Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dad: Mission Accomplished

I don’t want to put words in my wife’s mouth, but the nine months of hormonal swings, back pain and general ickiness of pregnancy was worth it. WELL worth it. We now have our baby girl. She is awesome. And chubby. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. The first “I’m a dad” moments for me came shortly after she was born when she a) grabbed my finger and b) looked me right in the eye while I was feeding her.  

Mary Jane went into labor at about 9 p.m. on Sunday night a little over a week ago, and we were in the hospital by 12:30 a.m. She, of course, had to shower, do her makeup and fix her hair before we went. She wasn’t really sure when her next shower would be. Then there’s the whole Maternity Ward Beauty Pageant that she had to prepare for too (she won).

All the labor inducements we tried over the past month paid off. It was either the sex, spicy food, walks, evening primrose oil, pineapple, bouncing ball, eggplant parmesan, membrane sweeping or Punxsutawney Bill that did it. The good thing is, one of them worked. The bad thing is, we used 25 independent variables so we’re not exactly sure which one worked for next time around. Maybe that’s why nobody can pinpoint what exactly triggers labor.

Albert Einstein had three kids, and we still don't know what causes labor.

During the 19-hour labor, Mary Jane was a champ and lasted about eight hours without an epidural. She was much better once she got that going, but then she ended up pushing for OVER THREE HOURS. Susan, all 8 pounds and 14 ounces of her, was very stubborn working her way through the complicated maze that is my wife’s birth canal. She came out with her hand on her chin, which – if you’ve seen any her ultrasound photos – is her standard pose. It didn’t make the pushing any easier, though. Susan still doesn’t sleep without at least one hand on her chin.

The many faces of Susan. All with that hand.

My role during the entire labor was to coach Mary Jane through the contractions and pushing, but honestly my job was not that hard. I just tried to keep her focused on the next push while holding her leg up and telling her how awesome she was. She will say that I was a great coach, but coaches are only as good as their players. Phil Jackson was a great basketball coach. He won 11 NBA Championships. Six of those were with the Chicago Bulls and a guy named Michael Jordan. Five were with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. In the delivery room, I was coaching my wife who outperformed Michael and Kobe on their best days.

Michael Jordan = MJ. Mary Jane = MJ.
Coincidence? I think not.
Since the birth, we’ve spent no less than 12 waking hours per day just watching the baby. Everything she does is cute. Open and close her hands? Cute. Stretch her arms over her head? Cute. Yawn? Cute. Burp? Cute. Fart? Super cute.

All babies have undeveloped motor skills, so their movements are very herky jerky. Susan lays there and flails her arms and legs at random, which is also cute but keeps our dog, Oscar, on edge at all times.

You know who else has undeveloped motor skills? Her father at 3 a.m. I woke up to feed her two nights ago and BOTH my arms were asleep. After trying and failing to push myself out of bed, I eventually rocked myself back and forth into a seated position. I whipped my torso around, and my arms flopped along like Bernie Lomax. After doing what I can only describe as a human helicopter, the feeling finally returned. Only then was I able to pick up my baby daughter. I was still 75% asleep at that point, so it got even more out of hand when I ended stumbling into the bathroom with Susan for meal time instead of her nursery. The unforgiving chill of the porcelain toilet on my legs (as opposed to the plush warmth of the glider) snapped me out of my daze in time to avoid feeding her a bottle of hand soap.

Weekend at Bernies 3 is currently in production every night at our house.

So now we’re parents. Susan is an angel. I’m not sure at what point everything goes to hell and she becomes a screaming banshee all night long, but she’s taken it pretty easy on us so far. We’re getting settled into our routine, and while Susan throws us a curveball every now and then, we feel like we’ve gotten the basics down. I know it’s early, but parenthood hasn’t been the terrible “say goodbye to your free time” and “have fun while you still can” scenarios that some people will have you believe. Susan IS fun, and we’d rather spend our free time playing with her.

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