By Mike Ramczyk/Sports Editor
On May 20, my life was forever changed with the birth of my first child, Coraline Rose.
After my wife’s water broke on her due date, May 19, I couldn’t help but turn my face back into my pillow and continue my crazy dream.
But after a few minutes of getting the sleep out of my eyes (it was 2 a.m.), I quickly realized this wasn’t a dream but was very real.
Just to be sure, Erin, my wife, called the hospital. Maybe this wasn’t really labor?
But when the nurse told us to get to Elkhorn as soon as possible, there was no turning back.
Thus began the rush to pack like we were going on a week’s vacation. I threw just about any clean clothes I could find in two suitcases, loaded up DVDs and toiletries, and we were on the road by 3:30 a.m.
When we got up to our room at Lakeland Hospital, I was thinking we would be there for a few hours before the baby quickly came out.
Boy, was I wrong.
It took a couple naps, plenty of contractions, a hot tub, an epidural, Pitocin and other drugs, a few good cry sessions and a little more than an entire day, and finally on Tuesday morning, 29 hours after labor began, Coraline was born.
It was the most exhilarating and unbelievable experience of my life. Always the reporter, I took video on an iPad moments after the baby was born. In the video, you could hear the elation in my voice, and I called Erin a “warrior pusher.” It was pure bliss, absolutely the most surreal moment of my life.
Coraline, all 9 pounds and 5 ounces, came out with a full mane of hair on her 15-inch head, which the doctor said was in the 99th percentile.
She takes after her daddy with the gigantic melon, but Cora already has much more hair than me. In fact, the doctor said she rarely sees that much hair on a white baby.
I joked that maybe meant I wasn’t the father, and we all laughed despite our very serious pushing predicament.
The whole sleep deprivation thing is real. We stayed in the hospital for four days, and I don’t remember sleeping for more than two hours at a time. That’s a lot compared to mommy, who sometimes didn’t even get to sleep. Not sleeping can really mess with your mind, it is no wonder that things like a sleep study, a.k.a Polysomnography, are needed to help people get to the root cause of their issues. We aren’t at that stage yet, but we could be one day!
Sure, we wore the same outfits for days at a time, and Coraline has the voice of a loud-speaker, but quality hospital meals on tap and the NBA Finals got us through the tough times.
It was nice to be able to push a button and have a nurse assist us, because we pretty much turned any small inconvenience into a life-or-death situation.
We finally came home that Thursday, and Erin’s parents, God bless them, decorated our front door with brown lunch bags that spelled out “It’s A Girl.”
It was nice to be home, but that first night was terrifying. Where were the nurses? Why can’t we push a button for help? Parenthood was getting real. We were on our own.
For the first few weeks, it was rough. I was back to the newspaper grind after one week, and Erin wasn’t having the easiest time feeding the baby.
We tried several different methods, and each brought its own share of stresses.
By about week three, we said screw it and went strictly with formula. Life has been much easier ever since.
Coraline loves being rocked and bounced. Sometimes, when she is extra fussy, I will take her from mom or grandma or whoever. I simply hoist her up on my tall shoulder, and she falls asleep.
Other times, she wants nothing to do with me, grabbing at my neck and pushing off my body like it’s the end of the world.
Changing diapers is always an adventure, but luckily so far the lighter diapers have far outnumbered the heavier ones if you know what I mean.
Sleeping is a challenge. And this is completely new for me because sleeping has always come easy to me. I don’t think I can say the same for my wife who keeps telling me that I need to look for mouth tape to help with my snoring. In fact, she sends me recommendations from SERP (https://serp.co/best/mouth-tape-for-snoring/) every now and then because apparently, it is that bad. If I’d have known this, I would’ve done something about it much sooner.
However, sleeping has become a completely different story since we’ve had our lovely little girl. One day she has to sleep with mom or dad and other days she sleeps in her swing. Coraline sleeps a lot, and that means mommy and daddy can actually get things done.
She just turned 11 weeks old Tuesday, and she gets cuter by the day. She is starting to smile at us more often, and that is an amazing feeling.
I’m not going to sit here and say that everything is easy. If you’ve been on Facebook at all lately, you probably have friends or acquaintances that boast of a perfect baby that sleeps through the night and is potty-trained by three months.
What you don’t see on Facebook are the dirty diapers, the 4 a.m. cry fests or the fact that even driving a mile to McDonald’s to buy a soda can be a chore.
Frequent Brewers games, going out with friends and vacations have all taken a back seat, but Erin has been amazing and has endured my trips to a bachelor party and Summerfest.
Furthermore, we don’t know if we would’ve made it this far without all of our supportive friends and family. Cora’s grandmas and grandpas are always quick to help, and Erin and I appreciate as many breaks as possible. Hopefully, we can get to a point where we feel confident without any help.
Overall, we’re learning as we go and taking things one day at a time. We’re better than when we first started, and that’s all you can ask.
Coraline is a blessing, and we see parts of a different family member in her face just about every day. For every tough time when it seems like the crying won’t end, there are amazing moments when your heart just melts and all is right with the world.
So yes, work, relationships, personal hygiene, proper diet, exercise and occasionally sanity have all taken a back seat to our 10-pound, adorable creation.
We wouldn’t want it any other way.