Welcome to the Jungle aka Fatherhood

Before I can even begin to write this article, I have to say two things.  One…

No Andrew, that will not be the caption

Two… man was it a bad idea to commit to something during the first week after a kid is born into your family. (Yes, that conversation was from the week of May 8th.  Yes, it’s been almost two months, and this article is just getting finished and published. Yes, I’m an idiot). I knew exactly what I wanted this article to be when I claimed the Friday slot that week – a lot has changed since then. I still can’t get over the fact that that series of messages was almost two months ago.

That being said, I can’t start here, I have to go back to 2016.

The Low

So, fall of 2016 was an interesting time. My wife had to do a seven week spot in Freeport at the Rand as a part of her internship. She landed in Freeport two days before Hurricane Matthew did.

I traveled to Freeport a day later to be with her and ride out the storm together. The long and short of it, that was a tough experience. But there was one promising moment out of the situation – in December we found out that my wife and I were expecting. Before the excitement could even kick in (literally two days later) we found out that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and my wife would have to undergo surgery.  We lost the pregnancy, my wife had to recover from surgery and we had to recover from the loss – the long and short, it was the lowest moment for me and my wife.

To be honest, there is not much in this life that hurts more than losing a baby. I’ll never forget the whirlwind that that weekend was and there are still days now when it crosses my mind and it’s hard to not still feel the sting of that loss. Nothing prepares you for it and literally only time and God really heals it. That journey continues…

Second Time Around

Fast forward to September 2017. Just after the Hurricane Irma scare, I here my wife say, “Burrows” from our bathroom. Now, I can’t speak for all men, but usually your lady calling you by your last name means one of a few things – anger, concern, or something they aren’t really able to put into words.  This time, the “Burrows” was the last one.  (I now live in constant fear of hearing my name called the same way in the future – not because I am totally against having another baby, but, let’s just say this go round was rough.) You never forget the way your lady calls your name when she gets a positive pregnancy test, trust me.  Naturally, we treated everything about this pregnancy with kids gloves, at least, we tried to.

But, you know how different women have different stories about their pregnancy – some have this rosey old time with not much issues – they glow, they don’t have morning sickness, everything is just peachy – and then others have the pregnancy pretty much from hell – we were pretty close to the hell end of the spectrum.

First Trimester

Hyperemesis gravidarum, Google it.  I’ll wait.

For the lazy people who I know won’t Google it…

Fam, listen to me.  Those two words are your worst nightmare as the partner of an expecting woman. Go look at that list – severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration. Look, the drugs, the all day sickness, the hospitalization – that first trimester was the worst.  Trust me, that’s from my perspective, but I can guarantee for her it was probably 100 times worse.  You don’t know what it is to be married until you have to give someone a needle three times a day for almost three weeks straight and you have no medical experience. (Babe, one is enough, right?)

Sidebar: we watched so many videos on YouTube over the course of the pregnancy. Videos about baby products, about what’s normal from week to week etc.  Our baby was pretty much spot on and textbook with every milestone we could find. But men, be prepared to be asked your thoughts on a whole lot of stuff you probably have never even thought about before. It’s not the end of the world, and I personally didn’t mind too much, but if it’s not your cup of tea don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Jenny: Larry, see at 15 weeks the baby is about the size of an apple Larry: That’s awesome babe (awkward smile)

Second Trimester

Ok, so after the drugs and the needles and the vomiting and everything else – listen, I remain traumatized by that – things finally started to somewhat settle down. We were able to kinda just be happy and excited about the pending baby.  That is until we ran out.  Quick sidebar, babies destroy women, end sidebar.  So after basically three months of not being able to eat anything really, my wife was feeling really good one Saturday afternoon.  Oddly enough, this was the weekend that Black Panther came out.  So we went to the movies Saturday afternoon.  We had popcorn and hotdogs – the whole movie experience. After the movie we invited my wife’s two sisters over for dinner.  What was dinner?  Homemade grilled hamburgers with fries. As my wife indicated, this was the best burger ever. (I cooked, so yay me, right?)  Where were we by Sunday night? Doctor’s Hospital emergency room (I cooked, so not yay me.) We ran out.  My wife was feeling so well that we way overdid the fatty food limit and her gallbladder was like “eff you, gall stones”. So much happiness, ending with so much pain and our second trip to the hospital (but who’s counting?).

Third Trimester

Okay, so before I get too far into this, I am going to make a promise that I won’t talk about the fact that my wife’s employer denied (and is still denying) my wife’s maternity benefit after she has been employed with them for almost two years.

Okay, so third trimester.  We decided to do better.  My wife and I made every effort to avoid fatty foods, red meat etc. The gall bladder issues basically started to reside and we were gearing up for the end of this 40 week journey.  Then my wife had a few episodes of feeling faint and we were back in Doctor’s Hospital (3rd time). At this point the doc decided to put her on rest (not bed rest, just rest) for the rest of the pregnancy. This lasted all of two weeks.

My brain is telling me that generally the third trimester wasn’t as bad as the first two.  I’m not sure if that’s because of the truest feelings of happiness that came once the baby arrived or if I’m just slowly losing my mind – but once we got past the gall bladder issue, and before the whole faintness issue, it felt like we were just in that zone of preparing for the arrival of our baby girl.

Cinco de Mayo

This will probably be one of the funnier parts of the retelling of this story as time goes on.  So, after being cooped up for almost two weeks, I decided to find something for me and wifey to do on a Friday night.  It being May 4, everyone was having Cinco de Mayo related events.  We settled on Lukka Kairi who had an authentic Mexican band playing for the night.  So me, my wife (all 38 weeks of her) went to Lukka Kairi and had a pretty decent time.  Music was good, food was cool and it was a really good time all around. Then Saturday happened – by the way, I am now convinced that our kid was not about us having a good time at all, still isn’t for that matter. In a nutshell, the next morning my wife felt like the baby was moving far less than usual.  We called the doc, who initially said to watch it and keep her posted.  A few minutes later she called back and said, nevermind, it’s go time, get to the hospital we’re taking baby out today (4th hospitalization for what was essentially an emergency c-section).

This was me mentally in that moment…

That phone call happened around 10am Saturday morning. For the most part we had been prepared for baby’s arrival, baby bag was packed, mommy’s bag was packed, so from a very literal, physical standpoint we were ready.  However, when the doc says okay no, we have to take the baby out today, and you start to think about what a decrease in a baby’s movements could mean there is at least a little bit of panic.  (In the moment it didn’t matter that all the readings were normal except for my wife’s pressure, it still felt like it could go sideways at any moment.  By noon we were at the hospital, by 2 or 3 we were all prepped for the c-section and by 4ish, I was in the operating room with my wife…

At 4:38pm, Saturday 5 May 2018, our little angel, Scarlett Rose, was born. (I’d also like to point that one, I am not happy at all that my little girl shares a birthday with Timmay. Second, this is now the second baby in our family born on a non-holiday holiday that revolves around liquor – one of my nephews was born on St. Paddy’s day… Jesus take the wheel!)

Shout out to Auntie Sade for the swaddle, headband combo

Timmay’s words, “Alexis bout to fall in love like 5 times in the next 2 months…” were very accurate.  Look, a kid entering your family is pretty much the biggest moment to ever happen to you.  The past 7 weeks have been a whirlwind – from my wife landing back in the hospital with pneumonia (that’s number 5 if you lost count), to figuring out the right formula, to deciphering what the different types of crying mean, to getting comfortable changing diapers and the right way to bathe the kid.  Mind you, my wife makes all of this look super easy like she’s not having her first kid.  I don’t know if it’s all women, but man, my lady has been on this like nobody’s business. I look at her every day like she’s the most amazing person on the planet.

I will pause to say, we by no means have this all figured out.  We’re realizing that things change with every new step. We are very much learning and adapting and figuring out our new normal. We are trying to be intentional about being available for each other as much as we are for Lil Lexis (I can’t fight it Andrew. Pause.) I’m just happy that both my wife and baby are now doing well.  We got out to celebrate our anniversary and Father’s day, which didn’t seem feasible at first.  My wife got to robe her little sister for her med school graduation last weekend, and life is settling into a new (albeit temporary) sense of normalcy.

Soon my wife will be back to work and a new round of adjusting will ensue. The one thing I have learned between last September and now is that you have to pay attention to the little things (like, did I remember to put the dirty diaper in the diaper pail or is it still sitting on the changing station) as much as the big things (where is this kid going to go when everyone is back to work). I have also learned that nothing makes you light up like the feeling of getting home from work and coming home to see your family. Pregnancy was a 40 week journey, but fatherhood, well parenthood as a whole, is a life long commitment that we have only just begun and to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, oh, the places we’ll go.

Me trying to make sense of this brave new world…