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Dad’s Side: Oh, What a Night!

It was exactly 2:27 p.m. when I brought Isabelle, in a deep sleep, home for the first time. Susan had already entered the house, greeting our pets and letting them get used to the smell of the baby on her. We couldn't have been happier, or more scared. Here's how the rest of the "night we'll never forget" went down:

4:11 p.m. Isabelle is awake. Susan feeds her. The house is quiet. I'm suddenly not sure why we were nervous planning for a baby. What's the big deal? A newborn poops and pees a minuscule amount; I was actually happy to volunteer to diaper Isabelle, and even happier to volunteer to hold and watch her. I was hardly falling on my sword. She slept in my arms, and I sat on our couch and watched television. If this was going to be parenting  -- getting to watch lots of TV  -- I could handle it.

7:26 p.m. Isabelle is still awake, and once again, Susan's whipping out her au naturel milk supply. We're excited because, clearly, since she's been up a while, Isabelle is going to sleep well tonight.

10:06 p.m. It's time to put the world's most adorable newborn to bed. We have a feeling that our child is going to be one of those rare infants we've heard about  -- one who is perfectly attuned to the notion of sleeping after dark.

10:17 p.m. Isabelle is crying. That's okay. No big thing. Susan tries to breastfeed, but that doesn't seem to quiet the baby, probably because she's full. Susan checks the diaper. Rocks her to sleep. Good, she's down.

10:26 p.m. She's up. Susan suggests that I get some sleep while I can. She will tend to Isabelle.

11:11 p.m. I wake up with a jolt. Then I hear that not-yet-familiar, beast-like sound: my new daughter's crying (still). What we didn't know, and wouldn't figure out until the next day, was that Susan's breast milk hadn't come in yet. Isabelle was crying because she was famished. We thought she was stuffed, since Susan had breastfed her continually (or so we thought) from the time we got home. I lie in bed, listening to the screams, feeling helpless, and half-wishing we could take her back to the hospital and trade her in for another, quieter infant or maybe a puppy. Heck, at this point I wouldn't mind being the proud father of a gerbil.

12:23 a.m. I go to check on Susan, who bursts into tears when she sees me. "I can't do this," she sobs, handing the baby to me. "What am I doing wrong? I keep feeding her, and it doesn't help. Her diaper is clean. She's warm. She hates me!" "She doesn't hate you," I say, and offer to take over for a while. Susan looks like a prisoner assigned to a lifetime of hard labor who has just been told her sentence has been commuted. Meanwhile, I admit it, I like the feeling of being the hero. I take a wailing Isabelle downstairs and turn on the TV.