Once again, I have been delinquent in updating the site. But at least this time, I have a perfectly legitimate excuse for my delinquency: 6 lbs 4 oz to be exact. I’d love to post a picture of our little bundle of loudness, but knowing the evils that lurk on the interweb, I’m sure my jpeg would wind up the victim of some nefarious Photoshopper.
How are the first few weeks of parenting? I touch another human’s feces on a daily basis. I’ve gotten about 20 minutes of sleep within the past 12 days (which is probably 20 minutes more than The Wife has). And despite rarely getting sick, exhaustion has allowed my immune system to accept the worst cold I’ve had in years. So sleep deprivation, sickness, and humiliating tasks–it’s kinda like being a POW, but I’m surrounded by pacifiers.
The Baby is clearly readying herself for a career in the CIA, Black Ops division. She’s already an expert in wearing down a man’s psyche via sleep deprivation. Every night, she starts to cry at around 3 in the morning, so I get up and give her a pacifier and rock her back to what seems like sleep. Then I put her back down in the basinet, and she seems as if she’s ready to return to Slumberland. She breathes deep a few times, makes a sighing sound–sometimes she even makes a brief upset-sounding noise before settling down, leading me to believe she’s truly over her crankiness and is going to sleep. Then, I settle back down into bed and lay there motionless for 5-10 minutes, not wanting to make a sound, listening for any sign that she might start crying again. At some point, I convince myself that the coast is clear, so I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep.
At that moment, inevitably at that exact moment, she starts crying again. I’m ready to confess to embassy bombings and the Lindbergh kidnapping at this point.
But I’m happy. The baby can scream for eight hours straight, but I’m over the moon if she un-squints her eyes, looks at me, and displays a facial expression vaguely reminiscent of a smile (probably a result of gas). Just watching her dart her head around and look around this brand new world, obviously not having the slightest clue what she’s looking at, is utterly fascinating to me.
Usually, I can’t enjoy anything without thinking either (A) This event I am enjoying right now will soon end, or (B) This event I’m enjoying right now will be ruined by some catastrophe. A baby is an infinitely more fragile thing than anything I’ve ever known, and yet I don’t have the same terror that something or someone is going to take her from me. I shan’t attempt to explain this feeling.
Once the baby was born, The Wife wanted me to attend hospital parenting classes. Problem was, this wackadoo hospital scheduled all of these classes at 8 or 9 in the morning, so that wasn’t happening–not when I’d stayed up until 6am to witness the actual birth. Seriously, who the shit is gonna show up bright and early at a hospital to take a crash course in Diaper Changing 101?
However, there is one video that all new parents must legally watch. And that is the Shaken Baby Syndrome video. The Wife lovingly agreed to Take One For The Team, watch it and say I was unavailable to do so.
As a kid, I was pretty elitist. I was always in Smart Kid classes, surrounded by other Smart Kids, and I couldn’t understand why other kids didn’t know the same things I did. As an adult, I’ve learned that there are many different forms of intelligence, that not everyone starts out life on the same level playing field with the same amount of Cultural Capital. Many people, through no fault of their own, just don’t have access to the kind of knowledge that I take for granted. That doesn’t make said person dumb, or a bad person.
But dear sweet creeping Jesus, if you don’t know that you shouldn’t shake a baby, kill yourself. For the good of humankind, remove yourself from the gene pool posthaste. Please. Maybe there’s some undiscovered tribe in the deepest, darkest jungles of the earth, untouched by civilization, still living the same way as they have for millennia, who could benefit from such a lesson. But I have a feeling that even such hypothetical primitives would know YOU DON’T SHAKE A BABY, and would view such an instruction as insultingly condescending, and would probably kill you with poison-tipped arrows for your insolence.
If the hospital or the state or the city is concerned that someone somewhere might not know this, they should just institute a brief one-on-one test with each parent (or caregiver or whoever).
“Since you’re a new parent, we have to ask you: You know you should always shake a baby, right?”
“No, actually, you should never shake a baby. It’s very bad for them.”
“Correct! Congratulations, you’re fit to be a parent. To celebrate this joyous occasion, here, take your newborn child and shake her violently.”
“No, you should never shake a baby.”
“C’mon, do it like you’re spraying a bottle of champagne.”
“Yes, I’m positive.”
“Good! You passed the real test!”
The only way I’m watching a Shaken Baby instructional video is if it’s narrated by Troy McClure.