Adventures of a New Father, Part III: Far Down the Rabbit Hole

Huy X. Le June 19, 2013 0
Adventures of a New Father, Part III: Far Down the Rabbit Hole

As soon as the baby was born, we entered into the world of babies. Seriously, it is all babies all the time. I didn’t realize how deep down the rabbit hole we were — probably because we are exhausted — until yesterday, when we attended our new parent support group. This group — comprised of eight tired, unwashed couples who smell like spit-up and hand sanitizer — meets once a week to discuss baby stuff such as sleeping patterns, breastfeeding challenges, cloth vs. disposable diapers, and books to read to the little ’uns. All of it is very helpful information, and everyone is friendly and open. Yesterday, I was munching on a plate of snacks — including hummus, guacamole, pita chips and grapes — when someone started asking about poop. Concerned for her son, she wanted to compare poop descriptions.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said one mom, “it’s not grainy. It’s kind of chunky.”

“Chunky like what?” asked the others. “Like salsa? Like hummus?”

The group discussed this for several minutes.

“It’s OK,” someone said, “Little Charlie produces small, grape-like pellets.”

“What color?”

“Green, like that armchair? Or like that guacamole Huy is eating?”

Oh, God. We have become those parents whose lives revolve around their kids, whose every thought is about babies. I barely write anymore, I still haven’t caught up with the AMC show “Breaking Bad” or seen “Star Trek into Darkness,” and any semblance of exercise, hygiene, and nutrition — not to mention anything of a social life — has taken a back seat. By 10 p.m., we’re exhausted and need to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for the grueling night.

Some of this is good. The baby is adorable, especially when he is alert and playful and saying things in his baby language like “gah” and “guhhhh.” When I am away from him for more than an hour, I start missing him like crazy.

But still, all baby all the time can’t be healthy. We may have started alienating all our non-parent friends by constantly talking about the baby. On numerous occasions, I’ve flashed baby pictures on my phone to random strangers who are just innocently minding their own business standing in line at a bank or going up to a podium to deliver a eulogy or something. Thank God I’m already married and raising a kid, because I am not sure in this state if I’d be able to attract anyone.

So all of the people we hang out with are new or veteran parents, and I can’t help it, but I am starting to resent non-parent people, with their freshness and their smiling, and their spontaneity and their healthy glow; and fashionable clothing that isn’t crusted with dried spit-up. Worst of all is their staring, with that sort of pity in their eyes. It makes me want to grab them and shake them and say: “I may have a newborn and have not bathed for days, but I’m still a human being, a human being!”

This is why we new parents like to hang out with one another. No longer part of the world to which we used to belong, we must now carve our path in a vast, confusing and stinky wilderness. When you’re this deep down the rabbit hole, you lose your sense of time and direction.

“One day,” we tell one another, “they’ll graduate from college, and it’ll be over, and we can sleep for six or even seven hours at a time.”

It seems so long ago in the past, and so far away into the future. We stare at our tiny, screaming bundles, hopeful that these endless nights will get better, and yet fearful that these days will pass by too quickly.

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