Wow! The last 12 weeks have absolutely raced by lads. 3 months down already. It's a strange feeling as it only feels like yesterday I was in the hospital as Ruth gave birth to Erin, while at the exact same time, that day seems so long ago. So much water has passed under the bridge as they say since then, and to be honest, Ruth and myself have barely had time to take it all in.
You get brief moments of, "I think we have everything done, baby fed, house cleaned, got out for a walk or workout, have stuff sterilised. Ha..." as you take stock of a job well done, good days parenting you say to yourself.
"Isn't mad we have a kid? I love her so much, she's so cute...Oh please God don't wake up."
First 12 Weeks
As I write this blog, (and add to this website in general), I'm thinking of who might stumble across it down the line and that it might give them some insight of what to expect, reassurance, a laugh and to know other people are going through the same stuff.
As the Dad, my experience of the first 12 weeks is going to be much different than my wife's. Yes, there will be similarities with regards to sleepless nights etc. But your other half will go through so much more. You have to be aware of that. You will have a front-row seat to it all, it's all normal mind you, but it can be a bit overwhelming when you're in it.
On top of trying to look after a baby, your wife/partner is also recovering from a pretty big event to their body. 9 months of pregnancy followed by birth. It takes time for your body to recover from that. They also have hormones flying about like no one's business.
This leads to what my wife likes to call "Letting the boohoo's out". But as a man you might find yourself standing there scratching your head at "why is she crying?", then the wheels in your head start turning and you cop on a bit.
Also, I'm awful with people crying. So, when someone does start crying I struggle big time with what to do or how to console them.
"Ah, I see you're crying there. Ok... Could I offer you a Fishermans friend and a copy of the Financial times?"
Then there's Breastfeeding which you'd think would be straightforward enough. Show baby the boob, baby latches, baby feeds, baby happy. Not in a month of fucking Sunday's does it work like that. How did we survive as a species when babies often refuse the boob?? You try tricks with dummy's to get them suckling, different positions that well just look bizarre and often need two people. Eventually, you get there and they feed but it's tough at the time.
Anyway, issues with breastfeeding can lead to moments of frustration, being upset and feelings of failure to provide food or sustenance as a mother/parent that we as men will never ever be able to empathize with.
All, I'm saying is lads. As Dads take on everything you can take on that doesn't involve breastfeeding. Lighten the load basically as best you can and just allow your other half to focus on feeding the baby and recovery. That's not to say they won't do more than that but they need to know that should they be having a bad day, that they have your support and all they need to do is focus on the baby and you'll look after everything else.
I spoke about my fears and anxieties prior to becoming a Dad. All legitimate things that would play out in my head and grow legs. Even during the actual childbirth the anxiety and nerves had my stomach in a headlock while simultaneously punching it.
I'd love to say it went away as soon as Erin arrived but it didn't. I had never changed a nappy in my life. Yes, I had seen how to do it in an online class but Ruth still had to show me when I brought them both home from the hospital.
Over the last 12 weeks, my confidence in my abilities as a Dad have grown day on day. It took time, there were tough moments where I thought I'm shit at this Dad stuff, will I ever be able to do this. Practice makes perfect and when you get little wins, your confidence grows.
These "little wins" for Dads, well I think so anyway, is what I aim for each day. They are things like being able to comfort your child when they're crying or in some discomfort. Or looking after your baby without your other half watching on or keeping an ear out.
Solo Dadding for want of a better word.
Other "little wins" are things like, changing nappies like you've been doing it all your life or burping them without them spitting it all up down your back. Which has happened many times, once at 3 am while I was in my jocks and I could feel the spit-up flowing down my back as it made its way to my ass crack.
However, the best "little win" for me as Dad is making Erin smile, laugh or getting her giddy. The legs go mad kicking when she's giddy. It's as much of an endorphin hit for her as it is for me. I just love making stupid faces, singing, making weird noises, jumping around all to make her smile. If anyone saw me half the time, they'd be asking questions about if I'm all there upstairs.
Finally, when your baby passes out asleep on your chest watching the rugby or something, you think to yourself "I might be a good Dad".
Father's Day is this weekend and I'm so excited to spend it with Erin. I'm not sure how I feel about it seeing as it's my first but the plan is to just relax with my girls.
Fingers crossed the weather is nice. So I can get a Father's day pint of Murphy's.