Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Letter to the Boy: Month One

Dear Boy,

I know...I'm already a week late with this, the first letter. But when you get around to reading these however many years down the road, it won't matter much. Your mom is much more ambitious than I am...she's writing every week. My cousin--I guess he's your first cousin once removed? Or is it second once removed?--is writing to/about his boy just about all the time. But I think monthly will be sufficient for me to communicate to you everything that's gone on in your early life. Maybe I'll keep this going right up until you're in high school. Or maybe it'll fall away. You'd understand that, I think. My parents were horrible about keeping scrapbooks (but then, I'm the third child) and I never held it against them.

But I digress. Let's talk about the first month.

Your mom woke me up just after midnight with news that her water broke. And you were quite impatient...labor started a 4AM and ended with your arrival at 9:14AM. I just can't describe that feeling. I cried all day. It's the damnedest thing, kid, and something you'll understand if you actually have a kid yourself, and there's no real way to describe it other than this: there were four people in the room (me, your mom, the doctor, and a nurse), and, the very next moment, there were five people in the room, including you...a person who had never been in any rooms before. What other word is there for that other than miracle?

You cried lustily and loudly right off the bat. Your Grandpa on my side was listening over the phone from Florida and was impressed with your pipes. But your cry is different from other babies' cries. When other babies cry, I can hear just a shade of "oh, poor me, the world is bad, pity me." Not you. Your cry is simply a pissed-off cry. You say "Hey! Mom and Dad! Give me what I want, and I want it NOW! You're not doing it yet! Get me fed!" (And food is what you want about 95% of the time. You're totally predictable that way...and growing at a pace that far exceeds other babies.) Your stubbornness and headstrongness should come as no surprise, of course, given that those qualities both appear in both parents (particularly, and I don't think she'd be mad about me saying this, in your mom). But to see such toughness and demandingness from someone who isn't yet 2 feet tall...well, that's just something else.

You mostly want to hang out with Mom these days, because that's where the food is. But we've still got some good times in together. I think it was our third night home--your fifth night on the planet--when you were absolutely driving your mom crazy with the constant demand for food. You were keeping her awake. Well, fortunately, I had purchased a 6-pack of 24-oz. Mountain Dews for exactly this occasion. I normally don't drink caffeine, but I figured I'd be doing some all-nighters with you, and I had to get you away from your mom. You fell asleep in my arms as I watched baseball (a 1999 Mariner game I'd saved for the occasion). You slept from 1:45 until 5:15, permitting your mom a little consecutive sleep.

And that's my favorite part of this month so far--the times when I can get you to sleep. You relaxed when I sang a John Lennon song early on, so I decided you like John Lennon, and I've been singing his stuff to you to keep you calm since. It certainly isn't 100% effective--nothing cancels out your hunger--but it's nice when it works. Makes me feel like I'm making your world better, which is a good way to feel when we feel, as many parents of infants do, kinda helpless and rudderless a lot of the time. So if John Lennon helps, I'll sing him.

What gets me most is how quickly--instantaneously, even--you became a permanent part of my life, in the sense of "you've always been here." People talk about what an incredible change the first child is...and it certainly is. But from the very beginning, it's like you've always been here. Like my dad singing to me was a necessary prequel to me singing to you. Like my first dates with your mom were necessary just get get you with us. Like every joy and hardship has been about this first month of your life...about getting me ready for you.

Oh, and we think you may have superhuman strength. We're biased, but when you're taking a bath (not your favorite thing), you tend to put your feet against the edge of our mini-tub and arch your back so that your butt is in the air. And you were pushing off with your feet way, way earlier than is normal. I'm not sure when this will end, since neither me nor your mom are athletes by any definition of the word, but as of now, you could kick other one-month-olds' butts.

I'm looking forward to what comes next.


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