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The Story About the Baby, Volume 4

As of this writing, our daughter Cordelia is 3.5 weeks old. On one hand, she is growing nicely, and she sleeps 5-6 uninterrupted hours every night. All to the good. On the other hand, looking into her eyes, I can't see any signs that she loves me. Nothing there at all. Just this blank stare.

I don't know. I just don't think this is working out.

Don't Worry. Their Legs Always Fall Off. Nothing to Worry About.

I prepared for this experience like any good geek would. I read books. You can't deal with an engineering problem without fully understanding the specifications and boundary conditions of the objects involved. You know. Mass. Coefficient of friction. Tensile strength. That sort of thing.

Then I picked up a copy of the best-selling What To Expect The First Year, and I found out that pretty much every child's default state is "Broken." A few of the more memorable examples:

Chapter Four - Acne? Normal. "Explosive Bowel Movements"? Normal.

Chapter Five - Hernia? Nothing to worry about.

Chapter Thirteen - Child smashing his head against the walls of the crib? Perfectly reasonable. Child occasionally holding his breath until he passes out? 1 in 5 kids do this.

Fuck.

Kids are messed up. I kept expecting to turn the page and read

"Child On Fire -

Occasionally, you will look in the crib and see that your baby is on fire. This happens to most children at one time or another, and is perfectly normal. If the fire does not go out on its own within two or three hours, consider calling a doctor."

I expect to have this conversation on the phone with Cordelia's pediatrician:

"Hello, doctor."
"Hello. What seems to be the problem?"
"Well, my daughter is... well..."
"Yes?"
"She is covered with ants."
"Oh? That's nothing to worry about. That happens to one in three children before age two."
"Really?"
"Oh, yes. The ant is the natural enemy of the baby."
"So I shouldn't worry about it?"
"Well, call me again if they're still there next week. Or if they start to lay eggs."
"OK, thank you doctor."

Also, worryingly, our daughter shits her pants all the time. And she vomits a lot. It's really upsetting. I'm almost starting to suspect that, if I left her alone, she wouldn't be able to function well at all.

Whoops. There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant.

We took our kid out to lunch with us the other day. We're getting out of the house as much as we can while our daughter is, for all practical purposes, noisy luggage.

While we were eating, I noticed that a lone ant was in the carrier, climbing up the blanket towards our baby's face.

Now you sort of have to feel for this ant. I mean, here it was, walking on the best food source its colony could ever know. Soon, it would reach the face, get one taste of that sweet, sweet spit-up, and run back to the queen, and soon ants are everywhere. That is the sort of pluck and can-do spirit we're brought up to respect in this country.

That is why it really broke my heart to have to pick it up and flick it away. Granted, letting your baby get covered with ants is probably a perfectly reasonable thing to do, from a Darwinian, red in tooth and claw, nature-centered perspective. Lord knows it's only fair.

But, as a father, I felt it was the sort of thing I should be doing. So there we are.

Baby's First Vocalization

Baby said her first recognizable, non-crylike sound the other day. It was "Goo."

That's right. She said quote-Goo-endquote. It's perfect. It's like if a dog said "Bark."

My wife was nearby to hear it, but she wasn't close enough to pick Cordelia up and positively reinforce this behavior. So, if my daughter can't talk until she's five, it's my wife's fucking fault.

I Sleep Much Better Now That the Baby Is Here

Three weeks in, our child now sleeps 5-6 quiet, uninterrupted hours a night. This rules.

Of course, you may be one of those parents who has a kid that never sleeps at night, or never sleeps except in tiny patches. In this case, all I have to say is IN YOUR FACE.

I am SUCH a good parent.

My wife and I have dramatically offset sleep schedules. She sleeps from 10-ish to 6-ish (only getting up to feed and supplementing with naps) and I sleep from 4-ish to noon-ish. Baby sleeps during the short overlap. I am sleeping better now than I did for months before the child arrived. It's eerie.

I am now convinced that the rest of our child's infancy will go by completely easily and without incident, and there will be no colic or other difficulties. And I will not get any sort of ironic comeuppance.

A New Skill

Our daughter is now the Spit Up Princess. She is the real Vomit Comet.

I am amazed by the aplomb and dignity with which she can spit up milk. It's like nothing to her. She makes a little face, she squirts milk and digestive fluids on daddy, and, in a moment, she's back in business. When I vomit, it's this huge production with me bending over the bowl and gagging and brushing my teeth and everything. She doesn't even seem to notice she's done it. I think she's gifted.

Of course, maybe it's not just spitting up. Maybe she's three weeks old and already bulimic. I am a little worried about this, though, if this is the case, it's not all bad. At least she knows how important it is to be pretty.

Daddy Quote of the Week

"She's putting on a lot of weight. She's starting to look less like a human and more like a baby."

A Thought About Checking Your Child In the Middle of the Night To Make Sure She Is Still Alive

When Cordelia was on the way, I asked my parents and uncles if they ever went into the bedroom and poked their kids to make sure they were still alive. They all said yes.

I know now that that answer was incomplete. When asked, what I will say is, "Yes, of course. But the first time you wake your child up from a sound sleep and she immediately starts screaming, you cut down on that shit REAL QUICK."

Now I'm down to only checking my little darling every half an hour. With a few years of work, I'm sure I can get it down to only checking her ever 31 minutes. Until she's sixteen, of course, and it starts to totally creep her out.


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