Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weird Parenting: The First Three Days

hee hee hee hee


If you came here just for the pictures of Baby Owen ("Baby Taj"), scroll down to the bottom, I promise there are more and you can skip this sleep deprived inspired nonsense.  

If you don't mind toilet humor and squeamish-bodily fluid-baby stuff from someone who is possibly inappropriately "putting it all out there", keep reading.  If you are an apprehensive non-parent like I was for the first 30 years of my life, please do not read.  I am promise I do not have a secret agenda of population control by trying to scare away moms or dads-to-be.

Ok, so this is usually a running blog, but let's face the facts here.  I'm not going to be running "much" this spring.

That adorable cuddly thing you see up above has a sinister look on his face for a reason... he is going to teach me a level of exhaustion that no marathon has ever been able to come close to.  Then take that, and multiply by at least ten and that might scratch the surface of what Megan has had to deal with since Monday mid-day.

Everyone says "it's worth it, it's rewarding."  And so far, it is - so don't take this post as a series of complaints so much as a creative outlet to collect my thoughts.  In truth, being a dad (so far) actually is fun (overall.) I love imparting my useless wisdom on a being that can't talk back yet and is too foolish to discount anything I say when he's drunk on colostrum and formula at 4 AM.

Being a new mom?  My observation: it seems REALLY REALLY hard.  Much less fun than being a dad - at least in this first part.

Here's the movie version of labor:  woman's water breaks at an inopportune/embarrassing time, she goes to hospital, screams and throws a wide variety of expletive and insults at the dad, gives a few pushes with a maniacal look on her face, and baby comes out looking like an adorable three month old.  Mom and baby bond.  There's funny moments in the first few days and not much sleep.  The end.

Real life:  Contractions begin on a Monday, mom sleeps poorly through a night of uterine shock waves, which casually buildup through the entire day on Tuesday, before hitting another gear around dinner time when the normally chatty woman I've known for thirteen years gets eerily silent.  It's like she's getting struck by a small jolt of lightning every five minutes.  This continues through part of yet another night, when mom and dad-to-be drive bleary eyed up a barren I-40, 15-501, and I-85 at 3 AM, before meeting the first of many nurses and doctors.  

After 30 hours of labor, or about the time duration of a hundred mile race, mom is one-third the amount dilated needed before she can even begin to "push".  Bummer.  It's too late to go back home so the OB does something called "stripping a membrane" to speed things along which is about as fun as it sounds.  Now the contractions make the ones from the night before seem like child's play.  An anesthesiologist taps into her spine a few hours after that, which gives partial relief, except the baby is turned an odd angle so that she still feels an alien crab pinching the inside of her hip bone every few minutes despite having meds that are supposedly as strong as heroin.  Mom thinks she might get some rest, but after over a day of playing possum, baby wants OUT fast.

Then the real fun starts.  The nurses and I sound like little league coaches, offering gentle encouragement to someone inexperienced and admittedly afraid - and each push brings the mound that supposedly contains our child closer to the passage of light.  Blood and mucus flying everywhere.  The first paternity test is a positive when I see those first tufts of dark, slimy hair edging out of what seems like a science project gone wrong.  Then the whole creature comes sliding out in a mass of goop, with the look of an angry old man on a grapefruit shaped head.  Or maybe the Gollum if he was a contestant on the infamous show Double Dare.  A quick active labor sounds great, except that is usually ends with the OB stitching up various parts of the female anatomy for the first hour of the mom's life as a parent after a giant piece of pot roast looking mass follows on a phone cord.  It seems like the doctor is less there to pull the baby out so much as put the mom back together after a real-life version of the movie Aliens.

Seriously our kid is much cuter than this,
but those first few minutes are not the most flattering

So that sounds fun, right?  Well that's just the beginning.  Because now after the equivalent of a hundred mile race and having seven pounds of flesh pass through a body cavity, the feeding starts.  And the first "welcome to parenthood" moment might be having a toxic, tarry sludge come pulsing out of the back of the diaper during the act of feeding.  I can't believe a being that small could produce that amount of waste - and those first few dumps should be salvaged by the DOT for interstate highway repair.  I see this as my cross to bear.  I never ask new parents how much sleep they are getting (it's a dumb question, really...) but rather, "how many times did YOUR kid blow out the diaper this week?" It figures that happens on Baby Taj's first attempt.  Well done, my little friend.  I deserved that.

Anyway, later on the "presents" get brown and seedy like mustard gone bad, which doesn't quite make sense since the baby is exclusively feeding from a breast (or admittedly supplements of formula needed to prevent mom from having a psychic break during her eighth Little Shop of Horrors feeding in a 24 hour period.)  For all I know, these seeds from a three day old human's stool may contain the cure for some rare disease.

Anyway, back to the feedings: they are emotionally gut-wrenching in those first few days because THERE IS NO MILK... only something with supposed super-powers called colostrum (that I think is still a fairy tale to make new parents feel better about practically starving their children.)  And in the world of immediate answers and results, iPhones, Dr. Google, and our general societal intolerance for crying babies - this is all hard.  After 40 weeks of carrying around the darn thing and ~40 hours of labor, it's like the final straw.  It's the recipe for a meltdown.  

Mom is now going on four consecutive nights of little to no sleep and feels like a self-described cow-zombie with Baby Taj ferociously clamping on her tits in such a manner that one of the nurses bestows to him the nickname of "Bitey".  Dude is enthusiastic, but not particularly proficient.  At some point Megan calls him a wild demon, and then goes through iterations of guilt for not providing food and not being 100% enamored by one of the world's newest and tiniest humans.

But I get it: as the paragraphs above describe - this shit is hard for moms.

So I almost feel guilty myself for spending this time writing this down instead of being with her (or stealing some rest so I could do a longer night shift), but I needed a quick break.  These days pass.  It gets better.  Baby Owen is only this small for so long, but I don't know if I'll ever get tired of looking into those kitten eyes.  He's like the best of both of us - and half someone I love so much I couldn't imagine doing something this crazy with anyone else.

Anyway, enough schmaltz and rambling.  Maybe I'll start something even more cliche than a running blog - a parenting blog...

Here are some pictures, which is the real reason you came.  Talk to you again in a few months.

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