Friday, January 06, 2006

My new daughter is here, Molly Marie!

Baby Molly Marie Schinnerer Arrives!
7 lbs. 6 oz.
19 3/4 inches

I want to tell you about my new baby girl, Molly.

Now there have a been a few theories which boil all our actions down to two primary motivating emotions – love and fear. While this is oversimplifying things, it’s a good starting point.

I’ve been married to my wife for fourteen years. When our first child was born ten years ago, I was terrified. I was sure I was going to break her somehow. This newborn baby seemed to me to be so delicate and light and fragile. To make matters worse, my first child was a girl. I didn’t know what to do with a girl. I wasn’t familiar with the hardware. How was I supposed to change a little girl’s diapers? So many anxious thoughts raced through my head. In fact, I was so anxious and fearful that I couldn’t enjoy the experience. Now keep in mind that this had nothing to do with my daughter. All of this was filtered through a fear-filled perception of the world. All of it was in my head.

My second child was a boy. I was thrilled yet still maintained that I was better with children older than 2 years of age. The reality is that I was scared to deal with a newborn.

Five years ago, we had a third child - also a boy. By the time you get to three children, much of the anxiety has passed. I was on the road to enjoying the experience. But things change when you have three children.

For instance,
When your first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.

When your 2nd child swallows a coin, you carefully wait and watch for the coin to pass.

When your 3rd child swallows a coin, you deduct it from his allowance!!

When the fourth child swallows a quarter, you ask for change, simply to see if it can be done!

I’ll give you another example,

The first time you leave your first baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times in two hours.

With the second child, you remember to leave your cell phone so you can be reached “in case of emergency”.

For the third child, you leave strict instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees freely flowing blood.

For the fourth child, the authorities extradite you and your wife from Las Vegas and book you for child neglect. (Relax, I'm joking!)

But, this time was different. A lot of things have changed since then, in particular my ability to calm down and simply enjoy life. My wife has always had a dream of having four children. I’ve always dreamt of being left alone when I go the bathroom. Apparently, some dreams take precedence over others.

Be that as it may, my wife and I have always vowed to support each other’s dreams. And so it was that last year I agreed to shoot for a fourth child, knowing full well that it could mean my spontaneous combustion if it came out a boy.

On December 31st, I found myself getting ready to go into the operating room for the fourth time, looking much like the Michelin Man in my sterile Doc Martin pj-lookin’ cover ups. I asked the doctor, “Am I still required to wear the hat even though I don’t have any hair?” No answer.

All of our children have been c-section, going back to the first child who was frank breech. So we knew this would be c-section as well. There’s no easy way out of pregnancy. Either you pay now or you pay later. Labor or recovery from surgery – there’s no easy way out.

And if you have ever been in the operatory during a c-section then you know, it’s a very surreal experience. My wife is there on the table with an epidural so she’s numb from the neck down. There is a blue sheet to prevent us from seeing what the doctors are actually doing. And you can talk to the head while watching the surgery take place on the other side of the screen. It’s like something out of Frankenstein. Fortunately, I didn’t faint during the sights, sounds and smells of the procedure. I cut the umbilical cord and shortly brought the baby to my wife in recovery.

And here’s the thing, the joy she felt from realizing a dream she had kept all her life, her joy was palpable. You could touch it. It filled the room. And her joy became my joy. And I’ve never been so relaxed around a baby as I have with Molly. I want to hold the baby. I want to gaze at the baby for hours. I don’t panic when the baby cries.

Before I came into the studio today, I asked my wife what her level of happiness with life was. She said, aside from the pain, it’s a 10. What’s yours? I said “It’s a 9.5.” Well there’s still a little bit of fear there. I’m still not sure how we’re ever going to afford four children. Yet, having four children seems to be what we were supposed to do. It fits with our values. It fits with our family. It fits with our dreams. So we just had our fourth child and I’ve never been happier.

Two more ways to know you have four children...

The Pacifier

1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.

2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby's bottle.

3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

4th baby: The hospital takes pity on you and gives you handfuls of their pacifiers. Every pacifier is straight from the bag sterile.

The Diaper

1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every ten minutes, whether they need it or not.

2nd baby: You change their diaper every 3 hours, if needed.

3rd baby: You change their diaper when your older children, or your guests, complain about the smell.

4th baby: You change the diaper when it sags to the floor. (Hey, the label said "Weight capacity: 10 lbs.!") Bonus points awarded for guilting guests into changing poopy diaper!

Anyway, back to Molly. Her face is simply angelic. I was gazing at her last night for an hour. How can it be so enthralling to sit and look at someone sleeping and breathing?! Yet, that's what I do. I sit and watch these microexpressions run across her face as she dreams. She smiles, looks concerned at times, downright afraid other times, and angry sometimes. And I wonder what she is dreaming about. She has no experience here on earth from which to draw, no experiences to dream about. Yet there is obviously a lot going on in her tiny little head. And it is absolutely amazing to behold.

I think newborns are the closest we come to God on earth. After all, they've been near Him most recently. And if that's the case, what can we learn from them?

Until next time,

Dr. John signing off.
Guide To Self

Guide To Self(C) 2006.


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