Number Two, But Not Doo-Doo: A Ramble

It is not easy being Number Two. Just kidding, it actually is a little bit easy. Michelle is very well read, like books a week well read, and she keeps up with many sites and blogs. So as we’ve been going through the new parent adventure she’s been reading up on the subject quite heavily. She told me about a piece she read where the husband felt slighted by the new born baby, as it felt like he was suddenly second in his wife’s affections, no duh. I laughed for a good long time, and then we made up jokes about what such a person would do to try and gain advantage over a baby. I know it’s not good form to make fun of, or dismiss, anothers feelings, but you’re a grown ass man act like one. In the end the husband did come around and that family is very happy, so all is well.

But that’s not the Number Two I want to talk about, as I think the majority of expectant, and new Fathers, know that they will be second to the baby. As we should be, and from a Fathers perspective Mothers are second to the baby too. That’s how it should be, King Baby he rules all, Number One in our hearts g. The real Number Two this post is about is who’s Number Two in Felix’s eyes, and that honor is all mine.

Felix and Pops

Number Two, I’m thinking of replacing you with this empty bag of chips. It’s amazing!

It’s easy to go you’re dead last pathetic, but let’s remember that I’m 2 out of 2, and the other person can literally feed him from her body. Unfair advantage? Yes. But those are the facts, and unless you’re some sort of super dad you’re most likely Number Two, right now. Number Two comes with a few sad violin moments, where your gut reaction is to feel slighted and say, “I could’ve done that for you.” followed by crying in a corner. Yet, it also comes with a big ace up the sleeve.

First, let’s take a look at the demands of being Number One. Felix  always wants to be around Michelle. Think of it, she tries to do anything and Felix comes crawling over to her, even if we are in the middle of playing. His internal Number One alarm goes off and he makes a beeline for her (a baby beeline is quite squiggly and may involve several pit stops).  I’ll make all sorts of crazy sounds, drum on toys or the floor, even stack towers to the ceiling for him to knock over, and at times it will not be enough to get him to willing crawl back.

(Humorous aside: I can’t even tell you how much he loves knocking over towers these days. It’s my go to method for distracting him, or refocusing his attention. My theory is that he views the towers as an insult, an unwelcome peasant mocking the Kings inability to stand. So he smashes the insolent towers who dare standeth in the presence of King Felix! I always congratulate him for ruling with an adorable and tiny iron fist. Then scold the tower for insulting the King by standing in his majesty’s presence. Now that I’ve taught Felix to high five he validates this theory for me, up top!)

Never stand before a crawling King.

Insolent tower you dare stand in the presence of your King!

Back to our story, he just loves being with Number One more than anyone else. When he’s hurt, or startled by the sudden effect of gravity, he’ll reach out for Michelle. Needs something, sees me, reaches for me, sees Michelle, screams louder and reaches for her. Though, he’s started to make a game of this where he’ll reach for Michelle, spend sometime sobbing with her, then reach for me, spend sometime sobbing with me, then reach out for Michelle again, and repeat until he’s happy. It’s kind of funny. I like to imagine Felix says, “Have you heard how sad I am?” as he reaches for the other person. Once held he quickly forgets he was just being held by the other and thinks, I need to let them know how sad I am, as he reaches out again.

Part of my Number Two status is beyond my control. Michelle pumps, and we give him as much breast milk as possible, but he does get a bottle of formula a day. Every day he gives me the same look when the formula comes around. It’s a startled confused look that gravitates to mild annoyance. I imagine him saying, “Pfft! What is this? You had one job, to get me milk! M-I-L-K, milk! I don’t know what this swill is, but when I’m done, I’m leaving you an angry review on Yelp.” Mumbling as he drinks begrudgingly, “This is why you’re Number Two. Can’t even get me proper milk.” Then he takes the bottle out in a huff, “My Momma get’s me milk. It’s always good, its always the right temperature. And what do you do? This.” Boom! Felix drops the bottle on the ground like a boss. He is the boss, and I forgot to say happy National Boss Day yesterday. Ugh, that’s probably also why I’m Number Two. Oh the sad life of Number Two.

Done eating!

“I wish I could rate this feeding 0 stars.” -Felix B.

What’s sort of amazing is that he knows our schedule. If we have to use formula for his second feeding he drinks an entire bottle. But when that third feeding comes around he’ll only drink half, or less. He knows that Michelle will be home soon and says, “Naw. I’ll wait for the real thing.” Felix’s ability to recognize schedules and determine his own eating habits has been really cool to see. I even tried to encourage him to drink more formula by switching sides and presenting the bottle in new ways (Formula now with more spins!), but he quickly puts a stop to it, because he knows Mom will be home soon. This is awesome, until Michelle’s bus runs late and he get’s real fussy. Then we have some solid food as we wait.

Whoa, we ended up kinda off topic. This was supposed to be about, Number One has some pressure, that Two doesn’t have, and that grants a certain advantage. Right! Advantage! My advantage, back on topic.

My advantage, sleepy time. When Michelle walks him to sleep sometimes he’ll pop his head up and just stare at her, or make soft babbling noises, perhaps those noises are a friendship song he’s made up for his Number One, just like Picard did for Riker. But when Pops puts him to sleep it’s all different. He rarely lifts his head up to make eye contact. Instead of a great friendship song I imagine his sentiments to be, “Oh hey big guy. Guess it’s just us. Well I’m a little tired,” overtly fake yawn, “so I’m just gonna take a quick nap. But we’ll play when I wake up, okay. Who’s my big guy? Who’s my big guy? You’re my big guy. Boop.” then Felix falls asleep mumbling, “Number One set course for the park. Engage!”. And this is wonderful. Advantage, Number Two. Who has advantage? Big Guy.

Being Number Two also means I’m Felix’s second favorite person in the whole world, sorry Mom it’s true, and that’s mighty nice. We do have fun times together, stacking towers and knocking them over, chasing cats, wrestling cats and stealing glasses. There is nothing quite like being the second most important person in a child’s life. The only thing better is being Number One.

Number One and Felix at the park!

Number One we’re having fun!

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The Incredible Dynamic Size Shifting Baby or My Biggest-Little Fan

This past January my wife delivered our first child, Felix, in what was an incredibly long and difficult labor. I still recall when he was finally born, and how GIGANTIC he looked. The weight of that moment was so heavy, and meaningful, that my mind actually backed the overwhelming emotions and decided that we were looking at the first four-foot tall baby ever born. It wasn’t until the nurse placed him on the baby warmer, where I watched as they forced air into his deflated lungs that were too startled to inflate on their own, and raised his limp arms just to watch them fall flat, that he suddenly shrunk to the 7lb baby that was born that day. Felix eventually began to breath on his own, and his tiny baby arms stopped falling flat, as he finally acclimated to the post-womb world, but he’s never stopped changing size.

Newborn Felix

New born Felix, such a peaceful little guy.

He’s almost eight months and three weeks old now, and delights in crawling, climbing and cruising. Most mornings I’ll come into our room, after he wakes up, to ferry him via Pops’ Sky Service to the living room. There is a treacherous tiled hallway that one must pass to get there and it can be rough on baby hands and knees. Some mornings he’ll crawl towards me and right past my outstretched arms saying, No thanks Pops I’m making my own way today. As I watch him crawl by and out to the living room he looks so big, like Rick Moranis accidently blew up my baby. Felix will turn to me when he’s past the barren tile lands and give me his big boy smile. Then I’ll scoop him up and give him a big morning hug. It’s only when I’m holding him in my arms that he becomes the average sized eight month old that he is. When I set him down again and he wanders over by the desk, or to a chair and pulls himself up, I wonder how he grew so big, even though he’s still so small.

Toddler-Wobbler

Felix cruising with his Brio!

That dynamic shifting size is just one of the many improbabilities that make him so incredible. Even with all the overly excited eye-gouging, bed hogging, stomach kicking, poop smearing, hair pulling, glasses stealing, wake you up with a slap and dirty face rubbing he’s still the most amazing person I’ve ever met.
This could be explained by the fact that babies are essentially the biggest fan you will ever have, even if you are some rocktor superstar. He’ll get so excited to see you that he falls over, granted standing is not his strongest ability, but still he can hold himself up for days. Yet he falls over when Momma comes home from work.
Even when he’s content and playing with a toy, he’ll notice what you’re up to and he has to do that same thing right now! If you try and deny him he’ll flail wildly in protest, because whatever item you have becomes his number one need! This is the kind of influence companies spend billions of dollars chasing, and I got it. I can sell Felix anything. I’ve traded him an empty bottle to get my iPhone 5s back, all because he’s so fanatical that he has to have whatever I’m interested in. Also, because he doesn’t really grasp their differences, other than their taste and textures, babies are the ultimate epicureans.

What’s truly remarkable is how little you have to try, at times, to get your biggest-little fan to laugh. Lately I sit him in my lap, look at him, but say nothing for about 5 seconds, then go “Boo!” and he laughs his head off, even after the upteenth time. The best part is he knows the joke is coming, and he’ll crack a little smile in anticipation. The most wonderful smile I’ve ever seen. It’s like a review for a series, he’s saying, “Loved the last installment! Can’t wait for the next one! Where does he come up with this stuff! 5-stars!” Then you drop the next “Boo!” and it blows his mind.

Super Felix!

Super Felix!

You do have to put in work for your biggest-little fan, but the work is more than worth the rewards. Feedings and changing clothes, all that is fun “work”. There are two areas that I worried would be tedious; diaper changes and the dreaded sleepless crying baby. The diaper changes became the norm, so much so that if his waste gets on my hand my first thought isn’t, Ewwww! Gross someone else’s POOOOOP! Instead it’s, does the color and consistency look healthy? Let me Google Image Search for a quick reference. Looks good. Then I wash it away. That simple. The dreaded late night can’t sleep crying baby, well we lucked out and he doesn’t do that often. When he has I will admit to feeling a good amount of pride when I finally got him to sleep. That did help, a little, with the overwhelming sense of exhaustion the next day.  There’s also an adorability factor when he’s sleepless, but not a crying-sleepless, he’ll pop his head up as we’re walking and give me a big smile that says, I’m super happy we’re hanging out right now. I’m a sucker for this move and it has earned him extra playtime. What I’ve found is that there is nothing so difficult that I wouldn’t do it for my son. We’ve pretty much given up beer and Netflix for him, if you can do that you can do anything.

These days I get to do anything, and everything, for Felix most days, as this past July Michelle went back to work and I started staying home with him. It was a big change for the three of us but we’ve found our rhythm, and this is the first time I’ve felt like more than just a cog in the machine as I go about my daily duties. I am actually doing something valuable and truly worthwhile.  Felix has been an inspiration to write again, and not just hobbyist-write, but work-the-craft-write, pull out the Chicago Manual of Style and revise-revise-revise-write. I’m up at 3am, mostly working, Monday-to-Friday and 4:30am on the weekends. None of this would be possible without them, and I am so thankful to have my family and this time.

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