As I write you this first of monthly newsletters, you are asleep in my lap. One of your arms is raised straight up in the air, fingers spread wide, with your index finger slightly forward of the rest of the arc of your fingers. If I could reach the camera without disturbing your rest, I’d definitely be preserving this for posterity. I enjoy how you still don’t quite understand that the various parts of your body belong to you, and while there are ways in which I’m very much looking forward to your maturation, I will miss this phase. You melt into whomever you’re lying on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We started this past month not in the best of circumstances. You did poorly on a biophysical profile, and this concerned mom’s OB/GYN practitioners enough to decide that you’d thrive better out of the womb than in. The labor that brought you into this world was started through induction. The more we learn about this and the state you were in, the happier we are that this was done. At the time, we were not pleased by the decision despite following the advice. Still, you were only a few days early. Your expected date was 10/5/05 which I like for the preponderance of 5s. Your actual birth date of 10/2/05 isn’t bad though because it also writes well as 10/2=5.
When you finally popped out, the panic began. You had pooped on the way out — a way of saying that you were in a bit of distress. So, they took you from me and mom right after you arrived. Mom stayed in her hospital room to get her “epis” stitched back up, and deliver the placenta, and I followed you down to the nursery, where we were kept apart for about half an hour while they cleared out your lungs, applied various drops and ointments, and generally cleaned you up. I got to hold your hands for a little bit of it at the end, then brought you back to mom.
Mom and I felt like we were pretty well prepared for your birth, and were terrified, but also overjoyed when we got to bring you home. We missed a couple of things about the bed that your mom labored in while at the hospital — namely that it tilted up for easy nursing, and that it had a “call nurse” button for whenever we had a question or problem of some sort. We only gave you up to the nursery a couple of times for a couple of hours of sleep, and one brief walk around the gazebo in the courtyard in the front of the hospital.
One of the things that I was completely unprepared for was your sleep breathing. In the hospital, they talked about how wheezing and mucousy sounds in your breathing were normal. Still, the volume and quantity of it was shocking. Sometimes, I’d lay in bed at night after having put you in your crib and I’d listen to these huge wet snorts coming from your side of the room. Then, for no apparent reason, they’d suddenly stop. I’d panic and get up to check on you to find you either snorting again by the time I got to the crib, or simply breathing quietly for a change having successfully migrated some big blob of mucous from wherever it was to wherever you wanted it next. Simply going to sleep became something of a trust exercise in believing that you’d still be breathing when I woke up.
Fear for your life and safety showed up other ways this month too. In the past, I thought that the song “Clementine” was cute and catchy. Sure, a little sad, but in the end, the hero of the song comes out OK — he gets Clementine’s sister. So, in looking for songs to sing you to sleep (or just comfort) with, I started singing you Clementine, and mom joined in. I couldn’t finish the song. I broke down, crying.
Also in the “not the best start” category, we have the whole group-b strep thing. While it was a tremendous relief not to have to drive you half an hour each way back and forth to the hospital each 12-hour period that you’d be getting the shots, even the home health nursing was quite an interruption. We usually would end up having dinner after they came, which meant later dinners since they came at around 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM each day. Needless to say, you weren’t too fond of the shots either — one in each leg, twice a day. Your thighs looked quite a bit like pincushions by the end of the week-long series. Now breast-fed babies are already kind of “loose”, and combine that with the effects of an antibiotic and we had some wet and worrisome days. We were all glad when those were over.
One of the things not yet over are your hiccups. You had pretty significant hiccups even early in utero, and they’ve continued into your early life. The big ones are something to see. The hiccups travel through your whole body. We’ve taken to calling them “body-rockers.” You don’t seem to mind them at all, which is good because there’s not much we could do about them if they did.
There have been a couple of surprises since getting you home. The first is just how much time we (or I at least) spend in my pajamas. There is little time to do things that aren’t directly related to either caring for you, or for ourselves. I’d heard people say that it would be a good day if I got a shower, but I thought that hyperbole. How wrong I was. One side effect of this is that I have a little bit of shame of my time as a bossy-boss type in the corporate world. We gave the standard 6 weeks maternity leave, and I was pretty flexible about timing if someone needed to leave early to deal with child care issues, or whatever. But, wow. I just had no idea. And paternity leave? Pshaw. Dad didn’t give birth, what’s the point. Now, maybe children don’t get easier, they just get different. I don’t know. Yet. Regardless, I have a whole new respect for all the other parents in the world, and a healthy terror of the possibility of upcoming 4-hour diaper fights, or worse.
The next surprise was just the outpouring of support for you. Your parents have only been in this town a little over a year, but the local (and long distance) support that has arrive for you has been amazing. Before, if someone had a kid, I might have sent them an email. You know, “Congratulations on propagating your genes, yada yada yada”. Now, I’m not promising anything else for future kids, but I’m so much more attuned to the trials and troubles of new-parent-hood, that I think I’ll be there for others in ways I never thought I would. One of the things that has amazed me, therefore, in this outpouring is some of the support you’ve (and we’ve) received from people who aren’t parents yet themselves.
And, to end this newsletter on a lighter (and dirtier) note, I have to talk about your excretions. You had a 4-day run there where you managed to pee on your mom every day during one nursing session or another. You’ve doused me on occasion while I was changing some previous event of yours. You’ve even managed to shoot wet poop from your butt, arcing it across the gap from the changing/coffee table to the couch where mom was sitting while changing you. Already in your first month, you’ve brought me great joy, pride, anger and terror. And I can’t wait to see what next month brings.