One of the few things I remember from Grade 9 science class is the concept of retrograde motion, where planets appear to move backwards relative to stars over a number of days, a sort of loop-de-loop pattern if it was plotted on a graph. This perplexed astronomers for ages but eventually contributed to proof that the world was a sphere orbiting the sun, just like these other celestial bodies that were appearing to move backwards.
My wife gave birth to our second son on January 13th and as I reflect on the time since baby Remington was born, the idea of retrograde motion kind of comes to mind.
I’ve always thought that birth is a pretty miraculous thing, the fact that a baby can grow into a human being inside of another human being boggles my mind. Our first son, Hezekiah, was born via C-section, so my birth experience was behind a curtain supporting my wife, until the doctor said I could come to the next room and meet my son. I remember feeling like I was supposed to cry because that’s what people told me happens, but I didn’t. Instead I think I was in shock with how my world would be changing. Remington’s birth was a whole different experience. This time my wife was able to give birth naturally with the help a medical grade shop vac and the strong arm of the obstetrician. This time the tears came, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion as I realized what was taking place; the labour and pain my wife was experiencing, the miracle of a child that was coming out of her and the team of dedicated medical staff that were all there to make sure Remington had the best possible fighting chance once he entered into the world. So the reality of the situation combined with the sight of blood left me hanging my head between my knees and the nurse paging “juice for dad please” shortly after Remington was born.
I presume that these varied experiences are to be expected from birth and that every father and or support person handles and responds to the crisis in a slightly different way. Within a half hour after the birth, the 10 medical staff had cleared out of the room and it was just the three of us back at hour one, feeling like new parents again, retrograde motion.
An hour and a bit later and we were moved to a room on the newborn ward and again left alone to get some rest. Sleep did not come easy, even at 3:00am, in a rigid and upright hospital chair, and even though this was our second child, and we had experienced zero complications after either birth I still found myself checking if he was breathing every time I woke up from dozing off, and being baffled that the nurses kind of left us alone to rest, instead of constantly checking in. Again, I felt like a parent for the very first time.
By the time I went home early the next morning to shower, drink some coffee, eat some sugary treats to balance the caffeine, the feelings of “first time parent” had subsided. Our 2 yr old was excited to see bayee-Remi and I figured I had this dadding thing figured out. That was until the 4 of us tried to go to church on Sunday.
I’ve always thought punctuality is important, hated being late and stood by the mindset that if you can consistently be late you can be consistently be on time and that being late communicates to others that they just aren’t as important as what you were doing. Getting two kids out the door to go anywhere was a whole new learning curve that we certainly haven’t mastered yet as a parenting team. I’ve gained a whole new respect for parents of twins, single parents and my wife when she goes out with the two boys so I can continue with renovations at our house.
My final experience of retrograde parenting was the first time my wife left me with the boys to go for an appointment that took a total of about 2 hours. Breast feeding and no pumped supply yet limits the window when she can get out without Remington, but this first trip had me a bit stressed trying to keep the oldest entertained and the newborn comfortable. Eventually I resorted to cuddling them both on the couch and letting the 2 yr old watch train videos on YouTube on my phone. Not the finest piece of dadding I’ve ever done but then again I feel like I’m starting all over again.
These rapid weeks since Remington’s birth have been filled with blessings as our friends and church community have supported us with meals and visits, giving us a chance to take the time to find the rhythm of being parents of two. It’s also given us time to relearn some of those parenting things we had already forgotten like night feedings and Dijon mustard filled diapers. I’m grateful for the support that we’ve had so far and for the other dads and moms both ahead in the journey and behind, so that none of us has to retrograde alone.