Daycare is killing me.

My son turns 3 today, so I decided to repost a few choice blogs from the first year after he was born.

He smells different.

At the end of the day, Appleseed smells like the daycare.  It's similar to how an airplane or a hotel room smells, that attempt to make something sanitized that will never ever be sanitized.  I smell it when I kiss his head.  He doesn't smell like us.

I don't think Nicole has noticed because I've done a good job of re-scenting him before she gets home.  I sit on the couch with him and give him Sophie the Giraffe, which he promptly sticks in his mouth and gums like crazy.  He slobbers everywhere.  I kiss his cheeks, his head, the spot where his neck and his head connect which makes him squeal with happiness.

The squeal is muted.  There's less energy to it.  His smiles don't come as quickly.  His giggles are harder to come by.  And he smells different.

There's a logical explanation for it.  Besides the sensory overload, Appleseed doesn't sleep at daycare, not like he should.  They can rock him to sleep, but he wakes up when they try to put him in the crib.  So when I pick him up, he's tired, too tired to humor his father.  After I've gotten my fill of drowning him with affection, I decide to rock him to sleep.  It doesn't take long.

The best way to make sure Appleseed will not just sleep, but sleep for a long period of time, is to sleep with him.  So I take him into our bedroom, lie him on the bed, crawl in next to him, and tip him over on to his side.  He likes to sleep on his side, he just can't maintain it on his own.  We'll spend the next two hours or so like this.

It's during this time that the smell fades.  Cuddled up in bed, cuddled up next to daddy, he begins to smell like us again.

After the long nap, he starts to perk up.  His energy returns.  And mommy comes home.  The smiles come fast and furious.  The giggles and squeals are back.  Appleseed has returned.

I know that he's fine at daycare but that doesn't mean I like it.  That doesn't mean I don't feel like simultaneously throwing up and crying when I drop him off, and that's after I make it out the door.  Up until

that point, I feel like taking him back home and skipping work.

He's in the infant room at his daycare, and the teacher to student ratio maxes out at 4-1, although it's probably more reasonable to say 3-1, as one of them is almost always asleep.  But between diapers, bottles, and tantrums, how much attention can those three really get?

When I drop Appleseed off in the morning, I put him in a boppy and I find him a couple of toys.  That's how I leave him and it has, so far, been how I've found him when I come back.  It's a different boppy and they are different toys, but that's where he is, because he's a relaxed baby who can hang out like that.

And that's perfectly fine.  I know he screams his head off when they change him or when they put him in a crib.  I know he's happier on the boppy and he's certainly more quiet.

When I show up, he smiles, he squeals, and he kicks his arms and legs around, so I know he's happy to see me.  I know he's still him.  I know he's fine.

But I want him to be more than that.

Staying at home with Appleseed was exhausting, and I only had to do it three days a week.  It took so much energy to stay engaged with him and I'll admit that I took a fair number of breaks.  When four o'clock rolled around, it was time to watch a little bit of baseball.  He'd zone out on it for a few minutes, but then get bored.  But those few minutes were nice.

But I did my best, as I know Nicole did.  She felt even more pressure than me, I think, to interact with Appleseed every minute he was awake.  A lot of that is because of how much stuff she reads on the internet.

Our son his happy and energetic to the point where I'm a bit confused by it.  I don't think we do anything special.  We just love the heck out of him to an obnoxious degree.  And, apparently, he responds to that.

Going to daycare means he's no longer getting that as much as he used to, and that makes me sad.

It's hard for me to think about Appleseed when he's at daycare because it breaks my heart.  I sometimes have to force myself not to think about him because it's honestly too much.  And I resent the fact that I have to stop myself from thinking about my son.

For the first three weeks of daycare, Appleseed will only be there 3 days a week.  After that, he'll be full time, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, although as the guy who picks him up, I can guarantee you he'll never stay that late.  I'll be skipping out of work early a lot more often.

I can't imagine what it will be like when he's there every weekday.  It seems unbearable.

So the wheels are turning.  Maybe we can handle three days a week and maybe that's all we need to handle.  I just need to find a way to only work three days during the week.

Because I don't want him to be "fine."  I don't want him to get the bare minimum of attention.  I want him to have all the things he's had for the last 5 months.

He deserves all that and more.

Appleseed: And it begins

My son turns 3 today, so I decided to repost a few blogs from right after he was born.

Roughly 19 hours after my son was born, I began to freak the fuck out.

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 wasn't 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 from 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.