At The Dad Network we wanted to to provide a place to work with other dad bloggers. It seemed like we all had the same motivation and the same goal, so why not work together. We want to encourage and promote other dad bloggers in order to encourage and promote the role of dads within family life. As a result, we’ve teamed up with some other dads and each week, we’ll be publishing a guest post from another dad blogger from around the globe. Be sure to check out their blogs!
My First 2 Weeks as a Dad…
…was one hell of a wake up call to just how unprepared I was. Life with a new baby is incredibly rewarding, but undeniably tough going, and I would urge all you dads-to-be to take your paternity leave.
After a long and somewhat traumatic labour, and my almost stealing the show by dramatically hitting the deck (read about that story here), our beautiful daughter was born. A magical moment that I will treasure forever. I remember it being very early in the morning, the monitors in theatre beeping and the intense bustle of the surgeons suddenly pierced by the first sounds emanated from our daughter as she was brought into the world. I was awash with emotions; relief, pride, happiness, and it was then that I was given the first of two wondrous tasks bestowed on every proud father, that being the cord-cutting (made of tougher stuff than you’d imagine by the way, so don’t be shy…).
Mum was taken through to the recovery room and I was soon to follow. Out came the camera to capture these first precious moments together as a new family and then straight onto the phone to let our parents know that they were now grandparents. They were very happy to have been woken at 4am! The nurse came in after a short while to take some details, and that was the first time that we addressed our daughter by name, and there’s no denying that my heart melted right there and then. We couldn’t be happier.
On account of the birth happening in theatre, the next few days for Mum and baby was to be spent in the maternity ward for monitoring. And it wasn’t long before the second fatherly task was upon me. Upon gazing longingly at our baby, all wrapped up in a terribly cute, white and fluffy outfit, the stifled cry we would become very familiar with eminated from her tiny mouth. Please may I introduce meconium; the gloopy poo-slick that’s been in production for a good long while being, squeezed out of our delicate offsprings bottom. Be prepared for this gents, as it just kept on coming out, and with everyone in the maternity ward watching, the pressure was on! Fortunately, I coped well, with some ease I might add, and after three quickly successive nappy changes I was actually feeling quite smug. However, having badly underestimated the amount of changing required, I had to quickly rush out to get some more baby grows, and on account of my flustered exhausted state, I ended up grabbing a triple pack of 9-12 months, which as you can imagine, swamped our poor little girl.
Junior remained by Mum’s side so I went home that evening to get some rest, and freshen up, eager to get back to see them both early the next morning. It was a struggle to get to sleep as mind was racing with all the things that we’d be doing as a family, and how quickly it’d be before she was crawling, walking, talking, and how we’d deal with those tough challenges later in life; you know, like pythagoras theorem, latin, and BOYS…
After a few days in maternity, Mum was discharged and we found ourselves back at home. It was a sunny mid-afternoon, 2nd January and as soon as we placed Junior (who was still snuggled up n the carseat) on our bed, Mum and I looked at each other in silence and burst out laughing! It was all very surreal. I carefully took our daughter from the carseat and placed her gently on the bed and as she stretch and made cute little noises while getting herself comfortable we both joined her, laying there, just taking it all in. ‘We’d done it!’ I thought to myself.
Now, getting back to reality, we thought that Junior had a healthy glow about her, but on the first midwife visit we were told that she had jaundice. Jaundice in new borns is very common, and although we were told that at this stage we shouldn’t worry, it was impossible not to. We had to go back to the hospital the next day to have a heel prick test which was very hard to watch as new parents, even though we knew it was absolutely fine and luckily the jaundice wasn’t too bad so we were sent home with a strict feeding routine to flush it out of Junior’s system. Every two hours for the next few days – extremely tough for Mum if one feed took 45 mins, there wasn’t much rest time before the next feed was due.
With all this going on it wasn’t long before I began to feel that I wasn’t contributing as much as I wanted to, especially during those first few days. I wanted to feed our daughter too, and give Mum a very well earned break from nursing. We tried bottling breast milk but it didn’t quite go to plan, so the best I could contribute being to ensure mum was comfortable and nourished, and that our home was clean and tidy. I’ve aways been told by my dad that a clean workspace is a happy workspace, and shuffling around in the dark ‘sans obstacles’ is far less of a problem as we were to find out.
And so, this brings me onto the sleep deprivation. There is just no way to prepare for it, at least that I knew of. Our daughter slept in our room and once a bit of a routine was established (after the jaundice was gone), Junior was a very noisy and deep sleeper when she eventually dropped off, and with both Mum and I being light sleepers, it was impossible to rest, and the lack of sleep became impossible to ignore . This made many things challenging, from everyday chores to planning the day to dressing our baby, and it has to be said that those poppers on the baby grows are a nightmare. I lost count of the times that I did them up wrong. Seriously, they should come with instructions, although any Dad worth his salt would instantly discard. However, after trial and error, I learned that the best way to approach these was to start popping from the feet. That was until I discovered a new popper structure in a garment Mum had bought. They followed a single line from left foot to right shoulder. Took me quite by surprise…
We felt that in the first few days we wanted to bond with our baby on our own, and although our parents and close friends were desperate to meet our daughter, we’re glad we abstained from early visits, and they all understood which helped us to relax. Our advice here is to do exactly what you want to do – this is your time, so don’t feel pressured to have visitors around the clock if you don’t want to!
After 20 months, we are still learning, every day being a rewarding adventure. There are tears, there is laughter and most of all there is a boundless love that just keeps growing.