by Troy Murray
Perhaps the most common phrase or ‘words of advice’ we heard prior to our baby girl’s arrival. I don’t know why it’s so many people’s go-to response when they find out you have a child on the way. It puts such a negative tone on the most exciting time of our lives. It’s as if people are scared for you and try to warn you about all the terrible things looming once they arrive. Sure there are people who radiate positivity when you chat about pending parenthood, but I don’t think we do it enough. Maybe we don’t want to rub those who struggled / are struggling the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve experienced sleep deprivation, and a seemingly insurmountable amount of diapers, but I want to be a voice that continues to share our positive experience.
A colleague said it best when he told me about how the level of love that I had previously would increase exponentially the moment she arrives. And he couldn’t be more right. When Lena Christine Murray arrived at 4:36 AM on March 22nd, I immediately burst into tears and attempted to control my loud, ugly cry so I could hear her. She came out with eyes wide open, ready to take on the world. Her eyes remained open and alert for the first hour and a half, barely making a sound, and putting out the best chill vibes. Not only has my level of love skyrocketed for how much I love Lena, but it’s had the same effect on how much love and appreciation I have for my wife Nadine.
When she’s not wide-eyed and alert, she’s sound asleep. There doesn’t seem to be an in between at this point. Her cries are few and far between, which has really made this whole parenting thing easy on us (so far). I know I shouldn’t be using the word “easy” lightly, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it right now. Her chill demeanour is infectious, and has really helped us be fairly stress free. And not to toot our own horn, but I really think it has a lot to do with how we approached this nine month process (I know, I know… it’s only been 3 weeks, there’s still lots for us to learn). The nurses at the hospital let us know that babies really feed off the parents energy, and we were fortunate enough to have a relaxed atmosphere, and smooth process throughout labour and delivery (again, I know this isn’t the case for everyone, despite best intentions).
Our positive attitude was definitely put to the test night one at the hospital. As our whirlwind day came to an end, it was finally time for us as new parents to get some rest. With the exception of the first hour and a half of being alert, Lena had slept the majority of the day, with brief interruptions for feeding and her first bath (which she loved). So we naturally assumed that since she had been so perfect during the day, there’d be no issue shutting the lights off at 10PM and getting the much needed sleep we so desperately wanted. Next thing we knew it was 2AM, and we were running on no sleep for over 36 hours. We both looked at eachother, and without saying it out loud, both thought “is this the rest of our lives?” Maybe those people who felt it was important to tell us to “get our sleep now” were actually right… During those long four hours it was easy to let our thoughts slip into a dark place, and understand how real baby blues or postpartum depression can be. Thankfully we were able to finally get a couple hours of sleep in the morning and woke up feeling re-energized, we took one look at her, and the negativity had dissipated. Moving forward we knew to prioritize our own rest as much as hers (aka. Sleep when she sleeps).
Bringing Lena home, along with every other aspect of this experience, has been so surreal. She’s adapted to and seems to enjoy every new thing we throw at her, whether it’s bath time or three hour car rides. We’ve had a constant revolving door of guests wanting to meet Lena, and she hasn’t disappointed. She continues to live up to the hype we’ve given her and has slept in everyone’s arms (including both my 3 and 4 year old nephews). Some of the best advice we’ve been given was to let baby get comfortable with our lifestyle and not adjust everything to cater to her, as babies are so adaptable. We knew we didn’t have the capability of being quiet all the time, so for our sake we knew she had to get used to loud and different environments.
The biggest adjustment so far was returning to work after spending the first two weeks staring at her and watching her every move 24/7. But it helps me value every second that I do get to spend with her, whether its a quick cuddle and kiss goodbye in the morning, or a long nap with her in my arms on the couch while attempting to watch something on Netflix.
These last three weeks have been the happiest of my life. Nadine made a comment on the weekend that she’d never seen me smile this much. We both have never laughed, cried, and been so open and vulnerable with each other. Being a parent is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and to us. I truly feel blessed to have such an amazing, healthy baby, and so much for support from family and friends (yes, SA folk fit in this category too ;)).
Troy #softdad Murray
PS: if anyone wants to see more photos of baby Lena, feel free to drop by my office, as I’m more than happy to share daily highlights (just ask my neighbours)