I’m pretty new to this whole dad business, and to be completely honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. I mean, I’ve read books and such, but I have no previous experience with infants at all – the whole thing is so new and so big that I admit I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time.
Luckily, I’m not alone, and my much better half has a better grasp of the whole thing, or at the very least, a better grasp of seeming to have a better grasp. If you’ve never been around kids much, it’ll take you a while to get over The Fear That The Child Will Break. They won’t, of course, unless you do something extraordinarily stupid. (Relax, you probably won’t.)
What does happen – and this is among the first things you’ll learn – is that babies cry when they get hungry. It’s a powerful hunger too, primal and fierce – a hungry baby’s wail is the sound of the world ending. It can be quite harrowing. Babies cry about other things too, but hunger seems to be the biggest of them all.
Unless you’re Miracleman, your child can’t speak until it’s a bit older, and consequently can’t tell you what’s wrong. Naturally, it takes you time to start figuring out what it is, but after a while, you learn to go through a mental checklist in order to narrow it down: Has she been fed, is her diaper clean, is she tired, etc. You’ll eventually get better, but don’t worry – it’s still kind of hit and miss.
It’s new and strange territory, but then, why would it be anything else? Thankfully, I’m learning, and whenever I manage to heat the supplement in time to beat that wail, to feed her and watch her drift back to sleep, I feel like I’ve done well. I’m also man enough to admit that embarrassingly often, my fist is frozen in a half-pump as I tiptoe away. Small victories.