On Fatherhood, One Month In
WHO KNEW IT WOULD BE THIS HARD?
My wife and I often ask this question of each other, or lament that no one bothered to warn us about the many difficulties of being first-time parents. The sleepless nights, the crying, the...sleepless nights and crying, really.
It's so hard when you have this new member of your family that you love so much and they want everything from you and when you've given everything you think you've had, she demands a little more on top of it.
And yet, here we are, one month in, and things are still going okayish. While Rosalyn has taken a turn into the land of crying frequently and being hard to comfort, I still find quiet joy in her. Her smiles are still reflex more than reaction, coos are involuntary, and she still holds my fingers only because her hand happens to have bumped into it (or I placed my finger in her hand. It still thrills me to feel her powerful, tiny grip.)
Yesterday was especially difficult, despite these wonderful things that our baby does. The troubles lie in feeding her, in keeping this tiny life content and growing. When she was first born she lost 10% of her body weight, which is normal for new borns, but was slow to put the weight back on. We began to supplement with formula to help her make gains, and she's been growing like a weed since then.
The problem with weeds, of course, is they are sometimes obnoxious (ragweed) and sometimes kind of wonderful (dandelions.)
I think some people will balk at me referring to my sweet baby girl as a weed, but she IS growing quickly, she DOES smell bad sometimes, and at other times, she's kind of fun to have around. Okay, I love having her around, just as some people cherish the odd dandelion or, in our case, the huge bunches of daffodils that invade our yard each spring.
I've drifted a bit here, so let me come back to my point: all of this is hard. I don't mind changing diapers, or helping with feedings, or cleaning bottles, but when it's the third diaper in less than 5 minutes (who knew that babies would pee so much?!) and cleaning bottles on top of doing the dishes and cooking dinner...phew. Add to that a wife who is nearly beside herself with understandable frustration about the difficulties we've had with feeding, and you're in a hard place as a father.
How do you balance the responsibilities of work and home life? How do you keep it together when you've been going hard for two days straight due to a fussy baby, frustrated wife, and the need to keep both fed and sane? It ain't easy, I'll tell you that right off the bat.
I'm making it so far. I come home, I take care of the dogs, I feed the fish, I check on Megan and the baby, and I drink a big glass of iced coffee (with the leftovers from the morning.) I take the baby and give her a bottle if the timing is right, rock her to sleep if I can, and talk to Megan a bit. She can finally take a break, and I take a few minutes of alone time with Rosalyn.
We figure out dinner and the night's activity (generally watching a new TV show if we've found one to binge, or The Office if not,) and I prepare dinner. We eat in a rush to beat the next feeding. We go to bed.
There's no time for personal leisure. No time for games, little time for reading, and about the most we can manage is to look at things on our phones, if we're lucky. We're both so tired.
NO ONE SAID IT WOULD BE THIS HARD.
But it's also much rewarding. Through the haze, there are those precious moments. Smiles. Coos. A sleeping baby.
How have you managed the stress? For me, it's sometimes enough to hold Rosalyn, otherwise, I rest when I can, and try to be patient. I don't always succeed, but for the most part, we're making it. One day at a time.