I have to admit, I was sort of expecting him to dance. He didn’t. Ally McBeal lied to me. She lied to us all. Instead, my son Robert didn’t really do much of anything. He could eat; I gave him his first bottle, which was pretty cool. But aside from that, he spent those first couple of days in the hospital doing not much at all. Not really the work ethic I was hoping for, but you have to love your kids for who they are.
I wasn’t fully prepared for how overpowered I would be by my own emotions. It was kind of like being a teenager again, where nothing makes any sense, you can be passionately in love with someone just because she’s in your homeroom, and the only person who really gets you is Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies. The raw emotion that was a hallmark of those years came roaring back.
I would look at the baby, and I would have to sit down because I was so overwhelmed. Not only did I want to teach the world to sing, I wanted to buy it a Coke as well. Also, I felt like writing some terrible poetry about vampires and reading The Crow. I’ve never done drugs due to exposure of several very special episodes of 80s television sitcoms (NBC: Let’s All Be There!), but I imagine that the whole situation was like being on drugs.
One problem with feeling like this is that when the baby cried, it was the worst sound in the world. I’d heard babies cry before without any problem, but this felt like someone stabbing me in the heart while simultaneously reading me Vogon poetry. Rationally I understood that the baby was crying because he didn’t have any other way of communicating, but it was still pretty awful. Fortunately, my wife had several years of experience working in the NICU, so at least she wasn’t a total wreck every time the baby whimpered. What can I say, I’m a wimp.
I’d been told that it takes time for fathers to bond with their children, but I felt like we had a pretty good connection right off the bat. He seemed to enjoy when I held him or read him Ray Bradbury stories. He wasn’t giving me high fives or anything, but he wasn’t immediately crying when I picked him up, so I assumed everything was going OK. I was surprised by how much I did not want to put him down.
We laughed a lot more than I thought we would in those first couple of days. It certainly wasn’t the never-ending torrent of misery I’d been led to believe it would be by several mommy blogs. The one thing I wish I’d known is that I should have brought something comfortable to sleep on. New mothers get a big, comfy bed to rest on their laurels in, and babies have a nice little bassinet where they can chill out. At the hospital we were at, there was a chair that folded out into something that was theoretically a bed but one that was designed by Philip Lemarchand. If an expectant parent, and you’re not the one who’s going to be giving birth, do yourself a favor and pack a sleeping bag.
While it would have been nice to have a team of medical professionals help up us out for a while, we had to go home. High fives to everyone at the hospital; they were all pretty great. As we put our son in the car seat for the first time, I kept thinking that this was all some kind of joke, that someone would realize that we had no business taking baby home with us, and our son would be snatched out of our hands and given to someone more competent. But, they let us leave. I guess they’re not too picky about who leaves the hospital with a baby.
We brought him home, put him in the crib, and then we just looked at him. I started crying a little bit. I had never seen anything so amazing. I didn’t want to leave him alone for even a second, but we were both so tired that we needed to get some rest. He seemed really tired as well. We were all going to sleep well that night.