Test Subject V takes on an action pose in her Batgirl onesie

Because My Colleague and I are somewhat older parents– not “old parents,” by today’s standards, but we’re never going to be featured on MTV’s Teen Mom– we had an additional round of genetic testing while Test Subject V was in utero.  Everything came out completely average, and we both breathed a small sigh of relief.

The upshot of that testing, though, was that we discovered V’s sex extremely early on, before it could be detected via ultrasound.

All of this leads to a scene where I, overwhelmed father to be, just starting to wrap his head around the idea that he was going to have a daughter, found himself wondering the aisles of Babies R Us with his wife, trying to figure out how car seat and stroller systems work and whether or not you needed one, just completely experiencing sticker shock at everything.

And then I saw this onesie. This Batgirl onesie. And I knew that I was going to watch superhero cartoons with her just like my mother had with me, and that I wanted her to love comics as much as I did, and I couldn’t leave the store without it.

My Colleague humored me, as it was my money if I wanted to waste it.

I’m really more of a Marvel fan than a DC guy— I haven’t really enjoyed much DC since they decided to go all grimdark and I still long for the glory days of the Giffen and DeMatteis Justice League. I like the Bat-family well enough, but my Batman will always be either Michael Keaton or Adam West (with Casey Kasem as the voice of Robin, natch).

When I was a kid, my mom would watch Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends with me. My first comic was an issue of Spidey Super Stories. I grew up addicted to Marvel’s mutant books. I’m just not a huge Batman guy.

But I love this onesie so, so much. Not because of a particular investment in Batgirl (though I love Barbara Gordon and Cassie Cain),  but because it’s the first thing that I got that let me think about passing my fandom down to my kid.

And even more than that, it’s the first thing that I got that was really for Test Subject V, for her, and not just for “a baby.” This was the first purchase I made for her thinking of her as a person.

And I know my sense of her as a person will grow and change so much over the years, but this is where it began. And I want her to want to be a super-hero, to fight for justice, and to help ensure safety for the downtrodden and fairness for the less fortunate.

Plus, she’s just so damned cute in it.

“Oh Good, the wet spot in my beard was spit-up! I was worried it was poop.”
— Me, looking in the mirror just now. #fatherhood

The Wonder Weeks: What a Difference a Day Makes…

Image representing the moment at which mother and daughter switch bodies.
My daughter has suddenly matured, seemingly overnight. But not to, like, Freaky Friday levels. Image from the 1976 Disney film.

I picked up a copy of The Wonder Weeks on the advice of some friends with kids. I haven’t read much of it yet, and even those who recommended it to me often did so with some reservations. But what I have read has been interesting.

There’s an Amazon Affiliate link at the bottom of the page, so if this piques your interest, please consider clicking through and letting me get a few pennies for your purchase. 

Anyway, the authors’ basic premise is pretty straightforward: there are certain periods of marked fussiness, sleep issues, etc, that for most children follow a pretty identifiable schedule in their early years. These periods coincide with major developmental milestones and shifts that your child is undergoing.

The authors identify 10 such periods during the first 20 months, and let parents know, to some extent, what to expect, and developmental “leaps” to look for. As a friend of mine with a two year said recently, sometimes it’s helpful to know why your kid is being a pain, and other times it’s small comfort.

The first “Wonder Week” is around five weeks. The baby is becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings. They’re likely to be fussier, clingy, and have trouble sleeping. After this fussy period, they tell you to watch for the baby to seem more aware and interactive. They may begin to smile, as well.

Well, around this Monday, a couple days into Week 5, Test Subject V started having trouble sleeping. She was fussier than usual, and during her evening fussy period, she was almost intolerably clingy.  Last week we made it through the night with only one feeding disruption, but that schedule was suddenly back out the window.  I wasn’t seeing any of these developmental weeks the book promised me, though, and I was about to toss it in the bin as more nonsense marketed at new parents.

And then, last night, Test Subject V went down early. Before midnight. And she stayed asleep until 6:30 this morning. Now, that alone is enough to have my wife and myself out on the porch in the 23° cold singing “Oh Happy Day.” Sleeping through the night, even for six hours or so, is cause for celebration. But. BUT. BUT. That’s not all.

The baby that woke up in my home this morning is not the baby that we put to bed last night. I mean, she is– this isn’t a changeling situation or anything. But her personality has radically altered, seemingly overnight. Suddenly, V is smiling. She’s playing with toys in which she has shown no prior interest. She used to track us with her eyes, but now there’s a new recognition in them when she does. When she gets fussy or upset, she seems far more manic– she wants results.

It’s amazing and eerie and awesome. Babies are so weird.

So I’ll continue to read The Wonder Weeks as V goes through the next few periods of fussing her way to a better brain, and I’ll report here how the book compares and contrasts with my lived reality.

“Wait until you have kids…”

Mom was right. There are some things that you just will never know until you have children. Like what it feels like to break six hours of sleep up into a nonconsecutive series of twenty minute naps.

Edited to add:

Nota Bene: this post was composed on my cell phone at 3:45am.

Family Naps Are the Best Naps

My baby, my wife, and my cat all enjoy some shut-eye.

This whole new baby thing is exhausting. But I’m lucky to have a support structure and My Colleague is very lucky to have an employer with a decent maternity leave policy. (And just as a reminder: many Americans aren’t so lucky. And the numbers are shameful.)

We’re trying to keep rested and keep sane. The highs and lows are intense. But it’s all definitely worth it.