29 March 2012

Doozer 2: Electric Boogaloo

One of my new regular reads, the blog Fatherhood Is, recently featured a post about how fatherhood is about neglecting things like your blog. Which is true. Clearly.

The reason for the lengthy absence, though, is actually kind of legitimate: we had a baby. Yes, the Doozer is now a big brother. Doozer 2 (or Doozer Junior perhaps, we have yet to settle on anything particular) came into this world just over three weeks ago. And though that doesn’t seem like a very long time, I don’t understand how he isn’t a year old yet. Seriously, it feels like he’s been alive forever.

This took a while because it was hard to think about, hard to write about. It was hard to endure—harrowing is a word that comes to mind—and in some ways, harder to relive.

Part of the reason for that is that the little guy's first week on this planet ended up being one of the longest weeks of our life. Due to some complications during delivery, he spent his first seven days as a human in the NICU. It’s strange, I have a very clear memory of when my wife was pregnant with the Doozer and we toured the birthing floor at the University of Michigan hospital, and they walked us past the NICU and I remember thinking, Man, that place looks scary. I hope we don’t end up having to be in there.

And then, suddenly, there we were.

I suppose life never really goes the way that you expect it to. That it typically zigs when you expect it to zag. That the old William Goldman adage about Hollywood—Nobody knows anything—can be applied to the entire universe and not just the film industry.

Seeing your kid on a breathing tube, hooked up to an IV, sedated . . . it’s rough. That's true fear. And helplessness. You’ve never felt so helpless. How will he make it through this? How will you make it through this? How will the Doozer make it through this? When can he come home? You cry and you rage and you reel and you do your best to keep it together. It’s not easy.

You wonder what all the staff members are doing and why aren’t they doing more. Why are they talking as if everything is fine? Why are they smiling all the time? Why are they laughing? Reminded me of the Doozer’s big newborn operation, how slicing off the tip of his tiny penis was just part of another day at the office for those docs.

It struck me toward the end of that week, that when it comes to newborns, perhaps everything is intensive care. That it’s not the same as a grown-up in intensive care. Keeping them alive when they're new to the world is a challenge even under the best circumstances.

It all makes you wonder. Makes you reevaluate. Who are you? What are you doing? What could you be doing? Are you happy? What comes next? What do you want?

I want to take my kids to Paris. And to see the Grand Canyon. And maybe that resort in Jamaica where they have the Sesame Street characters. I want them to read a lot and watch old movies with me (not like Casablanca old, like Star Wars old). I want them to be brilliant and revolutionary, but also respectful and honorable. I want them to be amazing and amazed. Curious and full of wonder. Smart, cool, hip. Snappy dressers.

And even if we have terrible, awful, no-good weeks like that first one of his, I want us to be optimistic. Hopeful. I know now that there's good reason to be. Because sometimes, on the other side, you end up with something like this.

And you know that you are changed. Forever. And for the better.

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