Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life with Baby: You're Still You

While waiting for Michael's arrival, Jenna and I took a course for new parents. We watched birth videos, learned about oxytocin, and shared our fears with other apprehensive couples. I was particularly concerned about how my life would change. One of the other expectant fathers shared sage advice. "After you have a baby, you're still you". Now that Michael's a week old, I want to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same.


Before Michael, I had never held an infant. It was like getting the keys to a Ferrari after I had just finished Driver's Ed. While I fumbled awkwardly to support his head, the nurses manipulated him into all sorts of creative positions to stretch his tiny limbs and expel gas bubbles. In just a few days I've gotten much better. I can cradle and soothe him. I can present him to Jenna for feedings like a tiny dinner guest arriving for a reservation. My confidence handling him grows stronger each day. 

Free Time

For me, recharging means reading a good book or going for a long hike. We had heard countless warnings that our free time would evaporate like summer morning dew. One parenting podcast informed us that we wouldn't have time to take a shower or brush our teeth. For now, that has not proved to be the case. Jenna and I are starting to gel like a professional double's tennis team. While one babysits the other indulges in luxuries like food, showers, or laundry. Michael also takes long, glorious naps during the day. This gives us time to be ourselves.


I knew this was a skill I wanted to master. On our first overnight at the hospital, a nurse crept in at 4AM to do the first diaper change. I leapt from the couch and asked if I could make an attempt. The diaper has a top and bottom section, sticky tabs for the elastic waist, and a color changing pee indicator. It was lift, wipe, dry, and done. I've learned to have all the supplies prepped and ready like a Michelin Star Sous Chef. He protests mightily when the old diaper comes off but once I'm done he gives a contented smile as if to apologize for overreacting.


Have you ever cried so hard you pooped yourself? Babies are funny. They make funny sounds. They coo, they cry, they hiccup (loudly), they burp, they sneeze, and they make loud rumblings and gurglings to let you know it's diaper time. Michael is an endless source of entertainment that has added unexpected laughter and joy to our lives.


Nothing brings family together like a cute, wriggly baby. Jenna's Mom, Eileen, was here for the birth and has been providing support over these first few days while we get our sea legs. My parents drove up to Portland the day after the birth to hold Michael and take me out to lunch in the Old Port. We've been sharing pictures of baby baths, tiny outfits, and trips to Hannaford. I have a voracious curiosity to learn more about how my parents managed me and my brother during our first weeks of life.


We introduced Michael to each dog in order of dominance. Harmony, the ring leader, got to sniff him first. We then let Melody have a sniff and finally Roxie came up from the basement to meet her baby brother. Each dog had a different reaction. Harmony seemed curious. Melody was scared. Roxie was indifferent. Life has not changed much for the dogs. They know something's up. Melody continues to sniff the bassinet and Harmony's ears perk up whenever the baby squawks. Roxie looks at me passive aggressively, silently pleading for her next walk. Soon they'll have a new friend pulling their ears, poking their noses, and squeezing their paws.