Erin is 1! Erin is 1! I'm still trying to wrap my head around just how crazy that is, how quickly that year went, how she's changed and developed and all I've experienced in the first year of being a Dad & a parent.
Erin's 1st birthday.
Erin turned 1 on the 22nd of March 2022. She's a whole digit old now. We celebrated her first birthday with family on the Sunday beforehand. In all honesty, we went all out, and when I say "we" I mean Ruth. Ruth made the cake, got a backdrop for pictures, a bubble machine (which I highly recommend), organised a balloon arch and put it all together. Now for starters, I'm not a massive fan of the sound balloons make when they rub together (the thought alone of that sound makes me go yuck) and secondly, I do not have the patience required to put a 100 balloon arch together.
Instead, I happily did the food and drink run, the washing, and cleaning along with any lifting or odd jobs that needed to be done.
The end result was incredible and I just wanna say thanks again to my amazing wife for everything.
Now on Erin's actual birthday, we did a smash-cake photo shoot of sorts. We picked up a ready-made cake, which turned out to be very tasty mind you and dressed Erin up with the aim of letting her go hell for leather into it.
Surprising both of us, Erin simply placed her hands in the cake and then didn't particularly like the feeling on her hands. Couple this with her being a little closer to all those balloons, we struggled a bit to get her attention. Mind you we got some wonderful photos that we'll have to get developed.
After Erin made a mess of the cake it was off to Fota Wildlife Park for the day thanks to a wonderful gift from my brother of an annual pass. Erin will know all the animals by their first names by the time her second birthday rolls around.
With Erin's 1st birthday I kinda felt it was more for Ruth & myself rather than Erin. She didn't have a clue what was going on and she's not going to remember it. It was more like a "you kept another human alive for a year" celebration.
Well done us. Some wine and cheese?
But being serious for a bit, fair play to all parents getting through that first year. It's like running the 400m hurdles carrying a baby and the track just so happens to be a minefield. This time last year I would have been into my third week as a Dad and second week having Erin at home. I remember being so tired from the night feeds that I wondered how long I'd be able to keep this up. While being petrified that I might fall asleep holding Erin.
You hear all the "sleep when the baby sleeps" shite and of course, you'd love to nap in the middle of the day but either you've stuff to do, sterilise, prepare bottles, clean, wash clothes etc. Or you're wide awake as your body clock is telling ya, 'mate is 3 pm we ain't heading to bed for another few hours'.
Then Erin had tongue-tie and issues with latching. Which was hard as it's tough to see your baby not feeding as well or as much as she'd like. And with that comes stress.
Then it leads on to weaning while keeping your fingers crossed they aren't allergic to anything and you don't have to make a mad dash to CUMH. You're trying to make sure they get enough tummy time so they know how to roll over in case they do that in their sleep. Then it's dealing with them teething and being sick (feckin covid). Then you want them to crawl, walk, talk and understand you while ensuring they hit all the developmental markers and are eating enough & eating the right stuff. Oh and this is on top of changing their wardrobe every 3 months (Erin is a small child so not as often for us), figuring out are you actually doing the right thing (thank fuck for Google) and making sure daily that they have enough stimulation to ensure they become a genius.
Which Erin is of course.... (had to run off to stop her from eating something).
But there is a whole host of other issues that can arise day to day that makes parenting hard with just juggling life, work etc. As I've said to my brother, and anyone expecting, those first few weeks are the hardest. Everything is so new and overwhelming at times and "breaks" are scarce. Getting into that new routine or functioning on broken sleep takes a bit of getting used to. But you do get used to it which is bonkers.
For myself, and I'd say this to any expectant Dads. Your confidence in looking after a newborn, a baby, a 6-month-old and onwards, increases day by day. I was confident enough that I could be the silly Dad and make Erin laugh, it's easy to fall into that parenting role as a Dad, but I was less confident in the beginning in looking after Erin on my own or being the parent that could look after Erin if she was sick. That confidence only increases if you get stuck in, get involved and build up that said confidence that you feel you're able to look after your little one regardless of the scenario.
By no means am I saying I'm the perfect Dad after a year but if I had not got stuck in and tried. I would not have a confident or calm frame of mind when it came to looking after Erin today.
Be present and involved from day 1. You'll reap the benefits.
I Love Being a Dad
I think once Erin came into my life, I've had so many self-reflective moments. The reason for this, I think, is that image you have of yourself in your mind changes. It happens a few times in your life, some are by your own doing and other times that change is from an external force.
Let's be honest, you've probably been cultivating that image of yourself from your teens on top of that. "I'm a sporty, outgoing, musical, fitness fanatic..." or whatever the case might be. Change is hard sometimes.
I was thinking back on all that I have done, travelling, experienced, accomplished and achieved in my life so far. I feel grateful, fortunate, really lucky and proud when I look back. Honestly, it all pales in comparison, my greatest accomplishment is Erin.
I love being her Dad, I love the craic we have and that she's a little messer. I'm grateful that we have a great connection and that she feels safe in my arms. I love the way she says "Dad" and I feel so lucky that I get to see all her achievements & milestones. Working from home has its perks.
I'm sure every parent feels the same but watching her crawl, talk and now walk fills my heart with such love and pride. All I want to do, as best I can, is give Erin every avenue to experience all aspects of life just like my parents did for my brother and me.
I could go on and on, but I think what's struck me is that everything before Erin I can get back to in some way. In time, in some capacity, I can go back to old hobbies or to doing the things I used to do before having a baby. I still have my own life to live. And don't get me wrong there are things I still want to do and achieve in my own life outside of just being a parent.
However, time waits for no man, I will not get back these moments when she's small and being aware of that is important. Erin seems to be growing up and turning from a baby into a little girl so bloody quickly it has me questioning Greenwich mean time.
I just try and soak in all this time with Erin and store it all in my memory bank.
Because she'll realise soon, I'm not cool and won't want to hang out with me.
Things to Know After Year 1
Right, less of me being emotional about having the greatest daughter in the world. Here are the things to know after Year 1 as a Dad. In no particular order:
The dirty nappies only get worse.
You will eat pre-chewed food from your baby as they want to share.
You'll know what their "poo face" looks like.
You will be pooed and weed on... multiple times.
Expect to be so tired that you put items in the most random places. Last week I caught myself about to put my laptop into the fridge.
You'll bribe your child to crawl, walk or to be quiet for a brief moment to hear your thoughts with food or toys.
You will invest in a baby jail, I mean a playpen so you can use the toilet in peace.
As a girl Dad, 90% of your outfit choices will be wrong.
There will be baby toys every... fucking... where...
And you'll spend loads on buying these toys.
Your house is never big enough to hold all the toys and stuff.
Babies have so much stuff.
Inevitably you will have your heartbroken as they'd prefer to play with a box or some kitchen roll.
You will not get out the door on time to events
And if you're on the cusp of such an achievement, they'll soil themselves in the car seat.
YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE SNACKS!.... (veggie sticks and biscotti's for the win by the way).
Enjoy the cuddles and them sleeping on your chest.
Get over just how much food they waste. One taste and it's nah... and onto the floor.
They don't care about the effort you went to create an incredible dinner.
They'll have 'all about Mom' days and 'all about Dad' days.
If something is wrong with them... It's probably teething.
Nappy Rash = teething
Crying = teething
Fever = teething
You get the idea.
Shouting at the match on tv while the baby is in the room is frowned upon. Now Erin screams with me so happy days.
They will try and feed the dog... The dog knows they drop food. You've been warned.
They love stairs.
I'm sure I've missed some. Anything you'd add to the list? Comment below.