A little more than two weeks ago, my wife Karin and I welcomed our second child, a son, following a Caesarean section birth at Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown.
Now before you cringe and think that I’m about to bore and gore you to death about goo-goo eyes and childbirth-related details, relax. This is a serious column (Kohler? Serious? Seriously?) about the miracle that happens thousands of times every day across the country.
First things first: Baby and mom are healthy and doing well. We named him Jackson and we think he’s a keeper.
Secondly, it’s been 11 years since we went through this process of pregnancy and childbirth, and I was a little out of touch with all that’s involved and all the things that could and can go wrong. Yes, there were some moments of nausea, confusion and dizziness. And I’m talking about me.
So perhaps my vision is a little skewed and I’m a little starry-eyed about the whole thing. I am not in my 20s anymore, so we pretty much thought the parental ship had sailed. However, I’ve been assured that there are a lot of men having children at this “advanced parental age” and I should enjoy the ride.
“It’ll keep you younger longer,” the kind ones say.
Or the haters offer, “It will make you older quicker.”
We shall see.
And thirdly, I have vowed to go with the flow and learn as much as I can during this journey.
With that said, here are a few thing’s I’ve learned so far. I hope expecting parents can use the information.
• Friends and family are amazing. Thanks to all for your support, prayers and gifts. Our co-workers have been generous and helpful. Wow, how did we do this without you the first time? For those away from family, look for new moms groups, ask around at local churches and search community websites.
• The people at Capital Women’s Care in Hagerstown and Meritus Medical Center’s Family Birthing Center are tremendous, caring, talented, smart people. Not for one second during the pregnancy, birth and followup did I feel concerned about the care we were receiving.
The doctors always took time to answer all our questions even though they’ve been asked them a million times. Dr. Laura Toso, who delivered our baby, was truly remarkable in every way.
• It is like riding a bike in some ways. Our friend Kelly Mix said the baby stuff was like muscle memory and it would come right back to us. She was correct. I’ve never felt all that comfortable holding other babies, but it was remarkable how my baby felt just like Madison, now 11. His head fits in the same nooks. My hands cradle his bottom and top just perfectly when I haul him around from place to place. We can look at each other while we cruise around the house.
• What is that noise? Despite what my friends and family say, sleep is kinda overrated. I am generally on the six-hour-a-night cycle, and have no idea what I’m getting since Jackson arrived. That crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing has been the biggest adjustment so far. I’m sure parents of young ones can relate: That is one thing I did NOT miss about being a parent of an infant.
• It’s OK to cheat a little. Hey, if you’re about to become a parent for the first, second or even 10th time, it never hurts to take a refresher. Websites are chock full of instantaneous information that can help you out before, during and after the big day.
I’ve also read several books, and I ask a million questions. It annoys wives, daughters and co-workers, but better to ask a dumb one and get the right answer than to not ask it and wonder about it at 3 a.m. when the little angel is spitting up all over his shirt.
Nobody is perfect and no two babies are exactly the same, so I think the best plan is to prepare and be ready for anything.
Oh, and get every 15 minutes of catnapping that you can.
• Dads can do it. Kids need their parents, and this parenting thing is hard enough with two committed adults. If you’re the father, be a man and be the dad. Nobody said it would be easy, but there are millions of priceless moments ahead.
• If you like to sing, you have a captive audience. Madison rolls her eyes when I sing. Now I have a new person to sing country songs to at all hours of the night.
• Make the time for your family. This is the first time since maybe I was a student at East Junior High School that I have not watched a single game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Know what? Didn’t miss it.
• Ah, the miracle thing. I feel tremendously blessed with our new baby. He’s healthy, growing normally and surrounded by a loving support group. His mom is amazing and usually has the baby placated by the time I’ve finished stumbling around in the dark.
The fact that the baby makes it out alive from how it starts is truly a miracle. Modern medicine has made tremendous strides just in the 11 years since Madison was born, and I bet that even more incredible stuff will happen in the next decade.
But the real miracle occurs inside the mother and through the hands of those who care for them. Seeing that newborn human being pulled into this world and taking his first breath is proof that miracles do happen thousands of times every day. And I am grateful to have witnessed it twice in my lifetime.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.