Life as a Dad: Our First 8 Months
Note: This is a letter for my daughter, Renée, love of my life. Renée, someday when you are older and you know how to read, I hope you read this and it brings you great happiness. This letter is also for my wife, mom, dad, family, friends, and anyone else who is interested in catching this glimpse into our lives. Inspired in part by “Letters from Dad."
I love you.
Most of all, I want you to always know that. Even when I am not by your side or in the same place as you, I always love you and I always will. I hope I tell you enough - I try to say "I love you Renée" at least 5-10 times each day and sometimes more.
8 months ago - when you were born on September 7, 2019 - was without a doubt the happiest day of my life. When the doctors held you up for the first time, there you were in all your glory - eyes closed, umbilical chord hanging out, bloated with fluids...so amazing and beautiful. I took one look at you and I burst into tears.
For mommy and me, the first few days we pretty much just stared at you all day. Well, that is of course when we weren't changing your diapers, feeding you, trying to get you to stop crying, or talking to the endless brigade of doctors and nurses at the hospital. When we made home after three days in the hospital, it was a lot of moments like this, just snuggling you, gazing at you, and gazing at each other.
We so are fortunate that three of your four grandparents were there to welcome you into the world, and that Grandpa Lou, who had to hold down the fort in Connecticut, came to visit shortly after you were born.
In addition, we are just as fortunate to have such a large and generous group of family and friends. Renée, you did a great job helping us write Thank You cards for everyone by being cute and giving a good smile for the Thank You picture. Our loving family and friends have been so helpful and supportive as we do our best as first time parents. To everyone in our lives who has been there for us...Thank You!
Having a child has been one of my life goals for as long as I could remember. In the months leading up to your birth, I was feeling a kind of restlessness, and a bit of anxiety. Those nine months took forever! There is only so much setting up cribs, opening toys, and organizing a home you can do.
Then, what the heck were we going to do when you got here? Were we going to mess up? Was I going to be a good dad? I guess we were as ready as first time parents can be, and we would just have to find out.
I am proud to say that 8 months in, I think we are doing ok. Renée, I am happy to say that the past 8 months have truly been the best time in my life.
We have gone from bottle feeding to big girl food!
You are so helpful with errands and chores around the house.
And it means so so so so much to me when you come to support me at my races.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been sleepless nights, non-stop crying for hours, poopie diapers that went all down your leg, and many many frustrating moments. Also, between diapers, toys, clothes, food, and your two incredible nannies, we spend a lot of money and time to provide for you!
Of course, it’s all so worth it! Renée, the best moment of every day is waking up and seeing your smiley little tiny face as you jump on me and give me a big hug. Yes, even when it's 5 in the morning and you were up for an hour and a half during the middle of the night.
Plus, it makes my job a lot easier since you have the most incredible mom anyone could ask for. In reality, she does most of the work around here - by far.
Overall, I am happier than ever. You are the light in my life. Mommy and I have so much fun with you every day. Mommy and I are happier and closer than ever, and you are the reason.
You have given me a new appreciation of what it means to be a human being.
Here are some of the things I now appreciate which I didn't fully grasp before I was a dad:
When we are born, we are truly and utterly helpless. We depend entirely on our parents or caregivers for everything.
Human development is magical. There are things I take for granted - speaking, walking, being able to run, cook for myself, etc. - that you have no clue how to do at 8 months, and you still aren’t even close. In due time, I’m confident you will learn them, since most people do.
It is fascinating that every cell in your body originated from mommy, grew inside her for 9 months, and one day, just was ready to come out into the world. It's even more impressive that for the first 5 months of your life, everything you ate (aside from a few sips of formula) came straight from your mom. Watching you grow and develop has really given me a new appreciation for the saying "you are what you eat."
It takes so so so long to develop new skills or learn how to do anything. I mean Renée - you are 8 months old and you can’t even walk or talk! As an adult, it makes you stop and think: "if I really put my mind to something, it might take 1,000 tries, but eventually I might just learn." That is how human development works.
Many of the skills we learn mostly stay with us for as long we we live. For example, Renée, at 8 months, you can now hold your own spoon and eat solid foods! You probably won't ever lose that skill. And now you can continue to acquire new ones :)
I really don’t know how single parents do it. It's hard enough being part of a two-parent home, I can't even imagine...
Your name, Renée
At some point soon you'll start to realize that when we say "Renée," we are talking to you! That's because you are named after René Descartes, the mathematician and philosopher.
Math, Science, and Philosophy are very important to mommy and daddy. We'll do our best to teach you about all of those topics as you grow and are ready to learn these advanced topics. In fact, you have already picked up on some important life philosophies like the power of individual choice when you decide which books we read each night!
Some of our best family moments
Renée, to the extent we haven't already covered them above, here are some of our best family moments from the past 8 months, roughly in chronological order.
1. Your first "walk" in Balboa Park (October 14, ~1 month)
2. When you dressed up as a snail for your first Halloween! (Oct 31 - ~2 months old)
3. When Mommy dressed up as Jeff, I dressed up as Susie, and you dressed up as the star of the show, Larry David, from Curb Your Enthusiasm later that night for Halloween. (Oct 31 - ~2 months old)
4. When you hit 2 months old, and we started to see a little bit of your personality - smiles and facial expressions! (Nov 7 - 2 months old)
5. When we discovered "baby in the mirror" and "dance parties" (November, ~2 months)
6. When we visited the museum in Balboa Park and made friends with the shark! Learning tummy times. Your first Thanksgiving!!! (November, ~2-2.5 months)
7. Your first Christmas! (December, 3.5 months). You were so proud standing next to your big new toy! Plus, thank you for helping me organize my books and make my book list, you were very helpful.
8. Your first Hanukkah (December, 3.5 months). That's us on the left. On the right is daddy with Grandpa Lou about 34 years earlier.
9. Your happiness at our first music class. Your first NFL season! (January, 4-4.5 months)
10. Your first Valentine's Day! Thank you sweet little Valentine for coming to support daddy at the Coronado Valentine's Day 10K! (February, 5 months)
11. The One Meter Dash! In Lane One...Renée Adine Ferri! ... And that's the only lane. (February, 5 months)
12. Learning Economics at home. Fun with swings in the park. (February, 5.5 months)
13. When the Coronavirus hit and we all had to start wearing masks. (March, 6 months)
14. When you learned how to sit up and hold yourself up on your own, get on all fours and crawl around, start to babble, eat solid foods, wave your arms like a tiny little snail, and when we took our first swim. You are a natural in the pool! (April-May, 7-8 months).
Watching you grow into the giant big-girl Snailpion (that is - “Snail champion”) that you are has made us so happy. We have come so far, and yet we know it's only the beginning of a life of incredible memories.
Finally, Renée, I want to let you know that I have an immense desire to provide for you - to make sure you life is as good as can be. It’s important to me that you know you always have mommy and my full love and support - physically, financially, emotionally - whatever you need.
Ok Renée, that is enough writing for now. You've been asleep for a while. Now I will join - I’m going to go to sleep.
Good night Moon.
Good night Room.
Good night my sweet little Renée.