1 month of parenting
Where did all the time go?!
The initial glow of optimism I felt that first two weeks has slowly changed to groggy blend of days and I couldn’t be more fulfilled. The middle of the night diaper changes, improvising lullabies in Spanish, Luciano’s curious gaze when he’s alert and awake. I would trade all the sleep in the world for more of those moments if I physically could. Though, it’s not all been sunshine and rainbows.
I could hardly sleep the first week, as my legs were so exhausted that they basically pulsed when I laid down. When I could sleep I would sleep through the late night fussing and crying, leaving Celeste to attend to Luciano while I selfishly managed to get into dream states. Then the backaches started increasing in frequency and pain, to where it was painful laying on my sides. One night I stretched my legs and back to try to ease my tension, and I think I pulled a hamstring. I saw an orthopedic who gave me some solid advice but more importantly, a stronger form of Aleve which has been invaluable in being able to sleep again.
Then there was a day I was trying to eat a slice of cheesecake I had as leftovers. It took me a solid 40 minutes to finish, as each bite was followed with one interruption after the next. Worse so has been my sporadic eating habits, which has worsened my sleep as now I wake up in the middle of the night with hunger, making it harder to fall asleep.
I’ve spent years better understanding my sleep hygiene after many more years of neglecting it. On one hand it feels like it’s gone out the window but on the other I feel prepared for any mishap thrown my way. My sleeping mask has been indispensable for when I need to sleep, regardless of the time of day. I also have been spending a lot of time learning about infant sleep, how it needs to be trained, and how fundamentally babies are not so different from adults in their needs. They just need a lot more help than we do.
With how tough her pregnancy was, I was hoping she could catch a break in postpartum. Not quite.
Nursing around the clock has been brutal on her, both physically and mentally. Being tethered to him and his every need, especially in the middle of the night, makes it basically impossible to get sound sleep for more than three hours at a time. Being able to bottle feed has been empowering for me as both a father and supporting Celeste, but it’s still not enough to offload her exhaustion.
I had some low moments myself, but I’ve grown worried about Celeste when some sleepless nights feel outright hopeless. I’ve found some therapy resources for her, many provided from our hospital, and believe she’ll be taking up on them soon enough. We’ve used WhatToExpect throughout the pregnancy and now postpartum for its many resources on child development. More invaluable, though, has been the forums for Celeste as she finds many other moms going through similar battles whilst supporting others with her own insights.
We’re quite fortunate to have Celeste’s extended family live in Utah as well. One of their family members even birthed a son just four hours before Luciano was born, in the same hospital by the same doctor! We paid them a visit on a Saturday, with Luciano getting spoiled by his cousin aunts and hours of time in their arms. They even shared some tricks on getting gas out of him that he was not an ounce shy on demonstrating its effectiveness.
Days later he did get a minor virus, which we largely suspect due to all the people he was exposed to. Celeste and I realized we had been playing too fast and loose with his health, considering his immune system is still very much underdeveloped. We’re being more cautious now as it’s one thing to hear a baby cry that his butt is getting wiped but it’s much sadder hearing a nasally baby cough weakly.
Celeste’s parents were heaven sent these past three weeks. Unfortunately they tested positive for COVID the first day they got here, and had to quarantine for several days in a hotel. Worse so is that we had a minor scare with Luciano as he tested positive, too. Celeste was vaccinated, boosted, and also got the virus when she was about 12 weeks pregnant, so thankfully it was a very mild case for him.
Once recovered from covid, they gave us breathing room we so desperately needed as chores and day to day things began to pile up. The house was cleaned, food was abundant, litter boxes maintained, and there were always two sets of arms eager to hold him when we needed a break. We even got to see Roger Waters in concert as they babysat him!
Having them around also meant being able to talk to them much more, which I appreciated. I had always admired them for their dedication to their careers and how much they each overcame, amidst raising five children. I’ve known them relatively recently and have only heard from Celeste how much they’ve changed too, how they didn’t always have the warmth and lovingness they do now as parents and grandparents.
Without her perspective I’d be quick to assume it was easy for them to balance their work and family lives in the ongoing grind towards prosperity and stability. Which gave me a lot of insight on how I should approach my own family’s priorities.
I didn’t grow up with much and in a way grew up rather quickly, so I always dreamed of giving every opportunity I was never afforded to my children one day. Yet the hardest truth to accept is that despite my best intentions, I can only do so much for Luciano and any siblings he may have. I can open doors for them but it’s up to them to choose to enter.
Opening these doors comes at a cost, not just a financial one, but one of focus and effort. As I enter 31 years of life whilst restarting my career at Google and thinking about side projects for more revenue, I also have to accept a slower velocity and ensure I reserve some time energy for Luciano.
All this to say is that in being a new parent one really starts rethinking a lot of their own priorities. Right now, ours is definitely getting more sleep.