Raising Dads: Part 2 – The first few weeks

Although I’ve categorized this blog post as a Raising Dad’s segment, please note how Dan isn’t mentioned as much. Its on purpose. I did the heavy lifting here, and I won’t let him forget it.

Since giving birth, I bring up how I had a natural labor in casual conversations with strangers. I act like I’m the hero this world was waiting for. People say, “there’s no trophy for dealing with the pain…” Yes there is, Joan. It’s called eternal glory and you wouldn’t understand.

I have a lifetime left of unarguable proof that I am the superior partner. Well, as long as Dan never mentions my extreme reaction to LASIK, a small surgery that everyone said was absolutely painless, but I thought would end my life. Still, 10/10 recommend.

After an uneventful hospital stay, Dan and I packed up our tiny stranger and headed home. The first few weeks at home are filled with doting eyes, everyone is telling you, “enjoy those snuggles.” I’d happily give onlookers what they wanted and say “oh isn’t she just perfect?” Meanwhile, Dan and I are standing in the kitchen with a crying baby asking each other, “what have we done?” and I’m texting my mom, “If I leave in the night, don’t come looking. I’ve headed west and I found my old life in a new place.”

Please note, these feelings did not last long and were explained in detail to my midwife. If you experience these feelings after the initial “baby blues” window, I encourage you to speak to a professional.

As nighttime approached, so did our anxiety. What would the night bring? Any ounce of sleep was immediately interrupted by a sudden jolt to the entire body and either Dan or I frantically looking around the bed searching for our swaddled infant. She was sleeping soundly in the bassinet. The second I fell back asleep, it was time for her to eat.

I was breastfeeding and lactation consultants told me not to pump or substitute a feeding with a bottle (just at first), my supply needed to stabilize and the baby might get nipple confusion. I am still puzzled by that logic… newborns don’t know they are a separate human being, they actually think they are still part of their mother. I was somehow convinced my baby wasn’t capable of discerning she was her own self, but she was smart enough to identify a bottle and this would make her ~cOnFuSeD~. If your baby did in fact experience nipple confusion, sorry for my joke. You must have a genius on your hands and God bless you. I wasn’t so lucky. I’d wake up with the baby in the middle of the night and was exhausted. I’d look over at Dan sleeping peacefully and fill with rage. I’d shuffle loudly, turn on the light and remind him in the morning what an ass he was for sleeping and allowing me to breastfeed and he didn’t EVEN try to stop me. He took the outlandish criticism in stride but also tried to join in my misery and say, “I didn’t sleep very well either.” Are you kidding me? I continued to take the middle of the night feedings for leverage. I often remind him, “Dan, remember how much I did when she was a newborn?” It’s called delayed gratification people…and its a life skill.

Every morning the sun would rise, and I’d breathe a sigh of relief. The world was awake, and we made it. Dylan was a fussy newborn and required me to constantly bounce her while sitting on an exercise ball being worn like a baby kangaroo. Dan would come home from work and I’d immediately hand her over and say “she likes to be bounced.” He’d take her and do anything except my suggestion. Good call Dan, your strong man arms and masculine demeanor will likely calm her right down. Did you learn that while reading, The Expectant Father? He would always tell me that he needed to learn his own way. I was anxious and in fight or flight and he was trying to figure out a solution to a problem I had already solved. Watching him guess his way through the first few weeks was hilarious, adorable, and painful. It’d take everything in me to not correct him or make an alternate suggestion.

Days were passing, although in the moment, I was fairly certain time had stopped. We were adjusting, and everyday was getting more enjoyable. The highlight of my week was a Target trip (similar to the entire year ahead of me). I’d slowly stroll the aisles in between feeding sessions looking for hints of the past and when I finally approached checkout,

Cashier: “How are you today?”

Me: “Speaking of natural labors..”

Cashier: “Who’s speaking of labor?”

Me: “Well now that you mention it…”

Raising Dads: Part 1

When I became pregnant people always said to me, “I wish people would have told me (insert terrifying event here) about pregnancy. I was JUST trying to get through my day without falling asleep or throwing up while simultaneously trying to not have a panic attack as I counted kicks (apparently you should feel ten baby kicks in a two hour time period at least once a day… or something like that). A practice our mothers likely didn’t know about and a byproduct of modern medical research that fueled my anxiety, albeit has also saved lives. I’d find myself continually in conversations with women where’d I’d say “wow, what a wild 36 hour induction…” as I calmly told her what a great mom she is and a panicked version of myself got into my car, headed to the nearest drive through and cried into a large fry that was chased with a Zantac (obviously pre-recall, meh… maybe not. Either way, it was a top three survival item in my first 17 weeks).

Meanwhile… my husband, Dan, was moving through life like nothing had changed. A tiny human was giving me a complete overhaul of my mind, body, and spirit and my husband was excited because he had a designated driver for almost a year. He’s a supportive partner, always, but he didn’t fully understand, how could he? I had to teach him.

Welcome to Raising Dads, Part 1. A series of stories from a mom raising a baby and also watching her husband become a dad. We are making the same transition many of you have, I’m just documenting it from my point of view. It takes a village they say, but I guess I didn’t realize I’d be responsible to teach the village. 

I’ve never been one to suffer in silence and I’m not subtle. Life is not fair… but I’ll sure as hell see to it that you understand that. I think the strategy of stoic women is admirable, but that’s not me…I prefer the dramatics. I’d dramatically complain about my pregnancy symptoms and the constant anxiety that I was feeling. I complained about my acid reflux, my hip pain, and the overall lack of sleep. I continued to google solutions and was providing real time updates to Dan. Eventually, you could tell that he had realized that he had the easy way out and he purchased the book “The Expectant Father,” likely as a peace offering of some kind. It was his way of saying “I see you. I’ll put in some work too.” In addition to buying the book he also asked one of his pregnant coworkers what the best pregnancy pillow was and purchased it for me. Below is Dan making sure the pillow is adequate for his uncomfortable wife.

The Expectant Father takes you through each step of pregnancy and how you can be helpful to your partner. I thought “how sweet!” I love when men order a book and we are absolutely moved to tears. The amount of books I’ve read and research I’ve completed on every facet of pregnancy and newborn life makes his paperback purchase comical. In all fairness, he was at every appointment with me, and picked up the slack that I couldn’t stay awake to complete. I recently asked Dan if he read any of the book, and he laughed and said “I flipped to the week you were at in the pregnancy, read that section and never picked it up again.” 

Pregnancy continued on whether we were versed in it or not and we were getting excited?… haha well, we were at least getting ready. He’d continue to ask questions about certain baby related situations, my favorite being “I wonder if I’ll like our daughter as much as I love the cat…” A worthy fear, Dan… or “why are we buying this car seat?” I picked a car seat that came highly recommended after reading approximately ONE Facebook post. My research lacked actual data, but someone else surely had reviewed further If they were recommending on a Facebook post… right? Haha. Assuming Dan was referring to the price point in his line of questioning, I snapped back and said, “I’m rewarding myself for a job well done so far during pregnancy !” Through a series of not so subtle hints, and a constant reminder of the medical marvel that I was, “sorry, I was busy growing eyes today… was there something else I should be doing?” Dan got less curious about surface level parenting topics, & no longer had questions on the baby items that I “needed.” Basically, at this point, we were ready to excel at raising a child. 

Finally, after a long nine months, on a walk a week before my due date, my water broke. We were a half mile from home, and Dan said, “so now what do we do?”

A phrase that would hilariously foreshadow the future.