Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Big Welcome Home.

Yesterday when I came home from work, M. and E. were waiting there in the living room for me. Because M. won't be able to make it up and down the stairs for awhile, we decided it would be best to set up her entire life in that single room for the next three weeks. That may sound like an awfully dreary existence, but M. seems to be bearing up well under the pressure. No matter what small sacrifices I find myself making, her lot is a thousand times harder. It feels good to have them both back home after their stint in the hospital. There's the understandably cozy idea of the domestic scene, and a feeling of compartmentalized life. Still the concept of home has irrevocably changed, and it's going to take a lot of adjustment.

For the first time in recent memory, I came home from work on a Friday and stayed in the night. There was certainly time for me to sit at the computer and construct a blog post, but I was completely exhausted from the strain of this week. To make matters a bit more stressful, E. cried intermittently through the evening and far into the night. The tough part about being the father to a newborn is knowing that there's not a whole lot you can do to make things the way you want them. There's a profound feeling of helplessness when your child is crying and you can't get him to stop.

I knew I'd experience a lot of frustration trying to figure out what the baby is communicating when he cries. Does he have a poopy diaper? Is he hungry? Does he have gas from nursing? Is he cold? Does his circumcision still bother him? Or is he merely tired from lack of sleep? He doesn't even know sign language yet, let alone proper English. Sometimes the only way to get him to settle down is to pick him up and hold him. We've already learned a couple of surefire soothing positions that don't entail him sucking on a nipple. As I mentioned earlier, he didn't really sleep at all last night. Of course that means that M. didn't either. However, for some reason, he slept in my arms for two hours straight this morning while I watched episodes of Mr. Show.

During the time he was crashed out, M. got to get up and put stuff in the laundry. She ate and took care of stuff she hadn't had the opportunity to address in days. She couldn't sleep because I had made a trip for coffee and she had requested some- anticipating that it would be a long time before E. was settled down. We have to get a grip on these rhythms, so that M. can seize any chance to get some shut-eye. She's even talking about swearing off coffee altogether. Fortunately I know there are some things I can do to make her burden just a little bit easier. Someone recently told me that the first year of a child's life is all about the mother's relationship with her kid. All the father can really do is to be on call for whatever mom needs.

I could write for days about the multiple strains that I feel with this fussy little addition to the family. Yet (as I said) my life is comparatively easy. I don't have to be the tyke's eternal tap. I've actually felt guilty going upstairs to get some sleep. Last night I languished in a terrible series of nightmares. I woke up in the middle of the night and made a zombie-walk downstairs to see the restless pair. They were still wide awake and trying to find the happy medium of routine. It's looking more and more like this kid is like his father- a nocturnal rambler who would much rather lay down during the day, and make endless forays into the mysteries of the night.

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