These early days of parenthood blend together like ocean waves: one on top of the other with little distinction between which came before or which comes after.
Still, much like those endless waves, these days are holy and serene as my wife, Nicole, and I grapple with what it means to be parents, and fumble through this new, delicate dance of inconsistent sleep, dirty diapers, feedings, and fussy fits. It is holy, beautiful work to learn these sets of moves completely different from our familiar footfalls.
No longer are we primarily focused on fulfilling our own personal needs. Those needs, while not fully forgotten, are now set aside for long stretches. And when we stare into the eyes of our beautiful-beyond-words infant son, we do not mind. For in those eyes, we see endless possibilities, hopes, and dreams. We see a brand-new life, both for him and ourselves.
We have been at this heavy, beautiful work for nearly two weeks now. The first five days were spent in the hospital, a place which, while filled with good-natured souls whose role it is to keep you healthy, is also a place that leaves you restless and closed in with its endless interruptions and constant monitoring and extreme medical caveats of potential pitfalls and dangers. The hospital is no good place to learn how to be a parent, even while that is almost always where the journey begins.
Clark’s homecoming was celebrated with the arrival of eager grandparents who traveled from afar to meet the newest light in their life. I cannot stress enough how grateful we were to have family close at hand to lend a hand — or two or three or four. Whether bringing much-needed food, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, or simply watching our bundle of joy while Nicole and I indulged in the sweetest of luxuries in these early days: sleep.
Even as these early days continue to blend together like those ceaseless ocean waves, we begin to see progress, to gain some footing in our new reality as parents. The boy latches more easily during feedings, and changing diapers are becoming routine. We even have had a few nights of six to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Still, there remain missteps, though they are not as jarring or overwhelming or hesitant. And as he grows and develops, Clark discovers new ways to communicate and interact and frustrate his new parents. He changes every day in awesome ways, his eyes growing wider and more curious, his hunger more voracious, and his diapers filling ever more regularly.
Raising a child is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, holy work. And in these early days, we approach it with love and grace for our son and ourselves.