Today I visited friends who had just had a baby. I was given the customary hold. I also had The Lass to hold on to and keep calm. The Lad was being handled by my mum, so only having the 9 week old to worry about felt like I was on holiday.
The new dad, who was either fantastically Zen and serene or completely exhausted and emotionally drained turned to me and asked the question.
“So, any advice for a new dad?”
There they were. I had seen them coming around the corner. High beams. Right in my eyes. Holding me transfixed and gibbering. Given I blog about fatherhood this shouldn’t have had quite such a profound effect on me, but it did. Shooting off rambles into cyberspace is one thing, responding to a query from a new dad who’s eyes were thirsting for wisdom is entirely different.
So I sputtered out some inane crap. I thought I’d write a post about it so I was better equipped to deal with it next time because, as The Mamanator pointed out, I am the father of 2 children including a 2 year old. Therefore I hold the mantle of assumed expert in the dark ringed eyes of a new dad.
What I am posting is about stuff that surprised me. I had read some books, looked over hospital information and attended birth classes. I thought I had equipped myself with lots of information and was well forewarned and forearmed for fatherhood. And for the most part, I was. But I was not ready for everything…
So here’s the advice I would have given….
All children are different, when someone tells you some super tactic that is a sure fire way to get them to sleep, stop crying or whatever, take it with a grain of salt. I made that discovery for myself when we had number two. This limits the usefulness of any advice you will get.
Fatherhood doesn’t stop. Ever. I mean of course it doesn’t. That just makes sense, right? Yeah. The implications of that hit you later when you have been doing it for a while. Seriously it never stops. Even when you’re at work. Even if you’re away from your family for some reason. Even if you have a baby sitter or a grandparent looking after them. Even when they’re forty. It. Never. Stops.
You will at some stage bump your baby’s head into something.
The car door, a table, a railing, a wall or a door frame will sneak up on you. You will probably want to curl up into a ball, rock back and forth and cry. But you’ll be fine.
You will get something wrong and become totally averse to doing that task for a while. For me it was two things, fingernails and baths. I cut my boys thumb once when I was cutting his nails. Took me weeks to have another go at it, and baby nails grow back really really fast. First time I tried to bathe him when he was little I was so nervous I didn’t hold him right and he cried and cried. So I red carded myself in that activity for a while too….
Never take a nappy away before you have another nappy in place. NEVER EVER.
If your missus is feeding the baby, grab her a glass of water before she asks. Earns many brownie points. Also, breastfeeding women eat a great deal, be ready for it.
Finally, you may feel like little more than a couch or a bed for your baby in the first few weeks. Maybe you’ll be a swingy thing too. Don’t worry if its feels boring sometimes. But be the best damn couch you can be. It changes quickly anyway…
So that’s my little list. Use it new fathers! May it bring you solace in the times ahead.
Anything you would add to the list? What surprised you about the experience?