**Post by guest blogger Chris Kingsley**
Since the arrival of Bennett two and a half weeks ago, there have been a lot of changes in our household! We’re well reminded that with newborns, nighttime is at best a series of naps. Since Gretchen is the star of the show with Bennett and his needs, I am on nighttime Isa-duty. We had both been taking turns with her in the past several months, but the last thing Gretchen needs now is to spend time awake at night with two kiddos.
One of the things that I inherited from my mother is a great appreciation for sleep. I have always done best on 8 hours of sleep and am one of those people who generally can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, much to the envy (and sometimes annoyance) of Gretchen.
Isa had been sleeping through the night, meaning that papa had very little to complain about in the sleep department. However, since Bennett’s arrival, she has been waking up a lot more frequently throughout the night. She is obviously adjusting to a huge change in her world and this is one of the ways that she is processing it. We expected that this might be the case.
Gretchen is well aware of my affinity with sleep and has made comments several times about feeling bad for me having to spend so much time up with Isa at night. She has even offered to take some turns (don’t worry, I haven’t let her). Given that she spends roughly half of her waking and sleeping (or, more accurately, not sleeping) hours tending to Bennett’s needs, my time spent with Isa is far from heroic.
The thing of it is, I really treasure the time that I get to spend with her during our midnight parties. That doesn’t mean that I always have a huge smile on my face when her cries start coming through the monitor, but after I’ve drug myself out of bed and stumbled up the stairs, I love just holding her, comforting her, and singing with her. It is beyond adorable the way that she hums along as I sing. As a sleep-aficionado, there are few things that I readily let come between me and bed. Isa is definitely one of them.
Isa, like Gretchen and now Bennett, is truly the apple of my eye and I am amazed at the way she enlarges and expands my heart. Experiencing the deep love and devotion of fatherhood is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. And I love it.
On a humorous note, I’ve told Isa that she is the apple of my eye a few times and I quickly learned to save that for further down the road. She loves apples and uses apple to talk about any fruit. Her eyes light up when I tell her she’s the apple of my eye…because she thinks she’s about to get some fruit, which doesn’t jive well when I just got her settled down enough to go to bed.
I don’t always get a lot of quality time with Isa (although I do feel that I am blessed to get more than many dads might get). As much as sleep and I get along, the time I have spent with Isa in the wee hours of the night has truly been precious, and I know that it has strengthened our bond all the more. The cuddle time that you can have in the middle of the night is simply not available during the day, when she has 15 other things fascinating her and claiming her attention. That cuddle time is worth more than sleep.
Fatherhood is an amazing gift that awakens places in my being that I could never have known were there without Isa and Bennett. My dad had always told me that he felt that the great joy and accomplishment of his life was fatherhood. I feel like I am starting to understand that more and more as our family grows. As much as I might sometimes long for sleep or just the freedom to go on a spontaneous walk with Gretchen, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.
I’ve never been the life of the party, but I’m happy to party after midnight with Isa – well, at least from time to time.