Here is the story of the birth of my baby, along with the ten lessons I learned along the way.
1. Sometimes you can be in labor without even knowing it. Let the record show that my wife is ridiculous and awesome. Throughout the course of the past 10 months, she has continued to work long days, go to the gym, run errands… and still stayed up later than me at night. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that her labor was a little different as well – mostly in that she didn’t realize she was in labor until she was about to have a baby.
In hindsight, given how strong she was throughout her pregnancy, I should have realized something was afoot that fateful Thursday morning when she wasn’t feeling well and decided to not go into work until lunch time. However, given how annoyed and tired she was getting of people asking her why she was still at work and when she was going to have the baby, I assumed it was more to avoid all the questions than because of any true discomfort.
When I Emailed her from work around lunchtime and she said she was feeling “weird”, I offered to come home and check in on her. An hour later we were at the doctor’s office, finding out she was already 5 cm dilated. A half hour later we were at the hospital, and less than four hours later we had a baby… but we didn’t even need that much time!
2. Doctors are pretty worthless and nurses do almost everything. I suppose I should have known this lesson from listening to Carla complain all the time on Scrubs, but seeing it action really drove the point home. When we first arrived at the hospital, an army of nurses got Kate all setup , took down a thousand pieces of information, and then one nurse (Tara) stuck around with us and guided us through the entire process. I’m fairly certain that if Tara had the authority to deliver our baby, KB would have had our child less than two hours after arriving in the hospital. Instead, we killed time and slowed contractions for another two hours while waiting for the on-call doctor to arrive. He strolled in the room, made a few jokes, and five minutes later we had a baby. The doctor wrapped up, then another army of nurses cleaned the baby, checked things out, and stuck around in the room until we left.
Hmmm – I wonder if this is what my employees say about me at work…
3. The man should pack the hospital bags. Let me paint you a picture of how every request from KB went while she was in labor:
“Can you get me my good socks?”
“Sure, where are they?”
“In my hospital bag”
“No – my good socks”
“No, the ones that look nice!”
“I don’t see any other ones”
“In the small pocket of the bag”
“Which small pocket? There are like six”
“The one on the left”
“My left of the bag’s left?”
“Forget it! I’ll just wear these bad socks!”
However, it should be noted that the woman should actually be the one to determine what goes into the bag. As referenced above, she packed at least three pairs of socks in her bag. I packed my own bag. It was full of snacks, electronics, booze… and one undershirt and pair of mesh shorts. No real shirts, no pants, no socks.
I packed for the hospital like I packed for my 11 day trip through Italy back in college – taking half as many items as clothing that I needed, not caring if I looked gross or smelly. You know it’s a bad sign when you wake up the morning after your baby is born and look into your bag and say “Huh, I guess I wear these socks today too”.
4. The man’s job during labor is to stand around and do nothing and say nothing. During the classes, they tell you ways that you need to be supportive of your spouse during labor, but they always followed it up with “if she’s uncomfortable or having a contraction, don’t say anything.” I also found out that “if she’s uncomfortable or having a contraction, don’t touch her.” I would try to rub her back or give a massage (like I learned in class!) but she was having none of it. This just goes to show, as Sully warned me, that the Lamaze class was really just an excuse for pregnant ladies to get an afternoon of massages from their spouse, rather than offering anything worthwhile that can be used during the actual labor and delivery of a child.
5. Not all babies come out gross. Based on TV shows and movies, babies come out bloody, covered in goo, or generally with crap all over them. Not my baby. Came out looking pretty much clean, aside from needing a little wash of the hair. I was fully expecting to not want to touch my kid until they were cleaned, sterilized, and disinfected – but instead the baby was fully touch-able right from the start.
6. Walk away from your wife and be with the baby immediately post-delivery. I got a ton of good pictures, had some instant quality bonding time, and kept a close eye on the nurses tending to my child to ensure they weren’t doing anything sketchy or trading him out for a less pretty baby while no one was looking. But the best part? I have no idea about what matter of gross-ness was going on with my wife right after the baby was born… and I am eternally thankful for that. All I know is that it involved garbage bags full of something being carted out of our room and the floor being mopped up. The last time I’ve seen a scene like that, it involved Dexter.
7. There are way too many “rules” regarding telling people about your new baby. Granted, given the rushed nature of the labor and delivery, we didn’t have sufficient time to do things like send mass Emails or text messages out to people – but instead hit the highlights (calling the parents, sending a few texts, posting the scenic view from the delivery room on Facebook). But after the baby was born, I immediately wanted to post pictures on the Internet and tell the world… but no, instead you have to go through this hierarchy of importance where you have to call some family members, let them contact others, and get the go-ahead before telling semi-strangers via Facebook.
I’m sorry – but text messages and phone calls cost money and are inefficient. I can post one message on the Facebook for free and everyone knows exactly what’s going on. Freedom of information!
8. Two days in a hospital room is plenty. You would think that as the parent of a newborn, you would be freaking out and love the comfort of knowing an army of skilled nurses and doctors were around, checking in on you and ensuring you weren’t accidentally killing your child. However, we both found that we couldn’t wait to get out of there to start living our real life, sleeping in a real bed, and eating real food. Maybe I’m being selfish, but I’d rather roll the dice and assume I can just “wing it” taking care of my baby if it means I can do so from the comfort of my own couch.
9. The first night at home with a baby is the equivalent of a year’s worth of worrying about a house. As I’ve mentioned before, home ownership is for suckers. You lay awake at night worrying about things breaking, trees falling on your house, the roof leaking, and drafty windows increasing your energy bill. But with a baby? You lay awake at night listening to each breath they take, waiting to ensure you hear another one and they didn’t randomly stop breathing. It sounds absurd, but after all the work and effort of having a baby, it would really suck to lose them the first night because you weren’t paying close enough attention to their breathing.
The good news is that now that I have a few nights of sleep under my belt, I can assure you that babies make the craziest noises ever when they sleep – ones that sound like they’re choking, ones that sound like they’re gasping for breath, and ones that sound like they are growling – but apparently these are all normal. Babies are just weird like that.
10. Any male who tells you that they don’t care if they have a boy or a girl is lying – at least for their first child. I’m absolutely guilty of this. All throughout the pregnancy, people thought we were having a boy – based on how Kate was “carrying the baby”, the baby’s heart rate, and witchcraft tests involving pencils. Even Kate assumed she was going to have a boy. I realized that if we ended up having a girl, it might seem like the whole world was disappointed or rooting against her from the start, and that didn’t really seem fair. Obviously my child was going to be awesome regardless of if it was a boy or a girl, so I started saying “I think it’s a girl”. I even bet on “girl” in the office pool that was setup at Kate’s work. But I have to admit, when the baby finally arrived and I could proudly announce to Kate “it’s a boy!” I was pumped - the family name lives on! Although it’s silly, when you have such a unique last name as I do, there’s a concern that at some point it might totally disappear from planet earth. Now I know it’s a got a fighting chance to live on for at least another generation.
(Also, not to be sexist – I know that girls can play sports and drink beer… but it’s a little more of a guarantee with a boy. With a girl, people might have looked at me weird when they found out I was saving a can of Miller Lite on each of her birthdays in order to have her drink them all when she turned 21 – but with a boy, it’s a hilarious idea that’s going to be a great photo op and bonding moment 21 years from now.)
Without further ado, I’m proud to announce to the world the birth of Jackson!
(Lost fans, I know what you’re thinking and the answer is “yes”. The fact that this is a spinoff of Jack did come into play when deciding on a name. After all, were it not for Lost, Kate and I never would have started dating, and he wouldn’t even exist.)
I’m not going to be that annoying guy who thinks that his kid is the best ever, but I will say this – before he was born, one of Kate and my biggest fears was that he was going to be an ugly baby. You know the kind, where you have to awkwardly tell the parents that it’s a “cute” baby and then in the car ride home you say “I hope our kid doesn’t look like that.” Jackson was born with a full head of hair, wasn’t super fat, and looks like a normal person – so by baby standards, he’s pretty good looking.
Also – maybe the most mellow baby ever. The first few days in the hospital he was poked and prodded by a ton of people and just kinda chilled through it. Granted, now that we’re home he’s decided that crying his face off for a few hours in the middle of the night is his favorite pastime, but for the other 20 hours of the day, he just likes to eat and sleep – just like his dad. It’s a good thing I’ve slowly been teaching my body to not require sleep over the past few years…
So there you have it, the story of how Jackson entered the world. From this point forward, the story is going to be about Jackson learning about this world – and how he changes the world of his parents. It’s going to be exciting and scary and hopefully fun, just like the past 10 months!