baby


As I have mentioned before, I have a lot of babies in my life right now. And by that, I mean other people’s babies who are somehow associated with me. Two of the closest associates are my godsons, one of those also being my nephew. Those baby boys are absolutely adorable and lovable. I love to hear about them and be around them and see their cute faces. I love to kiss their chubby cheeks and see them smile.

I show off pictures of these cuties like a proud grandparent. Often people respond with a wry grin, raised eyebrows and questions of when I will have one of my own.

The general consensus seems to be that babies are contagious.

I understand. I guess hanging out with a baby is supposed to make me want to rush out to the baby store and get one for myself. But a baby is not exactly an i-phone. And for me, at least, real-life baby associates have created the opposite effect that people think they will. The babies terrify me.

Now, this does not mean that Ned and I will indefinitely delay any attempt to have a family — quite the opposite. Having children is about one of the only things I am sure that I want to do in life. Ned is quite certain of it too. And as many of you know, the man loves babies … especially crying babies. He does a little bounce-bounce, the crying ceases, and he’s like superman — very satisfying. So yes, we would like to have an expanded family some day, hopefully not too far in the distant future (not getting any younger over here). But I think it’s precisely that desire to have children that makes babies so terrifying.

I guess I’ve always daydreamed of theoretical babies.  The reality seems like a quite a different story.

I mean, being responsible for another life is pretty huge. When I try to wrap my head around that, it almost explodes. But even the more mundane aspects of parenthood elude me. Ok, I’ll admit it: I sometimes find babies a little bit … boring. For instance, consider “tummy time,” the world of baby play. Baby lies on tummy, works out muscles, lifts head, looks at stuff. I guess it’s OK. But after a few minutes of it, I’m all like, “Ok, baby, I am bored of looking at the floor. What do you think we should do about the situation in Zimbabwe?” And the baby replies, “Aaaaaaaaaa!”

As it turns out, this is about the extent of my answer to the problems of Zimbabwe as well, so I can’t fault the kid.

But I find myself wondering, “What if this was all day? Every day? With no other adults around?” Nap, eat, poop, change, stare, smile. Repeat. No nap. Repeat. Repeat.

“Aaaaaaaaaa!”

I am told that it is different when they are your own children. I assume it would be different when it’s your own home and life too. And of course, there are many positive things, like the way babies help you appreciate the little things (the way the light comes in a window, for instance — the babies love that). And, most importantly, I believe the good Lord assists. So I do (fearfully, dreadfully) hope that at some point I get the chance to experience it…even if it does absolutely terrify me. And believe me, it does.

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I started to post this days ago, but was held up by technology and the federal budget process. As you all know, the Giants won the Super Bowl. When they had that incredible pass in the 4th quarter, my friend Robert shouted: “God wants the Giants to win! That is the only explanation.”

I personally felt they did it … for the babies. I imagined Eli Manning holding up the trophy and saying, “This one is for the babies!”

I was rooting for the Giants. And by “rooting” I mean “moderately interested in seeing them win but not actually emotionally tied to it in any long-term way.” (I apologize to the true fans.) I chose to back the Giants because 1) I’m tired of the Patriots, 2) My wee tiny nephew was “rooting” for the Giants (and by “rooting” I mean sleeping and eating with a cute football outfit on). 3) Two good friends just welcomed their new baby Elijah into the world last week, and I had it in my head that a great game from Eli Manning would do baby Elijah honor on his third day of life (even though this is obviously not necessary since a great prophet Elijah has already done much more honor to the name). However, I must note that baby E’s mom is a Patriots fan, so she might not have felt that the appropriate honor — sorry, J.

As we were watching the game in all of its intensity, I shouted to the television screen — quite inexplicably to all my fellow party-goers, I am sure — “Do it for the babies!” And lo, Eli Manning heard me, and he threw his incredible pass. And again I said, “For the babies! Throw the ball to someone who is open in the end zone!” And it was good.

So, babies, this one is for you!

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My sweet tiny nephew got what was essentially a wicked cold (RSV) and was in the hospital for a week, since wee babies do not do so well with the viruses. He is now home and on the mend, so do not fear! Oxygen, love and lots o’ milk have restored him to health. But if you want to break your heart just a little bit, look at this picture of him on Christmas Day. Apparently the hospital cradle/baby bins are only for babes when they are born. If you are re-admitted to the hospital as a nine-day-old, they wrap you up and prop you up on a big boy bed, like so.

For the real heart-breaker experience, you have to click on the picture and see it at full size, so as to appreciate his sad face and the wires coming out of his swaddle.

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From multiple friends who have recently given birth, I have learned:

1) Initial contractions can be easily mistaken for constipation.

2) Later contractions can not. They are “much worse than running a marathon.” Ouch.

3) The contractions are actually worse than the delivery (I assume this isn’t true for everyone, but those I surveyed all agreed on this).

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The BIG news in my family this year is something very tiny: a new baby boy! My sister gave birth to this little guy, James Michael, on Saturday. He is the first grandchild and everyone is bursting with excitement.

He was 6 pounds 2 ounces and 18 inches at birth. He has big hands and feet — like a puppy! — so we think he will grow up to be a basketball player/swimmer/piano player, depending on who is talking about him.

I am headed westward for Christmas, so it was going to be mid-January before I had a chance to spend any time with the babe. I couldn’t wait that long to see him or his parents, so Ned and I took a day off work Tuesday to bring love and food to the new family. [Note: I would like to personally thank the farm bill for getting itself passed in the Senate last week, thereby making a day off work possible. God bless you, United States Senate.]

Ned and I spent about 9 hours in the car (so much for our carbon footprint) and 3 hours with little James. It was totally worth it. He is so sweet and tiny and … helpless. Heart-melting. My sister and her husband are great parents already.

I have never met a baby so closely related to me before, and it was surprising that even at such a tiny age, he looked familiar.

I must also note the excellent timing of the baby’s arrival (besides waiting until after the farm bill, way to go, Jimbo). Friday was my sister’s last day at school (baby was due on the 18th). She loves teaching and loves her students, so she wanted to stay with them as long as possible. Her labor actually started during school on Friday, but she taught the whole day and even went to the staff Christmas party after school (admittedly, she wasn’t sure she was in labor at that point; she just thought she felt weird).

**Can we just pause here for a moment to think about how awesome my sister is? Thank you. While we’re at it, I would like to salute all mothers. Thank you for your pains.**

Back to the story: it was at the party that she actually figured out what was going on and left abruptly. After a long and painful night, baby was born on the 15th, which is also my parents’ anniversary. Happy anniversary — a grandson! My parents are currently en-route to N.J. (via DC — yea!) to spend Christmas with the babe. I wish I could be there too — I know my dad is just going to be eating up the cuteness of this little guy.