Today is Father's Day. My first Father's Day, to be exact. It never really registered that I would be a father on Father's Day. I mean, I knew I'd be a father and I knew there would be plenty of Father's Days in the future, but both of them together? I've never been a big fan of holidays that were invented for the sake of stimulating the economy, but I did get some measure of satisfaction from it.
I spent the night before flipping through all 1,000 photos and videos that I took of you in the NICU, something I'd never actually done before. It was a very strange feeling, having your entire stay in the NICU compressed into a single hour. There are so many ways in which you are different, but also the same. In the beginning, you were almost a pound and your eyes were fused shut. But now? Just over 9 pounds and when you are awake, your eyes flit about wildly and curiously at the world around you.
You seem to be hitting little developmental milestones at a steady clip, and with a comfortable lead over other babies of your equivalent adjusted age. At 3 weeks adjusted, you are pushing yourself up on your hands to get a better look at your surroundings (you can thank the baby push ups for that!) You are also so incredibly alert, turning your head to voices and looking people in the eyes as they talk to you. You've even been socially smiling while awake, something that a newborn should begin doing between 6-8 weeks. Now, I know I'm probably sounding pretty competitive. I mean, bragging about how soon you're smiling? Well... why not? Some might think it competitive, but I call it fatherly pride. But just be aware little one, if you don't continue to smile at a considerably above average rate, I'll be pinching your adorable little feet until you're all smiles all the time! No baby of mine will get a "C" in the subjects of joy and jubilation. Not if I have a say in it.
There is one thing you seem to be lagging behind in, though: vocalization. At 3 weeks, you should begin to make cutesy "cooing" sounds and "oooing" sounds and "aaaaahing" sounds. Sadly, you haven't progressed beyond the vocabulary of a Tasmanian Devil. When people hear you make a sound in the doctor's office, they say, "Wow, she sounds angry!" Nope, not angry. Just... weird. I find I'm making excuses for your unwillingness to apply yourself sufficiently to the cause of babbling. "Well, maybe when she goes 'Brrrrrararaarlllllaaarrr' she actually is meaning to say 'goo goo'!" I think to myself, wishfully. And then I begin to wonder whether you'll ever actually talk properly. I wonder whether you'll be that goofy kid in school with the weird voice or lisp that everyone makes fun of, and then I convince myself that that's a good thing because years of unjust middle school torment will encourage you to be a shut-in-computer-nerd like Bill Gates. And I'm fine with that. The world needs more computer nerds.
On a different front, there have been some positive developments with your Ellie Belly. The reflux that was making you wail during and after feeds was getting especially bad and none of the medication was working so we started adding rice cereal to your milk to weight it down. It worked quite well when it came to the reflux, so much so that it actually made me a bit, uhm, overconfident when it came to feeding you. "I bet there aren't many other 3 weekers capable of eating 8 ounces in a single feed!" I thought. I continued to be overconfident right up until the moment you specified the amount to which you were being overfed by measuredly spewing that quantity out of your mouth... Meh, a 6 ounce feed still ain't half bad. It wasn't a big deal anyway because I'd handed you off to your Grandma Kottiath just moments before the vomiting began and I was a good 3 yards from the line of fire.
The only downside to the rice cereal is that it has now made you stupendously constipated. On the upside, it has made diaper changes more exciting. Rather than the usual, dull medium sized stools inhabiting each diaper, the process has become a little bit like playing hot potato. You never know when the bomb is going to go off, and each time you toss it, it becomes more and more dangerous and more and more likely that it'll detonate. And yes, your constipation has become yet another source of pride. I've stood there quite often, after peering into your freshly soiled diaper, and thought proudly, "I bet there ain't many 3 weekers that can take a crap that big!"