I was awake for 36 hours. Most of those I spent on my feet.
I only ate one cheese toasty in those 36 hours and drank one bottle of Lucozade.
At a glance
- A real-life perspective from a first time dad How to get involved
- Keeping your relationship alive
I saw the woman I adore more than anything in the world suffer in agony, begging me for it to stop. I went through fear, joy, anger, frustration, hope, ecstasy, more fear, and more joy.
Then I went through it all again and again on a continuous cycle.
I was exhausted.
No, I haven’t been attempting to watch the 24 series back to back. I have a baby!
That’s right, two weeks ago my world changed.
One moment I was sitting watching TV, beer in hand, bombay mix in the other keeping myself to myself and enjoying the mindless activity of watching the idiot box, contemplating where I might go for ride or what new gadget I might purchase.
And then within a matter of days I have been thrusted into a world of meconium stained clothes, sleep deprived eyes and damaged ear drums where I am no longer the centre of my own world.
Long gone are the hours spent in front of that same idiot box, that's for sure. The memories of gliding through country lanes on the bike will have to do for the time being.
It goes without saying that there is no shallow, gradual progression into parenting; it optimises the 'deep end' methodology of learning.
And here I am enjoying the spare 10 minutes I’ve managed to carve out to document those first two weeks and share my ‘wealth of learning’ with you. In fact, I’m quite pleased to have this time to myself.
However, rather than bore you with the ins and outs of the first few weeks, I would give you a run down of my top five ‘first’ moments.
- The first time he wee’d / poo’d / sick’d on me - that was a special moment and quickly alliterated any remnants of OCD I might have once had. This is closely linked to the first nappy. Be prepared for a black tar like substance that doesn’t wipe very easily.
- The first time I drove with him in the car. Suddenly even the 30mph speed limit seems too fast. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre came back into action. 10 to two steering wheel positioning and amber lights meant ‘stop,’ rather than speed up, you can make it if you put your foot down.
- The first time I cuddled him. My initial concern was to concentrate on holding him correctly but I soon got into the swing of things and found myself gazing into his eyes introducing myself. He was calm, peaceful, contented and I like to think it’s because he knew who I was and felt at home already.
- The first bath. I made a point of wanting to bath him first and create a special time for the both of us. In a way, a bit like breastfeeding can be a special time of bonding for mum and baby; this was my alternative. I tried breastfeeding, it didn’t work.
- The first time I saw him. Wow. What a moment. After the long and hard labour, to see him slither out and be lifted on to my wife’s chest and seeing his eyes for the first time was something extraordinary special. Nothing could even come close to this kind of moment. It was utterly unique.
I’ve also come to learn some vital nuggets of wisdom that have helped me get through the first two weeks. The first three are things you can do to help yourself, the other three t will help you help your partner, which in turn helps yourself.
Make sense? Good!
- Get involved as much as you can. I wasn’t very confident holding him, changing him etc, but the only way I could overcome this is was by getting stuck in and doing it. I was tentative at first but it turns out they’re pretty robust! Even when I swung him round my head testing the centrifugal force theory in a blanket! For the record that really didn’t happen.
- Stock the cupboards and freezer with some quality ready meals. Ironically I felt like I had never eaten in my life, yet cooking was the last thing on my mind. You need to eat to maintain your energy and believe me, you need energy!
- When you get some time (emphasis on the ‘when’) use it for yourself. Do whatever it is you enjoy. Watch your favourite TV programme, log on to social media or pop out for a half an hour run. This time is precious, but it’s important you don’t forget to look after yourself.
Help yourself and your partner
- Keep investing in your relationship with your partner. Tell her she’s beautiful, make her some toast and a cup of tea, keep telling her that she is doing really well. I’ve heard so many scare stories about relationships that disintegrate with the arrival of a baby. You’re in it together so keep talking about what’s going on and solve problems together.
- Keep the house tidy. I found that staying on top of things was the best thing ever. I didn’t let the laundry bin fill up, I didn’t let dishes pile up in the kitchen and I didn’t let the bins spill over with dirty nappies. If you let it all build up, stress levels could hit the roof!
- After the early morning feed, take the baby downstairs with you. Let your wife stay in bed and sleep for another couple of hours and you get some time on your own. This has been really special for me and my partner has really appreciated it.
In a nutshell, that’s my first two weeks of having a newborn baby. My favourite moments and some of my advice on surviving the initial rude awakening that is, parenting. There is, however, nothing rude about the overwhelming joy of having a beautiful little baby which outweighs any of the hard work tenfold.
Al Ferguson writes for The Dad Network.