Sleep

When I learned I was going to become a father last year and told my coworkers, one father of daughters told me “Sleep now. While you still can.”

HP does not like bedtime. She wants to stay up all night and party, even if mommy and daddy have meetings at work in the morning. Lately she has been teething and getting over a cold, and that has made getting her down for the night even more challenging.

My wife and I worked out a program where I will stay up later with HP and get her to fall asleep because I’m generally better at getting her to go down for the night. Ideally, my wife will be the one who gets up in the morning when HP wakes up and let me sleep.

Unfortunately for me, my wife prefers to kick me awake and trick me into taking care of HP. Usually, it’s not until after I’ve already got HP fed and back in bed that I realize it was my turn to stay in bed.

I’ve been thinking about taking a new approach to getting HP to sleep. Basically, setting her down in her crib, turning the lights down and telling her goodnight. She’s six months old and this is supposed to help her learn to go to bed on time, but I don’t know if I have the nerve not to run right back in her room the second she gets unhappy.

Yeah, I’m wrapped around that finger pretty tight.

Another special moment

HP did something new last night.

I was holding my daughter on my lap, getting her ready for bedtime. She reached out with her left hand and grabbed my right ring finger. This was nothing new; she’s been grabbing my hand since the day she was born. What was different is she pulled on my finger and flexed her arm.

I let her move my hand as she wished, and she flexed and relaxed her arm a time or two, and then a light seemed to turn on in her eyes and she realized she was able to make me do things. She grinned and started waving my hand back and forth, faster and faster, smiling with pride at her own strength.

I started chuckling. HP laughed with me. It was pretty great.

Get a grip

My daughter has developed a strong grip. She loves to reach out while I’m holding her and get two big handfuls of my beard. And then she pulls as hard as she can.

It stings a little when she tugs on my beard, but I’m so excited to see her growing and getting stronger I let her do it. If it makes her smile, it’s worth it.

HP is teething and will chew on whatever she can get in her mouth. She often uses the beard-grab maneuver to pull my face close so she can bite my nose. She also grabs fingers and pulls them into her mouth so she can gnaw on them.

I’ve made sure to wash my hands well before holding HP lately because of the finger chewing. Sometimes she’ll pull my index and middle fingers into her mouth so she can use them to relieve the pain around where her molars will pop up. When we do this, the fingers sticking out of her mouth look just like tusks, so we call it “The walrus.”

HP’s dexterity is cause for concern. I’ve learned to take my glasses off whenever I hold my daughter anywhere near my face because on a few occasions now she has snatched my spectacles right off my nose. I can’t afford another $400 set of glasses.

Laughter and other great sounds

At first, it was really difficult to get HP to laugh.

The first few times my daughter laughed, it happened while I was in another room. I just heard my wife yell something like “Oh my God, HP just laughed!” and I would run in to hear for myself, but by that time she had gone back to her normal self.

But that’s changed over the past month or so. First, HP started laughing more when I would blow raspberries on her knuckles. The sensation just made her chuckle.Hearing her laugh just sent a shot through me. Her laughter is simply the most beautiful sound in the world — at least it is to my ears.

We tried a few times to get this on video, but every time she saw the camera she would just clam up. Finally, we figured out how to conceal the camera at the right moment and got the giggles on camera. It was great.

Now HP laughs even easier. When I was a kid, my dad would talk like an angry Donald Duck to make us laugh. I’ve tried using that voice off and on since HP was born and until recently, it just annoyed her. But last week I tried the voice out on her again, and she laughed the hardest I’d ever seen.

But each time I find something that makes her laugh, it only works for a little while. All I get for the duck voice now is just a smile, and she doesn’t react to knuckle raspberries anymore. This means this daddy is going to have to find some new material to keep the little one laughing.

Health

My little girl has a cold. She’s been coughing a bunch today and she had a couple of meltdowns after getting very tired and grouchy.

I was warned before HP’s birth that there would be times she would try my sanity, and when she has a full-bore meltdown, screaming in my face at the top of her lungs, it’s hard to think. I tell myself to remember that it’s her way of saying “I need you,” and that makes it a lot easier.

HP is in bed now. We gave her a warm bath and a nice warm meal and then she was out pretty quickly. Her appetite is definitely stronger than it was this afternoon. I hope this is a sign that’s she’s already winning this fight.

I worry about my daughter’s health a great deal. I’ve taken a poor path for my health for much of my own life, and I’m trying to get in better shape so I can take better care of her, and because I don’t want her to suffer the same problems I’ve faced.

I need to get back to exercising regularly. I know that once spring gets here I’ll be taking her on walks every chance I get and pushing her everywhere. Until then, I need to figure something else out.

 UPDATE: Took HP to the doctor Monday morning for her 4-month checkup. Doctor discovered she had an ear infection. That explains the meltdown. I feel like an idiot for not spotting it sooner.

I had ear infections a lot when I was a child. I guess she’s inherited that from me.

Hope and love

I’m lucky that my daughter is only 3 months old. I don’t have to explain to her why some piece of garbage would break into a school and murder first-graders and teachers.

All I have to do is hold her, feed her and entertain her until she’s ready to have another nap.

But I find myself wondering what I’d do if she were older and asked about what had happened and why.

HP doesn’t know anything of evil. I know someday she’ll learn about it — one way or another, no matter how hard I try to protect her. I can check under her bed and through all of her closets, but no matter what I do, there are still plenty of real monsters out there.

Someday, she’ll need to understand that there are bad people in this world, and from time to time, we must face them.

We can do our best to keep them away. We can build sturdy walls and strong communities to make ourselves feel safe, but evil will still try and seek us out.

I’d tell her that her mother and I love her and that we will do all we can to keep her safe.

I’d tell her we must be strong and refuse to give in to fear and hate in times like these. Instead, we must find strength in hope and love because the evil in this world feeds on our fear.

I’d point out that yes, something terrible happened, but it’s important to see how horrible events can bring out the best in some.This quote by Fred Rogers has been making the rounds online lately, and I hope I can remember it should I ever need it:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

I’ll tell my little girl about how scared I was during big disasters that struck when I was her age. It was scary, but the world kept turning and the sun came up the next day.

I grew older and I grew stronger. She will grow older and stronger too.

Terror on the TV

I’m watching the news reports out of Connecticut about the shooting that killed 18 children this morning.

I just want to go get my daughter out of daycare, take her home and hold her the rest of the day.

But I have work to do, so I have to be away from my little girl. I hate this feeling of helplessness and horror.

I imagine every parent in America feels this way right now.

Piggyback rides

I was carrying my daughter around the house the other night and she was looking about  with those curious eyes of hers.

She would look at me, then glance about, trying to make sense of the place around her, and then back to me. I’m not quite sure how well she can see yet, but it’s clear she can detect colors and shapes. She certainly knows my face and her mother’s face, and she likes to smile at us when we smile at her.

My arms were tired from work and from holding her for a while, so I sat down with her propped up in my lap. She studied my face.

When she was born, she weighed 6 1/2 pounds. Now she’s about 13 or so, and outgrowing clothes every week. We’re already dressing her in her “Baby’s first Christmas” outfit now because by the time Christmas rolls around, she might be too big to fit into it.

This moment made me think of all the piggyback rides I used to give my little brothers and sister growing up and how when HP (what we’ll call my daughter) gets bigger, she’ll probably want the same. If she’s like her uncles and aunt were, she’ll want to be carried everywhere.

I looked at my inquisitive daughter and told her about all this. I told her about my brothers and sister and how they loved using me as their beast of burden, and how they always wanted me to carry them fast. I told HP I imagined someday she will be squealing “Faster, daddy, faster” at me while I’m running her around in the back yard. She smiled when I said “Faster daddy,” so I repeated it a few times as she grinned brighter and brighter and then started giggling.

I figure it was her way of saying “Yes, daddy, you better be ready. I’m gonna run you ragged.”

It’s OK. I need the exercise.

The story so far

Earlier this year, I became a father. It’s been a hell of a journey so far.

My daughter is, quite simply, amazing. She eats. She poops. She sleeps. She melts my heart. Right now, that’s about all she does.

Eat. Poop. Sleep. Be Cute.

But there will come a day when she can do a lot more than that, and I often daydream about the fun and adventures we’ll have once she’s outgrown diapers, bottles and swaddling and all that. I really look forward to all the things she’ll discover in this world, because there’s a lot of wonderful stuff out there.

So that’s what this blog will be: a place where I can share all the things I hope to share with my daughter someday.