The day after Madeline was born, I came home in the afternoon to shower and to pick up the dogs from a friend who was watching them overnight. My in-laws, who were staying with us, had left to go to the grocery store. I parked the car, walked up the back steps where two days earlier we stopped mid-flight and did a slow two-step until the contractions passed, and then I came in the back door and stood in the dining room. The lights were off and the blinds were open, the blue afternoon light coming in the west-facing windows and cascading off the hardwood. The house was silent, save for the echo of my footsteps and the furnace blower.
As I stood there, a thought occurred to me – that this was the last time that our home would be empty and quiet. I set my overnight bag on the floor, stared into the empty living room, and sobbed without restraint for a few minutes. Then I went upstairs, took a shower, and put myself into a constant and unrelenting motion that has been going for four weeks straight.
Since that day we have hosted dozens of friends in our home, visited with many more, gotten care packages from across the country from family and friends, and reheated half a metric ton of lasagna that has been so kindly left with us. I have sent out numerous panicked text messages and hundreds more just fishing for reassurances from parents more seasoned than I am.
I go back to work tomorrow, which will require that I leave my wife and month-old daughter at home together, alone, for more than an hour for the first time since we came home from the hospital. The two of them will not really be alone, as they will be together, but they will be more alone than perhaps any of us feel that we are ready for. I don’t know if we’re ever going to feel ready for it. Any of it.
We’re not going to be alone again for a long, long time. Then again, we haven’t been alone for quite a long time, either.