January 26th, 2021
The young woman was in the hospital for four nights. So, for four nights, Karin and I cared for little Asher. He is eight-weeks-old, and he’s going through a growth spurt. In fact, he gained almost a pound last week. So he is drinking three ounces of formula every two hours, night and day. That means one of us was up with him every two hours.
The first couple nights were chaotic. We didn’t have a system. Then we got a groove. A parent never really forgets how to care for an infant. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle or having sex. Even after many years, the old skills come back.
Karin and I divided up the night shift. She is by nature a night owl, so Karin cared for Asher during the first half of the evening while I slept. I consistently wake up in the middle of the night (after effects of working third shift for decades), so I started watching Asher after midnight. Karin would feed and/or change Asher, and then go back to whatever she was doing. If she was already in bed, she would take care of the boy, and then try to sleep again. I chose to stay up once I started my turn with Asher. For me, interrupted sleep really isn’t sleep at all. I would stay awake until Karin roused herself in the morning.
There really wasn’t much I could do when I was on watch, other than hang out with the little guy. Sometimes, if he was sound asleep, I could put him in his vibrating seat and do some writing, like I am doing now. At other times, Asher was not so cooperative. He’s a good kid, but he he needs to eat, and he needs to poop. He also needs to be held.
I held him a lot.
I walked with him around the house, chanting to him softly. Asher rested his little head on my right shoulder as I held him close to my body. After I while, he got heavy and I sat down with him. I slouched back in a chair, and Asher laid on my chest. His breathing was occasionally fitful, but most of the time it was steady and soothing.
When Asher is sleeping deeply, he makes little sounds with his outbreath that sound like “hah, hah, hah…”. As he rested on me, he relaxed to the point that it felt like his bones had turned to jello. His body was warm against mine. I could feel him breathe. I could feel the rapid beating of his tiny heart.
I suspect that he could feel my heartbeat too. He could sense the pattern of my breathing. We connected without speaking, without words. Two bodies and two souls seeking a common rhythm.
It was hard at times to care for Asher in the middle of the night. It wore me out. I don’t have the stamina that I used to have.
However, someday I won’t be able to hold like I did. Someday we won’t be able to bond like that. It might not make any difference to him, but I will miss that time together.
2 thoughts on “Old New Parents”
Hi Frank What a beautiful description of how it feels to hold a sleeping infant in that way. I remember doing that with Ava and feeling her little heart beating in tandem with mine- it’s probably the most intimate experience I’ve ever had. Gretchen
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That is beautiful Frank.