The End of Paternity Leave – Reid Edition

I can’t believe it, but it’s already been four months. I’m so blessed and privileged to work for a company where that’s a possibility (because 4 months of paternity leave is equally great and ridiculous), but in spite of that good fortune it’s still so hard to go back to work!

It wasn’t the easiest start to parental leave, and it started before Reid was even born. Rosemary had her seizure on the 22nd of December, shortly after we got to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas and my dad’s birthday. It was the scariest moment of my life when Rosemary started seizing, and we didn’t know what was going on or what the future would hold for us. During the long ambulance ride to the hospital, I just thought about how work had kept me so busy the last few months that I had skipped so many moments with Rosemary — turning down meals or rocking her to bed at night so I could keep working long hours because I felt the pressure to perform. In the heat of the moment, when you’re not sure whether your child will ever be ok again — realizing you hadn’t spent all the time you could with her hurts. Praise the Lord, everything has turned out ok and it was just a febrile seizure with no lasting impacts… but it certainly had an impact on me and my thoughts about life with the kids and where work fits into that.

It felt like we were only home from the hospital for a couple of hours when we had to pack up and head out again — Bria went into labor overnight on Christmas morning, and several hours later we had our Christmas baby boy, Reid Elijah! I’m incredibly proud of Bria for her strength in getting through that, especially considering what our lives had been like in the days preceding his birth. Considering the original 12/31 due date for Reid, I guess a holiday baby should not have been a surprise — but it was still a bit surprising to see a nurse wearing a Santa hat-and-beard delivering our newborn son on Christmas morning! He was a little smaller than his sister, but what he lacked in size he made up for in strength — he came out of the womb raising his head and arching his back, and was able to roll over from his stomach to his back in his first couple of weeks at home. Clearly Reid gets his natural athleticism from yours truly!

The time at home since Reid was born has been a whirlwind, and it’s been great. I’ve been so glad to be around to grow closer to Bria and both kids, and to witness so many milestones for each. Reid: just about every first or meaningful moment we’ve experienced so far, but notably his first smile, his first laugh, his first double chin, his unyielding determination to be held at all times, his first Wall-E chair ride guided by his sister’s firm and steady hands, his increasing alertness and interest in the world around him (including playing more actively with his toys and books in the past couple of days), and his dedication at our church. Rosemary: her first time seeing Reid, her early jealousy about the baby taking up our time and focus transforming into love and affection, her love and affection for the baby turning into a strange fascination with pointing (far too closely) at his eyes, her evolving vocabulary and ability to string phrases and sentences together, her first “I love you dada”, her identification of the grandparents as Gee-Gee, Pa-Pa, Ya-Ya, and Pa-Pa (later Ha-Ha), her second birthday, the first time she ever watched television immediately following her second birthday (because she definitely never saw a screen before she was two, right?), her first haircut, her transition into a toddler bed, her first black eye as a direct result of that toddler bed, her newfound need for constant reassurance that ” bice all go?” (“bugs are all gone?”) despite never seeing any bugs — her growth into a sweet, loving, funny and feisty little girl. I’m so glad to have seen so many of these moments in real time with my own eyes rather than through recordings or through relayed stories.

It’s bittersweet to go back to work now, but I’m also so blessed and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to spend four months at home with Reid, Rosemary and Bria — so many fathers (and mothers!) don’t have employers who are willing to sacrifice margins for the family life of their employees, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company willing to do so. I’m sad to go back to work, but I hope that all of these experiences since December will really shape who I am and how I focus my time and energy from now on.

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