Becoming ‘The Walking Dead’
At first I thought AMC’s acclaimed “The Walking Dead” was a fictional horror/science fiction show about a zombie apocalypse. Now I understand it to be an accurate, if not under-exaggeration, of life as the parent of a newborn.
“The Walking Dead” is a good description of the appearance and feeling of a parent of a newborn during the first few weeks. While it looks like the “zombies” flesh is rotting off their bodies, what’s really happening is the poor parents haven’t seen real nutrition in weeks and the sagging skin has been mushed out of place by falling asleep with their face pressed against a crib.
The reaching out and attempting to feast upon the brains of the living is misinterpreted; in actuality, the sleep-deprived adults, somehow having wandered out of their houses in delirium, are simply excited to see actual other adults again. While it may have only been six days, time has lost all meaning and social skills have devolved into a series of groans. They simply want adult human contact and forgot about what’s socially acceptable, so parents sort of just push their bodies into people and, yes, might try and take a bite. We’re so hungry!
A newborn, on the other hand, is not unlike owning a Mogwai (from the movie Gremlins); they hate bright light, you’re not supposed to get them wet and feeding them at all – midnight or otherwise – means you’re taking a big chance with disaster. While there’s only the slimmest of chances your newborn will change into a flying, green, evil bat monster, what they expel is nearly as terrorizing, and with much greater frequency. In retrospect, a Gremlin might be easier to manage.
Food preparation for parents of a newborn is now an afterthought and the refrigerator quickly resembles the shared one you shared in college with five other people. Fighting your wife for the last piece of cheese probably isn’t the most gentlemanly thing you can do, but right now it’s survival of the fittest and she’s a little top-heavy at the moment. She can easily be pushed over like a Weeble Wobble. You both blindly shovel in food when you can; hoping most of it is actual food and not three-year-old’s “play food.” Even if it is, you eat it anyway. Nothing has taste anymore.
It’s like you have the world’s worst hangover – all of the symptoms (headache, nausea, fatigue, bloodshot eyes, regret), but none of the fun the night before. Of course, maybe you had gone out the night before. You no longer can account for your whereabouts. Soon you begin hallucinating and begin getting Phantom Baby Cry Syndrome.
“Who’s there?!” you shout, swinging your cane at invisible flying/crying/mocking babies. “Stop crying! I just fed you!” You don’t know how you got a cane, but the other patrons at Target start to stare. Also, you end up at Target sometimes. Nobody knows why. That’s one of the beauties of being the parent of a newborn; you develop time-travel/transporter technology. At one moment you’re changing a diaper, and the next you’re at Target, with no recollection on how you got there or when you laid down and wrapped yourself up with a piece of carpet.
While you play the role of zombie in this particular play, you’re not the only one that gets to play a role. Below is the fun One-Act play your newborn performs nightly (titled: “Who Needs Sleep? I’m Hungry and Probably Dirty But Mostly Loud You’re The Worst Except For Mom!”)
2:24 a.m.: Cry like a pterodactyl being murdered because arm slips out of swaddle (ooo, big crisis, baby) [scream]
2:27 a.m.: Begin getting re-swaddled
2:28 a.m.: Turn joints to rusted metal pipes and lock all limbs in 90-degree angles to prevent re-swaddling
2:29 a.m.: Wiggle around like an electrocuted snake
2:31 a.m.: Continue freaking out for no reason.
2:44 a.m.: Really getting into this screaming thing
2:51 a.m.: Fall back asleep
2:52 a.m.: Get placed back in crib with care of Indiana Jones swapping golden idol for bag of sand
2:53 a.m.: Audibly poop, like as disgustingly and as long as possible
2:55 a.m.: Hear silent sobbing
2:56 a.m.: Get un-swaddled
2:57 a.m.: Arms are free! [Scream, obviously]
3:03 a.m.: New diaper on.
3:05 a.m.: Poop
3:08 a.m.: New diaper on
3:12 a.m.: Re-swaddled with twine and duct tape
3:16 a.m.: Fall back asleep
3:19 a.m.: WHERE’s MY PACIFIER? [scream!]
3:22 a.m.: Pacifier in. Fall back asleep.
3:23 a.m.: Pacifier falls out of mouth [scream!]
3:25 a.m.: Hear adult pleading/compromising/begging. [smile][poop]
3:31 a.m.: Hungry. [scream]
As the father of a newborn, your role is essentially that of bailiff. You try and keep order, but you have very little real power, save for asking people to be quiet, you know, if they want to. You’re largely overlooked, because you’re easily replaceable, and you basically stand there trying to look helpful while the judge looks on and does all the work.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Tardis. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he’ll dosomething. Hilarious probably. I don’t know. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz