What I Have Learned (ver. Lil’ One point 0)

Photo disclaimer – The babies pictured above are trained photographic professional stand-ins who look good in a basket and pink bunny suits. Or they are photoshopped. Or something. I don’t own them, I didn’t borrow them and, heck, I don’t even know who they are. I just found/copied/pasted this image to let you know this post has something to do with a baby(ies).   
Well, it has been a while since I last sat down long enough to peck out one of these lil’ “What I Have Learned” blog posts. Sorry. My bad. At least I wasn’t on strike like hockey. 

Also, you should know, it’s not because I haven’t been learning anything – Ben Franklin said “Learning never ends,” right? Nor has it been because I’ve been lazy – that just ain’t possible for me. If you know me than you are well aware that I could stay entertained all day if all I had was a knife, fork and spoon. Seriously. Think about all you could do with just those utensils (read: Aron Ralston if you run out of ideas). OK, bad one, sorry.


Rather, it has been because, well, let’s see how best to say this, um, okay, I’ve got it now…we have been busy having a baby. Yep, those little bundles of joy. The ultimate lil’ packages of amazement and wonder. Those little machines with disproportionally loud screams and cries. We had a girl.


Caroline joined us in early October and, as any new parent will tell you, life shifted gears and changed lanes in the blink of an eye. It just took off like a bat out of h—. No, wait, I’ve got a better one, it took off like a baby coming into the world and the parents leaving the hospital without an owner’s manual. That fast. 

So while my life has been turned upside down these last four months (if you think I have been crazy, you should see how hard Sarah is workin’) my mind has stayed busy trying to process the fact that as a new Dad, even if I think I’m staying above water, I’m not. I am basically, utterly, completely lost.  Yes, guys, let’s face it, our usefulness with a newborn is, let’s see, about as useful as a new father and a newborn with no owner’s manual or instructions. 

Did I already use that joke? Sorry. Sarah calls it baby brain. I’m not even as “with it” and up on terminology as she is and she sleeps far less than me.
What was I saying and why am I here? 

Anyway, before I forget what I was saying and why I’m here, I thought I’d share just a few of the lessons I’ve learned since Caroline made her amazing entrance. 

1.      Amazing entrances? Despite classes and movies, I didn’t have the tiniest clue what having a baby entails until Sarah made it happen. Watching from the sidelines as a baby is born gives you front row seats to the matinee performance of your own miracle coming true. 

2.      The first night I left Sarah and Caroline in the hospital and came home to sleep in our bed, I saw our house through a different set of eyes. The transformation began the second I rolled out to my van and it hasn’t stopped. Being a parent gives you a different perspective on what’s happening around you.
3.      The responsibility that comes with knowing a small, helpless, living and breathing human being is counting on you – and will count on you her whole life – is a heavy weight not easily exercised. It puts life in perspective. 

4.      On one of the first nights we were home as a family and it was my turn to stay awake and keep an eye on Caroline through the midnight shift, I didn’t know what to do. Not a clue. So while Sarah got some necessary shut eye, I stayed awake and held Caroline in my arms. That’s right, I didn’t want to wake either Sarah or the baby and I was too afraid to move or put her down. So I didn’t. For 4 hours. Straight. The next morning my arms were locked in a cradle. I’ll never, ever, ever forget that night. 

5.      Either she was born with it or it was a talent she learned quickly, I can’t be sure, but the first time I smiled at Caroline and she smiled right back, I knew it was over for me. The power and strength I thought I’d have as a Dad was gone. I melted. So I bought her a pink pony and a pink convertible. Because that’s what I think her smile was telling me to do. 

6.      The first time she laughed with me? See #5 above. Ditto. Except this time I bought her 20 stuffed animals and a closet full of Disney Princesses. Maybe I went a bit overboard with the Disney Princesses but, to be honest, I’m still learning what her different laughs mean and didn’t want to be wrong. 

7.      We use a baby monitor when she’s sleeping in her nursery. First time we used it? See #4 above. All I did was stare at it all night to see if she was breathing. She was. 

8.      OK, I’m coming clean here. No secrets. Before I fall asleep each night, I still check the monitor and watch her chest go up and down. She is still breathing. How do they do that? It’s cool.
9.      I think I read somewhere that a baby’s cry is louder than a lawn mower or leaf blower. If that’s true than Caroline’s cry is like a riding mower with no muffler and a gas powered leaf blower blasting together in one ear. 

10.   Sarah uses the hum of a hair dryer to soothe her sometimes. That trick doesn’t work for me. Ever. In fact, nothing does. 

11.   We bought a bunch of baby books to learn all the important stuff. I read ‘em all. Highlighted one, too. Want the Cliff Notes version of what I learned? Trust yourself, trust the team and trust the baby.
12.   Caroline went from being small enough to be able to sleep in the palm of my hands to being a baby who is as long as a pillow. I somehow missed the transformation. I never saw the progress. Wow, the miracle of human development. 

13.   If it’s a t-shirt with a saying on it, a hat with cool graphic, crazy socks that look like shoes or any other cool and freaky fun baby clothes meant to draw the full attention of a spotlight on a little one then I’m buying it for Caroline. “My Dad went to see the Dropkick Murphys and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?” I’ll take a size 6-9M and an XL please.
14.  When I watch Caroline sleeping I see that there is indeed a higher power. A miracle maker. 

15.   Getting the baby to burp? Wow, it is the greatest sense of short term accomplishment ever. It makes me feel like I’m doing my job. The spit up that sometimes follows is a bonus. 

What haven’t I learned yet? How to deal with spit-up, poop, uncontrollable drool and unexplained crying. Oh yeah, one more thing, how not to worry.  I clearly still have more learning to do. 

Baby, it’s cold outside.