This is my first morning back since Lydia was born on February 19th (I took two weeks
of parental leave, plus an additional week of medical leave, and god bless [My employer] for
making it available.) Man, it’s hard to leave the rest of the family behind. My alarm
went off at 5:30 this morning for the first time in almost a month, and I tiptoed out
of the house listening to Lydia make her little gurgles and pterodactyl noises in her sleep.
It’s now full dawn at 6:35 AM when I catch my Amtrak train, which helps a lot. Clarence
the conductor didn’t even ask to see my expired February monthly ticket, and Maya the french
systems programmer welcomed me back with a simple “Ah, long time no zee!” There’s a new
execrable Arrive magazine in the back of every seat on the train, clear proof that
a long time has passed, but other than that things seem to be pretty smooth.
With a shaking hand, I synchronized my Outlook inbox last night, but only about 300 messages
were in there, and none were flagged “IMPORTANT: WE’RE ALL SCREWED.” In fact, I feel pretty
damn good right about now.
Part of that is because Kate took the last baby shift all by herself last night, letting
me get two hours and forty-five minutes of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. We’re down to a pretty
good system now:
- T plus zero minutes: Baby starts stirring in her tightly swaddled package. Volume
of gurgly pterodactyl noises slowly increases. John picks up baby from bedroom bassinet, carries her to
nursery, strips baby out of warm clothes, changes baby. Baby wakes up, plays the Tricky Diaper Game. John growing better at anticipating
baby’s tricks, but baby inventing new tricks every day. Eventually, baby is clean, dry, awake, and
wearing fresh diaper. Amount of dirty laundry generated by this activity varies.
- T plus ten minutes: John carries baby into bedroom, holds baby while Kate sits
up in bed and straps on the ingenious velcro feeding pillow with the embarassing name. Baby repeatedly arches back and roots side to side.
Gurgly dinosaur noises give way to impression of voracious young pink-gummed alligator. John hands baby to Kate, keeping fingers well clear. John moves laundry from washer to dryer, flops back into bed.
- T plus seventy minutes: Kate nudges sleeping John that feeding is finished; hands
floppy, sated baby to John, rolls over and goes back to sleep. John plays lightning elimination round (ha ha)
of the Tricky Diaper Game with the baby, snaps baby into onesie and then into sleeper.
Performing origami learned in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, John swaddles the baby like
a flannel burrito. Baby is now in Quiet Alert state. John sits in rocker, watches a TiVo-ed Simpsons,
rocks baby to sleep, tries not to stimulate baby too much.
- T plus ninety minutes: Baby hopefully has passed through active sleep (eye movement, twitchy facial expressions, tendency to wake up explosively if put down) into quiet sleep. John carries baby like unexploded munition back to bassinet,
places baby inside. If baby makes particular sleepy squeak when put down, all is well. John
climbs into bed, goes back to sleep.
- T plus one hundred eighty minutes: Baby starts stirring in tightly swaddled package. Repeat.
…at least, I think it’s a pretty good system. Kate has to be awake longer, but
she never gets out of bed. I’m only up for half an hour at a stretch, tops, but I do all
the ferrying. The baby has been feeding every three hours, start to start, which is completely
manageable. Of course, I know all that’s subject to daily change; Tuesday night, the baby ate
for two hours straight. It’s worth it, though: the
giant unsorted pile of pictures
shows that she’s putting on weight by leaps and bounds. The first week, we packed ten ounces
on to her. Well, I shouldn’t say “we”. Kate’s in charge of input; I’ve been handling output.
And now that I’m going back to work today, Kate has thirteen hours of baby-wrangling, input and output all to herself — and that’s three weeks post-op. We’re both a little nervous about it. Wish us luck, and words of encouragement are welcome!