Friday, September 13, 2013


I'm 28.

The significance of this is mostly irrelevant.  On the one hand, if I died today, I could no longer qualify for the legendary "27 Club."  On the other hand, that's a list of people like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and (inexplicably) Amy Winehouse.  Also, I'm not too keen on dying young anyway, so this qualifies more for "dodged that bullet" status than "missed opportunity."

What's most significant is the same thing that every passing birthday signifies for me these days: I'm getting older.

Normally this isn't that big a deal. I'm actually extremely happy to not be a kid anymore, as kids have to attend school, and I have never not hated school, ever.  (My gleeful double-negative usage can attest to that. Take that, Grammar!)

Today, however... being older is kind of a downer.

In one sense, this is literal.  You're not going to believe this, you guys, but Joel the B. might actually be slowing down metabolism-wise. I know, right? Crazy!  Jury's still out, as I'm still only 130 lbs. soaking wet, but the amount of fatigue I experience these days makes me wonder if it's in play.

Of course, the lack of fatigue can be attributed to a more obvious culprit, or rather two collaborators in crime: my job and my firstborn.

I've worked the night shift at the airport now for a year and a half. I've grown accustomed to the sleep schedule for the most part... you just have to sleep in a little more to make it through the day without being completely dead through the morning.

Enter one Felix Blackburn into the mix.  Sleeping a little more... silly Joel.  Sleep is for the childless!

*sigh* I knew it would be coming. The one piece of pre-parental advice I got before Felix's birth that was well-nigh universally given was, "Get your sleep now, because you won't be getting any when the baby comes." I knew it before they told me, really.  What I didn't expect was that he wouldn't be sleeping for longer than 3 hour intervals, and usually just 2 hour intervals four months in.  You know how much fun it is to go through an entire night without getting longer than an hour and a half of sleep straight for any given period, even if accumulatively you still got about six hours of sleep? NOT VERY FUN, I AM AFRAID.

Everyone also told me how much my life would change after Felix was born.  You really can't expect these things to go as you planned.


I really don't know how we got here, exactly.  We had the whole thing figured from the start.  Angela was going to have a home birth, a water birth to be exact.  We hired a midwife and a doula.  Angela had what I can honestly say probably ranks as one of the top 100 pregnancies of all time, minimal to virtually no morning sickness, hardly any real fatigue until the end, basically went about life as she always had merely adding a few things here and there to ensure the baby would be optimally cared for prenatally.

Then came the Birth Day.

It started much like the rest of pregnancy: remarkably smoothly. I was at work when I got the call around 11 that it was time, and I raced home to Angela in a state of almost delirious euphoria.  We didn't get any sleep overnight, as Angela went straight into harder labor almost immediately.  But we figured out a good system, and with me, the doula, and the midwife and her trainee at her side, she labored at home wonderfully, a centimeter per hour, and was fully dilated by 10 in the morning when she got in the tub.

And then...

It was like everything just... paused.  Contractions continued, but no urge to push was forthcoming.  Ang started moving around the apartment out of the water in hopes of moving things along... nothing. Eventually the midwife broke the water... and the we saw meconium.

Red flag.  Meconium in the water means something might be wrong.  Ang got back in the tub, but all attempts at pushing felt forced, and Ang felt freaked out by it... and that's about when the baby's heartbeat became irregular.

Red flag two.  After some emergency attempts to push the baby on the birthing stool, to no further progress, the midwife called it.

"I think we should transfer."

I won't go into much further detail, but the following two or three hours were a well-nigh unbearable mix of fear, anger, determination, panic, focus, excitement, and overwhelming joy.  The ambulance ride... the remarkably understanding staff at the hospital... holding Angela's hand and assuring her that she was close...

The moment when Felix let out his first cry...


My two main memories of Felix's Birth Day are, graciously, positive ones: holding my son for the first time while he looked up at me through the widest eyes I've ever seen... and watching my wife hold him for the first time, untainted by drugs, weakened but not debilitated, unable to say anything but, repeatedly, "Ohhh... ohhh... ohhh..."

I have never been more proud of her.


The days hence have been exponentially more trying.  We do not get adequate sleep of any kind probably 5 to 6 nights out of any given week.  It makes it hard to muster one's strength to tend to a cranky baby.  And oh... he's a cranky one.

We've been trying for the past four months to get something resolved with the hospital bill we never expected to have. Thankfully my Delta insurance covered something like 85% of it, but we're still on the hook for about $2500 roughly, which is about what we paid for the homebirth we didn't fully get.  Finally, it looks like we might be getting something accomplished on that front, after getting the full run-around treatment from the various Arizona medical and financial assistance institutions we've had the great honor of dealing with.

But most pertinently... Angela's not going back to work.  This is particularly important.  It was our plan all along for her to go back to work after about a month or two, start pumping milk regularly, and have me watch Felix during the day while she took him in the evening.  She's made it clear that she doesn't want to do that.  And this is not something I can just tell her she "has" to do.

So... everything will change.  Again.

*sigh* The next several months are going to be very hard.  I don't mind at all being the primary breadwinner, but it means I have to find a second job, because my current income alone sure can't support a modern family of three with two dogs.  I don't even know how easily a second job will be to get...

I don't even know where I'm going with this anymore.  I'm 28.  I'm older than Kurt Cobain.  I'm a grown man, a husband and father.

And I feel like I don't have time to so much as think anymore...

*sigh* To everyone who left me birthday wishes... thank you.  It means a great deal to me.  I wish you all the best of health.  And coherence.  May you all have a wonderfully coherent weekend.

- jdb