And As Soon As I Write This He Cries Uncontrollably, For No Apparent Reason At All

I really dislike fall. I know it's pretty and stuff, but it's so fleeting, and falling leaves only mean one thing: The inexorable slide into winter.

I was thinking about this as I held Animal the other day. It was either early in the morning or late at night or some time that completely escapes me even though it was less than 24 hours ago and my memory of stuff is suspect because of a lack of sleep these last two-plus weeks.

Animal was born just before the end of the year. Animal is not Animal's name. Animal has a Human name but Animal was what we called Animal in the second and third trimester. Animal's full name is actually "Operation: A.N.I.M.A.L." for "Aquatic Nugget Inside Maternal Abdominal Lair." This name followed "Project: Varpu," Animal's first trimester name, which came from an article Jen read in a design magazine, where a young Finnish couple named their child "Varpu."

Anyway, late into the third trimester, "aquatic nugget" seemed a little understated. In retrospect, it should have probably stood for "Amniotic Nestling Inside Maternal Abdominal Lair."

I didn't quite know what to think about Animal before Animal earned his Human name but as I lay there with him sleeping on my chest, I thought of how fleeting this moment probably is. A lot of the last two-plus weeks have been a blur, an endless stream of burping, dirty diapers, laundry and generally trying to figure out what Animal needs, but the other morning (or night) was something different. Jen was asleep and Animal was asleep and I just touched his soft peanut self as he lay flopped out on my chest. It was overwhelming, this fourth-trimester being sleeping innocently on me. And then I started to think about what I hate about fall.

Right now, the day-to-day regimen of raising a child hasn't been too difficult. Yes, there is sleeplessness (more so for Jen than for me) and yes, there is the whole adjusting to constantly having to ensure the well being of another life, but for now we're at the point where Animal is more of an accessory than a child — at least that's how he looks when we strap him in the carrier and strut around the neighborhood. And when he cries it's only because he's either too hot, too cold, too wet too gassy or too hungry.

Not that it was easy to get to this super-advanced point in child rearing: You should have seen the first night at the hospital, when Animal was shrieking and our suitemate had to subtly suggest that we burp him (at least that's how I interpreted the disembodied "burp" suggestion from behind the curtain, followed by the telltale hollow thump sound against her own child's chest; "Oh," I realized, "We haven't yet burped him!").

For now, it's just that beautiful baby smell and soft skin and talking all manner of bullshit to this beautiful little creature whose brain is still not formed enough to make sense of what's going on (beyond the aforementioned heat-cold-wet-gas-hunger consciousness). And for the moment I'm putting out of my head the inevitable neuroses about raising a child to become an independent minded, relatively modestly productive member of the world. We already made it through the scary first part — we have a healthy child who is gaining weight. The next part is the big unknown — and it's kind of spooky. I see middle school students roughhousing and hope Animal will be OK. I hear about a sociopathic case and hope his brain is OK. I hope we're able to provide him with a solid education. I watch Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable and hope we have a similar father-son relationship, full of gentle ribbing and smart sports-related opinions.

But all of these things are years, if not months, away. For now, when I'm not expertly changing diapers, I'm basking in the glow of my own whispered, wonder-filled life insurance commercial.

Posted: January 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: ,

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