Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So It Begins

New dad and new Koalid
The Koalid was born last Thursday, and now it is time to find out if all that stuff I've been chattering about for the past 9 months has any bearing to reality.

It has taken almost a week to get this post up because...well...I have this new baby keeping me very busy.

Pride and Joy
First, let me talk a moment about the expectations I was led to by others. If you read the writings of fathers, they will say that having a baby changed their life and their outlook on the world. They will tell you that as soon as they looked upon the faces of their beautiful, perfect children, nothing would ever be the same. They saw that baby as the most beautiful thing in the world and felt a swell of pride.

Yeah. Didn't get that.

Let me be clear before I go on that I love my daughter and will do anything to raise her as a happy, healthy person. She is my greatest priority.

I'm not a baby person. I don't generally think pictures of babies are cute. I get more of a rise out of holding a cat than someone else's baby. However, I was thinking perhaps that the fact that she is mine would make be respond differently. When she came out, I looked at her and observed that she was a funny looking, red, squirmy thing. I knew that she was my funny looking, red, squirmy thing, and that I would do anything for her, but there was no great swell of pride, no angels sang, no lights shone down from heaven.

Many men speak of a feeling of pride and virility. "I made this beautiful thing!" they proclaim. Maybe I'm less sentimental or just more rational, but I feel no great sense of accomplishment at having made a baby. Maybe it's that I spend the previous 18 years very diligently not making a baby that made it unexciting. I simply stopped doing the things I'd been doing to not make a baby, and made a baby.

Meet Amy, my amazing and beautiful wife who is really the
one who should feel proud of this amazing child.
I am proud of Amy for doing everything for 9 months to make a healthy, beautiful, perfect, 9/10 on the APGAR baby. She did all the hard work. She took care of herself to take care of the Koalid, and she is the one who can really be credited for the Koalid's perfection.

Reading the Baby
As we approached having a baby, I was doing research and also plumbing the depths of my personal experience and instincts. All these things told me that, while the baby fundamentally has very few indicators, I should be able to determine what that limited data stream is telling me. My theory was that I should rarely have a situation of an upset baby and the frustration of not knowing what the baby wants as long as I am open minded and engaged with the Koalid.

When the baby came out, and after all the weights and measures, she was swaddled and handed to me. Once she calmed down from the shock of birth, she began to give rooting signs, the signs that a baby wishes to feed. I was very proud that I was able to recognize them, and I immediately knew: this baby wants to nurse! I'm a genius!

Baby's first hockey stick.
I was also powerless to do anything about it because she was delivered C-section, and it took about 90 minutes for the nurses to deal with some routine complications and get Amy to the point where she was able to nurse the baby.

Over the following week, I have continued to feel fairly confident that I could read the Koalid's cues.

Feeding the Baby
I expected that I might have many challenges. I was concerned about being able to change diapers (not a problem, as it turns out, see below). I was worried that we would never be able to sleep.

One thing I was not worried about was feeding the baby. That seemed pretty simple. Put nipple (breast or bottle) into mouth, wait, burp. Then, we discovered certain things: mom's milk does not come in as soon as baby does. (That's why babies are born pudgy, do hold them over until mom can feed them.) Also, when baby first breast feeds, it hurts quite considerably. So, I'm sure that once Amy gets used to feeding, it will be as simple as put breast in mouth, but in the meantime it has been a logistical challenge of breast feeding, breast pumping, and supplementary formula.

I am a diaper ninja. I had only ever put two diapers on prior to the Koalid being born: one on a friend's baby (hi, Abby) and one on a doll at the Baby Care Class. However, when it came time to diaper the Koalid, all became clear. I joked that I was ready for a baby because I practiced with cats, being about the same size. I thought it was a total joke, but, as it turns out, dealing with a wriggling cat is very similar to dealing with a wriggling baby. You have to be able to anticipate their movements based on awareness of their anatomy and the pre-movements of their body.

I can now anticipate her kicks and have the new diaper on her in seconds. She does not like the process, but she loves the cuddle she gets afterwards, and that is one of the best experiences so far. I pick her up, still crying, and place her against my shoulder. The crying tapers off, and she snuggles in... moments before rooting around trying to figure out why I don't have a breast for her to feed on.

Getting the Koalid started early in the family business.
Being Ready
Everyone said "You're never ready for a baby. It changes everything!" Maybe it's because when I started this process, I decided that I had already done what I set out to do, and now my next great adventure was this child. I adjusted my career plan to work with a child. Last week, I declared that I was ready. Now that she is here, still feel ready. Sure, there are some details to work out: financial details, logistics of who sleeps when and where, things like that. But as for as the Koalid goes, still feeling ready.

As I mentioned before, I didn't get the whole googly eyed reaction. However, as the first week has passed, I have found growing love for this adorable thing. I still think she's a little funny looking now and then, but so are all babies. She does, however, make the most adorable faces...especially when she's pooping.

I love this little Koalid, and I intend to do everything I can do to do right by her.

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