Twenty-two years later, I'm a father again.
My wife, Canda, gave birth to our son earlier this month and it's truly been a blessing. Words alone cannot describe how this addition to our lives has impacted us in such an incredible way. Although this is not the first time for me, it's been such a long time that I've had to relearn the essentials.
Here are a few example about what t I've learned about myself over the past few weeks:
· Remembering to wash my hands. This is something that's been on my mind with a newborn in the house. I'd hate to pass along any germs, which could be a bad thing as his fragile age. I thought it might not even be a bad idea to install some of those sanitizer machines you see all over the hospital (I'm kidding). He'll even suckle on my right hand's pinkie finger for a short time (despite no nourishment, I'm sure) while mom gets ready to feed him. I'm extra careful to keep that pinkie clean and I even took clippers to it to make sure the nail is not too long.
· Stepping in to help mom. Having a baby doesn't look like a whole lot of fun, at least from a physical standpoint. It takes time for a body to bounce back from the challenges of having an 8-pound, 13-ounce baby. We've always split up the chores pretty evenly but it's those little extras. For example, sometimes you can get stuck in a chair with a sleeping baby in your arms, wishing you had ice water to drink or a burp cloth to catch spit-up. Just putting a desired item within arm's length seems to be appreciated. I know ... I've been in the same predicament.
· Covering up during the diaper change. Infant boys often let loose with the pee when the diaper comes off, whether it's the exposure to air or the coldness of a baby wipe. I've rediscovered that avoiding this type of wet disaster can be very difficult if you don't act with swiftness. More times than not, it ends with extra clean-up and another changing of clothes. I'm thinking about just taking off his diaper and holding him over the sink for a few minutes. But I've become used to it. In fact, he peed on me seconds after he was born when the doctor held him up so I could announce "it's a boy."
· Learning to accept help from others. It was great to have my mother-in-law here from Arizona for the first week of my son's life. She stepped in to help with vacuuming, washing clothes, cooking food and even helped with the baby in the wee hours a few times. Before the birth, she spent a couple of hours cleaning my car. I'm pretty sure she dug out some old french fries that had been under the driver's seat for years. In addition, our neighbors brought us soup, gave us various baby-related items and even finished yard work that I was unable to get done after my mower died.
· Keeping a journal and baby book. When it comes to trying to recall life with my first son in 1995, I haven't had good luck remembering the details. This time around, it's been important to me to keep a journal of our day-to-day adventures. Years from now, me or my wife might enjoy sitting down and reading it to be reminded about not only about the fun, but also the challenges that we overcame. Perhaps someday, my son himself would enjoy reading about himself.
· Staying calm amid those loud cries. I think it's natural to try to do whatever is needed to stop the cries of your newborn baby. Some are worse than others, but the loudest just sound like they hurt his little lungs. I work as fast as possible to perform the diaper change, although as you may have read above, it doesn't always work without a few detours. Other times, it's because he's hungry or he needs to burp or he's too hot or cold. It's somewhat incredible to me that every time he does cry, there seems to be a valid reason for it.
· Realizing physical limitations. I'll end this list of sorts with a few comments about my age. Yes, I'm 51 years old and I don't seem to be as flexible as I was back when my first son was born. Getting up out of a recliner with a baby in my arms isn't exactly a pain-free endeavor. Running up and down the stairs retrieving needed items has been a great replacement for the gym I've been avoiding. Keeping an arm in the same position for several minutes even takes a toll, although most of the time I try to have a pillow (or what is called a "Boppy") in place. All kinds of aches and pains seem to crop up for no reason. Still, it's not as bad as what my wife's going through with her recovery. In the end, it's all worth it.