I hope my son will not remember the first week of his life. If he has some distant floating memory in his subconscious, it will be of frustration, hunger, and exhaustion. Rory could not poop, sleep, or eat. For the first week of his life, my kid stunk at being alive.
My wife and I weren’t doing much better. Parenting had been easy in the hospital. The nurses did the majority of it. Out in the real world, we took L after L. We stayed up with Rory for hours into the night, begging him to eat, pleading with him to poop.
Caitlin had trouble breastfeeding. We downloaded an app that “Ubered” us a lactation consultant who informed us our son had a “lip and tongue tie.” Suddenly we were in midtown Manhattan, spending $700 dollars to shoot a laser into his mouth. It’s his first week on Earth and he’s being tortured like James Bond and his mouth is literally smoking. (You’ll be happy to know, he didn’t reveal any secret intelligence.)
The hits kept coming. Every day at 4 p.m. my wife would start hysterically crying. This wasn’t “baby blues.” This was a hormonal reaction, a chemical imbalance. Postpartum had hit and hit hard. After she breastfed she would feel listless and depressed. In her darkest moments, she told me that she thought, not about harming the baby, but about slipping into a “peaceful” coma which she would awaken from when the boy was grown.
Me? I was fine. It was everyone around me who was suffering. My baby was in physical pain. My wife was in physical pain. All I could do was watch them both suffer, trying to help wherever I could.
Birth is painful for men, but it is the pain of empathy, of watching your loved ones suffer. For that first week, I was unmanned. All I could do was watch, support, and be patient.
We made it through my son’s first week. Now we just have … the rest of our lives.
This is Dude to Dad.