It’s been quite a while since my last post. Life has been a little crazy and, quite frankly, I have not used my free time in the most productive way possible. I’m going to try and do better though.
Now — about four weeks ago it finally happened. My little boy was born. He was a solid 7lbs 9oz with a nice head of hair. It was clear from the start that he was my baby, since we look near identical. The whole process was pretty slow, as labor started mildly on Saturday afternoon and continued into Sunday morning. At that point, contractions were bad enough that my wife said it was time to go in.
We were admitted around 9am, and from that point it was just a waiting game. After some water breakage, painful contractions, an epidural, and an hour of pushing he popped out at 11:19pm. My wife, the good woman she is, was bound and determined to get the little guy out before midnight. If he were born after midnight, that would have added a whole entire day to our stay! How miserable. As the next two days unfolded, we became increasingly grateful that he came before midnight.
The whole scene was nothing short of amazing to me. I found it so fascinating that I tried to be as close and involved as possible. I held one of her legs and had a front row seat for every push. Moments like that show you just how incredible the human body is. To see, in person, this little boy pop out with a dark blue umbilical cord attached. Wow. You can see the blood flow and the physical attachment between the baby and the mother. That little cord gave my boy all of the nutrients and oxygen he needed to thrive for 10 months. Somewhat proudly, I cut that cord off (damn thing is tougher than you think) and severed that link, officially welcoming him to the big bad world.
Afterwards, the midwife pulled the placenta out. Let me tell you readers, that thing is cool as hell. When the midwife spread it out and showed it to me, all I could think of was that it looked like one of those Alien face huggers. That little sac of goo sheltered my baby for 10 months!
What nobody tells you is how crappy the hospital stay is. It was easily the hardest part of the whole birth process for us. To be clear: It F&#^$&% sucks. You’re up for hours on end for the labor, then the birth finally happens and you think you can relax. NOPE. Every hour the nurses come in and checks vitals, waking up the baby that you finally got to sleep. That continues for the first 24 hours. After that it’s every ~3hrs, which is still pretty crappy. It’s impossible to get the room very dark. The beds, sheets and pillows are uncomfortable at best. Our room was not temperature controlled well, so it was hot. You don’t get any rest and your wife is stressed to the max (and I do mean max) trying to breast feed for the first time. To add to the pleasure, her hormones are on a roller coaster ride from hell.
Speaking of breastfeeding – it’s pretty rough with the first baby. For those parents to be out there, don’t expect that to be a cakewalk. To quote my wife, “Breast feeding is easily harder and more painful than actually giving birth”. The first few days, when she is only producing colostrum, are full of tears and panic (IS MY BABY GETTING ENOUGH? DO WE NEED TO SUPPLEMENT? I CAN’T GET HIM TO LATCH OH MY GOD I AM THE WORST MOTHER EVER *cry cry cry*). Brace yourselves.
Last but not least is the constant stream of visitors. Folks, let me give you some advice: Do not visit anyone but your VERY best friend and immediate family in the hospital. Make sure you call or text beforehand as well. Having visitors pop in and out makes everything 10x harder, and it makes it impossible to really relax. This makes the whole breastfeeding thing that much worse.
Now that I have some of the bad out of the way, let’s talk about the good. I think my kid is the cutest thing in the world and I love him to death. A crying baby, changing diapers? Not so bad when it’s your own. All I want to do is hold the little guy and smother him in little kisses (which I am sure he hates). Having him in my house is a pretty cool thing, and I look forward to when he gets older and I can really be a dad to him. Right now, it’s all about mom and her magical breasts. I am biding my time though, eventually it will be all about dad J.
Oh, and even though I hate the corporate world, here is one great thing about it – the insurance. I only had to pay $500 for the birth. That’s pretty good considering the hospital billed us $31,000 (no joke). Insurance only “allowed” $8,000 of it, whatever that means. Apparently the hospital charges anything and everything possible to the max, and insurance says, “No we are only paying for this”.
The hospital then says, “Okay that’s cool”, and I pay my deductible. Seems pretty stupid to me, and it’s easy to see how hospital charges can get out of control.
Health insurance is a big part of the reason I am choosing to suck it up for a few years. I want to get the child births and early years out of the way while I have some good insurance. Having good health insurance in America is a MUST. All it takes is one unforeseen event to kick your ass financially.
I also get three weeks off, which I can take anytime within the first year he was born. That’s not much, but I know that for an American company, that’s pretty good. I find it interesting how many older people balk when I tell them I get three weeks.
“What the hell do you need time off for?”
“What can you do?”
“She has to do all the work. You [the husband] don’t do anything”
I recognize that the husband plays a relatively small part in the whole process. However, I can’t imagine not being home that first week he was born. My wife was stressed, struggling, hormonal, and adjusting to this thing being attached to her boob continuously. The least I can do is take care of the house, cook food, do laundry, get groceries, change diapers, watch the baby so she can sleep, and support her while she settles in.
I believe me being there for her during that time was critical in helping her keep her head above water while we figured everything out. When people say, “What do I need time off for, what can you possibly do?” and all that other crap, it makes me feel sorry for their wives. As a husband, there is a lot that you can do to help out, though it may not be directly related to the baby. Think of it this way: At that point in time you are there to support your wife more than the baby. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s nothing you can do to help.
I’m sure I’ll continue to post little snippets here and there about my lil’ dude. More cute baby pictures to come!