I sigh. And decide on a more subversive course of action. “Then I’ll just go make that bowl of cereal.”
Kate watches me as I get up. Then softly calls to my retreating back, “Stay away from the nursery, Drew—don’t even look at the door.”
I neither agree nor disagree. Even though Kate and I have been together for years, loopholes still apply. I enter the kitchen, grab the milk out of the fridge, and pour myself a bowl Lucky Charms. I take two bites and—
Did you hear that? It sounded like a baby’s cry, didn’t it?
Then I recommend you get your hearing checked, ’cause I definitely heard it.
I slip through the kitchen door and stealthily make my way down the hall to the nursery. The door is cracked a few inches—just wide enough to stick my head in. The night-light casts a warm glow on the dark wood furniture, rocking chair, and stuffed animals stacked in the corner. I listen. And all I hear is the sound of James’s deep, rhythmic baby breathing.
Guess it wasn’t a cry I heard, after all. But . . . since I’m here and all, it won’t hurt to have a peek, right? Right.
Like a kid sneaking downstairs before sunrise on Christmas morning, I step softly into the room. I stand next to the crib and gaze down at my sleeping boy. An instant smile appears on my face. Because he’s so goddamn adorable.
He’s on his back, head turned to the right, one fisted little hand bent at the elbow above his dark-haired head. He’s dressed in a cotton, feet-covering, dark-green romper. I can’t resist running my finger across his plump, baby-soft cheek.
He doesn’t flinch or stir. So I continue to look at him—and it’s kind of crazy how entertaining it is just watching him breathe.
After I’ve had my fill, I take one step toward the door.
Then something f**king dreadful happens.
You had to have seen this coming.
Yep, James’s head turns to the left, and his feet kick out and his sweet features scrunch up. Then—like a baby bird fresh out of the egg—he lets out a cry.
My eyes snap to the door, then back to him, as the second squawk leaves his lips.
“Shit. Shhh,” I whisper. “James . . .” I rub his belly. “Shhh, go back to sleep.”
Of course, that does a whole lot of nothing.
Screw it. I pick him up and bounce him against my shoulder. “You gotta be quiet, buddy. If your mom finds me in here, she’s gonna lock up her pu**y like a steel safe. It’ll take me hours to crack that bad boy back open.”
Technically, the safe is closed for maintenance anyway. We still have two weeks to go before the doctor will give us the green light. Until then, there’s a strict “Thou shalt not pass” policy. I’m not even allowed to make her cum with my mouth, or the ever-so-popular-with-teenagers dry-humping method. Roberta said her uterus needed to recoup, which means no orgasmic spasming permitted.
That being said, you get my analogy. My son, on the other hand, does not. Or he just doesn’t f**king care.
“Whaaa, whaaa, whaaaaaaaa.”
Then Kate’s standing in the doorway, looking righteously pissed off. “Kiss the pubic hairs good-bye, Drew.”
I chuckle. “What? I heard him crying—I just got here before you.”
It doesn’t count as a lie if the person you’re lying to knows it’s a lie.
She lets out an exasperated sigh and reaches for the baby. “Give him to me.”
I tuck him against me and turn my body, like a football player trying to keep the ball from getting snatched in the pileup. “No, I got him. Go back to whatever you were doing.”
“He won’t settle down for you.”
“And he’ll never settle down for me if you’re the only one holding him all the time.” I kiss the top of his screaming head. “I got this, Kate. Go take a bath or something.”
Isn’t that what all new mothers want?
“Is that your way of telling me I smell?”
“No . . . I’m saying I stirred the shit, I’ll deal with the stench.”
Still looking unsure, she runs her hand down James’s back. “All right. Just . . . holler if you need me.”
I give her lips a peck. “We’re good.”
Finally she smiles, then she leaves.
Most men are inept when it comes to babies. Either from lack of experience or because they’re afraid they’re going to irreversibly screw something up. Give us an appliance that needs fixing, we’ll take it apart, figure it out, and put it back together again, even if we’re unfamiliar with it.
Babies? Not so easy to put back together.
And there’s all these perils we have to be mindful of—soft spots, necks that can’t support heads, nasty-looking belly buttons waiting to fall off . . . don’t get me f**king started on the circumcision. Men aren’t good multitaskers, remember?
So for most, infant care is an activity best left to the mothers.
Most—but not me. Because I cut my teeth on Mackenzie. When she was an infant, I wasn’t around for the nighttime routine stuff, but I learned a lot about everything else. If a man can change a baby girl’s diaper, there is nothing he can’t accomplish. So, because I have her infancy under my belt, and because I’m pretty much awesome at anything I do, I’m not intimidated by James’s crying. It’s not a fun part of fatherhood—but I can deal.
I shift him from my shoulder to cradle him in my arms.
“Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa . . .”
“Hey, buddy, what’s with the tears? You don’t have to cry—I’m gonna have you back to sleep in no time.”
I grab a pacifier off the dresser and tease it into his mouth. Whimpering, he gives it a few sucks before opening his mouth to screech because he realizes it’s not the real thing. I catch it before it falls to the floor.
Then I sit in the rocking chair. “Yeah, I know it’s not what you really want. And I don’t blame you—your mom’s boobs are spectacular. But . . . you gotta take what you can get. And right now, this little piece of plastic is the next best thing.”
I slide it between his lips again, and this time he doesn’t reject it. He sucks rapidly and his eyes fall closed for a moment before he drags them back open—a sure sign he’s exhausted but fighting it. I rock slowly in the chair and tap his ass gently in a steady beat.
In a soothing whisper I tell him, “You want to hear what your old man did today? I set up a fifty-million-dollar acquisition for a man who invented a new app. He’s kind of a tool. When you’re older, you’ll learn the world is full of tools. Anyway, this particular tool didn’t think the deal was good enough, so Daddy had to explain to him why it was. First I showed him . . .”