Monday, March 29, 2010

The First 100 Days, More Or Less

Our Henry turned 100 days old…well, a few days ago, I think. 100 is a nice, round number. Henry is a nice, round baby. Coincidence? You decide.

Audrey has done such a wonderful job keeping up this journal of photos, milestones, and stories. Some folks call it a “blog,” but not me. It will be such a treasure to look back on as Henry continues to grow at roughly the speed of light. I am so grateful, and I know Henry’s extended family in Texas is grateful too. Because they’ve told me. A lot.

Audrey is a really tough act to follow, a fact which taken in conjunction with my own crippling fear of writing anything that might [gasp!] actually be read by people has, until now, prevented me from contributing. The 100-day mark is a good excuse to stop making excuses, though. It’s a nice, round number, see?

When Henry was on his way I heard a lot of “advice” from friends that had already joined the ranks of the pooped-upon. Some solicited, some not. (The advice, I mean. Not the poop. Poop is rarely solicited.) The guidance I received was always appreciated, except for one bit that I heard more than a few times: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE. I didn’t like hearing that, and I think I was secretly kinda resentful. And scared. Outwardly, my response was “I know! Isn’t it great?!” but in my head I was thinking “really? Everything? EVERYthing is going to change?! But, things are great! I have a wonderful wife who likes to watch football games with me! A brand new house! Time with my great friends! A wonderful church! I’m half of the reigning Cornhole champs! I love my job have a job! I don’t want everything to change. Are you sure it has to?” No doubt I was excited about the baby coming, but couldn’t that be the only change? Please??

Turns out, for one of the few times ever, I was wrong. They were right. Stupid They! Of course everything changed. Not at first, though. I mean, yeah, Henry was instantly adorable and I fell completely in love with him and all that and blah, blah, blah. How could I not; you’ve seen the pictures!

See, for those first several confusing, challenging weeks, Henry was a baby that needed to sleep and eat and be washed and loved and oohed and aahed over, and he surely was. Audrey and I followed as best we could all the tips we’d learned from friends, nurses, books, and grandmothers. And Henry, already aware that he had been bestowed Easiest Baby of All Times, made all of that remarkably easy for us. Aside from a little nervous sleep deprivation, an influx of cards and cute outfits in the mail, and some extra laundry, what had really changed? We still had a house to keep up with. Leaks to repair. I still had to shovel the driveway and get to the job that I love have. There were football/basketball games to watch. Friends coming and going. Two episodes of the West Wing, back-to-back. Finally reading Gone With the Wind so I can understand what the heck Audrey is talking about. The usual stuff.

Then, maybe about 8 weeks in, from the bedroom I could hear Audrey and Henry having a little chat, post-feeding. It started out as just a quiet little call-and-response game but then someone – I’m not sure who – had their funny bone tickled and started to giggle. It was contagious. Henry’s little laugh made Audrey laugh a little louder, which made him giggle louder still. And back and forth they went in the most natural and sincere way. It was the sound of pure joy – my wife and son just cracking each other up to the point where Audrey was in tears and Henry was in hysterics. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. It was music. Yep, everything changed that day.

Henry is a great sleeper. He only wakes up to eat once during the night. Typically, though, a couple times each night he’ll wake up due to the fact that a) the dream he’s currently having - about a bunch of shapes and colors or whatever - is just too beautiful to last for very long or b) he has just accidentally punched himself in the face. (It’s prob’ly ‘b.’ He gets that from me.) When we hear these awakenings on our monitor, sometimes it’s my job to get up, go to the nursery, and put the pacifier back in his mouth. Usually this works like a charm and he’s back to sleep within moments. The idea is for me to be as stealthy as possible so that he doesn’t see me, get confused, and think that it's eating time or, God forbid, morning. Gotta make sure the kid knows the difference between daytime and nighttime, see? Don’t turn on the lights, don’t engage him by talking, etc. Anyway, for the first two months or so, the stealthiness was pretty easy to pull off. Henry’s eyes were still working on focusing, and I’m sure he was still wondering who this big, blurry dude was tossing pacifiers around in the near dark. Plus, being half-asleep myself, I wasn’t much in the mood to chat. In and out. Easy.

One night, though, Henry sees me, but he doesn’t just see me. He sees me. His eyes and his cheeks and his little mouth smiled up at me all at once as if to say “oh! Hi, Daddy! I’m very happy that you are here,” and I just fell apart. I stood over him for a few minutes until he fell back asleep. Then I stood there for a little longer. It was a moment I won’t forget. Audrey had the same experience, and we both agreed that it’s impossible to just slither back out of the room after Henry pulls that smiling stunt of his. She tried it once and had to get up and go back to tell him she loved him. I get that. I couldn’t even get out the door.

So, yeah. I guess everything does change, huh? There’s the house, and the job, and the TV shows, the basketball games, the zippedy-doo-da and to a lesser extent the zippedy-yay. The difference is just that all that stuff matters way less, now. There is musical laughter and there are perfect smiles. Henry’s here.

[This was a lot of fun. I’m going to try my best to do more of it, but don’t hold your breath.]


  1. Great first post, Andrew! I, too, hated it when people told us, "Everything's going to change!" Well, of course it was going to change - there's a baby coming! But aren't we glad that we're a little less self-involved now (at least I hope I am!)? And that whole laughter thing just has to be a glimpse of the goodness of God!

  2. And you, son, also get a 100 -- for your beautiful essay here. Yes, that recognition thing kicks in, and you never, ever forget it.

    I have vivid memories of leaving for work one morning, circa 1974-75, in Clear Lake City, TX. I could always briefly see your room's open door as I walked down the stairs.

    But one morning here was this adorable li'l fella standing up in his crib (holding onto the headboard) and, yes, seeing then SMILING at ME!! It's a wonder I didn't fall the rest of the way down the stairs after I blew you a bye-bye kiss.

    The baton, torch, binky has been passed ....

    Oh, you forgot to mention the many, many changes you make happen during each day:

    Diapers! ;-)

    Keep writing, dude. You humble me.

    Love & Pride,

    Dad/Grandpa Breen