Most days it seems normal, natural even, that I am carting her around and changing her diapers and chasing her around the house and rocking her to sleep.
But from time to time, in no certain pattern, she still catches me off guard. Those take-your-breath-away moments when I look at her and remember again that she is my girl and I am her Daddy. I AM HER DADDY. I sit back in a daze, shake my head in disbelief and feel a blast of gratitude and awe at this reality. SHE. IS. MY. DAUGHTER.
And her survival depends entirely on us. Which makes me wonder, how the hell did we figure all of this out? And how did she possibly manage to get to where she is now?
Sure, there were many phone calls with friends and MANY google searches to help us along the way, but I had no idea how much our instincts would matter more than books and advice. Especially Kari's. She seemed to always know what was wrong, what to do, when to stop, when to start, when to panic and when to relax. It always worked like clockwork when we would have a Stella problem...we'd search the web, gather the stories, trade suggestions, scratch our heads at what Stella needed (as opposed to what another four month old who hadn't pooped in a week needed) and feel hopeless and then, suddenly, Kari would go with her gut and all would be right.
Perhaps what still astonishes me more than anything is how much my emotions are intricately tied to her happiness. When her days are easy, when she is happy and healthy and pooping regularly and not teething, my days are as good as they have ever been in my whole life. And I literally mean this. When she has one of those blissful days, I feel in the clouds, as deliriously happy as any of the adventures I've experienced. And when she has a hard day, the clouds of the good day part and I come tumbling down, falling as low as I ever have. What is the most shocking is that these days could come one right after the other. I know this is probably true of most first time parents in the first year, but I still can't believe how hopelessly depressed I am after she has one of those fussy mornings followed by a lunch disaster where she refuses to eat, followed by a rash that keeps getting bigger and forces her to scream every time we change her, followed by a night of flexing her independent I'm-not-going-to-sleep-no-matter-what wails. And this is all after feeling as happy as ever the night before when she cuddled and kissed me and went straight to sleep.
It feels like ages ago that we were a family of two. The days when packing for a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake took a few minutes, when seeing two movies a week was normal, when dinner out lasted as long as we wanted it too. The days of sitting around dreaming of what our little Stella would look like. Those days do not seem like yesterday and this year, despite what we were told, did not go by quickly.
I can't wait for year two.