Sunday, July 19, 2009

Evan wins round one

“We’ll be fine. We’ve got the hang of this,” I told my wife Kara on the way to the hospital last week, as we prepared to spend our first night in the same room with our three-week-old son Evan, born two months premature. Up to then, we had been merely dabbling in parenthood, stopping by the hospital twice a day to change his diapers, feed him and make him the most photographed baby not sired by Tom Cruise.

The hospital had arranged this night as our dress rehearsal for parenthood as our baby neared his discharge date. Evan would be wheeled into a bedroom with all of his sensors attached, and the nurses would be right down the hall as our backup. Otherwise, Kara and I were to act like we were spending the night at home with our new baby, doing our best to trick him into thinking he still had competent caregivers.

After a brief pep talk, the nurse wheeled Evan and his electronic entourage into the room between the two double beds. The TV monitor above his bassinette beeped and flashed red. It was the kind of warning that, in a medical TV show, would send nurses scurrying around the room, preparing crash carts while the doctor rubbed two paddles together. Three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) had taught us to ignore all the beeping and lights, only paying attention to the ones that made the nurses look up.

In a few moments, our small family was alone for the first time.

“What do we do now?” I asked.

“Diaper change?” Kara suggested.

“It would be much easier to change a baby that doesn’t need to be plugged in,” I said as I untangled the wires from the sensors on Evan’s feet and chest as his legs flailed about.

“BEEP!” said the monitor, and we both jumped.

Looking back at Evan, I learned my first lesson in “I just took my eyes off him for a second.”

“I think he peed on himself,” I said. He had actually launched most of the pee over his shoulder, soaking all three layers of the bedding by his head. This was Evan’s first commentary on my fumbling attempts to change him. He was used to the NICU nurses, who know their way around babies much like the Harlem Globetrotters know their way around basketballs. The head NICU nurse usually changes diapers with one hand, using the other to keep the two babies on the toes of her Crocs spinning.

Kara and I spent the majority of our first slumber-free party with Evan exploring the vast chasm between being responsible for your baby twice a day and being responsible for him all of the time. We found that to be a new parent is to discover new depths of insecurity.

“He never cried like this when the nurses were taking care of him,” I said. “I have no idea what we’re doing wrong.”

“BEEP!” said the monitor.

“I think this might be what a nervous breakdown feels like,” Kara said.

We had slept for about two hours during the night, broken up into three or four fitful chunks. By the time the nurse came to check on us in the morning, Evan was resting soundly for the first time, worn out from peeing on his old man all night.

“You guys did great,” the nurse said. “I’m going to take him back to the NICU now. He should be ready to come home very soon.”

And with that, we were part-time parents again. Kara and I sat on the edge of her bed, shell-shocked, amazed at how much we didn’t know. But perhaps more importantly, we started to feel like maybe, just maybe, we were starting to get the hang of it. Not really, but it makes me feel better to type that out.

You can burp Mike Todd at


  1. Dude, quite complaining. You raised a ferret. How different could this be? When he cries just give him peanut butter or a raisin.

  2. Mike, Mike, Mike......your getting caught in the spray of Evan's liquid welcome means your bonus new-parent points are null and void.

    Better take the advice of Anonymous, for now.

  3. Hmm, I've got reason to believe the pee incident is a little fabricated to make this story more humorous. Nonetheless, you're probably into watersports, so it's all good.

  4. I was the first anonymous. Not the second one.

  5. To gave yourself away with the "Dude" at the beginning of your comment.

    Anonymous #2...methinks you've never changed a diaper on a male baby. One really does have to be prepared or be soaked. lol

  6. Anon -- I'd give him a raisin, but we can't get him to roll over for it yet. He's gotta earn 'em.

    Loon -- I had bonus points? Dang, I should've spent them playing video games.

    Anonymous -- Really? What's your reason?

    Perlson -- I figured. The second anonymous sure sounds a lot like a certain one-eyed degenerate we all know and love. Know and like? Well, we know him, anyway.

    Loon -- Thanks for the backup. I've gone almost three days now without getting geysered. We should have named him Old Faithful.

  7. Oh gosh, I can't post anonymously without people knowing it's me?! Damn... yes, you guys know me, but I guess you don't love or like me. I can live with that. I'm growing jealous that I don't have a kid yet. I need to adopt from China. At least D-rock is still childless - we can go commiserate.

    No, I could have sworn that Perlson told us about a very similar pee incident with Issac. Oh wait, I think he lifted Issac's legs to change his diaper and when his legs came down, Issac's face was all wet and he was giggling. Something like that.

    Anyway, you're an awesome dad! I bet you'll outshine Perlson (although you got some stiff competition).

    PS: I don't know who Loon is, but I wonder does male diaper changing on 95 year olds count?! LOL

  8. Chunks -- Nice to have you back as an anonymous troll. I like to think of your comments as your children. Your poorly behaved children. And did you really change a 95-year-old's diaper? If so, how have I never heard about this? And if not, I don't get the joke.

  9. Somebody made a comment scandalous enough that PERLSON backed away from it? When did the commentary enter the Twilight Zone?

    Ames (Anonymous because I am technologically challenged, not due to anonymous troll status.)