Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Recalibrating Reality

Ok, so that vast majority of loyal Reality Bytes readers were probably relieved to learn that Mrs Long had finally spat the Long spawn out so that Chuck could get back to the business of saving relationships. The emails have been piling up over the last few weeks and months and Chuck hopes and pray that people have been able to keep it together as he’s been tending to the business of pumping out a child.

However, it would be a dereliction of duty for Chuck not to pass on some key findings to expectant or would-be fathers so that they avoid some of the pitfalls that Chuck and Mrs Long encountered in their child’s first couple of days.  As mentioned many times in this very forum, the making and cooking of the child is the easy part. Getting it out is no easy feat, but keeping it alive requires brains, brawn and determination. Chuck always bristled in the lead up to child birth as people said “I don’t want to tell you how to do it but…..” so Chucks not going to stat dishing out advice. Rather, it may be more effective to make a number of key observations that readers can do with as they please. Forewarned is forearmed:

0, 0, 4, 4, 4. Those figures represent that total number of hours of sleep that Chuck has logged in the 5 days that the Long spawn has been alive. Now Chuck realises that lack of sleep is a fairly obvious by-product of a new born baby, but what Chuck did not consider was the ramifications a lack of sleep has on the human body. As one of the magnificent midwives stated “there’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as torture”. After 5 days with limited sleep, Chuck was actually contemplating water boarding so as to compare.

In normal everyday life when the alarm goes off, there is always the option of pounding a button to turn it off or at least defer it. In baby land no such option exists, especially when they turn on the “PICK ME UP RIGHT FUCKING NOW SCREAM” that sounds like a goat being slaughtered.

Chuck has had 2 revelations in this area:

1)    On day 1 when the baby generally sleeps all day, avoid sitting around staring at it and telling yourself and your partner how good you are. Chuck and Mrs Long made this mistake, coasting along for over 36 hours on pure adrenalin and no sleep. When the spawn shook off her birthing hangover and decided that it was time to get it on, the Longs were already behind the 8 ball in the sleep stakes. Get some shuteye on day 1!

2)    Sleep when the baby sleeps. It’s easy to think that you’ll do a spot of house keeping, hit the shops or write an awesome blog post when the baby sleeps. Fuck that, get your rest. Waking up after an hours power nap when your body really needs a solid 12 hours isn’t easy but you’ll appreciate it at 4am when your kid has unloaded a mega dump in its nappy.

In light of this sleep deprivation, Chuck will be keeping today’s post brief!

Hospital food is legitimately atrocious. One of the true blessings of private health care in Australia is that partners were able to sleep over at the hospital. 3 times per day, however a tray would be wheeled in and placed in front of Mrs Long. Initially Chuck was perturbed that he’d have to head out for meals each day – until Mrs Long lifted the lid and revealed what was on offer.  Seriously, is it that hard to cook baked beans? If Chuck tried to eat what was offered up his bowels would have locked up and required intravenous Metamucil.
While it is impractical to cater in food for the partner, all husbands should do some hard-core scouting and locate decent eateries so that your not camped in the hotel café or scavenging off your partners slop tray.

Finally, be careful what you listen to at the hospital. Chuck doesn’t mean that you should elbow the obstetrician out of the way mid delivery and take control of proceedings, but once the baby is out take everyone’s advice on board and then do what works for you. Chuck and Mrs Long had 4 midwives who rotated through the shifts. 2 were absolutely sensational and seemed totally dialled in to what they were doing. Unfortunately one was fixated on numbers. “how many poos, how many wees, how many feeds?” and less interested in what was actually going on. This was never more obvious than on day 2 when Mrs Long’s milk had yet to come in. The spawn still needs to gobble up the colostrums (oily substance that precedes the breast milk) and quickly latches onto the boob. What Chuck and Mrs Long didn’t realise was that babies reflexively suckle. On top of this, the Longs weren’t overly knowledgeable on the art of settling.

All of this lead to the baby feeding, then being unsettled and then being put back on the tit (since it was assumed that’s it was still hungry). When Chuck inquired about the length of the feed, the number cruncher stated that it was fine to keep her on the nipple. An interesting side note to this situation is the strength of the babies suck reflex. Chuck tossed his finger into the mouth in an effort to subdue the baby and was stunned at the sheer force behind the suck; it was like having your finger chewed on by Jaws – the metal-mouthed villain from James Bond (picture above). Hopefully this is a skill that rapidly diminishes as Chuck’s little girl gets older!

Anyway after 3 hours Mrs Long was in visible discomfort and absolutely knackered. When the baby was removed, her nipples resembled the chum thrown into the water when hunting great white sharks. They had been eviscerated. Mrs Long knew that she was in trouble when she saw the blood coursing off them. Needless to say the next 2 days were spent expressing milk to give the nipples some time to recuperate.

Fortunately this happened early in the piece and Chuck was able to deftly ignore any and all advice that the number cruncher dispensed for the remainder of the stay in the hospital.  Her attention was easily diverted by keeping Mrs Longs nipples out of sight and by the elaborate pie charts that Chuck had created to show poos, wees and feeds.

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