I started to write a few weeks back about the birth of my second son, Luca. Time has slipped and now we’re in a new year, and so slips the details.
The birth was so fairly ordinary, although all births are extraordinary it felt like it was already rehearsed a dozen times. I know from Hitomi’s point of view, it was excruciating and difficult but outwardly appeared to be done perfectly.
This time Hitomi had hired a doula, mostly for after birth care but the doula came (as part of her training) to help with the birth process. I sat on the sidelines, as ultimately the austere Japanese midwife and her managed the one hour process. I headed back from the hospital soon after and slept as Hitomi had yet another fitful night.
Leo has grown fairly attached to mama. Ilana, my part-time nanny, came to watch him during the night. We convened in the morning and headed to the hospital to visit. Did Leo understand what had happened? Ultimately, he ended up throwing a fit and throwing up reddish cranberry juice as I tried to take him back home.
Hitomi was going to have another day in the hospital. So now that I was off of work, I needed to watch Leo. Leo goes from feeling boredom to curiosity, grief to glee, dissatisfaction to fulfillment, so quickly I am jealous of his neurological wiring. But it is very wearing. I knew with the baby born, I was going to be faced with more time with Leo.
The baby had a name, Luca, which I was worried if the name would be good. It’s so feminine in Japanese chances are they’ll think he’s a girl. (Though same with Leo.) This isn’t a huge problem, though. Although cute (meaning in some sense, friendly and attractive) isn’t terribly revered in Western Culture, but in Japan cute is (maybe) not highly respected, but at least socially valuable. Thus Luca and Leo appear not cute in English, they do sound cute in Japan, and so I suppose they’re fitting for half Japanese.
Well then, I had the rest of the week off but now I was pretty much one-on-one with Leo. I took him to daycare as well as on Sunday to his daycare’s annual Christmas event. He was supposed to sing songs with his class but mostly was cheerful and hopped and clapped a lot on stage. In general I tried to wear him out physically. And so I didn’t spend much time with Luca at all, who (even now) spends most his time not more than a few feet away from Hitomi.
There was one scary event, that turned into a bit of a farce. Luca, a few days back from the hospital, had started to cough up blobs of blood (fresh and red, I might add). He had seemed fine otherwise, but it was concerning. After calling the hospital, I took him to the Northwest Hospital ER, which is a bit of a surreal experience having never been into an ER myself. To best describe it: A lot of people show up, then disappear, then show up again. Lots of the same questions are raised. Insurance data is checked and rechecked. Monitors get hooked up. Having a newborn, I heard a lot of ahhs and oohs from the female nurses. Then, having done a test determining blood in the stool, I’m asked to take him to Children’s Hospital, and I get to help the ambulance crew strap a baby car seat to a dolly.
His vitals seemingly fine, cynically, I feel like there’s no real emergency and I’m guessing the ambulance ride is costing a bit more (and taking longer) than me taking him in my Subaru. And then repeats the same sort of experience at Children’s, though at least there they have a bed more appropriate for somebody weighing 8 pounds. There’s also a heat lamp to keep him warmer. They run a few more tests, taking blood and x-rays, and I’m feeling tired and sorry for poor Luca who’s hungry and tired too.
Ultimately, the diagnosis is one of those things that some babies get after they’re born. And I’m simply asked to follow up with a doctor in a few days. Relived, I hire a taxi ride back to NW Hospital. I buy a scone and cappuccino from the in-house 24-hours-open Starbucks, and buzzed from caffeine, I’m also elated to take Luca home.
Christmas was also around the corner. I had about 2-3 hours to shop on Friday, and I sort of felt like I had outgrown malls or something. I wasn’t going to wander around and have presents for people jump out at me. I really do care for my family but I am not good at deciding what to buy.
Christmas itself went fine. On the 24th, the side of the family who can’t stand Tim (namely my sisters) showed up and we had a good meal. The 25th was with Tim and we had another good meal. I didn’t have a tree, but I have a good gas fireplace and that was cheer enough. And of course a newborn, which everybody got to hold, when it wasn’t shoved up Hitomi’s shirt. I handed out two pressure cookers (will they get used?) and although failing to wrap a single present a few other things as well.
One of the odd things was we still planned (after Christmas) to go to Mt. Baker. We had rented a cabin with two friends (Gary and Rebecca) who had a 3-month old baby. It was a bit of an odd thing doing a road trip with a newborn. (We had done a trip with 6-week old Leo, to Canada, even.) With a combination of not so great weather (warm and rainy), taking care of Leo, having to cook and cleanup, and being woken up by a newborn, it was a tiring way to spend a vacation. Still, being in the mountain snow and seeing old friends is nice, and I did indeed ski a few moments, on freshly waxed and edged skis no less.
The most reassuring thing about having a second child is you know you’ve dealt with the same things before and thus you have little to worry yourself with.
I know having two to deal with means less time to do the things I enjoy. An old boss of mine suggested that having children was monotonous. In some ways, yes, changing clothes and diapers, reading the same books over and over again, and taking them to daycare seems repetitive and frustrating. Before and after enlightenment carry water, chop wood. Meaning, your life is full (dull) of things to do, and rather think past them, fully experience those moments.