After being in hospital for 4 days, we have returned home today.
This has genuinely been the best week of my life, and getting home with my family is just the icing on the cake. Baby was born on Monday afternoon, as since then there has been a steady flow of visitors from friends and family coming to wish us well, cuddle the baby and shower us with gifts. The ward room we were in was covered with so much flowers we ended up leaving some for the staffroom as a thank you to all the midwives that have helped us so much over the past few days.
Since my wife had a C-Section, she can’t really move around very well, so I’ve been doing as much as I can to help. I changed my first nappy, gave him a bath, constantly changing his clothes and bedsheets and making cups of tea and coffee for all our visitors. It’s been quite hectic and I’ve not had much sleep, but the adrenaline has kept me going.
The first nappy was an interesting experience. I stayed overnight the first night to help as the ward was busy and my wife wasn’t able to do anything We woke in the middle of the night with the baby crying. It took me a moment to register that the crying was my baby (holy shit, I have a baby now!) and wake up. The baby was crying and this was our first test as parents to figure out what was wrong. I tried sticking the tip of my finger near his mouth to see if he would suck it, which was a tip the midwife told us to check if he is hungry. Nothing, he is probably not hungry. Babies don’t really eat much in the first few days anyway. Next is a nappy check. I unbuttoned his vest and checked his nappy. Yup, that’s the problem. Up until then I had honestly never seen a dirty nappy before, never mind changed one. Feeling out of my depth I rang for help, but it sounded like a bad time to ask for help as people were running around. Later I learned there were two women in labour at the same time, so no one had time to help change a nappy.
When someone eventually popped their head round the door they didn’t have time to stop. She handed me a new nappy, a bowl, some cotton balls and some wipes and said “this is your baptism of fire, you’re going to have to figure this out for yourself”, and sped off down the corridor.
I turned to my wife with a blank look on my face, but she was bed-ridden and couldn’t help.
It turns out the poop of a newborn baby is like black (slightly green) sticky tar that is a nightmare to clean off. It doesn’t smell particularly bad, or maybe it was just I didn’t have time to smell anything. I rubbed the tar off his bum and got a new nappy on. But in the process I got my hands, his clothes and his bed sheets all covered in poo. First nappy change successful, albeit with a bit of mess.
The next few days were pretty much just trying to learn as much as we can from the midwives before we go home on our own. Even watching how they hold the baby and move around with him in their arms was interesting for me. I’ve never really been around babies before, so all this stuff is new to me. The main rule I am living by t the moment is to simply try not to drop him. That’s honestly my major concern right now.
I managed to catch about 5 minutes of television yesterday and saw that hurricane Sandy had hit the east coast of America a few days ago. The biggest news story of the year happened and I had no idea as we were in our own little bubble the whole week!
I got the car seat fixed into the car, loaded up all our bags, presents and flowers into the car, which took 4 trips from the maternity ward out to the car, then we got baby into his snow suit he got as a present and headed home. I’ve never been so alert while driving in all my life. I saw potential accidents and was aware of loads of reasons why I might have to break suddenly. I kept the speed low and took corners at a snails pace.
We made it back to the house around lunch time. It was so surreal taking baby into the house. The last time we were all in the house was when my wife was in the full throws of labour, and here we are coming back with a baby.
The fact I’m now a dad still hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ve had butterflies in my stomach constantly since he was born. I now have 1 more week of paternity leave to spend with my family, and I’m loving every moment of it!