06 June 2009

1 month later...

I guess it's a testament to how busy I've been – that little James was born more than a month ago and only now do I find time to actually write about the experience. Although the irony of it is that I'm probably busier now than I was a month ago. But more on that later.

Me, Elaine and James

So... Yay!!! James was born on 3rd May 12:45pm, after about 12 hours of labor. 12 very long hours. Ask Elaine about it. She has a much better perspective of the experience.

Elaine in between contractions. Zzzzzz...

With the help of a vacuum suction device thingy, James ended his nine-month tenancy in Elaine's womb with a brief cry.

He then stopped, and scanned the sterile delivery room with his little eyes. He had a look on his face which basically said, “What the hell is THIS?”

Fresh out of the oven

He was blue, had a cone-shaped head and when the nurses put him on Elaine's chest, the two of us smiled at each other but thought, “Erm... he looks weird.”

All his fingers and toes were in place, he was breathing fine and he generally looked like a healthy baby. Except for the fact that he was blue.

“He's kinda blue, isn't he...?Hello? Erm, sorry... Excuse me, why is he blue?” I asked the doctor and the nurses, who I believe were trained to ignore any questions asked by the father (i.e. me). And rightly so, because I was probably getting in their way.

“It's normal,” said Elaine.


Elaine holding James for the first time

My first photo with James

Now, the best part was, I had been anticipating this moment for as long as I can remember – the moment when I'd lay my eyes on my child for the first time. The mere visualisation of it in my head was enough to tug on my heart strings. I like kids. I've always wanted a kid of my own.

But as I stood there, staring at this little blue guy gnawing away at Elaine's mammaries, I didn't have the rush of emotion I thought I'd have. In hindsight, it's probably because of the many months of anticipation – I guess I was expecting fireworks and a big brass band playing in the background.

After a day, we brought James home, where he and Elaine were put under the care of our hired confinement lady, Kew (not sure what her full name is). For the whole month she would bathe James, change him, put him to bed at night and watch over him AND continuously prepare food for Elaine and made sure she got enough rest.

Elaine after successfully pumping out 4 ounces of milk in a single sitting for the first time!

This was a bit of a weird time for me, the dad. Because every time I tried to help out, I often found myself getting in the way. There wasn't much I could do other than run some errands (buying supplies), helping to carry stuff around and generally providing emotional support.

I'm waaaaatching you

I couldn't carry James because he was sleeping or needs to be fed. I couldn't talk to Elaine much because she needed sleep. And to make matters worse, I was at the tail end of a project at work so I had to divide what little time I had.

I guess I felt kind of left out. I did insist on learning how to change diapers (which I am now a pro at doing – even if he starts shitting midway), how to feed him from a bottle, how to bathe him (though I've only done that once). But for the most part, whenever I tried to do something, somebody else will almost certainly come along and 'relieve' me of my duties.

So when friends asked me “How's fatherhood...”, I didn't really have an answer.

A James hotdog

But now that the confinement period is over (it normally goes on for 28 days or a month), I've been finally thrown into the deep end. The sleepless nights have finally begun, and I've changed about 20 diapers in five days and have woken up several times to warm up bottles of milk.

James going in for a routine pitstop...

And in spite of the sleep deprivation, I'm feeling happier than before, simply because I'm now a part of little James' life rather than a bystander.

And for the first time in month, I finally had a chance to have a quiet moment alone with him. I was trying get little James to sleep one day – he had been quite testy and had been crying – and I had been carrying him for about 30 minutes already, gently patting his bottom and talking to him (babies like it when you talk to them).

As he was drifting in and out of sleep, I finally had the emotional moment I was waiting for. This little guy in my arms is my son - and I love him to bits :)

* Queue 'Awwwws' *

Me and James in synchronous sleep

On another note, fatherhood does strange things to a man (or me, specifically):

1. I'm suddenly more aware of my mortality – I think more about consequences before I do something potentially rash. I'd drive below the speed limit all the time, and I now tend to let idiot drivers on the road have their way rather than confronting them. I want to be there for James as he grows up, and that means not putting myself in harms way.
2. I suddenly have and urge to learn how to fish, so I can bring James fishing when I grow up.
3. When I meet other new parents, I find myself more interested in how they raise their kids.
4. I'm suddenly able to function with less than 8 hours of sleep a day.
5. I have a newfound respect for women who exclusively breastfeed their babies (i.e. no infant formula). It's a very though thing to do. Elaine's a tough girl :)
6. I find myself peeking into baby shops, eyeing rather sporty looking strollers, cool toys and other cool child-raising apparatus. I even saw a baby monitor the other day with a bloody camera on the transmitter and an LCD screen on the receiver! If you're a gear head, having a child is an excellent reason to buy tons of cool stuff.

Now for some videos:

James at 6 days old

James being a 3-week-old baby

Me bathing James for the first time!

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