What’s It Like?

I went back to work today, and invariably, the first thing people ask after they say congratulations is some variation of “So, what’s it like being a dad?” I try to answer them as honestly as I can: Right now, not that different from not being a dad.

Let me explain. Blanche has been very tired from her battle with jaundice. Jaundice is a common issue for “late pre-term” babies, or those born before 37 weeks. It doesn’t really present much of a long term concern, but it does make her incredibly sleepy. I’d like to give you all a crystal clear explanation of what exactly jaundice is, why it makes them look yellow, why wrapping blue light around her body helps treat it, what the percentages and numbers the doctors keep giving us mean, or how long it will take her to recover, but unfortunately I can’t. That’s highly restricted information. You know, the Hippocratic oath and all.

Kidding. I can’t because every nurse and every doctor has told us a different story. We just found out yesterday from our pediatrician that the “chart” the nurses had been referring to for three days, where she went from the 95th percentile down to between the 70th and 95th percentiles, is completely obsolete once you start treatment. Maybe the nurses wanted to give us some optimism without telling us the reasons meant nothing, or maybe the nurses didn’t know the charts no longer were in play. It’s all very confusing.

Long story longer, she sleeps. All day. All night. It is possible to nudge her awake for a minute or two, but she’s not all that interested in being awake. Or if she is, her body tells her it’s not time yet. So, I’m back at work today, because so far being a dad has been a lot like not being a dad. Hours go by without the slightest indication that a baby’s present. The only difference between yesterday and any other day, as I tried to catch up on all our DVRed TV shows, was that the stacks of magazines, dirty dishes and beer reviews written on napkins were replaced by breast pump supplies, scattered baby clothes and a file cabinet’s worth of paperwork I’ll never look at. You’d have no idea there was a baby in the house.

Thus, there hasn’t been a lot to help out with regarding the baby. I can’t pump or breast feed, and she isn’t wearing us out with irreversible bouts of crying, so anything I could do would fall under the category of “projects around the house.” Which I don’t really want to do. And Kristie’s mom, who’s staying with us for a few days, does. Or at least she pretends she does.

I’m sleeping great, by the way. Thanks for asking.

Things have been a little different for Kristie, at least from my point of view. I doubt she’d tell you any differently. While I’m doing my usual rearranging, cleaning and organizing (things I’d be doing anyway), she’s nursing, pumping and generally marveling at the mysterious (she’d say horrific) changes her body is undergoing. Her sleep has certainly suffered. I’ve offered to take on part of the feeding responsibilities during the night, but at this point there isn’t much of a supply, and waking up to pump probably doesn’t sound that appealing.

So, what is it like? It’s the best. I talk about her all day. Everything she does. How she opened one eye slightly for a split second. How she twitched when Atlas licked her toes. How she waves her arms when you change her diaper. I feel like the things that I’m feeling now have never been felt by anyone in the history of the world. No one could possibly know how amazing it feels to be a father; to be responsible for another human being. To be trusted to guide her, provide for her and raise her to be a decent person.  Nobody has EVER known how that feels! I must be the luckiest dad on the planet. That’s what it’s like.

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3 Responses to “What’s It Like?”

  1. Molly Says:

    How funny. I never knew that about jaundice…yes, been-there-done-that mom who had a preemie. I thought Eli was just sleepy. But yes, he slept 23 1/2 hours a day for about 4 weeks.

    And then he woke up and it started to get fun.

  2. Pete Says:

    awesome post—-you absolutely nailed what it’s like to be a new Dad—-sorry, you’re not the first nor only one w/ those experiences—But it sure does (did) feel like that!

  3. Nils Says:

    clearly i realize that.

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