On March 3rd, 2018 we welcomed our first child into the world. Remi Hendrix Rogers Swanson was born at 11:06pm in Asheville, NC.
As many parents say, words can’t describe this experience. The amount of love and joy of having a baby are so overwhelming that the mere act of trying to put it into words diminishes its significance.
It’s been 1 week since he was born. It feels as if we’ve been time traveling. Looking back, there’s a few things we’ve learned in the first week.
7 Things We Learned in One Week
1) My Wife Is Super Human
When it comes to birth, most people discuss the baby and parenting. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the intensity and the thrill of the birthing process. While there are many digressions I could go into, I think the most amazing aspect was watching my wife, Gaelyn, act like a superhero.
I’ve always thought the most of Gaelyn. She’s an incredible person, extremely strong, and has never shied away from adversity. But after watching what she did during the weekend Remi was born, I have a new role model myself.
She never wavered, didn’t resist, embraced the intense struggle, and went above and beyond the insane requests her body and Remi were making. Hell, she even made a few jokes in-between the intense contractions. Her rockstar performance made me feel honored to be her husband. I’ve never been so proud in my life.
Watching birth also solidified the notion that women are the stronger gender. We’re lucky they keep us around.
2) Swaddle for Your Life
Everything is new when they hand you the new little life and send you home. The feeding, cleaning, diaper changing, and soothing. It’s all new.
But the one thing that is important to quickly master, especially when it’s 3am on that 3nd night and you’re trying to get some sleep, is swaddling.
My friends have told me that we’ll try a ton of different swaddling techniques. My pediatrician said finding the right swaddle is the process of matching it to a personality. They were spot on. We tried every different swaddle technique within 3 days.
3) Baby Fluids Everywhere
I didn’t know that when I visited my friends who had a newborn that there was a 90% chance I was sitting on dried urine or spit-up.
Newborns apparently just sleep, wake up, and spew fluids out of every orifice possible. I didn’t know I could get desensitized so quickly.
4) Losing the Arm Wrestle
I remember from the pediatric course in grad school that newborns are very reflex driven.
But what I didn’t know is that these reflexes would challenge my manhood.
Trying to pull Remi’s hand away from his face to help Gaelyn with breastfeeding or attempting to swaddle his arm down by his side ends up being a battle. My frustration builds as I wonder, “how the hell can a 4 day old be this strong?”.
Maybe I need to workout more.
5) Don’t Google Anything
The internet is already a dangerous place for acquiring information. But with babies it’s a damn war zone. It’s riddled with layman blogs and discussion forums. Two of the worst sources of information for new parents.
Maybe it’s the monetary goals? Maybe it’s the prevalence? Maybe it’s a dunning-kruger effect? Maybe it’s that all first-time parents are overly concerned and there’s a high demand for any type of information?
Regardless of the reason, if you type a baby question on google you’ll either get offered something to buy or read a horror story with the worst case scenarios.
We’ve tried to surround ourselves with a good team of experts (doulas, pediatrician, midwife) so that we can get trusted information from true experts. If we do google something, we try to stay in peer-reviewed journals (pubmed, google scholar, medlineplus, emedicine). We also have a few books on the coffee table for reference (Moms on Call & What to Expect)
6) Self-Care: Patience and Self-Compassion
It’s a new learning experience for everyone. We have no idea what we’re doing. Remi has no idea what he’s doing. So it’s definitely not a time for judgment or perfectionism.
We’ve been trying to stay calm and forgive ourselves for the fumbled diaper changes, awkward transfers, and failed soothing techniques. Sometimes we handle these situations with humor and grace, other times not so much.
7) The Joy and The Love
For some reason, people love to tell you horror stories when you’re expecting. Or they say negative things like “just wait...”, “you’ll never sleep again...”, “hope you’re enjoying yourself now...”.
I never really understood this weird phenomenon. But it turns out it’s as much bullshit as I thought it was.
Sure there’s some frustration and mild discomfort. But this adversity pales in comparison to the level of love and joy we have because of Remi. Our hearts are so full that it makes everything else seem insignificant. Nothing can prepare you for this feeling.
We’d like to thank the wonderful people at Mission Hospital. From start to finish we were treated extremely well with the best care possible. The nurses were incredible in every way. I’ve never experienced so much compassion, empathy, and professionalism from a healthcare team. This is the gold standard of healthcare in my opinion.
We’d like to thank our midwife, Lauren Fountain, who helped give us a safe and meaningful birth. Without her things could have gone much differently. She went out of her way to make sure we were having the birth we wanted in the best possible way. We were lucky to have her on-call.
We’d also like to thank our families and friends. Whose support and guidance have made this transition much easier.