Enter, Levi: The Final Chapter Part II
8 Months later is better than never I guess.
The plan was to write a second post about Levi’s birth (as I did with both Milo and Noli), but as it turns out, free time isn’t really a thing when you have 3 kids. Go figure. Anyway, where did I leave off… The boy was born.
The C-section left Rachael bedridden for the duration of our stay at the hospital, which is pretty typical. From what I’ve been told, it’s not so bad - the doctors load you up with pain meds and you’re out the door in a couple of days, ready to take on the world with a baby in one hand and a bottle full of pills in the other. Well, due to an allergy to Ibuprofen, Rach was denied the good drugs and had to settle for a less effective Tylenol substitute which may have been less effective than somebody flicking her in the ear to distract her from the pain in her healing wound. To make matters even worse, she was fighting a horrible cough and every hack of the lung made her feel like she was being gutted like a fish.
As sort of an icing on the crap cake, her IV slipped out of her vein at some point during the first night and caused her arm to swell and rash. Her stay was divine to say the least.
Speaking of crap cakes, guess who was on diaper duty by default! Well that’s nothing new, I’m usually on diaper duty just because my lovely wife secretly loathes me (we have a dog now, by the way. Guess who gets the honor of cleaning up his little backyard nuggets). This particular series of diaper changes, however, stands out more than the others because Levi pooped a mountain’s worth over the next few weeks. Not exaggerating. He went through every phase on the newborn poo color wheel in a matter of hours. Something was clearly afoot, I’ve been around this whole breastfeeding business for a while now and I know for a fact he was exporting more than he was taking in. Pretty sure milk doesn’t have corn in it either.
There’s a video of his first changing… I can’t even post it. It’s just that awful. I don’t even know why we would have filmed something like that in the first place.
One last poo item to discuss - there was one nurse who was a complete POS. Her shift consisted of coldly telling Rachael to suck it up and walk so they could discharge us and berating her about everything she did ranging from how she breastfed Levi to, I don’t know, the way she wore her hair that day. She was a real piece of work. Not sure if there’s a polite way to wish Ebola on somebody, but I’m all ears.
There was a bright side to Rachael being confined to her bed, it meant I got more time to hold Levi. Given the stress of his birth, I had no desire to ever put him down - thank goodness he only weighed a little over 6lbs, our lightest one yet!
I noticed while holding him that he bore a striking resemblance to Don Rickles.
Leading up to the birth, I had “joked” that I was looking forward to the time away from the kids while we stayed at the hospital. I was wrong, I missed my babies. Before we had left, Noli was really upset that we were leaving him - that image of him sitting on the steps broken hearted was burned into my brain the whole visit. Milo didn’t seem to care much, he gets away with more when daddy’s not home (Noli was yet to figure this out). So after 2 days of not showering, Rachael approved of my release so I could go home, see the boys, scrub the thin layer of Italian grease off of my flesh, and let her mom see the baby for a while.
It was a nice little visit. The boys and I wrestled, built Legos, and I showed them pictures of the baby. Noli was needier than usual and didn’t like that I had to leave again to go back to the hospital, luckily my mom stopped by to take the boys to her place so I could catch a break for a few… For the record, however, I didn’t take a break for fear that Rachael would sense my relaxation and unleash the hordes of hell upon me.
Advice for any new dads out there: NEVER enjoy yourself while your wife is in pain or holding a child. Don’t close your eyes, don’t smile, don’t sit comfortably in a chair, and if you absolutely HAVE to eat, make sure the food gives you indigestion… But not diarrhea, because woman have figured out that bathrooms are a man’s place of peace. There can be no peace.
I’m literally not kidding.
Long story short - she thought I was gone too long and as penance, I bought her Pei Wei and she reluctantly showed mercy.
I screwed a number of things up with this birth. First was posting Levi’s picture to Facebook before Rachael had even seen him, second was having the audacity to take a shower at our house, and the third thing happened after being discharged from the hospital. When we got home, I rushed the baby into the house so he wouldn’t get cold. Inside the house my parents were waiting with cameras to film the boys’ reaction to the new addition. Well, in my haste, I failed to wait for Rachael (who was hobbling up the sidewalk in excruciating c-section pain) - depriving her of the opportunity to see the boys’ reaction live. I’m currently serving a life sentence in the doghouse for my foolish ways.
All screw-ups aside, the evening went well. Noli, who we were most nervous about adjusting to a newborn, held the baby in his lap (with heavy amounts of assistance). It was a giant relief. Milo loved the kid at first sight, 8 months later he’s still in love with the little guy… I’m a proud dad. My parents went home, Rach attempted sleep, and late that evening I wrote “Enter, Levi: The Final Chapter Part I”. A masterpiece in biographical storytelling.
For the next few days Rachael was stuck sleeping on the couch until her incision healed more; getting out of bed was too painful. So we spent our evenings watching the Winter Olympics while Levi slept on our chests. In the mornings my mother-in-law would treat us to fresh grapefruit & oatmeal breakfasts and I would grab us Starbucks on the way back from dropping the boys off at school. It was a really nice couple of days… I even finally buckled down and got my Texas Driver’s License! Only took me 3 years to make the effort.
We nicknamed Levi “Popeye” because he would always wink his one eye and make scrunchy faces. In retrospect, I should have thought to tape a little pipe to his pacifier. Dangit! During this time, I discovered that the sound of a crying baby isn’t as horrific sounding as it had been in the past. Milo’s cries would send me into a panic, and Noli’s would just irritate me… I find Levi’s cries on the adorable end of the spectrum. It’s probably because this will be our last kid (assuming all goes according to plan). I’m taking in the infancy more, trying to make it last and enjoy every moment. Sure, I still get frustrated - that’s what babies do to you, but I’m enjoying the ride more… I know I’ll miss it. I still wish I could pull baby Milo out of the photos on my phone and hold him.
If I’m not writing a ton about Levi in this post, it’s because the kid was just so darn chill as a newborn. He didn’t give me much more material than “Awww, how cute”… And he was definitely cute (still is - all my babies are).
While both boys were great with Levi, Noli had gotten increasingly needy. I’m not going to lie, it was downright infuriating sometimes to deal with it. I took him out one day to give him some one on one time, the plan was to buy him a ‘gift from Levi’. I told him Levi gave me money to buy him a toy (kids are so gullible!)… I should have specified how much money Levi actually gave me because $60 later we had a brand new Lego Spiderman play set which took me an hour to build and only 10 seconds for Noli to destroy. 10 glorious seconds of him leaving me alone.
The nightmare was only beginning.
Rachael’s mom had stuck around for a few weeks to help out around the house while we got acclimated to all the changes. The hope was that anything that could have gone wrong would have gone wrong while she was here and we’d have the extra hands… But Murphy’s Law is real, kids. Thanks to the joys of school, Noli came down with the flu a day or two before my mother-in-law was leaving. Just the thing you want around a newborn! And there would be no extra hands. Before we even got home from the hospital, Rach began packing her bags to stay with my folks until our house was no longer contaminated with disgusting little boy germs (Milo was beginning to run a fever as well).
Rachael and Levi staying with my parents didn’t ease my worries, however. The boys are constantly sticking their grubby little fingers all over my face (why their fingers are always moist I’ll never understand). The fingers occasionally go in my mouth because kids are weird and have no boundaries. That mouth is incapable of not being on baby Levi’s face… Because those cheeks. All I could think was that I had given my newborn baby boy the flu and it was an awful feeling. I had shown no signs of having the flu, but it takes a few days before symptoms even start, so everything was up in the air… Just like the flu running rampant in my house. It was a waiting game and I hate waiting.
So it was me, the boys and my mother-in-law, and I only had her help for about two days before she had to go back home. Thank God for moms is all I have to say. She made sure we all took everything we needed, when we needed to take it, and I’m pretty sure she kept me flu-free, because (spoiler) I never caught it and luckily neither did Rach or Levi.
Those few days, however, were difficult for an entirely non-flu-related reason… Needy Noli. By this point he had already been driving me nuts with the constant need for attention, but the flu just made it worse. Today I was looking through the texts Rachael and I were sending each other and every other message was me going out of my mind while Noli stalked me around the house. It was like one of those dreams where you’re being chased by some unknown entity and it always finds you no matter where you hide. You’d think the flu would have destroyed his sense of smell, but somehow it was heightened. There was no escape.
All he wanted was to play legos… Legos which by now were CRAWLING with flu germs. Every click those blocks made when I connected them was like the empty click of a revolver in a deadly game of Russian Roulette. Sitting in that pool of Legos (we have a LOT of Legos) was like swimming in a pool of flu-juice. I swear some of them were wet.
Then my mother-in-law flew home… and it was just me and the flu-zombies.
Thank goodness for my Dad. He took one for the team and later that evening risked his good health to save me from the inevitable misery that awaited me with those kids. The man is fearless. My memory of that week is a little hazy, but I’m 80% sure he arrived via horse. When he got to the house, he told me to get out and enjoy myself for a few while he spent time with the little petri dishes. Even Noli let me leave the house! So I grabbed my iPad and booked it to Starbucks where I spent the next 2 hours sipping Lattes, drawing, and watching videos of Levi that Rach would send me.
The week was no doubt hard - dodging sneezes, dealing with neediness and the usual parenting frustrations… But the hardest part was being away from Levi. I spent 9 months waiting for the little stinker and barely got to know him before he left me for a week. There was a constant stream of videos and photos coming from Rach, but it only made it harder. There was one evening when Rach stopped by with some food and I snuck out to see her. She had Levi in the van and I had to just stare at him from the window (as I was still unsure if I was sick or not). It was torture.
Rach on the other hand was living the good life at Hotel De’Marianelli with my mom. Pampering, baby assistance, hot meals… and a Boxer who quickly became a therapy dog. When Rach arrived at the house that first night, she was a nervous wreck. She started crying when she came in the door and Roxy (the Boxer) ran up to her, put her head on Rachael’s chest and just stared at her. She’d lick the baby’s feet constantly and anytime Levi woke up from a nap crying, Roxy would book it into the room to check on him.
Dogs are the best. Not to speak ill of the dead, but our cat would have just pee’d on the crib.
Fast forwarding ahead, the boys started feeling better, I never got sick, and seeing as my dad’s work was finished, he went back home… I seem to remember him riding off on a chariot of fire. The details are hazy.
One last thing remained… The disinfecting of the Legos.
20% of them ended up down the drain. I hope they never return.
Finally my baby came home. I refused to let him go that night… Or the next night. If I could lactate, Rach would have never gotten him back.
I make good babies.~ M.