The older I get, the more enamored I become with looking back on my personal history. Call it self-absorbed1, but I can’t help but be interested in what was happening in my life on this day in previous years—who was I spending time with, what was I doing, where was I going, what was I thinking?
Thanks to Facebook’s On This Day feature, I get a daily summary of the last decade or so, boiled down to random and pithy status updates, overly comprehensive photo albums and shared links to web sites and videos that no longer exist2. Of particular interest are the retrospective glimpses at the times when I did something for the first time or had a once-in-a-lifetime or unique experience that I haven’t repeated since. It’s sad how many of those experiences I can’t recollect without the digital prodding of Facebook as my time machine, which makes me glad that I was so diligent about recording those experiences at the time. Throughout my life, I have failed at journaling regularly harder than I’ve failed at blogging regularly. I never realized how my incessant Facebooking might come in handy to fill in some of the un-journaled, un-blogged gaps in my life.
But what does any of this have to do with being a father? Well, I’m having more “firsts” now than I’ve ever had before in my life…but I’m not the only one. Every day Maddie encounters some new experience or shows some sign of growth that the journalist in me wants to document. One of the main purposes of this blog is to record such events so that one day Maddie and I can (re)discover them together. I’m excited for her to read about her own birth story and be able to see it from the perspective of her 33-year-old father who had just lived it. I’m sure she’ll love seeing the hundreds of photos I took and the hilarious faces she made when she was just one month old. I’m sure she will eventually reach an age when this is all very embarrassing for her, but I’m just as sure that she will grow through that stage and it will all become precious again.
On that note, it’s been about three weeks of Maddie’s life3 since I last wrote about her daily activities and new experiences, so it’s time for another update. Maddie is almost seven weeks old now and my mind is already boggled by looking at newborn photos of her. She’s almost a completely different baby already! Her hair, which initially seemed to be thinning faster than mine, seems to have reached a maximum balding point and the stuff on top is starting to grow out a bit. She’s starting to grow out a bit as well, now weighing in at 8.5 pounds and stretching to 21.5 inches.
You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile
While she still spends the majority of her time sleeping and eating and eating and sleeping, her waking moments have become more pleasant and enduring. We still don’t get much of a reaction or have too many meaningful interactions, but talking to her seems more fruitful now as she has begun to stare directly at us and even seemingly look us in the eye.
We’ve set up a black and white, high contrast baby book in her line of sight when we’re changing her. She seems to legitimately enjoy looking at the contrasting colors of the book–and I might be completely seeing what I want to see–but I also think she enjoys when I read it to her and turn the pages. She is finally starting to make some noises4 and seems to respond verbally when I’m reading the book to her and turning the pages. Again, this could be a giant coincidence, but I’m going to pretend it’s not.
At Maddie’s one-month doctor’s appointment, the doc posed a tantalizing hypothetical. “Is she smiling at you a lot when she wakes up or when you walk into the room?”
In a word, no. Maddie’s elusive smile is currently the most valuable gift she could give me. My birthday is in November, so maybe she’s saving it until then. I try harder to make Maddie smile than I did to get cute girls to laugh at my jokes in sixth grade. At least the girls laughed sometimes! I get an occasional tease when Maddie is sleeping peacefully and some wonderful gas creeps out of her intestines causing the most beautiful smile to flit across her lips. It’s always gone before I can pull out a camera or even fully digest just how freaking cute she looks with a smile on her face, so I’m left wanting a command performance and return to my idiotic grinning and pleading the next time she’s awake: “DO YOU WANNA SMILE, MADDIE?! YES YOU DO!! YES YOU DO!!” Sometimes I think I’m seeing the corner of her lip curl up into a crooked smile as she stares back at me, but it usually goes in the other direction and descends into a fit of fussing. Maybe I should dust off some of those sixth grade jokes.
UPDATE: In the week that it’s taken me to actually write this blog post5, Maddie has started to show signs of serious smiles! She has yet to unleash one of the beautiful, full-faced masterpieces that I sometimes catch her making in her sleep, but her response to my inane pleading routine has become a curling of both sides of her mouth into what should erupt into a smile. When I take photos of it, it really looks like she’s smiling, but I’m still waiting for that first real smile and I think we’re just a few more tries away from that. It’s so exciting!
A Few More Firsts
Maddie was out and about quite a bit a couple weeks ago with two “first” field trips getting crossed off her list: a Northwestern Football game and a concert at Ravinia Festival. These outings are fall and summer staples respectively for me, so it’s fitting that she should make an early showing at both of these locations. Maddie has thus far proven to be a baby who doesn’t mind going out. We have yet to have a true meltdown in public and most problems can be solved with breast milk, that wonderful elixir of peace and quiet. The unknown variable for these two trips was that both venues were completely outdoors. Fortunately, she seems to love being outside as well. This is frequently a secret weapon for Theresa during the day when I’m at work6. As soon as the fresh air hits Maddie’s face, she soaks it in. She also changes her breathing sometimes and starts doing these cute little yelps until she gets used to it. This week I saw Theresa take a struggling Maddie outside and return literally two minutes later with a sleeping baby. Truly a magic trick. At both the game and the concert, Maddie spent a lot of time just staring up at the sky in seeming wonder. In the case of Northwestern, that was for the best, as there wasn’t much to watch on the field. You’ll get used to it, kid.
Let’s see…what else has Maddie been up to? As I mentioned, she had her one-month doctor’s appointment and was given a shot by the nurse. This was a truly shocking moment for her, and I’ll never forget how she turned beet read as her face transformed into a silent, manic scream. Eventually she rediscovered her voice and cried louder than she had since her first bath in the hospital7. As some blood trickled out of her shot wound, I looked over at Theresa and saw tears welling up in her eyes as well. On the upside, the doctor said that everything is going well, and Maddie is growing appropriately, even if she is on the smaller side. She is now 21.5 inches8 and almost 9 pounds9.
I had a wonderful “first” experience with Maddie the other day when she was being nice and sitting on my lap in the glider one evening as we watched the Cubs game, then she curled up into a more comfortable position on my chest and fell asleep without even needing to eat! I didn’t think that was going to be possible until she was about six years old! Whenever Maddie is sleeping on my chest, I’m always astounded at the odd positions she chooses for herself. No matter how I try to position her, she has this habit of sliding herself down into my armpit so that she is almost straddling my side with her body. Whatever works for ya! It’s still an incredible feeling to have her sleeping on me–no matter the position–and I feel like it’s one way for us to bond as father and daughter in ways that we just can’t when I’m changing her diaper at 4 a.m.
I’m so shocked by the ways she has grown in such a short period of time and every day she seems to show more of a personality. I’m still savoring every second and trying to commit everything to memory. Every moment is magic.
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- or maybe just having a bad memory
- I thought the Internet was forever…
- which is about a year in adult time
- Many of which sound the same as her upset noises, but are actually not accompanied by upset-ness.
- Life is busy, man.
- still just two days a week, but soon it will be three
- which was Maddie’s first sorrowful mystery
- up from 20 at birth
- up from 7 at birth