Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Parenthood, Take Two

I'll likely have been working on this in fits and starts for a while, so apologies if this is disjointed. As I mentioned recently, I am the proud father of a new baby son, my second child (joining my daughter, already in progress at 2 and a half years old).

This experience was actually much smoother (and quicker) than the last one. We had scheduled a c-section for the end of February. It seems my son had other ideas.

Thursday night, I was at home, playing Dungeons and Dragons (well, running a game), as I do Thursday nights, from 6-9. My wife was home, as she was off work for her pending pregnancy. But we still had a babysitter (which we usually did because my wife would not be home by 6) to help out, given the rather large bowling ball that my wife was carrying around. My wife sent home the babysitter around 8 (to save money, no doubt). Around 8:10, I hear her yelling from upstairs (we play in the finished basement) to get upstairs and to call back the babysitter. I got on the phone as my wife told me that her water had broken. Unfortunately, there's no answer. I figured that our babysitter probably had her radio on loud and did not hear her phone. So I kept calling over and over and she eventually answered after about five tries. I told her the situation and asked her to come back.

Fortunately, we had already gone through the drill once before already, about a week earlier, when there was a false alarm and we had gone to the hospital around 10 in the evening. That actually made it easier this time, because we knew the drill, we knew that our daughter would be ok and that our babysitter (still in high school) could do it.

Obviously, the game was ended at that point, and I sent everyone home while we waited for the babysitter to get back about ten minutes later. Then we got into the car and headed to the hospital. I actually felt rather calm (even as my wife was very worried - she was mostly worried because she heard a loud "snap" before her water broke and thought she had broken the baby's neck - silly, I know, but she worries). I figured it was just the sound of the membranes breaking. I think I was also calm because I knew that even if things moved fast, we still probably had hours. And it was totally unlike how it was with our first child, where instead of a broken water, we had a gush of blood take us to the hospital. That turned out to not be the only thing that was different this time around.

Once we got to the hospital, they started to put things into motion right away. My wife sounded a bit unsure about a c-section (though she had one the first time) but that was mostly her usual tendency to go back and forth on every decision. She finally convinced the doctor she meant it and off they went to get her into the OR. By 10:45 she was in there, and I was waiting outside. I had to wait outside, garbed in scrubs, for almost 30 minutes, much longer than it was with our daughter. I figured this was because they were putting a spinal line into her, something they had done in advance the last time as they tried to do regular labor with my daughter.

Finally, after waiting, I was called in. My wife was there, and they had not yet put up the screen. For a minute, I was worried about that, because I didn't see the screen anywhere and I know I would have passed out if I saw them cut into her. Fortunately, they quickly brought it up right before they started, and so I sat and waited for the sounds of a baby being born. I marvelled at the computer they had in the room with the software keeping track of everything going on (along with her medical history in earlier entries). I asked a few times if they were close, and finally they said they were.

I stood up, turned on my camera (not looking at the incision, but just past the screen) and then I heard it, his voice screaming. It did not hit me as hard as it did the first time, with our daughter. First, we had less worry this time (at least I did). And I knew what to expect, not just for the birth, but for everything else that comes after - (last time I marvelled that they actually let us take our daughter home - I didn't know the first thing about babies aside from what I read in a book). As it turned out, things were even better this time in ways I didn't realize they would be.

With our daughter, they had some worry about her oxygen, so they showed her to us and then whisked her up to the ICU (and then right back down to recovery to be with us - turned out she just needed a minute). But what this meant was they didn't do all the usual things with a new baby in the OR. I didn't know they even did them there. Like weighing and measuring the new baby - all that was done as an afterthought in the nursery last time. This time, they did it all in the OR (which is probably what they usually do, though I didn't know it). It was actually very nice - we got to spend a lot of time with the baby right away, got to see all of his vitals, and things were much more relaxed.

All in all, it went much more smoothly and with much less worry than the first time. The only question I had was about circumcision (i.e. male genital mutilation) - I asked them to make sure that they didn't do it (no one had said anything about it before then). Later, it turned out, they asked about it alot - they asked my wife many many times about it, perhaps just confirming that she didn't want to do it. I wonder if they were pressuring her into doing it, but in any case, she still said no each time.

Just after 1:00 a.m. I went back home to go to sleep (while my wife was in recovery). The babysitter and my daughter were asleep in bed, though I had to turn off the light and TV in the bedroom. Then I went to sleep in our guest room until morning. Though I do admit, I didn't sleep very well - I was probably too excited.

The next morning, the babysitter (who was unsurprisingly in no hurry to go to school) asked to see the new baby at the hospital, so I took her to see the baby (after dropping my daughter off at day care), and then had to go back home after about an hour to let my parents into our house (they came up - my dad for the weekend, my mother for the week, to help out so I could go back to work - I don't have a huge amount of vacation).

Still, despite all the positives, it has been very hard having two children, particularly when one is still only 2 1/2. I've pretty much taken up doing everything except taking care of the new baby. My wife takes care of him, I take care of our daughter, the household, and of course, still am at work. It is exhausting. My wife is exhausted, too, from lack of sleep. I usually get enough now. Our daughter has adjusted well - she knows mommy can't pick her up and she is just with me in the bed now, with my wife in the other room with the baby (so the baby doesn't wake us up - our daughter needs her sleep to grow properly and I need it to function at work and do everything else). We can get somewhat snappy with each other, mostly because of lack of sleep, but we are adjusting ok. It just makes having three kids seem impossible right now. While my wife said she definitely did not want anymore at the end of the pregnancy, she said the same thing with our daughter, then changed her mind after she was born. Now, I think we are both on the fence. I don't know how we could survive another child, but I still think we are open to having just one more, assuming we can make the proper arrangements (and can afford it).

But that is years away. Right now, I just want to make it through the next year in one piece.

We are tired, but generally happy. Our daughter loves the new baby, though she doesn't really get too close to him, partly because my wife is afraid of him getting sick, partly because our daughter seems a little intimidated by him. I think having him around has helped her grow up a bit - she's adjusted rather well, she gave up her binkys, and she seems to show some patience when we deal with him and give her less attention (unless she's really really tired, but even then, she's ok with just getting attention from one of us).

And so life goes on!


Anthrophile said...

Congratulations! Very belated, it seems.

DBB said...

Hey, thanks anyway - I appreciate it - It never feels belated with the two bundles of joy taking up so much of my time and energy well, all the time.