Saturday, June 24, 2006

A year to celebrate


Presents are scattered about the living room, a mostly-munched tray of baked beans sits on the stove, and Jayden is sacked out in his crib, snoring for one of the first times in his life.
I'm seriously considering joining him.

Instead I'm down here, playing poker on a late Saturday afternoon, after Jayden's first birthday party.
I told Kate it felt like our wedding, and she laughed and agreed before collapsing on the couch. There were so many friends and family members, so many we wanted to talk to and yet we were so busy with everything we barely had time to sit and eat.

Funny. That's how our life has felt, to some degree, since he was born.
It's been an amazing experience, more than I ever thought it would, and I'd like to share a column I wrote for the paper here, at I am the Adventure editor and entertainment reporter and projects editor (that's a lot of titles!), but I also enjoy writing columns about Jayden from time to time.

Here you go:

ust work through the baby stuff, I thought when Kate told me she was pregnant, and everything will be all right.

They say you are never really ready to have kids. It's true. I certainly wasn't even as we drove to the emergency room after Kate's water broke just a couple of hours before June 25, 2005.

The sky flashed colors I'd never seen before, even during my many mountaineering adventures. Lightning speared through the sky, flashing through the night and making the clouds explode. There was no rain, nor wind, only the constant sparking of the so-called "heat" lightning, nature's own fireworks display two weeks before our own meager attempts during the Fourth of July weekend.

The sky was in chaos.

How appropriate, I thought, a perfect metaphor for what my life was going to become in just another 24 hours.

When I thought of kids, I shuddered at the wisecracks, the power struggles and the late-night discussions about doing something with your life. I stuttered when parents told me about weekends lost to baseball, soccer and football games. But threats of diapers, sleepless nights, screaming, puking on new shirts and hours of free time snatched away simply made me shake.

Just work through the baby stuff, I told myself, and then you can enjoy Jayden.

I was actually looking forward to the delivery and my last few hours of freedom.

Jayden, and Kate, had other ideas.

Kate was looking forward to the hospital for months, and not just because she would finally shed what felt like a sack of rocks from her belly. She was ready for kids. Kids were a dream of hers. She would love the baby stuff. She wanted to breast feed. I think she wanted the diapers. And the late nights? In fact, she might enjoy them.

Me? I had a plan.

I would, at times, stuff Kleenex up my nose to avoid the smell of diapers. I would watch him in the afternoons at first, when I was home from work, because he napped in the afternoons and was much quieter then. I would walk around with him when he cried and take him outside, hoping that the view of the mountains would calm him down as much as it did me.

I would go back to work and relish the days apart from the crying. And, finally, Mom would come out to visit, and I would take four days to climb three of the last four 14ers I had to complete my goal of climbing them all.

I would focus on that trip during the tough times.

I would work through the baby stuff.

But, as I said, Jayden had other ideas. He came quickly, just six hours after we entered the hospital, and it would have been even faster, had Kate not wanted an epidural (which, by the way, I was completely fine with after she nearly broke my fingers during one especially gnarly contraction).

I let the nurse give him his first bath, but I was there. I changed the first diaper, a mess of what they call meconium, but I left the Kleenex on the table. I walked around with him when he cried.

Then, on the second day, as he screamed, I spoke.

I'm here, I said.

He stopped his screaming at the sound of my voice and opened his eyes and looked at me.

Oh. Hello.

He was my son.

And he knew it.

Since then, I have spent many happy days with Jayden. I have laughed with him, played with him and just about burst with love every time he's smiled at me, which, I'm proud to say, has numbered in the thousands.

Jayden will be a year old next Sunday. He babbles and sometimes says, "Da Da," though I'm still not convinced he knows what he's saying. He shares our meals now, at times grabbing my shake out of my hand and planting his lips on my straw before I can protest. He can stand on his own and has even taken a step or two.

He is close to becoming a little boy.

I never lived up to my plan.

I will miss the baby stuff. Terribly.

But that's just something I'll have to work through.


cc said...

"I'm not a baby; I'm a big boy!"

Just embrace every month as it's pretty amazing to see them change. The boys are 10, 8, and now 2, and the Little Guy hopped in bed with me after he climbed out of his crib, then dragged me into the shower and proceeded to walk in with me!

But always remember my two basic rules: your wife is the most important person in your world, and you're first his father. Congrats on a great weekend!

Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Hey Peak,

I can't deny it was your comment on Trip's blog that got me a little curious about you, but it's all good - my wife can't take my schtick for extended stretches either.

I like your site, and I see we have the same taste in furnishings. I most definitely am kidding about quitting - that whole in-your-face tone is a joke between Waffles and I, that we are now exporting to anyone who'll listen.

I have 3 young kids myself (4y, 2y, 2m) so I can't think of a better topic to blog about if you can find a way to accurately describe the indefinables.

Which you did. Quite nicely.

TripJax said...

Hawesome post...

You hear it over and over, but time really does fly. Our boy who was Jayden's age it seems like 2 months ago is now 5. Yeeesh. And now our newborn is 15 months old. What the??!! Where does the time go?

Keep it up...I'm enjoying the writing.

And I'm glad Iak came by to pay a visit...

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