How a Child Changes You

Soleil at Glen Echo

I’m personally thrilled to participate in two charitable efforts to help children this month because of the incredible impact my daughter Soleil has made in my life.

It’s just amazing how love for a child changes you.

This love eclipses anything you could possibly know beforehand.

For example, I would do anything for Soleil. I would die if it meant she would live, and I’ve never felt that way about anything else. Cliche, but true. It’s just like that.
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Soleil’s Digital Future Will Be Her Own

Smile

Earlier this week I shared that I’m posting less photos of my daughter Soleil online. It’s part of a conscious effort to be mindful about how my actions and attitudes will shape her digital future.

It’s just stunning how quickly time flies. I remember holding her in my arms when she was three days old. She literally fit between my wrist and elbow.

Daddy Holds Soleil

In just three months, she will be two years old. And many of you have seen her become a toddler before your eyes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Parsing Time as a Social Dad

Smile

A flurry of recent business travel caused me to miss a lot of time with this little girl over the spring. It’s always the hardest part of being gone.

Perhaps because of her age (1 1/2) or the absences, she insists on enjoying every moment with me. I’m the play guy. The combination makes balancing my work and online life all the more critical.

See, I got one shot at this. Just one shot to be Soleil’s Dad.

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Dad’s Job: Be the Sherpa

Soleil in the Car Seat

Sherpa – An official who makes preparations for or assists a government representative or important delegate at a summit meeting or conference.

Ten days after the birth of Soleil, I’ve got my father role down pretty well. Be the Sherpa. I had some Dads and nurses share that Dad really doesn’t have a role during the first six months of a child’s life other than cheerleader. Fortunately, I had other friends who suggested be as useful as possible, and one book — Armin Brott’s The New Father — suggests that the Dad take on as many house duties as possible to make Mom’s life easier (thanks to Lauren Vargas) for the book.

And so I have taken on that sherpa-esque role, and it’s been quite awesome. While I obviously cannot be the Mom and feed the baby, I can help ease her recovery from child birth (which is serious biz, all new respect for Moms) and also be present for my child. As a result, I feel very involved in Soleil’s early days as opposed to the disconnected cheerleader.

Some of the sherpa activities include:

  • Armed with bottles, taking the midnight shift caring for and feeding the baby (and getting mom a few hours of sleep)
  • Changing the diapers
  • Caring for the baby between feedings during up time
  • Shopping, from diapers and baby needs to food and household supplies
  • Laundry
  • Cooking meals
  • Taking care of the pets
  • Drive Mom and baby to doctor appointments
  • Try to manage the frequency of household visits

Grandma Auld, Soleil and Caitlin

Now to be fair, some of these I did beforehand like laundry and the pets. And about five days ago Grandma Auld came for a two week visit, and she provides some day watch, dish and laundry support now.

5144724022_81ddf628da_m.jpgBut the point is that the Mom has got 1) a baby demanding a feeding every hour or two and 2) has a major physical change to adjust to, namely not being pregnant and recovering from child birth. It’s nice to be a partner and show up. Caitlin has said it’s made a big difference and has hastened her recovery.

Also, it’s AWESOME holding and taking care of my little daughter. I remember when her umbilical chord fell off two days ago, it was a big a-ha moment. She is so incredible and growing already!

Just last night during the midnight shift, Soleil fell asleep on my chest (note hairy guys like me need to wear a T-shirt!). Feeling her little rapid breaths on my rib cage was just amazing.

So, if you’re an expecting Dad, my one experience so far to pass on to you: Being the sherpa was a meaningful experience for me! There’s no reason not to be a part of your child’s early life.

Getting Ready for the Baby!

Sweets

Caitlin and her parents admire the sweets at Buzz!

I apologize if this post seems off topic. I just couldn’t bring myself to blog about social media this weekend (book be damned). Baby due was the obvious topic. Besides this is a personal blog, and it follows my whims.

The time is drawing near when our first child will come. Caitlin just passed the eight month mark last week, and we’ve had two sets of parental visits. Heck, there’s a crib and a car seat in our possession now.

I know many people have walked this path before me (billions right now). For us, parenthood has come late. Caitlin will be 40 in December, and I am 38. As the Dad, it’s really starting to become real for me now. It’s stunning to me to see a crib in my home.

Two years ago, this didn’t even seem possible. I questioned whether I would ever be a father. So for me, this is twice as sweet.

I can sense the baby inside of her (sonogram and pregnancy pics here). In fact, I think it can tell when I am near and hears my voice. The feet or hands can visibly be seen poking out her belly. And when I lay my ear on her belly I can hear the baby move sometimes.

We don’t know the sex, but the names have been set: Soleil Maya if it’s a girl, Zachary Thomas if it’s a boy. I can’t wait to meet him/her. Our birth plan has me receiving the baby and handing it to Caitlin.

I know for a while, the baby won’t be able to do much, but from what I hear it will be amazing. Watching the baby grow strong enough to raise its head, crawl, then walk, and then talk. Wow.

Getting ready and what it might be like are all I really think about these days. Even when I think about the book, it’s about getting it done in time for the baby.

So it is to be this expecting father. What were your memories when you were this close to the birth/arrival of your first child?

To Be a Dad

In Utero - Introducing the Super Peanut (The Next Livingston)

Words cannot convey the giddy delight that overcomes the soul when you find out that you will soon become a father. You find yourself wanting to sing it to the world, skip down mountains, and watch spring blossoms unfold themselves in the early am light, awed by nature’s amazing ability to regenerate every year. What a precious feeling.

For me, it was a dream come true — one I had began to doubt would ever come to pass, especially given Caitlin and I are in our latter thirties. Getting pregnant was not easy for us. But in the end, it happened.

I remember when Caitlin let me know the metaphorical game was afoot. We were driving home from Dulles airport in early March, I had picked her up after a three week assignment in Albania. She said to me in the car ride home, “We should pick up a pregnancy test on the way home.”

Something went click in my head, “She’s pregnant!” The tests that weekend confirmed it. The DC blizzards of 2010 had been very productive indeed!

Snowmageddon Night II 7 p.m. - After the Dig

But then the hard part began, which was keeping quiet until it was safe and Caitlin’s employer was in the know. In reality, we weren’t very good about this, more of a slow leak from immediate friends and family to more casual friends, and finally on Friday everyone was clued-in.

I feel unleashed! Finally, to be able to write about this most important life-changing experience. Ah. :)

My friends, we still have a long way to go. Six months, in fact. Nothing is certain, and I know this. But right now I feel so blessed and grateful. To be a Dad! Wow! And to celebrate Mother’s Day with Caitlin as mother-to-be, well, that will be special.

I know that many of my readers are parents. What was it like for you when you found out you were pregnant or had successfully adopted the first time?