Yesterday I returned to work after my paternity leave. Going back to work after an extended time away from the office is always hard, but it is especially hard after the birth of your first born. On Monday morning I fed Sloan her bottle and kissed her (and my wife) goodbye. As I drove to campus, I had a new major motivation to work as hard as possible during the day so I could finish on time and get back home as soon as possible.
Technically, my paternity leave started that Wednesday when Sidney was admitted to the hospital. However, that whole five day stretch was more of a birthing battle than a time of leave. In my heart, I consider the entire week I got to spend with Sloan out of the hospital, starting that Monday morning when we were released and ending this past Sunday evening, as my true paternity leave.
It was a beautiful week. By the early afternoon that Monday, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came back to our house with bags and bags of groceries. The contents in those grocery bags would feed not just our small family of three but Sidney’s family too, as her parents and sisters (along with their significant others and children) would join us for a week of meals to celebrate the birth of Sloan. It was a joyous time for everyone.
During the day when everyone was at work, the East Coast Resers (as my siblings refer to us) still had my mother-in-law to help us out. Brenda took time off from work to put Sidney and I in the best position possible to start off as great parents. She cleaned our house, did laundry, taught us baby techniques, took care of Sloan so we could sleep, and so much more. It was very nice having her around. When she left at night, it was almost like we were internally calling out Wait…do you really have to go?
But we managed to make the time special when it was just the three of us. During those evenings, Sidney and I would look on at Sloan and comment about how lucky we were. We would both jump up in the middle of the night to take care of her when she needed to be changed or fed. We would discuss who she looked like more (Sidney all the way!). We would watch episodes at 3 a.m. of a certain Netflix series we managed to complete during the week. We would doze off in a state of happiness when time allowed.
And of course we would rise in a state of happiness as well. The sun shined that whole week, a weather pattern that served as a metaphor for how we felt; bright, optimistic, joyful. I would run around our neighborhood in the mornings, knowing that when I would return from my exercise I would have a beautiful wife and daughter waiting for me. We would eat breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and fruit while watching Sloan sleep in a rocker in the living room. We would lazily watch morning TV, taking turns holding the new gorgeous baby taking up residence in our house. We would smile about our new lives.
I will forever remember and cherish last week. It was a time of bonding not just with my new daughter but with my wife. I will also always hold gratitude toward my mother-in-law for doing so much for us. What a lucky guy I am. Don’t Blink.