Treat each Birth as Your First, Your Last, Your Only...
Announcing Jude Charles Millette. Born a healthy 8lbs, 10oz, on August 28 at 9:36am. Mother and son are doing well.
The whole experience reminds me of the old spiritual maxim for priests: Say every Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass. This birth reminds me of having our first child, our last child, our only child.
This is our last child in the sense of our most recent child (not as a "no more kids for us!"). We showed up at the hospital not too early, and not too late. The doctor and nurses were very respectful, not at all pushy, and overall just tremendous. Becca was a champ at getting the baby out. The doctor even remarked, on more than one occasion, that Becca should be inducted into the Obstetric Hall of Fame (probably non-existent). The nurses afterwards left us alone as much as they were allowed to. And, amazingly, the doctor even sent us home the same day, which is quite rare. What a difference a few kids make! When our first child was born we were treated as know-nothing, clueless, and utterly lost parents. Maybe the staff was just affirming the reality, but it sure didn't make the hospital experience happy. I suppose that's a strategy: Make the young parents feel like they won't want to have more children. However, by the fourth child? A Whole New World.
This feels like our only child in the sense that our other three children went to grandma's and grandpa's house for the night when we brought Jude home. So there Becca and I were. Alone with just one baby. We treasured him as our only child; gave him our undivided attention. Loved and cuddled him. Just him.
It is true that a newborn is far more work than three other energetic kids put together, and that adding a newborn to the mix of three children is chaotic, but by the next morning we were adamant: We want our other kids back! Jude certainly noticed when his siblings came. Somehow, the louder they got, the calmer he became. It must be true, babies can hear everything from their mother's womb.
And the experience was also like having our first child in that we forget what it's like! Take that first night. We hold the little guy for a while. Then I take him to the bathroom for one last little diaper change before putting him to sleep. So precious. But a goodnight's rest is in order.
I unwrap the diaper, and he's of course covered, up to his arm pits, with that dark-sticky tar poo that only a newborn can have. On the front and back of him. Just buckets and buckets of this stuff. If the doctor complains that our baby is losing weight, I'll tell him why. It was the biggest poo I can ever remember. And I panicked. It's been so long. I'm not a seasoned pro after all. I called for backup. Yes, Becca had just given birth that day, but desperate times call for, you know.
We got him changed. I did some laundry. Sheepishly I volunteered to make amends by watching Jude while Becca slept. And I held him on the couch. He fussed. I kept holding him.
10pm. Man, what a long day.
11pm. Yep, that first day is exhausting.
12pm. Sleep sure would be good, if he could just settle down.
1am. St. Jude, patron of impossible cases... pray for us.
2am. Oh for crying out loud. No, I take that back. Don't cry out loud.
Eventually I got a few hours of sleep in. That tired feeling! Drifting around as in a daze. Unable to pronounce words properly. Not being able to do little things like fold clothes, or walk straight. I forgot about that feeling. I feel like a rookie.
Every birth, in some sense, should be treated as if it was the first, the last, and the only. Few things in life are this precious.