Well, a different kind of grind that is. I'm back to work after taking about a month away from the job on paternity leave -- but as many of you know, these early weeks with a newborn are a far cry from "time off".
Our son was born just after noon on Dec. 23: Francis Terrence Walsh, named after our late grandfathers. My grandpa was Francis Michael Walsh. Fran, for short. I'm anxious to find out which nickname sticks for our little guy.
We had an adventurous birth story, though one more common than you might think.
Sitting four days past his due date with no action, my wife's routine checkup turned into a medical recommendation for immediate admittance to the hospital to begin an induction. Amid an intense afternoon and night the medications did the trick, initiating the labor process by the next morning. When not enough progress was made after nearly four hours of pushing, the doctor urged an unplanned C-section.
The range of emotions in the operating room less than a half-hour later was immense: seeing my son lifted into life by the doctors and nurses and me being the first person to hug him juxtaposed with my wife partially sedated in the throes of active surgery, her blood loss and open wound in clear view.
Fortunately, mom and baby did so well after the operation, and we were out of the hospital on Christmas night. It was amazing watching the medical professionals take such good care of them in the midst of the latest COVID surge. (And it shouldn't go without saying: Also eye-popping was the subsequent bill; if not for insurance, the birth would've cost us more than $54,000. Fun.)
Once home, the reality of parenthood set in. So many diapers. So many loads of laundry. So many dishes. So little sleep.
I would not change any of it.
Francis is a pretty great baby. He's so expressive. He's growing well. Sure, he can be feisty. He often fights going down for naps in the bassinet, but luckily he usually has one or two good chunks of sleep at night now.
That wasn't always the case, especially those early days when he had to feed every two hours. Those times were a blur. Just put a movie, show or sports on the TV, or listen to some music, and work to stay energized as we wake him, feed him, burp him, change him, rock him to sleep and put him down. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat...
Being the non-birth parent during this initial time is a distinctive experience. There's so much you can do to help, but also, there's only so much you can do.
Watching my wife grow and thrive as a first-time mother, all while recovering from major surgery, has been inspiring. Francis and I love you so much.
You can certainly see it in his eyes. Now, he's able to engage with us a little bit more and seems to be recognizing the world around him more and more. He really enjoys our walks in the neighborhood (almost as much as we enjoy how they put him to sleep almost every time).
I'm able to still join on the afternoon strolls daily as I'm working from home pretty much exclusively for the time being.
I'm fortunate to have that work flexibility, just as I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend Francis' first month away from work. And the paper remains in great shape upon my return, thanks to the team effort led by our outstanding publisher Gina Channell Wilcox during my absence.
It's intriguing to think about what impact fatherhood will have on my job. I'll be a different editor, a different journalist. I hope a better one.
I've always tried to maintain a realist's perspective about my work. We tell people's stories, often about issues deeply important to them or that greatly impact them. Those articles live in perpetuity online, and that can affect those people on a real, personal level.
It affects me as well. Every piece I write has the potential to reflect on me, professionally and personally, in the moment and for years to come. Sure, it's a little selfish to think that way, but to think otherwise would lack necessary self-awareness too.
I'm proud to have a job where my day's work -- my career's work -- is on display for any and all to see, including those I care about most in my life. I can now count my son among that list (in a few years anyway).
I can't help but wonder just how my approach to work, and my work itself, will change as a parent. I've always been a newshound, as a reporter and as an editor. Sometimes that meant staying in the office after dinner, or covering a meeting well after 10 p.m., or writing on the weekend.
It's the accepted demand of my career. Or at least it was. Now I'll have to balance that with the more important demand of being a dad. Only time will tell how well I do; I look forward to asking Francis that someday soon.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.