I’ve been trying to write this in my head for the past two weeks or so. It’s really hard to talk about the experience of becoming a father without the emotional or gritty details of the process. For the medium I happen to be writing this in, a certain amount of vagueness needs to be already implied. For example, I don’t like to mention names, or places, or post pictures of certain things because you never know what sort of whacko might stumble across them. This is the same reason you wouldn’t see me post a picture of my house, with my address. Same implications. That makes it really hard when all you want to talk about is the awesome bundle of joy you’ve now brought into this world.
It really is quite the experience. Perhaps more so for us than most. We had a very long hard labor and a very long tough postpartum recovery scenario. We (and, by “we” I mean my wife with my encouragement) endured 19hrs of labor without any pain medication, which I think officially enters her into the “strongest woman ever” running, followed by an unplanned C-Section. If that wasn’t enough, complications from the surgery kept us in the hospital for an extended period of time and caused quite a bit of anxiety and panic both while we were there as well as after we returned home, nearly requiring medications for both of us. It was a long road to travel, but we can see light at the end of the tunnel and the payoff is something fantastic.
Our baby is the most amazing person I’ve ever seen, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a proud father, although I certainly am. There were quite a few times, especially in the hospital, when she had to endure some of the same hardships as her Mom, and came through it all perfectly. She’s taken to feeding perfectly. She eats, poops, sleeps and is doing so fantastic compared to her parents, it’s really a blessing.
Mom and I are having a harder time adjusting. It’s funny, but no one who has kids would warn you ahead of time about the life changing adjustments that you’re headed towards, but yet everyone goes through them. I’ve heard someone describe the first few weeks of parenthood as “functional zombie mode” and yet another as “the hardest thing you’ll ever have to endure”. Both of those don’t even begin to describe it. Perhaps no one talks about it because it is a mercifully brief period (in retrospect) and that after it’s over, the baby is sleeping through the night, interacting with you more, smiling, and that the payoff is so overwhelmingly worth it that you really do forget those first few weeks. Being in the middle of it however, I’m fully aware of exactly how hard this is.
Emotionally, I’m in a place I’ve never been before. A mixture of pure joy and instant obsessive panic. Never before have I worried about things like “breathing” or “is that the right color for poop” or “what does a sneeze mean”. I know perfectly well what a sneeze means… for me. For another human being, one I’m crucially responsible for, a sneeze might as well have signaled the onset of the black plague. Someone had to be the neurotic worrier in the relationship, and Daddy got the job.
It really is all worth it though. They say that women become mothers the minute they find out their pregnant, but that men become fathers the second they see the birth of their child. Nothing could have been more accurate. The second they brought her out of the OR and I saw her, I started balling. I was just standing there, tears pouring down my face, completely uncontrollably crying tears of such pure joy and happiness. I followed her into the nursery area while the nurses cleaned her up and swaddled her and checked all of her vitals, crying the entire time, trying to take photographs through blurred vision. Thank heavens for ‘program’ mode and auto-focus. Then into the nursery ‘warming’ area while we waited for Mom to come out of surgery. The rest of the family could join me at that point and everyone offered their congratulations and patted me on the back while I looked for some tissues. Finally Mom and baby were united and there was more crying all the way around. It was really something magical.
My wedding, for as much as I loved it, and as much as I’m proud of it as a choice I’ve made, is still pretty much a blur. The whole event has gotten a little fuzzy for me. This, the birth of my daughter, no matter how much sleep I’ve lost, will never lose it’s focus. It’s razor sharp in my mind. I can remember, vividly, the exact moment I started to love two people as much as I had loved one just a few minutes before.
I know I’ve sent most of you emails over the past couple weeks, keeping you updated via my cell phone, but I really do need to say thank-you one more time. Everyone, from friends to family to the hospital workers and our neighbors were so supportive and so helpful over the past couple weeks that I really can’t begin to thank you enough. We are truly blessed to know each and every one of you. Thank you.
If I’m rather slow in writing, you know exactly why. We’ve got our hands full, and couldn’t be any happier.