Archive for the 'Family love' Category

Giant Legos

January 25, 2011

Andrew Hicks

When Tiffany was pregnant with Sarah, she mentioned a few times that she hoped she could quickly have one more baby and be done. At the time, we didn’t think we’d ever connect with a second baby, considering the 16-year gap between Sarah and my stepson Josh. I agreed two would be the ideal number of babies, especially if I could get one of each gender, but I had a lot of hesitance and uncertainty about just how life-changing one baby would be, much less a second.

A big reason Tiffany wanted us to have two was that she didn’t want to raise another only child. Tiffany and Josh had a mother-son relationship and a best-friend relationship, considering each was the other’s main companion for many years. This time around, Tiffany wanted her new baby to have the benefits of a sibling close in age. Not to mention, when there are two kids around, the hope is, they will be happy to play with each other and not be lonely and bugging you to play with them while you’re trying to make dinner.

Now that Sarah’s well into being 2, I’m looking forward to the day I’ll be able to sit back and watch her and Silas play together. I can join in if I want, or I can be that proverbial dad on the lawnchair with a book, relaxing with his own pursuits while the kids scamper around, content being kids. That’s the ideal, anyway.

Right now, Sarah realizes Silas can’t catch or throw the little yellow, orange and purple plastic balls she likes to play with, so she runs to find me to be her fun partner. She does come over to Silas and say things like, “Here you go. Ball,” and gently drop it near him as if she’s hoping today will be the day he finally takes the bait. So far, Silas’s main form of playing is to grab whatever’s in his reach, pull it close and stare at it. Or try to put it in his mouth. And he rolls over. That’s pretty much his entire repertoire.

So sometimes, when I’m trying to get stuff done, I have a slightly annoyed inner reaction of, “Why can’t you go play by yourself? Do you think playing with the same dozen giant Legos for an hour straight is fun for a grown man?” Sometimes I offer up half-hearted protestations to buy myself a couple more minutes. But then I get down on the floor and play with the cards, play with the giant Legos, play with the little cars, and I see this little girl’s face light up with fascination and wonder.

Being right in the heart of a toddler’s discoveries is a privilege not everyone gets to experience. Not everyone who does experience it gets joy out of it. Me, I can never be sure how much time I’ll have this simple, early fun of parenting before Sarah grows up, gets complicated and develops a sense of sarcasm. Then the boys are going to start coming after her, and it’ll be a whole new headache.

In another couple years, the way I hit a wiffle ball up through the trees with the yellow plastic bat might not impress her anymore. Right now, I show off my uncoordinated, rudimentary sports skill and get a, “Wow, Daddy! Far!” I’ll take that kind of genuine hero worship from my progeny as long as I can get it.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah, 7/10/10.

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Grape thanks

January 21, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: The editor realizes that the sheer amount of editor’s notes is probably starting to annoy. Every time you see one of these notes, it means Andrew didn’t write and post this day’s blog by his midnight cutoff. This time he’s finally sitting down to write his Friday post at 8:37 pm on Saturday.

Silas is baby-babbling away on his mommy’s shoulder, and Sarah’s playing in one of the bedrooms. On CNN, Howard Stern is guest for the entire hour on Piers Morgan’s new interview show that took Larry King’s old cobweb-smattered timeslot. It’s the most interesting TV Andrew has seen in quite some time, which will probably mean he won’t actually start writing his Friday post until 9 pm.

Tonight is a sparkling example of quiet, loving family time; two generations chilling out. An hour ago, Andrew experienced simple, profound happiness while sitting in a glider care with Sarah on his lap, the two of them sharing a bowl of grapes. Sarah said, “Thank you!” with innocent enthusiasm every time her dad gave her a grape. Later, there will be the strain of diaper changing and formula feeding and cleaning up, cleaning up, cleaning up. Right now, there is peace and enjoyment and Howard Stern being intelligent and entertaining.

Mommy’s little football

January 7, 2011

“The government could take away all the drugs in the world and people would spin around on their lawn until they fell down and saw God.”
-Dennis Miller

Sarah reminded me of that old Dennis Miller bit today. Tiffany just rearranged all the furniture in the kitchen/dining area, opening up all kinds of space, so now Sarah has a big square of linoleum where she can spin in circles.

Circle-spinning is a favorite activity of Sarah’s, and she especially likes it when I hold her hands and spin the both of us around. She just keeps excitedly saying, “Circles!” and giggling her little toddler butt off while we spin faster and faster, and eventually Daddy does see God. He’s that dude who’s telling me via sign language to stop spinning before I lose consciousness.

Tight centrifugal force isn’t the same when you’re 32 as when you’re 2. Your body loses tolerance somewhere along the line. And when you don’t drink anymore, it gets to be one hell of a rush.

I’m typing with Silas on my lap right now. He’s near the end of his day and is showing signs of losing consciousness his baby self. Little Guy’s wearing a sleeper with a cute little yellow lion on it. “I love you. I’m not lion,” says the cartoon lion on the sleeper. See, the lion says he’s not a lion but clearly is a lion, so he’s lying about not being lion. But the whole thing’s on a baby, so it’s cute.

Silas has another sleeper that says “Mommy’s Little Football” on it. The words “All Star” are underneath the word “Football,” but you can barely tell because it’s like dark gray print on medium gray. So I picture some poor baby who gets spiked, hiked and kicked by a mom who tells him, “At least you’re not an orphan.” But it’s a baby, so it’s cute.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Daddy and 8-month-old Sarah. I cropped out most of my double chin, but the nose hairs are running wild.

Sarah’s birth day

November 3, 2010

Andrew Hicks

November 3, 2008
7:57 am

I’m standing in scrubs at the doorway of a hospital room. My mom and in-laws are in a family waiting area across the hall. About a half-hour ago, one of the nurses told me she’d be back for me in five minutes. The commotion of several pairs of feet starts to rattle up the hallway. I stick out my head just in time to seeĀ a handful of hospital techs and nurses dart by, and I overhear enough to know they’re scurrying to the room where my wife is under spinal anesthesia.

A nurse stops and addresses me: “Dad? You ready?”

It’s one of the first times I’ve been called dad. It sounds foreign. I follow the nurse, who assures me everything is going great so far, down the hall and into a service corridor. She makes sure my Michael Jackson face mask is in place and pushes the button that swings open the double doors to the surgery room.

I step inside. Bright lights overwhelm my vision. I hear the gentle hissing and beeping of machines. I hear the organized chaos of team communication between doctors, nurses and a slightly creepy anesthesiologist with a clipped German accent. The nurse directs me to a stool on wheels. I slide into place next to my beautiful wife, whose caged eyes flash from overwhelmed and pensive to surprisingly calm and cognizant. She takes my hand as I remark how crazy this all is.

Her face, looking over at me with a faint smile, fades into hospital gown-covered shoulders and an abrupt blue sheet-curtain. Beyond the curtain, the Caesarian is well underway. Tiffany asks, “Baby cry? Hear a baby cry?” I tell her not yet, they’re still getting her out. German Anesthesiologist tells Tiffany she “vill feel a lot of press-shaw.” The doctor and the nurses start to calmly repeat the same mantra, “A lot of pressure, a lot of pressure,” as if these are the time-tested magic words that will bring forth baby.

I tell my wife I love her. She tells me the same, then asks about the baby cry again. I think of it as a delirious response to the spinal block, but she’ll later tell me it was the one thing she was focused on. She’d had worries about bad reactions to anesthesia and Sarah being stillborn. She knew if she heard the baby cry, everything would be fine.

Someone announces that they see a head. The curtain is blocking all the action. I look into the reflecting glass of a medical cabinet on the wall to my left. There, I can see the flurry of movement by well-trained hands, then the silhouette of a tiny body being lifted from its mother’s womb. A quiet, quick second passes, then… we hear the baby cry. A stuttering, hesitant billy goat bleat that soon escalates into a full-blown, hyperventilating wail.

“Baby’s crying?” Tiffany asks me. Yes, I tell her happily, choking back tears. The baby’s crying. A voice on the other side of the curtain announces that it’s a girl. Another voice announces the time — 8:06 am. I squeeze my wife’s hand and brush her left cheek. I’m also in charge of making sure her drool gets collected in the maroon plastic kidney-shaped bedpan. Side effect of heavy anesthesia, the drool.

“You might wanna get your camera out there, dad,” says the head nurse, a lady whose name I’ll soon find out is Victoria. Over the next few hours, she’ll embody the patient but wizened stance of someone who spends most of her work week giving basic parenting advice to people who mainly don’t know what they’re doing and don’t listen. Victoria kind of reminds me of an infant caretaker version of Michael Caine’s character in The Cider House Rules, minus the abortions and ether addiction.

I feel overtaken by emotion but somewhat numb at the same time, like I’m watching something happen to somebody else. I snap photos of the cleanup, the weighing, the measuring and the fingerprinting. I take mental note of the vital stats: 8 pounds, 1 ounce; 22 1/2 inches long.

Victoria asks if we have a name picked out. I tell her Sarah Grace. She indicates that she approves. All this time, my wife’s midsection is opened up behind me, and I try to avert my eyes. I’m just too curious, though, and I take a couple long stares at her exposed organs and intestines. A year and a half ago, I’d never met even this woman whose insides are all mangled from giving birth to my baby. This is intimacy.

Newborn Sarah has stopped baby-crying by the time she’s in her first diaper, wrapped in a hospital blanket and deposited in her mommy’s arms. German Anesthesiologist obliges us with a photo of mom, dad and baby. I get the camera back and frame mom and baby. A notice comes on the display screen, telling me the batteries are as good as dead. I have no backup Energizers in the pockets of my scrubs.

Nurse Victoria shoots me a look of death when she realizes baby’s first photo shoot has come to an abrupt, premature end thanks to dad’s inadequate planning. Eight minutes into fatherhood, and I’ve already earned a permanent slot on Vickie’s extensive shit list.

We get back to the hospital room, and Sarah — already taking her first nap — gets passed around to three grandparents. I change batteries in the camera, and along with everyone else, I take as many pictures as possible. Then I excuse myself to call my dad and a few close friends, wandering up and down the hospital hallways while I spread the news.

My mom finds me minutes later. Tells me I should get back to the hospital room because Tiffany’s about to breastfeed Sarah for the first time. It’s just me, her and our new baby in the room. Sarah latches right on, a true natural.

Now, I come from a small, reclusive family. I only have one brother, two years younger than I am. I didn’t grow up around babies, and I never really planned on having my own. Older couples I befriended would always tell me I’d change my mind when I met the right woman, and I shrugged it off until I did in fact meet my perfect counterpart.

We were barely boyfriend and girlfriend when Tiffany and I took her best friend’s 2 1/2 year old to Six Flags with us one afternoon. Watching Tiffany act so tender, patient and maternal with a cute little girl changed my mind in an instant. I knew she was the only possible mother for the children I never thought I’d have.

That said, on Day One, I hold my baby like she’s a glass grenade that will self-destruct with any contact or movement. I’m still a week away from changing my first diaper. I’m about a year from feeling like I remotely know what I’m doing as a dad. But when I collapse on the couch in our hospital room, with an hours-old Sarah sleeping on my chest, I feel an overwhelming, proprietary love I didn’t know was inside me. This newborn girl has changed me in an instant.

I love you with all my heart, Sarah. Happy second birthday, sweetie pie.