There are hundreds of books on parenting. This is what they don’t tell you: It applies all of the time and none of the time. Let me explain.
Month one of fatherhood was spent learning. This is my first child and I didn’t have any experience rearing a sibling so I was going in blind. The first month was spent learning the tell tale signs of hunger and putting the baby to sleep. Like clockwork, baby was up every two hours, feed, change diaper, play a little, and back to sleep.
By month two, Harper was sleeping about 5-7 hours through the night and her feeding schedule during the day remained consistent; about every 2 to 2.5 hours. Her personality was starting to come through and voice recognition was taking place. As of this point, everything seemed pretty straightforward.
Month 3 was interesting. At this point in time, we had to put Harper in daycare as my lady’s maternity leave was done and she had to go back to work. We enrolled Harper in daycare four days a week and I worked from home one day a week and took care of her. As growing children do, they change. It seemed like Harper was changing by the second when I was around her. During month 3, she learned the power of her voice. It started with little sounds and by the end of the month it was full out “conversations” whenever she felt like letting us know her feelings.
It was during month 3 that I came to a realization that nothing dealing with raising children is set in stone. For every system, plan, or detailed process that you have in place to tend to your child, they will find a way to blow it up to smithereens. It’s almost like they look at you and say “Challenge Accepted!”.
It was a Friday and I was working from home taking care of Harper. She was hanging out in the living room playing with her toys in her rocker and I was on my laptop. Harper started getting fussy so I looked over and realized it was time to feed her. I poured out her 4 oz of formula and started to feed her. Out of absolutely nowhere, she begins screaming at the top of her lungs. I figured ok, she has some gas so I burped her. BURRRRRPPP!! That should quiet her down. NOPE! At the top of her lungs she keeps on screaming. I knew she had been slightly congested during the week so I check her nose and clear out some nose goblins. That should do it. NOPE! WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! It continued. Ok, what next. I go through my mental checklist: Diaper? Check. Nope, didn’t work. Food? I tried feeding her again. Nope, didn’t work. Play? Tried walking with her up and down the apartment. Some success. I checked her temperature and it was a tad high. I gave her some Tylenol and rocked her to sleep to see if maybe a nap would help. She fell asleep for about 20 minutes when WAAAAAAHHHHH another round of high pitched screaming kicked in. I went through my mental checklist again and nothing, I mean nothing worked.
My last ditch effort was to take her outside and maybe being in the stroller would soothe her. I took a walk and met up with my best friend and there was some success. She took a nap, seemed calm, and the crying stopped. Fast forward about an hour and my best friend and I were going to head back to my place. Harper is awake and smiling and having a good time. As we hop on the light rail, she starts to frown and I’m like uh-oh. My best friend quickly keeps her attention and entertains her during the trip back home. The best way to describe it is as if you were to pull the pin on a grenade, and have to hold on for dear life so that the grenade doesn’t explode. We get back to my place and off goes the grenade. Harper goes ballistic crying. Back to the checklist: food, diaper, play, sleep. Nada, nothing, zilch, zero, nyet. A big fat NOPE to anything working. I finally text my lady and tell her she needs to get home from work ASAP because nothing is working. Mom comes home and works her magic somehow and Harper calms down and goes to bed for the night. My best friend and I give her the run-down of the day and she couldn’t believe what we were telling her.
Saturday comes around, and well, she believed it. It was more of the same. Gladly, by Sunday she was back to her normal self and back to being playful and just being a normal infant.
Month 4 has been smooth so far and the hiccups have been few and far between. Dare I say, she’s in a groove? Let me not jinx it!
What did I learn? To quote a line from Game of Thrones “You know nothing Jon Snow”. I thought I knew, thought I had it under control, but this was a very humbling experience. I learned that every day brings something new when it comes to raising a child. All I can do is be ready and do the best I can.