I had introduced Unta in an earlier post.
Unta came into our lives on the 5th of October. Today he is a month old. He already does a lot of very insightful things like saying “ah” or “oooh” when we aren’t expecting it. He can tell dad’s arms from mom’s. And he loves dad’s better 😉 He knows when to fold his legs so that changing the diaper is a tough exercise. He knows he can stretch all he wants when he is lying on dad’s arms, but most others tend to restrict him. He knows how to position his feet so that mom/dad cannot sit him up to burp. And he knows how to get dad to carry him around. Or to get grandma to carry him around. A very smart chap for his age. Also a very patient listener, he won’t bat an eyelid for hours on end listening to anyone talk. And he is interested in any topic in any language. I even tried gibberish once and he loved it. Of course, he might have understood something I didn’t. Or he just found it funny hearing me out.
As I was taking the bus to work earlier today, I was reminiscing the moments of his delivery. I was waiting outside the theater (it was a c-sect delivery). The pediatrician brought him out and told me – “Congrats Daddy! He is doing great.” He left me with this fellow – he wasn’t crying and was quite ok to keep his eyes open. From attending the birthing sessions, I knew he was looking to get fed. He wouldn’t cry, though. Quite a brave chap, I thought. My thoughts were continuously around Noni. I would have asked the nurse there at least three or four times about the status of the surgery. The ob-gyn had already advised us about the timelines. But I wasn’t the least rational in those minutes. I didn’t know how I felt about Unta then. I knew I had to protect him, but newborns don’t exactly connect. All they know is to find food and sleep. Excrete, amidst these two things. I stood next to him as they put him under observation for 30-40 minutes. The nurse told me not to leave his side since the baby alarm is setup only when he is brought to his mom and it is quite dangerous to leave a newborn unattended. Of course, she was around taking care of a few things.
The next 45 minutes were probably the longest in my life. I was impatiently strolling around Unta and waiting to hear from the nurses in the theater. Then about 30 minutes of wait, I asked if the nurse could enable daddy skin-to-skin with the newborn. The nurse was very happy I asked that. She immediately made arrangements. I held him close to my chest for about 25 odd minutes. They felt long and beautiful. I was holding a just born in my arms and I was worried I wasn’t holding him right. He didn’t seem to mind, though. He slept in my arms in a little while. Maybe that’s where it started for us. Then the nurse came back to measure his parameters once again, prepare his health booklet, bathe and dress him, swaddle him up to go to mom. Just then the operation theater called me to say that they were bringing Noni to the ward. I was happy that she was coming back to the ward. I joined the nurse up to the ward with Unta. Asked the nurse to leave Unta in the nursery so that I can attend to Noni first.
The first 6-8 hours were the worst in my life. I haven’t seen Noni struggle so much in pain and I don’t want to see her through this pain ever again. Worst few hours is the best phrase I know. It took a while for her to regain strength and by late evening and towards night, she was ok. Still in pain, but at least was able to talk and feed Unta a couple of times. I felt better only around that time. The day was a roller coaster ride for me – on the one hand, a beautiful little human is waiting for your love and on the other hand, a beautiful human that you already love is in pain. Tough to strike a balance and say what is more important. To the extent, I was going to ask the nursery to feed Unta some formula so that Noni can recover first. But the nursery convinced me saying, “we could wait for close to 24 hours before we need to make that decision. He can handle himself until then and just fine.” We didn’t have to. Very relieving. I can’t say enough thanks to the folks at the hospital. They really made sure we did the right things for the baby.
It took me a little less than 2 weeks to get into a nice sleep cycle in the night, waking up a couple of times to support the mom with the feeding. The first few days were pretty bad, but then it was also fun getting to know how to handle a newborn. Today Noni and I have a rhythm. Noni still faces some tough nights, but many other nights are manageable. We are still learning and perhaps for the first time, both of us feel inadequate and slow learners at something.
I spend close to 80% of the time am home with him – to the extent I even have the instinct to identify his exact need of the moment. And I am right more than 95% of the time :-). I am still grappling with my patience levels so when I feel impatient or frustrated, I leave him to mom and grandma. I did lose my cool once with him which is enough reasons for me to stay away in these moments.
I try my best to be supportive of Noni in as many aspects as I can. As long as I am home, I am the one who gets him to sleep. Change his diapers, which as a principle only Noni or I can do. On weekends, I am also the one to bathe him with Noni’s help. I try my best to give her the two hours rest between feeds that she badly needs. I do fail here and there, but mostly I guess I am there for her. This, only she can tell.
As Unta gets older, I only wish I give him space and allow him to grow into a pleasant human being. I don’t have plans for him on what he can try to become. I only want him to become a good person that respects and allows fellow human beings to be. I want him to understand that he doesn’t need permission for doing anything. That everything he does comes at a cost, not always within our capacity. And that costs are not always monetary. I wish to teach him equality somehow because in his time that would be the toughest virtue to keep. I wish to teach him meritocracy and tell him it is ok to fail or not excel at something. I should do all this before the world outside teaches him otherwise.
As a dad, I have enough reasons to worry and yet be happy. I’ll learn as I go.