‘The Experiences of a First-Time Dad’
Nineteen months ago, life, as I knew it, changed forever when my son Beckett was born, and it gives me great pleasure to report the birth of our second son last month.
Of course, it goes without saying that my life has once again been altered dramatically.
On Nov. 5, 2009, Carson Harper was born, bringing the total number of males living in my house to five. With the two dogs, his big brother and myself, my poor wife is now outnumbered five to one by males.
In the months leading up to Carson’s birth, we tried our best to prepare for the inevitable changes coming our way once we brought our newborn into Beckett’s house.
After one month, I can safely say all that was futile. There’s really no way to adequately get ready for what happens when you bring another child into the house, particularly one currently dominated by a toddler. You just wing it and adjust as you go through the motions.
Having two kids under the age of 2 years old (separated specifically by a little less than 18 months) has proven to be quite the experience, one Pam and I are charting under exhausted conditions.
Along with feeling blessed with another new life, and honestly there’s been few spare moments to reflects on this, our emotions and well-being have basically been linked to coping with the inevitable adjustment that comes with having a baby in the same house as a 19-month-old bruiser.
Throughout the course of this column, I try to be honest with my feelings and emotions, perhaps to a fault, as some surely say I take the proud, doting daddy to new extremes. That’s probably true but I can only be who I am. With that approach in mind, I have to admit the early stages of this period of my life have been quite overwhelming and stressful.
I thought my life took a crazy turn when Beckett was born in May of 2008, but the arrival of Carson has rocked my world.
I look back on the early days with Beckett now and realize how simple it was because we could focus entirely on him. We were fine with waking up at 4 a.m. for a feeding or to change a diaper because it was so new. It was all tremendously wonderful and such a blessing.
Nowadays, that 3 a.m. crying fit is not viewed the same way. We simply get through it. It’s a profoundly different feeling and experience than it was the first time around. This is just one of the many different approaches with the second child.
I presume these changes are simply a result of experience. For instance, a cry no longer sends us hurdling furniture in an attempt to soothe the baby. My wife does not always sit in the car’s backseat with the kids now. A bout of gas does not send me on a late-night search for Mylicon drops. A reluctance to finish an entire bottle is not a cause for concern. An inability to sleep through the night does not lead me to consult a book to see if it’s normal. A spit up does not cause heart palpitations. A long nap does not lead my wife to put her head down to his chest (at least as much as it did previously). A day without a bath is not a big deal.
Off all the changes between the first and second child, I am most amazed at how I have now begun hearing voices, which I blame on a loss of sleep.
I was told this might happen by some other experienced parents, but I didn’t take them seriously. I am a believer now, as I am hearing the voices, screams and cries of both my kids when they are actually not there.
On the rare instances that both my boys are asleep at the same time, I seem to find myself questioning my sanity. In the shower on a couple of occasions, I have rushed to get out, only to find I have been in only a few minutes and that the house is silent, as it was when I jumped in.
I also have begun hearing my kids’ voices while I am at work. At one point this week, I convinced myself that my wife must have brought the boys to work to surprise me because I heard Beckett’s squeals and Carson’s dirty diaper cry, only to find out later everyone was home.
Yes, I think I am going a little crazy with these two little guys in my house, but I keep telling myself it’s normal. Aside from this strange turn of events, I adore life with my boys and the adjustment seems to get easier with every passing day as we figure out our new routines. However, that’s not to say there are not some moments of craziness.
The other night, while my wife was at work, I was home with the boys. At this particular time, I was giving Carson a bottle and Beckett was being a typical hyperactive toddler. I was in the living room and he had haphazardly sprinted to the kitchen and began emptying a cupboard, as he is prone to do. After a series of familiar clangs and bangs, there were a few moments of silence, which made me extremely uncomfortable. I would always rather hear noise than not. Silence sparks the fear of uncertainty.
With baby in hand, I quickly headed to the kitchen to find Beckett’s body almost entirely in the cupboard. I could only see a portion of his chunky calf and his chubby foot, which had lost the sock that donned it a few minutes before (it’s still missing today, by the way).
One year ago, I would have hastily pulled him out of the cabinet, fearing something silly would happen. Now, I laughed and shrugged, wondering, ‘he can’t really hurt himself in there.’
Yes, my life is plenty different these days, but it’s worth mentioning it’s also better.