It was while I was walking, for the third time that day, from our room in the recovery ward to the hospital cafeteria. This was the first time I actually had some idea where I was going and the first time I managed to not get lost either on the way there or on the way back.I was tired. I was beyond tired. If I was running on more than 4 hours of cumulative sleep over the last two nights, I’d be shocked. I wanted to go to bed, but my ability to do so was being controlled by this new little person in my life.
And I began to think about how all the time in my life was going to be sucked away.Truth be told, the fact that our son is going to absorb the vast majority of my time isn’t really that big of a problem. I waste a lot of time. Hell, just my wasted time will cover a big chunk of his needs. And while the inevitable cutting down on the things I want to do is upsetting, what was I really doing with that time, anyway? I don’t really do anything that can compare with raising my son.
No, what terrified me was the fact that I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. My old life –and that’s what it is, a whole other life prior to this one –was comfortable. I knew it pretty well. It wasn’t always inspiring and It was always enjoyable, but it was the devil I knew. I don’t know this new life and I don’t know how any of the pieces of the old one that I want to keep will fit into it.Even simple things like phrases Nicole and I used during our old life make me feel panicked. It’s as if those phrases no longer belong here. The Reckoning came and our little jokes about the silly little things in our life before we became parents no longer matter. It’s a strange reminder of what we’ve lost, even though we’ve gained so much more.
I don’t know how I’m going to sleep. I’m terrified something will happen to my son if one of us isn’t awake with him at all times. And then I wonder how that would even be possible and I wonder if I will ever not feel guilty about wanting to go to bed.I wonder why we decided to do this. Was it hubris? Did we just want so badly to leave our mark on this world? Were we selfish do bring him into this world? Why does anyone have kids?
But then I think about how great he is and the fact that he wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t done this.I spiraled again in the 20th hour. I was overwhelmed. I saw my amazing wife forming this wonderful bond with our son the way that only a mother can and I saw a peacefulness in her, a sense of knowing. She knew, without question, that this is what we’re meant to be doing.
I wish I had that confidence. It is not, I’ll admit, a new phenomenon. I have never felt confident in most things I do. Second guessing this new life was inevitable.So where does this leave me as I sit here in our hospital room, watching the second hand on the big clock on the wall as we tick closer and closer to the completion of my son’s first 24 hours on this earth?
It leaves me, as usual, at odds with my own emotions.Part of the difficulty has come from our environment. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change the time we have had in this recovery ward for all the money in the world. We have learned so much from these amazing nurses I can’t even do it justice explaining it. But we’re here just as much for Nicole as we are for our son because she’s recovering for a traumatic ordeal. This means that Nicole is constantly busy, which is just unbelievable. She’s doing so much at once.
And our son is just here to feed and sleep and go to the bathroom.Ultimately, this means I’m sitting around waiting to be of use, which is in some ways worse than being busy. I only ever notice how tired I am when I don’t have anything to do. When I’m in the thick of it, adrenaline takes over.
But I’m also a paranoid first time parent, so I have trouble sleeping if I have any worries about our son. Even if Nicole is nursing and has no need for me to be awake, I won’t be able to sleep, just in case.If we were home, that much would be easier. I (and Nicole, for that matter) could go to another room to sleep and at least force us into an out of sight, out of mind type scenario
The other upside of being at home is that there will always be stuff to do. There will be laundry to wash. There will be dishes to wash. There will be a whole house to take care of – the garbage alone will keep me busy. The sleep deprivation will inevitably be easier to deal with if I’m busy the whole time.There’s also the simple fact that being here at the hospital underscores the fact that Nicole is dealing with so much – a lot of which I can’t help her with. The fact that Nicole is still dealing with what happened to her is hard for me because I want her to be okay. I may be staying awake because I’m worried about our son, but I’m also staying awake for Nicole. Going home will, even if it’s not true, make me feel like she’s doing better.
There’s also a strange sense of urgency being here. Because we have so much support, I feel like I have to figure everything out before we leave because we won’t have a call button to hit when we get into jams. But we’re never going to know everything we need to know.I’d also really like to sleep in my own bed again, even if it’s only for an hour or two at a time.
It’s now Monday morning. We’ve been at this hospital for 86 hours. We’ll probably leave in a little bit. Nicole had a headache which has turned into a full blown migraine, so she’s sleeping. Appleseed is sleeping in the mobile changing table/bassonette thing they have here. He’s just absolutely amazing.
I’m looking forward to going home. I’m looking forward to trying to relieve some of my guilt when we see our cats. They’ve been like children to us for so long and we’ve suddenly replaced them.
Did I mention that Appleseed is amazing?
I don't think I can say that enough.
But I'm sure I'll try.