The Rookies: Ready?

As the one who frequently comes up with crazy ideas, I asked Sarah a few weeks ago if she’d like to join me and contribute to this series on parenting. As we’re just rounding the bend of our first year caring for and raising human life, we thought there might be some practical pieces of advice to give, mostly learning from our mistakes. And if that’s not helpful, we promise to load these posts up with cute pictures of the boys! For today’s post, J will be the principal author, and Sarah will add comments in italics.

When the boys were getting ready to be born, people kept asking me if I felt ready to be a father. Does anyone ever feel ready for this? Is there a moment when you feel like you are prepared? To be sure, we had registered for a truck-load of baby gear. The nursery was set up and painted. We had learned all about how to install car seats and then practiced installing infants in those car seats with little teddy bears. But still, I didn’t feel ready.

I wasn't often asked if I was ready to be a mother. I was asked when my due date was, if we were having boys or girls, and if we had picked out names. Though I wasn't asked if I was ready, I thought/worried about it constantly. My belly was pretty big (together our boys weighed 15.5 pounds when they were born!) and I could feel our not so little guys moving around, so I was very aware that our lives were about to change dramatically. Librarian that I am, I read many books and blogs and articles about babies, but I still didn't feel ready.

On November 12, 2015, the boys joined us. Being in the delivery room was a crazy experience, especially for someone like me who is terrified of all things medical, particularly needles and sharp objects. But watching Sarah be a trouper inspired me to be by her side, and soon my attention was focused on these two little men who had joined us. I will remember the feeling of holding Joshua and Julian for the first time for the rest of my life. It might be the closest I’ve ever been to heaven.

Being in the delivery room was a crazy experience. I had a scheduled C-section, so there was a big curtain up so that we could not see the lower half of my body. One by one our sweet boys were delivered, cleaned up, and brought to us to hold for the first time. I forgot about the rest of the world but for our babies. When my midwife leaned over to tell me that my uterus was about to be put back in my body, I was shocked. Oh right! I'm in the middle of having surgery. I had completely forgotten.

Eventually Sarah was wheeled back into a recovery room. Our family came by and took turns coming back to meet our guys. My dad took me down to the cafeteria to eat, something I hadn’t done all day. He asked again if I was ready. They were here now, so I felt like I didn’t have a choice. But I still wasn’t sure I was ready. There’s a lot of responsibility in raising one child. How much energy were two going to require?

After dinner, the nurses took us up to what would be our room for the next few days and went over some instructions. As the instructions were happening, it became abundantly clear that the boys were going to require a diaper. Now, true confession, I had until this point in life never changed a diaper. Never. The whole prospect was gross and terrifying since my gag reflex was unusually bad. But Sarah was still recovering from surgery and a quick glance around the room showed that absolutely no one else in my family was as interested in helping as they were in watching me wrestle not one but two newborns. The game was afoot.

All in all, I’d give myself a solid B for my first diaper change. Somehow I managed to keep my gag reflex in check, even when I learned the very valuable lesson about boys and their ability to pee on you during a diaper change the hard way. As I wrapped up the diaper on Julian and did my very best impression of the burrito style swaddling wrap the nurses had taught me, I held my son in my arms, sighed deeply, and thought to myself, “Ok, now I’m ready.”

I didn't have clear cut "I'm ready" moment like J did, but while we were in the recovery room I said without thinking, "This is what God's grace is like. I just met these boys, they haven't done anything yet, and I love them so much." I knew then that I would do whatever was needed to care for our babies. I was as ready as I'd ever be.

The truth is that while we may never feel equipped, while we never feel ready to go when it comes to raising kids, my experience with our boys has taught me that God equips us more than we could possibly imagine. Through many long nights and funny stories (we’ll get to more next week, I promise) I learned how much harder I was going to lean on God through our rookie year of parenting.

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