As I mentioned in an earlier post, my company gives new fathers 10 days of paid leave. I took just four days right after Nyan was born, choosing a couple painful weeks of being away from him so that I could have time off after Beatrice’s sister left. That time is now, so for the next week, I’ll be blissfully house-bound with my wife and new son.
Day one was Saturday, and it was probably a good indication of what to expect: chaos, really. Not in a bad way, but just in an impossible-to-plan-things and impossible-to-get-much-done sort of way. We managed to do some laundry, clean the house a bit, and make a quick grocery run. But for the most part, we’re at the mercy of Nyan’s needs. He’s hungry? Drop what you’re doing. He needs a new diaper? Ditto. He’s having a gas attack and needs comforting? Go comfort him, now.
I’m not complaining, not in the least. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know him, learning his rhythms, getting better at burping and diaper changes and feeding, and cracking the code of his various cries and other noises to figure out what they mean. I’m already picking up on it; when a brief fussy cry comes over the baby monitor, that means his pacifier has fallen out of his mouth. A more intense set of cries means his tummy is giving him fits and he needs a hug, some soothing, maybe a burp. Or maybe a fresh diaper.
And he’s getting to know his daddy, too. On Saturday afternoon I had him on my lap as I talked to my parents on the phone. Beatrice pointed out that he was just staring up at me as I talked, with an intense look of fascination and curiosity in his big dark eyes. We think it’s that, until now, he hadn’t really heard a male at all, since he’d spent the bulk of his time with Beatrice and Emerald.
So I’m looking forward to learning more of those little things he does – the way he stares, the faces he makes in his sleep, how his little hand will try to grip the bottle as he feeds, the way he’ll rapidly shake his head back and forth when he’s done eating or when he doesn’t want a bottle that we’re offering to him. He’s an endlessly fascinating, and completely adorable, little creature.
I’ll return to work in a week’s time, and if I can swing it I’ll take another week off later in the month, burning the last paternity leave day, a couple of vacation days and my pair of outstanding “Summer Days” – another perk from my company: in addition to a nearly European style vacation package, we get four floating bonus vacation days to use over the three summer months. Not bad. Lord knows I’ve earned the time off, and lord knows I’ll be using them, too.