A Story by Dad
When Harper was first born I would eagerly share, with anyone that would listen, the story of her chaotic early birth, tiny stature and subsequent awesomeness. Nine times out of ten whomever was on the other end of my prideful rant would have an equally or more extraordinary story of their own. When I told people that Harper was only 4 pounds at birth, rounding down of course for sensationalism, they would claim to have either given birth to or personally been a 3 pounder. If I mentioned that my wife could have died during the whole process they would reply that they had actually died during labor only to be revived just in time to naturally give birth to 3 pound Siamese twins. The other end of the spectrum came in the form of what I started calling “ SuPreemie Stories.” When I mentioned that my daughter was premature people would literally jump at the chance to mention their grandkid, neighbor, best friend, spouse or sister that had been a “preemie” but had grown to be a six foot ten, 375 pound center in the WNBA.
“My cousin was only 2 pounds when she was born but she is a big, healthy, 250 pound 4th grader now.”
It was as if these people thought I would find comfort in the fact that even though Harper was rather tiny now eventually she would be freakishly large so it would all even out in the end. After a few months of listening to rather odd childbirth and “SuPreemie” baby stories I stopped telling the barista’s and parking lot attendants about Harper’s arrival.
A few days ago as we walked through the grocery store on our first daddy/daughter public outing I started to realize that just seeing Harper’s bright blue eyes and chubby cheeks prompted complete strangers to divulge their own infant stories. Then there was the new mothers and fathers who wanted to compare notes on progress and relish the chance to one-up us on an infant milestones. Throughout our journey in produce and beyond I was stopped multiple times by newish parents with questions that, without any time to answer, were turned into statements regarding the fact that their kid had smiled, laughed, spoke or walked quicker than any baby in the history of time. Between the random people and the fulsome parents a standard 20-minute shop had turned into an afternoon event. As we finally left the store I told Harper that I would never pressure her to do things quicker than she was ready to, just for the sake of bragging to random people in the grocery store. She gave me a big goopy smile and continued to eat her hand with the gusto of a much older child. My phone rang and I picked up to hear the voice of my good friend, another new father, who sounded very tired. He told me that his girl had been up all night and asked me how Harper had been. “She’s been great! Ry put her on a new schedule and she’s been sleeping 11 hours a night. She seems to be way ahead of schedule as far sleeping goes.” As I heard him hang up the phone I wondered if maybe I should have used a little restraint…..but c’mon 11 hours at 5 months, that’s got to be some kind of record.