Friday, December 30, 2011

Three weeks in

Our baby has been ex utero for three weeks now, and so far it's been a bumpy ride. Not that we weren't expecting challenges, and this is surely nothing compared to future ones. Yet some things you just can't understand until you're 'in the shit,' or you've had shit on your hands, or you've seen projectile shit. You get my drift here.

What have we learned so far? Very little, I'm sure. Unfortunately there is so much conflicting information about babies that it's quite staggering to a new parent. The main rule to live by seems to be that "every baby is different." One book tells you it's OK to let them cry, then the other one reams you out for even thinking of such a thing. But when you've been trying to calm a two week old who hasn't slept for more than 20 minutes in the past 5 hours AND she won't latch on because she's too tired, your desperate hope is that the trick your friend told you about fashioning a tinfoil hat for the baby and playing polka lullabies will work for your baby just as it did hers.

The baby has gone from feeding for an hour and sleeping for 2-3 to feeding for 15-20 minute spurts and fussing for 2-3 hours. She'll get fussy, try latching on and then get cranky and flail her little arms around while singing her siren baby song. She looks tired, she's got slower movements and probably could not pass a sobriety test if she was pulled over. She just won't go to sleep! I've explained to her numerous times how she should relish the amount of sleep she can get right now. How when she gets older sleep will not be as easy to obtain, and people often take pills and dream of purple butterflies to get the desired result. Alas, my logic does not work on her. Perhaps when she's older someone like Dora or Barney can convey this better than I can.

She spits pacifiers out like they were chewing tobacco. Swaddling only annoys her because she needs her arms free to flail about and clean the shell casings we've set out for her to earn some extra money. Holding her and swaying about or doing the "parent dance" barely works, and it makes me look like a hopeless Heisman trophy runner-up who has no coordination. I even tried singing to her in my croaky voice, and not even my best renditions of Beatles tunes can soothe her.

Time and again we've been told that this period will pass. Parents who are veterans of the war on fussiness and gas have assured us that we will get a reprieve, and that this is the easy stuff. We want to believe them, and we know they're right, but it's hard to keep that frame of mind when your baby hasn't slept consistently for the past few days and it seems like she hates you for bringing her into this world. Yet there we are every night trying to soothe her and let her know that we're here for her. Due to the fact that we're breast feeding, many of the soothing sessions have been carried out by my wife (she is the best!), and I am so thankful for her hard work and dedication. I do my best to keep diapers changed, swaddles bundled (no arms!) and her mind and body nourished. I can only hope I'm doing as much for my ladies as my wife is doing in her role as a mother.

We've been lucky enough to have our families and some really awesome friends help us out since we've gotten home from the hospital. They've shown their support with gifts, visits, cards wishing us well and some fantastic food that needs little preparation. I cannot thank them enough for their support, and I hope we can pay them back properly once the shell shock of the baby being here has finally worn off. I can't wait until the baby is a bit older and (fingers crossed) past the fussy stage so we can take her out for visits and show her the world she's now a part of. I'm also looking forward to seeing the world through her eyes and learning with and from her. It's tough right now, but I know it's going to be worth it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I woke up at 5 a.m. to the sound of my wife’s voice and her shaking me. I noticed the time and wondered why she had gotten up an hour and a half early, which is something that she might do if she had financial motivation. “My water broke.” Upon hearing this I quickly shot up and realized what she had said, and what that meant for us. Today was the day we were going to meet our baby.

An incoming contraction made my head a little clearer. Checking the contraction timer she had going on her phone showed me that she had only 4 minutes between this one and the last. I hadn’t yet timed out how quickly it would take us to get to the hospital by taxi, but I knew it took over an hour and a half by train. Unless we wanted a train conductor or homeless person to deliver this baby, we needed to get a taxi, and fast.

The taxi showed up in about 10 minutes, however the driver hadn’t been informed that my wife was currently in labor. He floored it and asked us to vouch for him if a cop pulled him over for speeding. He then proceeded to predict the sex of our baby (we wanted to wait), and say a prayer for us out loud. We were so caught up in the moment that he had to remind us to say ‘amen’ once he was done. We’re not religious by any means, but who are we to stop this guy from praying for us to reach our destination safely while he barrels down the road at 70 mph. The only thing missing was music from the Blues Brothers soundtrack.

Our driver got us there safe and sound in record time. He ran about 3 or 4 red lights, never got pulled over, and only stopped once to jump out at a red light to ask the driver in front of us to move out of our way. We hit the hospital door running, got checked in and ushered off to our delivery room. We got settled in, met the staff members who would be helping us that day, and one of the doctors from the practice we were going to stopped by to check on my wife. I’ve not met many people who can have as much energy and enthusiasm at 6 o’clock in the morning like this guy. He checked my wife’s dilation (4 & ½ cm) and told us we were on our way. He left the room by saying, “If you hear any crying coming from under that sheet, give me a call.”

About an hour and numerous contractions later, my wife decided it was time for an epidural. She had wanted a natural delivery and was hoping to that some of the pain distraction techniques we’d learned would be enough, but she had finally had enough. I’d been told that contractions rival the pain of passing a kidney stone (which I’ve done a few times in my life), so I could relate to her level of pain. Unlike contractions, however, the kidney stone pain did not come back every couple of minutes over the course of 12 hours. People will say a lot of things while they’re in pain, so we set up a code word (Canasta!) that she used to ensure me that she was serious about needing the epidural. We did that because I thought her saying, “Give me the motherfucking epidural!!!” just wasn’t clear enough for me.

So they hooked her up, she got the icy, peppermint patty sensations and eventually those contractions went from “Holy shit!” to “I can handle this.” So, what happened next? We waited. And then we waited some more. Then ‘Ghostbusters’ was on Comedy Central, so we watched that. We checked our Facebook and Twitter feeds (a LOT), texted status updates (apparently everyone wanted to know how much we were waiting) and I tried to make my wife as comfortable as possible. But honestly, how can do you that when there’s nothing on daytime television?

After 11 hours of waiting, the time had come for my wife to start pushing. It was my job to cheer her on, dab her face with a cold compress and to not be afraid of the animalistic noises she was making. She pushed for 3 cycles of 10 seconds, and 45 minutes later doctor told me to look over at the crowning of the baby. I can’t remember what I said, but I believe it was something along the lines of “Holy shit.” I looked over at my wife and told myself to remember this moment. This would be the last time where it was ‘just the two of us.’ The 9 month wait was about to be over.

She pushed. I cried. She smiled. I got tingly in my face and hands. We kissed. I know it’s basic biology, but what happened is pretty incredible. Welcome to the world, baby girl.