|Just look at that cute little thing.|
Many people have told me that you don't know pain until you have seen your child suffer. While I always knew that this was true in some sense, I figured it was some rhetoric parents told children to get them to stop whining so much about their pain. For years parents would tell me this, and I guess I just sort of brushed it off as being a bunch of hoopla. Surely a broken ankle was true pain, something that I intimately knew for several weeks some years ago.
|Really dad? You know those shots were way worse.|
|I'm glad she likes to sleep on me.|
Now I am not saying that routine immunizations are a harrowing experience, and I know that there is yet more pain and suffering to come towards Whitley that will be far worse than those first few shots. Nevertheless, the most poignant feelings occur when it is a new sensation, something that you have never seen or heard before.
|She conks out pretty hard the days she gets shots.|
I still remember how when she was stuck with that needle her mouth made the most terribly sad sound I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. Four months later and it still brings tears to my eyes (and she has had several shots since, with the six month's shots being a milestone where I didn't even shed one tear). That first memory of her pain has stuck with me, and ever since I have tried in every particularl to keep her from severe pain (not all paint is bad). I don't want to see the frowny-face, nor see her eyelashes bead with tears. I don't even remember what the shots were for, or how many they were, all I know is that after she got the shots I picked Whitley up and turned to face the wall so that the nurse couldn't see my soggy eyes. Andrea and I cried a good two or three minutes after that, every tear proof that this first time daddy is more sensitive to his baby's shots than she was (she stopped crying after about thirty seconds - I took it WAY harder than she did). Makes me wonder sometimes who the real baby is.
Frustration at Feeding Her Cold Milk
|Her face would look like this with the cold milk.|
Now that I have declared how incredibly wonderful our little Whitley is, I want to share probably my biggest frustration at her, which frustration made me break down in tears. Yes, Whitley has broken me down a few times, but I have since learned that she cries only when a need of hers is not met. Some babies cry because they are upset and don't know why, or they have colic, or any number of reasons; but Whitley cries only when she needs something (usually a pacifier, milk, or a nap).
My frustrating experiences with Whitley thankfully have only happened twice, and they coincided with the first two times I was left alone with her for more than an hour (Andrea would go to a night shift for nursing). My newbness at being a father really shined through on these occasions and left me wishing that I had spent more time paying attention to how to feed babies.
|This is what we usually want to see.|
|I usually wanted to just wrap in her a swaddler and be done.|
Frustration would build over the course of an hour until Whitley finally decided to eat. This happened both times, and it wasn't until I told this experience to my mother-in-law did it dawn on me that she probably finally accepted the milk because it had warmed up enough over the course of an hour of me holding the bottle. The next time I went to feed Whitley I warmed it up quite a bit more and she ate it just fine. I haven't had a problem feeding her since.
The frustration I felt would often times leave me in tears because I felt like a failure, unable to even feed my daughter a simple bottle of milk. Anger at Whitley was really just anger at my own incompetence as a parent. My frustration would lead to shame as I realized that I was getting mad at a 3 month old, and she was only mad because she was being fed cold food. If it were me in her situation, I would have slapped me if I could.
Babies, contrary to my initial impression, do get quite dirty over time. When I first held Whitley I couldn't see a reason why we would really need to bathe her that often; so we waited a few weeks before we gave her a bath. She has had many baths since and is quite the hydrophile and splashing
machine. Bath times are never very long, but they are a lot of fun.
|I don't have any bath pictures, but she is cute here.|
|Whitley hardly ever had the chance to be cold.|
would be sufficient when it came time to give her a bath. The water would be warm enough to keep her happy even if the surrounding air wasn't that warm; or so we thought.
|We almost always had her in many blankets and at least one hat (due to her lack of hair).|
Turns out that babies need a lot more warmth than adults. Whitley was very unhappy to be put in the luke-warm water we provided her. Out of fear of making it too hot, we inadvertently made it too cold. The bath lasted maybe a minute as we rushed to get all of the necessary cleansing done. The experience was so traumatic that we didn't bathe her again for over two weeks.
First Day in a Pool
The first few stories I have shared have been about some negative aspects of my time with Whitley, but have nevertheless been core experiences that have helped shape our time together. These next few experiences have been some of the happiest times I can remember with my dear little Whitley.
|We're so ready to go to the pool!|
|Now she is bored and wants my phone.|
Whitley was very hesitant at first of going in to the water, and her hesitation didn't subside for the majority of the time we were in the pool. At one point, as I walked with her through the water to get to a private corner of the pool, she started crying and frowning her fear at the new sensation she was feeling. After a bit she stopped crying, but she didn't really smile either in her normal cheery way like she normally does when she sees something new. Instead, she gave out a constant, lower-lipped-sucked-in hum for the rest of the time in the deep-end (the 3 foot end). We would push her through the water, and she would open her mouth at times to try and catch some of the wake, but she didn't really seem to take to it much.
|With daddy in the pool.|
|She wasn't too happy to be there, or about the finger.|
|Walking with momma.|
|She is such a good walker.|
|An example of her love of the spout.|
|This little Jedi is ready to go home.|
First Solid Foods
|She really wishes that this was food.|
Our next few spoonfuls were a little better, and the quizzical look on her face made us laugh. It wasn't like she wasn't liking the food we were giving her, but it was more of a fascination that she had this substance in her mouth and she knew how to swallow it. I am not sure what was more amazing to her - the spoon or the strange motion of her mouth and throat. Though the cereal was basically little more than liquid, you could see in her expression that she was quite curious about what it was she was doing. Watching her try to gnaw on the cereal with her little mouth was simply delightful.
First Time She Laughed
|She really likes this toy and sort of laughs at it.|
nothing else. Her laugh is a shy little creature, but when it comes out makes your heart melt. Her first laugh was no exception. What it was that made her laugh I can't even remember, but I do remember that I tried several things afterwards to keep her laughing.
That laugh only lasted about five seconds, and she stopped laughing for a good week or so after. I would try to make her laugh, but to no success. She is at a point now, 6 months out, where we can make her laugh (when she isn't tired) by either blowing raspberries on her stomach or neck, or running a wipe down her chest when changing her. Each time she goes into a fit of giggles and we keep doing it until she gets bored of what we are doing. I love the fact that she laughs when she wants to, kind of like telling us that she
|A video with her and her cousin. She may have laughed, I can't remember.|
|The only video we have of her laughing. This is the technique I use to get those precious giggles out.|
A Few Thoughts
|Who doesn't love that smile?|
|She wouldn't even let go.|
|Snuggling with Grandma Phillips.|
|We had to clean paintbrushes, so she was ok hanging out on the counter.|
|She is super excited to help us paint!|
|She is possibly the cutest sleeper ever.|
So much of being a parent these days seems to be wrapped up in an expectation that it is somehow unpleasant and not worth the time. Although I have such an easy baby, I don't think that it makes my opinion any less valid when I say that parenthood, and specifically fatherhood for me, is incredible and a journey of greater worth than any other thing that I can possibly think of or do.
|Whitley is already training hard for more adventures ahead with push-ups.|
|Doing her sit ups.|
|I have well over 100 pictures of Whitley already, but for some reason this ranks among the top. I thought I would share it.|