Our first days as parents are a blur. In the hospital we had a non-stop parade of nurses, family and friends. Everyone was greeted the same way—with bloodshot eyes and a goofy grin. The first night we had the option of keeping him our room or putting him in the nursery overnight so we could sleep. It was a no brainer—he stayed with us. It was our baby boot camp.
We got a lot of advice those first days, one piece stayed with me, a phone call with my cousin Leslie. After congratulating me she said, “You just experienced the best day of your life, enjoy it. Your first night at home with the baby will be your worst. “
The training wheels came off when Cristian came home. Tired and with no system in place that first night was rough. Camping out in the living room, because our bedroom was too cold, rushing out for formula after Baby’s R Us and Buy Buy Baby closed (Cristian had not gotten the hang of breast feeding yet), not sleeping as we changed and fed our crying baby. Walking him around at 3am Chico gave me a look that said “Can you keep him quiet—I’m trying to sleep here.”
Walking Chico the next morning, I checked with the neighbors as they headed off to work. I wanted to make sure we were the only ones Cristian kept awake. They assured me of it, but staggering along like a punch-drunk boxer with a coffee cup in one hand and a dog leash in the other made me wonder if they were just being polite.
That next morning Esther and I became tag-team parents taking turns napping while the other watched the baby. “You sleep, I got this one.” One changed him while the other kept family members updated. “Mom remember how Dad said, he wanted to take the baby home with him? You can pick him up anytime.”
For me it was on the job training. We spent time watching the baby in his Moses basket and Jeopardy on TV, “Diaper Change for 200 Alex”. Patterns developed. “He’s due for a feeding, or time for a diaper change.”
I quickly learned diaper changes required undivided attention—you could get peed on or worse could be cleaning the carpet afterwards because you took the diaper off too soon. The first week seemed like a juror being sequestered during a high-profile trial but the perks were pretty good too. My crankiness and sleep deprivation was rough, but they were forgotten every time Cristian flashed me a smile.