The baby made her entrance to the world on January 19th, after a difficult labour, which lasted many hours. The whole affair concluded with an emergency caesarian section, whereby Sunshine was strapped on a cross-shaped bed, while two doctors were eagerly awaiting the anesthesiologist to numb her fast enough to start the operation. What was an initially relaxing atmosphere, quickly gave away to urgency and alarm. Sunshine was strong and resilient; I am in owe of how she dealt with this highly stressful situation.
Our daughter, Despina, was born a few minutes later. We first heard a glorious cry and shortly thereafter saw her emerge on top of the sheet that separated the spectators from the doers in the operating theatre. She was handed over to the paediatrician who briefly examined her and shortly thereafter placed her on Sunshine’s chest for her first meal, while Sunshine continued to be strapped on the bed with her guts open. Five minutes later, the paediatrician asked me to head over to the room for some skin-to-skin interaction with the baby, until the doctors finish up with Sunshine and bring her to the room. I didn’t want to leave her alone but upon her request I did. (As we were heading to the room, I was assured that she would join us in about half an hour. Sunshine was brought to the room some fifty minutes later. The twenty minute delay seemed like an eternity.)
There I was, in a room, alone, with my precious daughter who was taking a nap on my chest. I cannot articulate the magic of this experience. It was as emotional and overwhelmingly joyful as the first time with Johnny’s birth. Shortly thereafter we were joined by Sunshine, who was in a vulnerable state having just experienced a fairly traumatic birth. She held the baby while I was sitting on the sofa witnessing the love affair unfold.
Three days later, Sunshine and the baby came home to join us boys. I was worried and vigilant on two fronts – Sunshine’s mental health and Johnny’s jealous fits. Johnny was shocked with the new arrival and the fact that his mum, who is breastfeeding exclusively, was largely unavailable to him. Sunshine meanwhile was exhausted and that impacted her mood, which however improved as days went by. Here is where the choice of a paediatrician makes a lot of difference – the doctor cared as much about Sunshine’s mental health as she did about the health of the newborn, which was reassuring for me, as in her I saw an ally who had Sunshine’s well being in priority.
The baby is now two months old and, surprisingly, the experience is substantially different this time around. Contrary to Johnny, the feisty lady is latching well, demanding and succeeding at being fed, which means that she is eating reasonably well, albeit all-the-time. As a result, she is not crying day and night and we are functional, as we are able to get a few hours of sleep each night. With Johnny, this milestone was achieved around the two and a half year mark. That being said, Despina is constantly on her mum breastfeeding, making Sunshine unable to perform daily tasks, such as take an uninterrupted shower or visit the loo.
What is most interesting is how we are responding to the arrival of the new baby. To our surprise, Despina found us calm and confident, not only that “we can do it” but also that we are prepared to enjoy the experience to the maximum, realising that these moments are both precious and very quickly gone. She also found us is in a “fuck it” mood, whereby we pay no regard to any external expectations; we are co-sleeping with the baby, we are not at home isolating, and we don’t really have any aspirations of getting her into any routine yet, as many parents (in vain) try to achieve.
All in all, a very positive experience. I’ll write a bit more in the next few days, possibly on how fathers should really not express any opinions about breastfeeding.
This is part of a series of entries titled Fatherhood Diaries where I record thoughts on life as a new dad. Click here for all the Fatherhood Diaries.