This weekend marks the first time that I am unable to make it out to the annual Eastside Steelhead Tour on the Clearwater/Snake/Grande Ronde, and while Dawn and I will miss the good times and focused audience of steelhead this time of year, we have a new addition to the family that is taking our full attention. On September 24th, our first child Natalie Kai-Yen Chou (her middle name is a traditional Chinese name meaning "new beginnings" and is based off an ancient family poem) was born at a healthy 8lbs and 21inches. Dawn is recovering slowly but surely, and I'm finally learning why God invented coffee. For those of you who are parents, I'm sure you remember those first months pretty well (although it may be more of a blur, as these past three weeks feels like to me), full of many midnight diaper changes and half awake origami swaddles, with the methodical bouncing that unconsciously starts happening while talking about the weekend with coworkers.
For the record, I have actually managed to make it out fishing for a couple hours in the morning (or maybe it was just Dawn's way of politely kicking me out of the house for some fresh air while my visiting mother watched the baby), but what I found mid swing was that my thoughts kept drifting back to what it felt like for my baby girl to fall asleep on my chest after I did what I do best thus far in her life- get her to burp.
Coming home was even a different feeling. As I raced home from my morning outing, I realized this was the first time I was coming back from fishing to my new family...the first of many I'm sure, but it was something I had never felt before. Hundreds of fishing trips, and this was the first of its kind. I didn't feel the need to make a call on the way home to ask if there was anything I could pick up at the store (which is my crafty way of saying that I spent slightly more time than I thought fishing, and now I'm going to attempt and divert any potential conflict with this selfless act of errand running)....none of that. Just that I wanted to get home, hold my baby girl and breathe in that smell of baby through her soft hair.
So while our friends are camped out somewhere out east, and believe me, we will be joining them as a family in the near future...for now our entire world is right here, between dijon diapers, getting puked/peed/pooped on, Friday night runs to Babies 'R' Us for the "right" binkie and many sleepless nights staring into the eyes of this baby...waiting...for the first time she looks back at us and smiles.