Monday, October 27, 2014


So, it happened.  On September 15, 2014, at 1:17pm CST, I became a father to a beautiful baby boy.  I hate to be such a cliche, but the moment I first held my son in my arms was transformative in a way I can't describe.

Welcome to the world, heir to my vast empire.

But I'm not here to gush about that stuff.  In the short amount of time I have free while my son is taking a post-lunch nap, I want to jot down a list I've been compiling over the past six weeks.  It's a bunch of things I've learned since I became a father.

Being a father is both harder and easier than I thought it would be.  I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy and natural caring for an infant comes to me, and how much I've bonded with my little progeny.  It turns out I actually love my son, and really like being a father.  (I know that each phase of child-rearing will bring new challenges, so I'm not so cocky as to predict how I'll feel about it in 6 months, or 2 years, or 16 years.)  But there are also challenges I didn't expect, like not having the time to pee.

A sample of what fatherhood has taught me so far:

  • Babies get the hiccoughs A LOT, but they don’t seem to bother them. My boy never cries and hiccoughs at the same time. [Scratch that: I have since experienced him not only crying while hiccoughing, but also eating while hiccoughing. He’s a more versatile hiccougher than I thought.] 
  • As the father of an infant, I routinely forget to eat breakfast. 
  • I can function on 5-6 hours of broken sleep. The body adjusts. When I do finally get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, I wake up too tired and cranky, as if my body can’t handle all that sleep at one time.
  • Being an infant is the last time your parents will revel in your burping. “Well-burped, sir!”
  • The only difference between a bib and a cape is 180 degrees. 
  • Infant boys get erections. I had no idea.  And when you see that little baby boner, it's a warning that projectile pee or poop is coming, so take cover!  
  • A baby’s fingernails are soft and thin and pliable, like an onion skin. This makes them really hard to cut with nail clippers.
  • When I try to burp him, I burp more than he does.
  • You will beg for the time to fold laundry. One evening I tried for three hours and never touched one piece of clothing. I had to wait until he was asleep, then I stayed up late (till 11pm) to finish it.
  • New infant weight loss plan: eat as much as you want during the day, get a little less exercise than normal, and get up every three hours in the middle of the night (stay up for about an hour.) After a few weeks of this, I was down to a lower weight than I'd been in 3 years.  Alas, this plan stopped working once we started alternating night feedings, and Baby started sleeping 4-5 hours at a time.  Now that I'm getting about 8 hours of sleep a night, my weight has drifted back up.
  • Infant poop doesn't smell like real poop, but it does have a smell.  Once you start giving them formula, even a little, it starts to smell like Velveeta.
  • A sound-asleep baby can sense if you 1.) turn on the phone, 2.) watch TV, 3.) leave the room, or 4.) whisper to someone. They require 100% attention on them, and they can tell if your mind wanders.  "I sense you're taking oxygen for yourself, so I will cry now."    
  • One of the creepiest things ever is to look down the barrel of a pacifier as a child sucks on it. 
    When that little circle pulsates, it's creepy in a way I can't explain
  • Going to the bathroom or blowing your nose become way more complicated when you’re holding a fussy baby.You may think, Oh, I'll just put him down for two minutes.  Well, how well can you pee when there's a screaming baby right outside the door?  Talk about pressure! 
  • The first time he slept for six hours straight, 10pm – 4am, I was worried that he wasn’t crying loudly enough. Is he sick? 
  • Infant formula powder is very sticky when he get it on your hands. Is it made of sugar?
  • Daddy’s little furnace: sometimes when I hold him it’s like holding a bag of hot coals. When he cries, his little red head emits so much heat you can almost see the wavy lines coming off of it. 
  • Infants grunt like weightlifters, and move their arms and legs around as if they’re straining against invisible bonds. 
  • And just like weightlifters, they are surprisingly strong. Trying to hold his arms down in order to swaddle him takes quite a bit of muscle. 
  • Among the 50 different faces my son makes, a good 20% of them make him look like he’s trying to puzzle something out. (My brother once said that infants look “presidential.” I think it’s the furrowed brow.) 
Taken over 5 minutes, these are some of the 42 faces of my baby.