At the risk of stating the obvious, the last few weeks went unblogged upon due to the arrival of our third child. And also due to the omnipresence of our first and second children. And yet also due to numerous other concerns ... but as usual I am getting ahead of myself.
So let’s go back to the beginning and review all the vital stats. Birth: induced after all, two days after the due date, reasonably uncomplicated (meaning not as easy as “the third one just kinda zwooops on out” as we had been led to believe, but not so arduous as to require any massive medical intervention once things got started), impressively handled by my wife, who was told by a professional midwife that she has a really high threshold for pain. Baby: healthy and whole, ten fingers and ten toes, nice and big (I won the over/under bet with my wife, who thought he would end up being smaller than his big sister; the baby tipped the scale three ounces heavier) and of course completely lovely. Hospital staff: terrific in every way at every stage (with some amusing anecdotes that may very well make their way into future posts when things around here get back to semi-normal). Hospital stay: a little less than 48 hours. Well, the first hospital stay, anyway ...
There was a certain amount of hope that by the third reproductive round we would have the whole thing down cold on every level, from the capabilities the newborn was biologically imbued with to the range of knowledge and willpower we as parents would be required to bring to bear. I suppose to a large extent those hopes were realized, but of course we tend to focus on the tiny things that go off-script rather than the vast majority that fall in line. And thus we come to one of peripheral reasons why I haven’t fired up the post editor in a while, because all I wanted was to make an announcement that the baby was born and everyone was doing great, but I also wanted to wait for that to be true. And the extent to which it hasn’t been true, again, has been minor: some persistent jaundice, which put us on the merry-go-round of a Monday birth, Wednesday discharge from the hospital, Thursday pediatrician’s appointment, Saturday morning re-check, Saturday night admission (just mom and baby) into a different hospital for an overnight U/V treatment, Sunday re-discharge. Then more subsequent doctor visits and re-re-checks, but the latest word a couple days ago was that the jaundice level was fully down into the normal range. It had been going down and going down all along, no permanent damage was ever really risked, and sooner than later it will be completely gone and forgotten. But it’s bothersome, and it makes baby sleepy, which doesn’t help at all with the whole learning-to-nurse thing.
And learning-to-nurse has been its own factor in the absence of blogging, because we’ve been pursuing some aggressive strategies in getting over the learning curve, partly for its own sake and partly because nursing well is good for working jaundice out of the system. And I’m not blithely using “we” here in the sense of “my wife has been nursing the baby but this is my blog, ergo, we”. Although my body, much to my wife’s chagrin, continues to refuse to lactate, the full regimen for power-nursing the baby is a two-person job (or was, especially in the early going, although my wife has been taking over more and more as it thankfully gets easier and easier). So there has not exactly been a lot of downtime associated with my leave over the past few weeks.
Plus, what downtime has been afforded to me has been almost entirely consumed by freelancing. I was approached by an old colleague from my last gig (which I left back in June of 2007) with a proposal to do some development on the system I used to work on there. I agreed pretty readily, figuring that since a good chunk of my paternity leave would be unpaid time off, it couldn’t hurt to have a separate income stream, especially since I could work on stuff from home while I was on said leave. All of which turns out to be true, but I had no idea how massive and time-consuming the development effort would wind up being. The massiveness means that I should get a pretty decent paycheck out of the experience, but it has essentially required a couple of hours of devoted concentration every single day to manage what would have been a 40 hour work week or a little more if I weren’t doing it in tiny bursts on my own clock. So not only have I not had the luxury of time in which to blog at home, but I haven’t had the luxury of time in which to do anything I would normally blog about. No Netflix turnarounds, no Smallville mini-marathons, no comics catch-ups. Mostly I’ve been wrangling the bigger kids while my wife tends to the infant’s needs, with occasional switch-ups for sanity’s sake. And on those rare occasions where the little guy is either at daycare or having designated quiet time in his room, and the little girl is napping, and mom and the new baby are also napping, all at once, then that’s when I log on to the computer and do my freelance work.
In the spirit of full disclosure I should say that I am getting more sleep than I probably did in the last two paternity leaves. Maybe this baby is naturally a better sleeper, maybe my wife and I have learned a thing or two over the years, but it’s a marked contrast. In years past I would take a shift from 11 pm to 1 am or so sitting on the couch with the newborn, watching Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network or Ninja Warrior on G4, keeping the babe quiet and settled with rocking and body warmth while my wife got a precious REM cycle or two. This time, we all go to bed at the same time and it more or less works. (Notwithstanding the guilt I feel as my wife lets me sleep through the middle-of-the-night feedings, even acknowledging that she has told me point blank not to feel guilty because we’ve divided up the workload and I have to deal with the other two more(?) physically demanding children throughout the daylight hours and I should just get my overnight sleep already.) Even my wife has noticed, and just mentioned to me this morning, that last time we brought a newborn home she and I spent many a pleasant afternoon together watching ESPN documentaries or old Buffy episodes together, but those moments have been thin on the ground this time.
I recently started transitioning back to my real job, too. Last Friday I came in late and left early in what amounted to a midday half-day. I did the same thing this Tuesday and am doing it today (and am now blogging from the office as is my wont). The first couple of four-hour days were occupied with typical resumption-of-duties stuff and didn’t offer much idle time for blogging, but by now I’m more or less where I was before I took off. Next week I’m planning on working two or three eight-hour days, and the week after that if all goes well I should be back to the grind full-time. I’ll probably continue updating the blog intermittently between now and then and by the end of the month my regular schedule should be back in effect.
For now, the fam is doing all right. Busy, exhausted, a bit overwhelmed, fully aware (at the grown-up level at least) that we brought this on ourselves, hanging in there and figuring out how things are supposed to look and work now. It’s an ongoing, open-ended process.