Taking Care of A Baby Is Easy Until It Isn’t
I don’t mean to brag, but my wife and I kicked ASS at taking care of Dmitri in the hospital. Changing diapers, swaddling, breastfeeding. We had it all down. Not only that, but my wife recovered quickly from her c-section and was feeling great. So much that her doctor gave her the okay to be discharged a day early. Hell yeah.
So two days after Dmitri’s arrival, we secured him in the car seat and said adios to the hospital. The ride home was auspicious. He didn’t cry or squirm at all. See? Taking care of a baby is easy.
That evening went well, too. We ate soup. We watched TV. Dmitri napped. All was perfect. My wife and I even decided to sleep in the nursery with Dmitri as one big happy family. It was an eventful day, and I quickly entered a peaceful slumber, looking forward to a nice block of uninterrupted sleep.
That ended about thirty minutes later at midnight when I woke up to find my wife futzing around with the baby in the dark. She was concerned because Dmitri hadn’t peed or pooed in almost 12 hours. This was bad because a baby is supposed to relieve himself once every few hours. We called the pediatrician’s emergency line, and they told us Dmitri likely wasn’t eating enough.
We’d been starving our poor child since he got home. My wife watched the baby while I went to the kitchen to make a bottle of formula. You’d think that would be easy, but it involved figuring out how to sterilize bottles, selecting the correct nipple size, determining how much formula to use, and operating the bottle warmer. Each piece of equipment had detailed instructions full of things not to do if we wanted our baby to live. It would’ve been hard enough figuring it out fully rested let alone bleary-eyed with exhaustion.
I finally managed to prepare a bottle for Dmitri, which seemed to satisfy him and put him to sleep. Yay! Victory! But a short-lived one. Dmitri woke up an hour later, and I went through the whole kabuki dance of bottle sterilizing and formula making once again. We did the dance every hour until morning came, and Dmitri mercifully went to sleep for good (and when I say for good I mean for two hours).
Lesson learned: taking care of a newborn is hard. My wife and I were a bit too confident in our abilities. We forgot that we were in the hospital with access to nurses and doctors 24/7. Baby needs a diaper change? Call the nurse. Baby isn’t eating enough? Have the doctor examine him.
Being the hospital is just like the tutorial level in a video game where they hold your hand as you complete simple tasks. Going home throws you right into the final boss with no safety net. It was a humbling lesson and also terrifying to realize we would never sleep again; relegated to a perpetual state of exhaustion.
Just what exactly have my wife and I gotten ourselves into?