Monday, May 4, 2015

A Wah, A Cry, a Wail

I am the younger of two children by twelve years. I come from an extremely large extended family, but the majority of the family around whom I lived growing up were older than me. Everyone did things for me and cooed at my every whim, teaching me all the things they thought I should have known.  Essentially, I am the baby: a role I proudly embrace. So, when I found out that my wife would be having a baby, I realized, after coming to, that I had to learn. I had to learn everything. For the first time in my life, I knew nothing.

A “wah,” a cry, a wail - having a newborn is like living with a drug addict; one minute, he is on a high:  sweet, lovable, and the apple of my eye. The toothless, gummy smile and pterodactyl screeches melt my heart. The next minute, the world is coming to a crashing halt and all the rotational pull of the earth's gravity ceases, spiraling out of control. I start to sweat, ask him, as though he will respond, what he wants.  Instead of responding, he looks into my eyes, senses my growing fears,  and wails. What, exactly, does that cry mean? He's not wet-i just changed him. He can't be hungry, he just ate. Is he cluster feeding? This cry so different: alone in a vast expanse of sobs. The nuances between these cries are slight, and it takes inference to decode, inferences I so desperately needed to master

There are several categories of Ezra cries. Wahh one: this is the “I'm-sort-of-fussy-are-you-there cry,” the one he uses to make sure that either his mother or I are still paying him attention. At eleven weeks, he already knows that his small little finger can fit two parents, regardless of our small stature, tightly wrapped around. Wahh two: this is the” I'm-going-to-cry because-I'm-tired cry,” which is softer and usually accompanied by eye rubbing. I watch for he signals, a father hawk as keenly invested in his best interest as I am my own sanity, grab a muslin blanket for his swaddling. This is no burrito; wrapping my child is crucial, requiring the delicate balance of tightness and gentleness or, of course, there is another cry. Throw in the mix an assortment of other cries like the standard “I-need-my-diaper-changed,” “I'm-hungry,” and “Haha-I’m-funny” cries, but each has its own subtle difference. Each cry is laden with its own suggestive implications and emotional underpinnings, all of which I have had to learn to translate. If not, someone else usually ends up crying, and I can assure you, he doesn't wear diapers.

Ezra: Unamused.