Father’s Day is a couple of days away, and I have to admit it snuck up on me a bit. If you want a pretty decent rundown of Canadian politics or French history, I’m your guy; when it comes to dates and schedules, Katie will be the first to tell you, I’m horrible. Katie won’t admit to it but I’m sure she suggested New Year’s Eve as our wedding date just to make sure I wouldn’t forget our anniversary.
It’s hard to believe that June 17th will not only mark my first Father’s Day as a dad, but it’s also Sophie’s seven-month birthday. People told me that the time would fly by, but I didn’t think it would go this quickly. Seems like just yesterday I heard Katie calling my name from downstairs to tell me it was time to get this show on the road.
After 24 hours, in which I experienced a range of emotions from excitement over the impending arrival of our son or daughter, to frustration over being unable to stop Katie’s pain, to nervousness over causing her anymore pain due to my incessant “are you okay/can I do anything” questioning, our little bundle of joy was born shortly after 9 p.m., on November 17th, 2011. I had often imagined what the moment of her birth, and the ones shortly after, would feel like but nothing I imagined came within light years of the real thing. As soon as the doctor announced we had a girl and held her up, I’ll freely admit to doing way more crying than Sophie and Katie combined until a nurse slapped me on the shoulder and told me to cut the cord. And then began a journey that, despite some bumps along the way, has been absolutely amazing.
As I write this, I’m exactly a month into my paternity leave. I’m told by Katie and others that I’m doing a good job, and Sophie is all smiles most of the time so I guess I am, but I’m lucky since I had six months to practice before Daddy Daycare started. We’re very lucky to have a baby that is, frankly, pretty chill. Her two bottom teeth came in with hardly a whimper and she cried for about a second when the doctor gave her her latest round of shots. Like I said, pretty chill.
The first few months of her life, however, were hardly so easy. Sophie did what babies do: She cried for no reason, would wake up six times a night and wouldn’t go five minutes without being held or walked. The situation wasn’t helped by my frustration a lot of the time — frustrations I had with my inability to come up with a solution. Most of the time, I could keep things in perspective and be helpful with whatever problem presented itself, but other times, I was convinced that there was some easy solution to a problem Sophie had and I just wasn’t a good enough father to figure it out. “This is what babies are like,” Katie would tell me, but I didn’t believe her. Sophie was uncomfortable or irritated or in pain and I couldn’t do anything to fix it so I’d spend a lot of time kicking myself in the you-know-where and generally being unhelpful. It’s a testament to my wife and her mommy skills that she managed to keep an even keel throughout all of this, especially those times when she was dealing with two people acting like children in the house instead of one!
Gradually, though, things got better. We developed a pretty good routine and Soph eventually started to sleep better, smile more and develop the relaxed and happy demeanor she has now. It took work and, yes, a bit of luck. We did sort of sleep train her, which involved Katie and I stopping each other from running into her room at every little squawk, and we also had to supplement her diet with formula to keep her calorie count up, not an easy thing for her mom.
Fast forward and I’m looking after Sophie on my own for four months of paternity leave. We have our routine down cold: Feed, nap, feed, little adventure (going for a walk, in grown-up speak), feed, nap, etc. Goes like clockwork most days, if not everyday, teething notwithstanding. Sure, she has her moments where she’s peeved for no obvious reason, but, as I am learning more and more everyday, that’s what babies do and that’s what Sophie does. What she also does is light up the room with her smile, find it hilarious when you sing “Whip It” by Devo horribly off-key and wile the days away being the most adorable creature on earth. On this, my first Father’s Day as a dad, I’ll be taking a few minutes to reflect on how lucky I am to have such an incredible wife and an equally incredible daughter, wonder how the heck I got so lucky, and be happy that I did. Happy Father’s Day to the all the dads out there. I hope you’re all experiencing the same amazing ride as I am.