People keep asking me what it’s like going back to parenting a newborn after a fifteen year hiatus. For the most part, it’s just fine.
When the baby cries it doesn’t affect me the way it did with the first two. Babies cry, that’s what they do. If his diaper is dry, and if he’s been fed, and there’s no physical ailment I can detect then the baby is just crying. Why? Because the world is weird, his body is growing at an insane rate, and the whole digestion thing is still new. It’s rough to hold Bump when he’s inconsolable, but with the first two I always felt awful when this happened. With Bump I’m just like, “Yah, the world is rough, buddy. You’ll be fine.” Teething may change this more laid back attitude, we’ll see.
Diapers don’t phase me even a little bit, it’s just gotta be done so I do it. I was worried I’d be skittish after so many years, so I’m relieved this was not so. Unlike his brother, Bump is a bit of a mad pee-er – this adds a bit of spice to the process 1. I did wait until the circumcision healed up before flying solo, but I still helped.
With my first two kids I waited about a month or so to dress them. This delay was triggered by the warning my wife issued the first time I attempted to dress our daughter, “Now you have to be careful because it’s really easy to break a baby’s fingers 2.” This is true, but I’ve gotten over being afraid of this truth. I’m not going to break Bump just by handling him, the kid can nap with his head at a right angle to his body 3. My older son is cute because he’s terrified he’ll cause Bump to have shaken baby syndrome just by doing the “newborn bounce.” I used to live in that same mental space with the first two kids, not any more.
The lack of sleep, on the other hand, is killer. My wife has been very generous to me about sleeping more on days when I’m either preaching or driving, but I’m doing my best to take my fair share of staying up with the fuss-pot. I’d forgotten the hours of three to five AM existed, but we’ve become reacquainted. I’ve also been able to greet the late-night freight train which rumbles through town each night.
A thirty year old body is able to manage sleep deprivation a lot better than a forty-five year old one. My abbreviated sleep patterns have killed my attention span, set me to dozing any time a moment of silence hits, lowered my reading comprehension to a first grade level, and has led me to forgetting my proverbial head 4. I’ve now left both my wallet and phone at home on random occasions because making certain I have them with me isn’t on my radar 5, and the nagging voice which reminds me to check if I have all my necessary accoutrements is taking a nap.
This is a normal adjustment. It’s frustrating, but it will pass. My consolation is that I get to snuggle with a little human, which is pretty amazing.