1. In the 48 hours since our daughter was born, my wife and I have received hundreds of texts, calls, emails, visits, and other forms of congratulations. I’ve also been asked dozens of questions. (“Did you change her diaper yet?” “Are you getting any sleep?” “When you go out tomorrow, can you get me some coconut water?“) But one has been asked much more frequently than the rest:
“How did it feel when you first saw her?”
My answer is the same every time. Overwhelming. It was — and still is — overwhelming.
But not overwhelming in a bad way, like a server at a busy restaurant on a day two coworkers called off might be overwhelmed. No, this overwhelming is…hmm. Have you ever been at a casino when someone wins the slots? And every button, buzzer, and light on the machine goes off at the same time? That how I’ve felt since Monday. Like I’ve been feeling everything I can possibly feel, but simultaneously.
I’ve been in love before, and I’ve loved before, but this is different. It’s all the feelings felt during the duration of love — the lightheadedness, the anxiety, the adoration, the fear, the desire to be near, the weakness, the jitters, the joy, the infatuation, the want to be strong, the heat, the heart palpitations — congealed into one all-encompassing sensation. When I first saw her, this gray and pink and brown-ish mass that just escaped from my wife’s body, my mind went completely blank. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as consciously unconscious, as completely removed from myself. At that moment, any sense of self I possessed dissipated as my body and my mind were completely and entirely focused on her.
2. Everything my daughter does right now is a big deal. The biggest deal. Because everything that’s happening is happening for her for the first time, and for a first time parent, witnessing it — regardless of how mundane — is never not amazing. Watching a person you created experiencing life and taking in the entire world for the first time will never not be surreal. And beautiful. I mean, I’m sure there will be a time when these things don’t have the same effect on me. But right now, even burps and farts and her opening her eyes or sticking out her tongue are treated like I just saw albino Bigfoot riding a unicorn.
3. Sleep is not impossible. It can and does still occur. But now, instead of it being a certainty or even a plan, it’s a bargain. Every free moment brings the potential of possible sleep; which in turn makes you negotiate your time with yourself. Should I get something to eat, or sleep? Should I respond to these emails, or sleep? Should I take a shit, or sleep? Should I get some exercise, or sleep? Should I watch black-ish or sleep? Should I just pick up my daughter and hold her while she’s sleeping, or should I sleep?
Even now, as I write this, I’m fighting the urge to say “Eff this” and just sleep for the next 27 minutes. Seriously, if I ever decided to write a book on the first few days of new parenthood, the title would definitely be So Should I Sleep?
4. I still haven’t gotten used to this new status, this being someone’s freakin’ dad. (Nor have I gotten used to the Wife Person being a mom.)
But I guess I’ll have to. Because I am now.