Ten days into fatherhood, I considered myself an expert. I had properly installed a car seat multiple times by then and learned how to change a diaper, prepare a bottle and coax my kid to stop crying.
My parental knowledge had become quite nuanced, too, because I knew that switching diaper brands would likely result in a rash. So when a nurse offered me a Pampers diaper after weighing buck-naked Pablo Zuvanich in the hallway of a doctor’s office last Friday, I was ready to skirt disaster.
I told her my son was a Huggies man, and we had brought some of those in our backpack, so I would carry him back to the examination room and change him there.
As it turned out, though, I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. Because next thing I knew, there was a brownish, liquid-like substance on my shirt, on my jeans and on my boots.
Pablo pooped on me. And before the day was done, he peed on me and puked on me, too.
When I relayed the big news to my dad, Pablo’s granddad, he offered the following response:
“Of course he did! You are now in a special club. Welcome.”
So I suppose Jan. 10, 2020 is the day I really became a father, even though my little boy Pab had already been around for a little while. He was born on New Year’s Eve – the same day as his grandma in heaven – which gave his entire family a reason to celebrate.
The days since seem to have flown by, perhaps because being a dad has been so exciting or maybe because I’m not sleeping quite as much as I did before. My beautiful fiancé Christine, who already has earned the distinction of World’s Greatest Mom, can relate on both counts. She loves him just as much as I do and has gotten even less rest.
But neither one of us would trade this new experience for any amount of sleep. Creating a new life has been the joy of our lives, even if he keeps us up half the night.
We’re grateful for our family, and especially Christine’s sister, Catherine, for helping us tend to our precious baby boy. Aunt Cat has been staying with us and allowing mommy and daddy to take some much-needed naps.
When Pablo and I are both awake, I can’t help but smile when I look at him. He looks like me but only much more handsome, which must be because of his momma.
I love the array of facial expressions he makes, the way he moves his little hands and feet and also how he shifts his eyes around while checking out his parents and the new, exciting world around him. I even adore it when the kid cries, because the way he purses his lips and annunciates his “wahs” might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen or heard.
But we prefer to keep him happy, of course, and he’s started to display a sly grin that makes me think of his namesake. We call him Pablo after my late Uncle Paul, my dad’s twin brother, who was mischievous, fun-loving and spurred those around him to have a good time as well.
I’ve already envisioned telling Pablo jokes, teaching him how to play sports and introducing him to all the food I like. Will he laugh? Will he be interested? Will he eat it up or spit it out?
I also wonder whether he’ll like his name, which is a blend of cultures just like his parents. Being an American kid with a Croatian last name and Spanish first name could lead to some ridicule among his peers, but I plan to teach Pablo to be comfortable in his own skin, proud of his heritage and respectful of others’ backgrounds and differences.
Half of his family is Hispanic, and he was born in a state where roughly half the population is Hispanic. And there are lots of Texans with Anglo first names and Hispanic surnames, so what’s wrong with flipping that around?
If it ends up causing any problems, I’ll just introduce Pablo to “A Boy Named Sue,” the iconic Johnny Cash song about a man with a woman’s name. As the tune goes, Sue’s father gave him that name because he knew it would make him tough and able to fend for himself in a rough-and-tumble world.
Pablo might need the same sort of strength as he navigates his way through life. But unlike Sue’s father, who bolted when he was a baby, I plan to stay by his side and support him.
And I don’t care how many times he poops, pees or pukes on me.