As human beings in the world we take communication on a daily basis for granted. With the advent of pocket universal translators and the help of advanced charades a person can travel almost anywhere and can be understood. To date no one has invented a translator in any language that will assist a new parent in understanding their new child’s cries. I think they did invent one once on the “Simpson’s” and I didn’t really see the usefulness of such a tool till now. I think to any man this would be a useful aid because to me it’s just a baby crying but to a woman it means something totally different. Maybe it’s because JoAnn has spent a lot more time with Katie she recognizes the different cries in her limited arsenal of a vocabulary but to me it all means the same thing, “Help she’s broken again” as I hold her out to JoAnn. Of course this instantly stops her crying which at first was cute the power of the mommy but after a while it starts to dawn on you, “what the heck is the matter with me? What am I doing wrong?” If she keeps this up I’m bound to develop a complex, all I want to do is cuddle her but I’m told I’m getting to close I need to give her space. She’s six weeks old and I need to give her space, are you kidding me? I didn’t expect this speech till she was fifteen.
JoAnn has in her time with Katie developed the skill in reading her cries so as she knows exactly what it is she wants or needs and is able to satisfy her in a way I have not been able to do. She knows a hungry cry, from a change position cry, wet diaper cry, to a “I’m tired” cry, it’s amazing really. Of course JoAnn has been living with me for over a decade so she’s had lot of practice at reading the cries of others. My breasts don’t start to ache when Katie cries so I don’t have that going for me, she’s really got all the advantages and I just have to accept she knows what Katie’s telling her and hope I’m not being lied too. I’ve got to learn this new baby language or I’ll be an inferior father unable to satisfy my little girl’s smallest whims. When she’s older and speaks my language I’ll be able to buy off her loyalty by spoiling her rotten…not that I condone that sort of fathering by wallet style but come on it’s got to be easier than this. All I want to be able to do is hold her and have her smile at me and know I love her and all I get is crying. Am I trying to hard? Does she not like me? It’s so hard for me to read but I keep trying.
JoAnn seems to have figured it out and instinctively knows what Kathleen wants with a mere whimper, is this that whole mothers intuition? Or is it just some sort of black magic? No matter at least one of us is able to look after her needs although I am starting to feel a little helpless or useless I’m not sure which just yet. I look forward to when she’s able to vocalize what she wants but then of course she’ll get whatever she wants if she comes to daddy, I already know I won’t be able to say NO.
It is neat now that she’s able to hold her head up on her own she will hold a conversation of sorts while sitting in your lap. She’ll chirp and grin and make noises that I think surprise herself when she hears them and I just mimic everything she says right back at her which she loves and she shoots right back at me. If I make a noise that impresses her she looks at me with wonder than will smile and make a cute noise back at me. There is a dangerous line you cross if you make a sound that scares her more than amuse her as once she processes what she heard her eyes start to look concerned and her smile disappears into a quivering lip, which is followed by a loud cry. Sometimes I can pacify her but more often than not it’s something only mommy can fix and she’s whisked away from me till she’s calm again. Just hearing her cry fascinates me as I’ve spent so little time around crying babies other than myself so it’s interesting to watch. Of course if JoAnn is out of the room she comes in to see what I’ve done and why her daughter is crying. These are the moments you think about before she’s born and I savor them as long as they’ll last which is usually about ten to twenty minutes.
Something JoAnn and I both wanted for her was an early introduction to music. I took lessons all through school and was mediocre at best; JoAnn never learned to play anything and still has regrets so she was hot to get Katie involved early. Imagine our surprise when our little girl has beat us both and started singing already. Well it’s a form of singing isn’t it the way my little girl lets loose with an earth shattering belch once she’s finished eating, it’s music to me. This is a talent I’ve had as long as I can remember, the ability to belch on command or recite anything in belch form. JoAnn is fond of reminding me of a time when I was rather drunk in a bar out with buddies having wings and pizza on a Friday night as was our tradition. I leaned over to her in a tender way to whisper in her ear and belched “I love you”. Now to a group of drunken guys this was killer stuff and I did mean it, I loved her as we were still in that honeymoon first year of our relationship stage. I guess that was her first clue as to what I’d be like later in life. Thou I’ve grown up I can still belch on command and wouldn’t you know it my little girl inherited her Daddy’s ability to do the same. This couldn’t have surprised JoAnn but who knew it would manifest itself at such a young age, that’s my girl. She seems very proud of herself but it could just be the relief of passing the gas bubble.
Katie does have other musical ability I had no idea about. In the one baby book that I did read, it didn’t say anything about the fact babies like all humans get gas and fart. I think what shocked me was the sound this cute little girl could pump out of her diapers. Who knew babies could fart like a trucker on a steady diet of baked beans and light beer. It’s almost refreshing someone not concerned with what someone might say, she just lets it blow it’s really quite cute even if it doesn’t smell like a rose garden.
Thankfully her gas doesn’t always signify a full diaper or we’d never leave the change table. Sometimes you just need to fart to keep from exploding. Something else we never read anywhere is that she can go quite a period without filling a diaper. The first time she went a week JoAnn was worried there was some sort of blockage but the doctor assured us she was fine and this was completely normal. For Katie this started after her first growth spurt about three or four weeks old then we settled into long gaps between full diapers. In fact we were counting ourselves lucky as when she did finally go there was nary enough room in her diaper for all she had to put out, she was full right up to her belly button. The first time you open one of these surprises it freaks you out, like where was she storing all this? You just resolve yourself your washing her cloths the change table cover any anything else that came within range of her butt as to perform a normal diaper change and keep her out of it you’d need three hands minimum.
I think what were both looking forward to most in the next few months is the opportunity to just watch Kathleen grow and develop now that the drama of the birth is done. We’ve also finished with the parade of family and friends wanting to meet Katie for the first time and give us all the advice that worked so well for them when they had kids. So now we can get down to the job of being parents and finding our way through the obstacle course and hurdles of early childhood development. It’s a challenge that now that I’m here doesn’t seem so bad at all; I’m not sure what I was so afraid of. I always thought I was way too immature to have the responsibility of a child in my life but now that Katie is here I can’t imagine not having her around. It just doesn’t seem a big deal at all and I’m loving my new role as a Dad even if Kate still isn’t to sure about me yet, I know she will soon enough and we’ll wish she was still a baby. I can see why people say kids keep you young as I feel more like a kid than I ever did and watching her takes me back and I feel as I’ve finally found what it is I’ve always wanted out of life. We’ll see if I’m so optimistic in a couple of years.
(I found a bunch of old DVD’s with videos I made of Kate as a Baby. Funny how I found the time to do this for our first daughter but not with the daughters that were to follow. I just never seemed to have the spare time to edit let alone film as much once we had more than just one child to deal with. Here are a couple from that first year I found amusing)