I never thought I would miss changing diapers. But I feel a twinge of jealousy every time Kirsten lays our new baby girl Miranda on the changing table. I knew I’d miss doing those kinds of things. So for the 39 weeks before she arrived, I was beset by worry. Would I be able to hold her? Would I be able to love her as much as I love Eva? Could I still be a good dad in my weakened condition? Would I be able to handle two little girls and a beautiful woman ruling our household?
Now that a month has passed, and we are settling in as a foursome, I know the answer to all of those questions is yes. But as many parents discover, two children requires more than twice the energy of one. Since I can’t do much physically, we've had to come up with creative ways for me to help manage the new baby chaos. Most of the time I focus on playing with Eva, answering her endless questions, and convincing her to get ready for bed. But when Miranda is content, I can hold her for hours with some strategic pillow placement. I can even rock her a little with my wheelchair. When she gets fussy or needs something, I hand her over to mommy, which is what most able-bodied dads do anyway right? Wimps. I might have a good excuse, but at least I feel bad about it.
Thankfully, Miranda has been a good sleeper so far. We aren't quite as zombie-like as we were with Eva. In fact, all three of my girls are radiant with life. Eva is a wonderful big sister, and Kirsten is ever the devoted mother I knew she’d be. Miranda is absolutely gorgeous. She has a head full of dark hair and a darker complexion than my pasty-white Scandinavian roots would have predicted (the paternity test is pending, but I’m pretty sure she’s mine). Her eyes are quickly turning blue, and she takes after both her sister and mother. But Miranda is definitely her own woman, as her Amazonian cries remind us every evening between seven and ten.
While things aren’t as new and exhilarating this time around, we aren’t as naïve and terrified either. We feel more relaxed and better able to appreciate each moment. Indeed, I am grateful for another chance to bask in the awesome glow of a baby girl. I love playing with her tiny toes, memorizing the features of her face, trying to decipher every expression and sigh. Most of all, I love being overwhelmed with fatherly love for the second time. I gaze into her eyes and time disappears. It’s just her and me and ALS cannot touch us. Our combined presence shields us from the future. But I don’t need to worry about the future anyway. When she yawns, it’s so cute I could die right then and there.