Alright everyone, settle down. You’ve been liking his pictures on Facebook, you’ve been favoriting his Tweets on Twitter, and you’ve been begging for inside scoop on what’s been happening since we brought Gabe home. And like Gabe, you’ve come to love and expect your story time.
So you may have watched the video about Dom and me bringing Gabe home, and it ended with the closing of our front door, a family finally united. When that door closed, we took off our hoodies, sat on the floor with Gabe still in the carrier, and just looked at him. We had spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and finally, our son had come home. And we didn’t know what to do now. The chase, the hunt, the work of it all, was behind us. And so we sat there, watching our son take in the sights around him. His eyes were flitting from wall to wall, picture frame to chair, dad to dad.
As all new parents are wont to do, we took some pictures of Gabe in his go-home show outfit. A soft, cuddly teddy bear stretched his body out in our Pack ’N Play, posing for a few pictures before starting to cry. With an enthusiasm that could never sustain itself, Dom and I each raced to change his diaper before the other. That diaper, like many more to come in the next week, was full of pee.
And so it goes that I will now share with you one of the reasons you’ll dislike me. Gabe doesn’t poop. I mean, he does, but he doesn’t. If we get one poop every sixth day, it’s a victory. And it’s not an issue of constipation, it’s just that sometimes formula-fed babies will only poop once or twice a week. I hadn’t thought to check the “Doesn’t Poop” box on our list of desired qualities at the adoption agency, but Gabe took care of that for us. Thanks, Little Man.
About two hours after we closed our door, my phone rang. The adoption agency was calling to congratulate us: Gabe’s birth parents had just signed their irrevocable termination paperwork, as per their plan. We cried and smiled and called our parents to share the news that this major hurdle had been cleared.
The next few days were spent in much the same way as the first day, lots of looking, and lots of falling even further in love with this precious baby boy who was ours.
There were introductions at our house to many members of the family, all hand-washed and sanitized before handling, of course. Everyone noted how strong Gabe seemed, having the ability to lift his head completely off of our hands when facing forward. He could turn his head from side to side, holding his head upright on his own for three minutes at a clip before getting tired. His iron-like grip held the finger of every person who held him. And his eye contact was incredible, he would just stare into our eyes forever.
We made the mistake of taking him to the doctor’s office, where every single nurse took five full minutes to fall in love with Gabe. A routine check-up turns into a two-hour ordeal because this baby is too cute. Literally, he’s too cute. And I know there’s an inherent bias because he’s our baby, but I have it on good authority that this baby is the cutest in the world, and like climate change, that’s irrefutable science.
We were coming up on Gabe turning 3 weeks old, and we were having difficulty at bedtime, not with Gabe, but with us. I’m sure other parents can identify with us here: During the night when Gabe would make tiny noises, I would bolt upright in bed, thinking something was wrong. (Anthony, something was wrong, and it’s you.) Now of course, more often than not, babies tend to breathe at night. So when Gabe would sigh, I would immediately wake up, and I’d nudge Dom awake, saying “CHECK HIM.” Dom would assure me that our son was fine. But my paranoia was ruining our sleeping. We decided to transition Gabe from the co-sleeper in our bedroom into his nursery.
THANK JESUS. The first night was hard. (For me, not for Gabe.) But our baby monitor only goes off when Gabe is making a loud sustained noise, like spitting up, or crying. That meant that the normal noises a baby makes during the night weren’t keeping me awake. The baby monitor, widely seen as the greatest technological advancement of our generation (again, science), had saved our lives and restored the precious gift of sleep. From Week 3 until now, Gabe’s only slept in his bedroom at night.
We were given a book called “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” written by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I would highly recommend this to new parents, as it’s been an amazing resource for us at home. We started sleep training Gabe, beginning his sleep routine every night at 7. Feeding, diaper change, and a few bedtime stories. At 7:30, Gabe gets put in his sleep sack (think a sleeping bag for babies), and then in his crib. Eleven twists of the baby mobile, a kiss on the forehead, and then a kiss on the cheek, and then maybe another kiss on the forehead, and then we are forced to peel ourselves away and leave the room. And there he’ll stay, until the middle of the night feeding, anywhere from 1 to 3 a.m., and then on until morning.
After a year-long conversation, I’d like to think you know me pretty well by now. So I’m sure it’s not a stretch to tell you that Christmas was probably the happiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Watching my 96-year-old grandmother hold my son and sing songs to him, waking up on Christmas morning and opening presents with my husband and son, and closing my eyes during the blessing at Christmas dinner and taking a mental inventory of all that we’ve been given, each minute of Christmas was a minute well spent, perfect and fleeting and unrecoverable, but somehow forever preserved.
My stories now probably sound like many others you’ve already heard. For us, we have transitioned from the chase to the cherish, and we are living in the same world that so many other fathers (and mothers) have told us about. We are no longer the outsiders looking to invade, we are the ones who welcome the strangers to the table with two and a half sets of arms, two fathers and a little baby. There will always be room for you here, in the world of fatherhood, to sit beside us.
We are lucky, indeed. We are the recipients of good fortune that has come from hard work and determination, and the incredible support of hundreds of people. We are the dads to a wonderful Gabey Baby, ours now and forever. We hope you’ll enjoy reading big stories about a little man, and that our story will help inspire one of your own. We are proudly, and now officially, Gays With Kids.