Sleep deprivation has its rewards

Our first photo as a family of four, the day after Drake was born.

I awoke around 7 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 with a kink in my neck and a wife in labor.

“The baby could be here in 20 minutes,” Sara cautioned.

Good thing we were already at the hospital.

After heading downtown to Mercy after 9 p.m. the night before for what Sara originally thought were not real contractions, our doctor after a couple of hours finally decided to give her pitocin to induce labor rather than send us home. We had scheduled Sara to be induced Feb. 17 anyway, so all parties agreed that it was go time.

After a successful epidural a few hours later — she had two that never worked fully when in labor with Jackson — Sara was able to relax a bit as her contractions grew closer together and I got a few hours of sleep on the sofa.

“The baby could be here in 20 minutes,” Sara, a bit anxious now, reminded me.

Confused since she had yet to begin pushing — it took nearly three hours of pushing before Jackson arrived — I splashed some water on my face and changed into my finest Iowa Hawkeyes T-shirt. But I soon realized Sara and the nurses might be right.

Shortly after opening the curtains to let dawn’s sunshine into the delivery room, Sara wanted to push.

Turns out our nurse’s guess of “20 to 30 minutes” wasn’t far off. I figured Sara’s warning was just another of her tricks to get me up and moving as I am not a morning person.

Drake Leo Smothers at two days old.

Sara pushed and pushed and … 25 minutes later … the nurses told her not to push so hard because the baby boy or girl was getting close and we were still waiting for our doctor to arrive.

The “you’ve got to be s***ting me” look on Sara’s face was priceless.

Moments after doc juried in and got situated along with the other nurses, Drake Leo Smothers decided at 8:10 a.m. that it was finally time to join us after just a few more pushes!

Though we’d been through the process before with Jackson, an entire range of emotions came flooding back with the birth of another perfeclty healthy baby boy.

My heart raced and the tears welled up in my eyes as I used one hand to take photos with our camera and the other to take photos with my phone. Didn’t want to miss a single moment, you guys.

Drake weighed in at eight pounds, five ouces and measured 19.5 inches long — slightly heavier and slightly shorter than Jackson — and had tons of dark brown hair. Tons of it.

Much of the rest of the day was a blur. Sara finally ate a meal after going nearly 15 hours without anything in her system, and she took a much-needed nap after going nearly two days with no sleep.

Our families and plenty of great friends came to visit during our two-day hospital stay, but the visitor we were most looking forward to seeing was Jackson.

His immediate acceptance of Drake and the dozens of kisses he felt were necessary were heartwarming. More than two weeks later, he’s still giving “baby” plenty of kisses every day in addition to hugs. I’m not sure Jackson understands yet why Drake can’t reciprocate a high-five, though. 😉

And after having 15 of the last 17 days off, I’m headed back to work today. Definitely not looking forward to it, though we knew the day would come. Coming home after midnight won’t be conducive to getting much sleep, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my daytime hours and new role at the Gannett Des Moines Design Studio happen on schedule.

Sara, on the other hand, is looking forward to staying at home for nine weeks before heading back to Brody Middle School to finish the school year. She’s secretly counting down the days until her summer break, too.

What about our sleep habits, you ask? They have changed drastically, though we knew they would. If we can go at least three hours at a time without having to feed or cuddle Drake it’s a successful night. “Baby steps,” is what I keep telling Sara, “baby steps.” Good thing Jackson sleeps 10-12 hours straight.

I think we survived on adrenaline when Jackson was a newborn. Now we’re (Sara mostly is) just downright tired some days.

But we wouldn’t change it for the world. The tiny grins, the post-feeding burps and hiccups, the rumblings in his diaper, his tiny fingers clinging to one of mine and that newborn smell are all worth it. Sleep deprivation definitely has its rewards.

Enjoy. More to come later. // JS

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About smothersfamily

Currently pregnant with baby No. 2, Sara is in her fifth year as a sixth-grade reading and language arts teacher at Brody Middle School in Des Moines. Josh is a newspaper designer at the Gannett Des Moines Design Studio and the usual editor of this blog. Finally, Jackson is an always-on-the-go toddler who will be 2 in April.
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