🎂 Happy 1st birthday Gaia!
Celebrating a year of dad life with the best baba
I haven’t written too much about dad life because it’s tough to find the words for an all-encompassing experience that evolves faster than I can describe it.
Today is Gaia’s first birthday, which offers an opportunity to take a beat and reflect about my first year as a dad. Hopefully these words will capture some of it.
maybe Gaia will even read this one day… hey future Gaia! congrats on learning to read 💪
When Carole told me she was pregnant, my whole body felt a “fuck yes!” feeling.
Months passed, and we found out the gender through a cupcake with pink filling.
We were having a daughter. There would be a girl, and eventually woman, who called me… dad.
I put my head on Carole’s belly all the time. And just listened. Initially, just lots of digestive sounds. We like to eat.
And then - one day - new sounds!
More months passed, the belly grew, and movement in that belly picked up. Kicking and tapping. More sounds.
I built baby furniture and Carole prepared the nursery.
We unboxed literally hundreds of Amazon packages.
We were as ready as we could be and entered the “any day now” phase.
A couple weeks before the due date, Carole felt something might be off so we went to the hospital just to make sure things were fine.
They were fine, but in a different way than we expected - the baby was coming early. We checked into the hospital room and once Carole was settled, I rushed home to get the car seat, our “go time” hospital bags, and returned as fast as possible to the hospital.
The sun went down and we expected to meet our baby before sunrise.
The next 12 hours were an emotional rollercoaster comprised of exhaustion, nerves, fear and sheer joy. Carole is a champion and made delivery look easy. I was in awe the entire time.
Around 3am on Friday 1/13, I became a dad.
Childbirth is said to be beautiful but I was a bit nervous going into it. It was the most wonderful and natural sight. People made it sound so much scarier and distasteful than it was. One way I can describe it is like simultaneously witnessing - and participating in - an activity that has been happening for millions of generations which we’re fully wired to honor. It felt familiar even though it was entirely new to me.
With Gaia and Carole healthy, my new responsibility hit me immediately. My identity got an update. I was no longer just a husband, son, brother, etc. I was a dad.
My task seemed obvious: do whatever is required to make this baby feel safe and loved.
We stumbled through the first 24 hours with literal hand-holding from staff at the hospital. They’re angels and made me grateful for modern healthcare.
Carole and I took turns sleeping and managed one or two naps together on the tiny hospital bed. Most of my sleep was in twisted positions on a chair.
We got the green light to take Gaia home with us Saturday morning, packed up, and called an Uber back to Brooklyn.
In the car ride, a few thoughts occurred to me
Everyone survived the trip to the hospital - thank god.
We have with us the most fragile being in the universe.
Our daughter was born in Manhattan near Central Park. Sounds so cool.
Our closest family is a three hour flight away. We’re on our own.
The first couple weeks were a blur. Gaia ate, slept, cried, and filled her diapers. We took her for walks in the stroller every day.
Everyone told us we’d need help but fuck that, Carole and I crushed it on our own.
I’d be lying if I said I felt an immediate connection to Gaia for those first couple months. It was mostly a grind. I was excited for it to start paying off.
Someone told me the first smile would change everything. And that’s exactly what happened. One day Gaia smiled at me.
I still feel the same happiness every time she smiles at me; thousands of smiles by now. When it comes to Gaia smiles, the law of diminishing marginal utility just doesn’t apply. It never gets old.
We travelled to Arizona, Montreal, France and Florida. We’ve spent thousands of hours together: planes, trains, cars, George walks, baths, tummy time, feeds. We enrolled Gaia in daycare when she was about five months old and Carole went back to work.
Today Gaia is starting to crawl and can sit well. She laughs all the time, but still no teeth. She’s super observant and curious. She can entertain herself for a few minutes at a time, just mumbling to herself in cute baby talk. She wants to be held all the time and complains when we put her down. But then she gets over it just as quickly.
She lights up and laughs every time she sees George and pulls his hair if he gets close enough. He wants to play with her but somehow knows he needs to be delicate around her. George joins me every morning for the hour-long roundtrip walk to drop Gaia off at daycare. It’s our daily exercise, our “guy time”. Golden Retrievers are the best dogs and George is the best Golden Retriever.
When it comes to daycare, we lucked out. The staff is incredible. They love Gaia and send us multiple pictures of her every day. Carole and I make up stories about what Gaia does all day with the other babies. She legit has a secret life away from us with her own friends and activities. We find it hilarious. She’s in great hands.
We also hit the jackpot with sleep. Around 3 months, Gaia started sleeping through the night. We consistently get full nights of sleep and I don’t take it for granted at all. **knocking on wood and thanking the sleep gods**
This year has also brought me and Carole closer than ever. Raising Gaia has strapped us onto a rollercoaster through sleep-deprived chaos, crying, laugh attacks and lots of dancing. We’ve changed thousands of diapers together, cleaned up explosions that defy the laws of physics, and started indoctrinating Gaia to love tasty food. She’s an excellent eater.
Before having Gaia, Carole was worried she wouldn’t have maternal instincts. It’s now entirely clear she was wrong (which is rare). Carole is a perfect mom who has led the way on 99% of our parenting. She even got promoted after returning from mat leave. Gaia is lucky to have Carole as a mom and role model. And I’m a lucky dude to have her as my wife.
All in all, I’ve had the best first year as a dad. There’s a million other things I probably missed but that’s life 😉