wonder if some of this is instinctive). For example, he is always grabbing onto my shirt collar or Rachel's necklace, or will clasp my finger in his.

2) He LOVES it when I sing to him. I know babies love music, but he doesn’t seem that interested in CDs yet. We’ve been performing nightly concerts for him, which is fun. He hears a lot of Beatles, Eagles, and other classic rock songs, since those are the ones I know all the words to. He loves American Pie. The best part is, he’s still too young to know how bad a singer I am, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

3) We have taken him into the city a few times, and he handled it pretty well. He likes to look around and listen, but it’s usually too much for him and he falls asleep. We’ve also had him with us at restaurants several times and as long as we time it with his naps (usually after a feeding), then we can relax and enjoy ourselves. He’s only had one meltdown while out with us (though I’m sure there are more to come).

4) He seems, for the most part, like a happy little boy. He has started smiling, though it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the happy smiles from the “pushing out a fart” smiles, but they’re still great, nonetheless.

5) He does have his freak outs every once in a while, which are trying to say the least. He is amazingly strong for such a little guy, and when he wails, his whole body stiffens up like a board and he just lets out these animal sounds that are devastating to listen to. There was a great New Yorker article a couple weeks ago about colicky babies and it said that babies cries are “the most shattering, devastating sound” human beings can hear. They even said that the US military uses recordings of screaming babies to torture prisoners in Guantanomo Bay. I can relate. But these are the moments when our patience is really on trial. So far, we are handling it well, and we’re both thankful that Jonah is not colicky.

6) It’s incredible how many people have asked us how we’re sleeping, as if that is the only question anyone cares about. The fact is that, it’s true, we do wake up with him more, especially Rachel, and we are tired, but the experience of having him in our lives is so much more than the lack of sleep. I suppose it’s the social equivalent of asking “how are you” but it gets a little monotonous. My stock answer: “I’m sleeping like a baby. Literally.”

7) He has also grown quite a bit since he was born (which is obviously what you want to happen, but still a little sad in a way). He’s at least two inches longer and a couple pounds heavier than when he was born. His face, which was pretty skinny and defined at birth, now has the typically chubby baby cheeks and about six chins. He’s also suffering from pretty severe baby acne. Nothing to worry about healthwise, but kind of unsightly.

8) I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I still don’t think its really hit me yet that I’m a father. In some ways my life isn’t that different now that I’m back to work. I mean, there are times when I forget all about Jonah and then it’ll occur to me that, oh yeah, I have a son. It’s just surreal. I thought it would have sunk in more by now, but I guess it takes time.

9) Overall, though, I love being a father. More than I thought I would. I’m slowly becoming more confident, and look forward to being with him. I still have time for writing, which was perhaps my biggest concern leading up to his birth, and while I do have to make sacrifices at times, its worth it. People tell me that infancy is the easy part, relatively speaking, and I believe them (we don’t have to entertain him too much, or chase him around and keep him from destroying everything in sight). I know it goes by quickly and you can never get this time back, so I am trying to appreciate it as much as I can and just relax and enjoy myself.

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