West Bridgford, Nottingham, UK

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The reality of becoming a parent...

December 14, 2017

Recently I've come to the realisation that although people "warn" you about becoming a first-time parent, they never really tell the whole truth...

 

I have a 7 week old boy. He's actually starting to become a pretty cool little dude and although this little person was thrust into my life with little warning* (I'll come back to this), I really do love the little fucker - with all my heart. All of it.

 

*Disclaimer; I say "with little warning" as - and I am sure most dads can relate to this - you may watch your wife go through the stages of pregnancy and be involved in preparing for baby's arrival, but you don't actually experience this phase yourself. You don't have the same level of physical or emotional attachment that a woman gets from carrying around and essentially growing your child, so when the birth happens you lose your shit! As I mentioned in a previous post, I was very-much present at the birth and when this "creature" is placed on your wife's chest and you see it and hear it cry for the first time, your heart shatters. I cried (like a baby!) when Finn arrived; I wasn't ready for the overwhelming emotion that I experienced in those first moments and long afterwards. I remember Kat (my wife) finally being allowed to go shower and get cleaned up and although this was about 4 hours after the birth, I had Finn in my arms and I was soaking him in tears! Man Tears, of course. Proper manly. 

 

Anyway, I digress. This boy of mine is hard work, as most babies are. You have good and bad times, with the latter being the most featured and ups and downs too; also the latter being quite prominent...

I totally was not prepared for the whirlwind (read; tornado. In fact, read; huge series of tornadoes all coming at once and being massively, overwhelmingly relentless in their approach at destroying all sense of normality) that is having a baby; there's the lack of sleep, the different reasons for baby crying (tired, dirty nappy, needs some love, wants food, wants more food, wants even more food, is now windy because of the food...), the nappy changes, the feeding cycles, the winding, etc. It is all a huge demand on your time and your sanity. You have to deal with this all whilst trying to find time to eat something yourself, go to work, clean the house, entertain the many visitors (sometimes a nice break actually), get a shower! I actually never realised how much spare time I had until I no longer had it. I haven't picked up a book in 7 weeks as I just don't have the time to read it, or I'm using that precious time for sleep...

 

The other big thing is that all of the above combined, leaves you in some weird zombie-like-state for the first few weeks and it also takes its toll on your relationships; you become more snappy and short-tempered, your anxiety levels are through the roof - am I feeding the baby enough? Am I feeding him too much? Is he sleeping too much/not enough? Should he be crying like that? What if he gets sick? Is he sick? The list is endless and seriously drains you... Couple that with the fact that you get very little in return from the baby. They aren't self-aware yet, they don't know what you're doing for them or how it's affecting you. They don't know how to say "thank you" or even smile at you (don't be mistaken by the windy post-feed smile, despite how cute it looks!); it is a thankless task. That may sound harsh, but it's true. You won't understand how thankless it is until you're doing it and probably thinking to yourself "what have I done/can I even keep doing this?"...

 

Does it get better? Yes and no. Finn is right in the middle of his first major leap at 6/7 weeks; his digestive system is maturing (read; spends all night grunting and straining, even though he's fast asleep), he is becoming more aware of his senses and surroundings and also getting more control of his movements, so is no longer quite so much like a stop-motion puppet. He is also starting to smile, properly.

So, whilst we're still knackered from not sleeping so well and falling out because we can't work out why he's upset and frustrated that we can't escape these anxious thoughts and feelings, the feedback we're now getting from him takes it all away.

 

I cannot describe the love I have for this child, my little mate. When he makes noises at me when I'm speaking to him, or when he recognises his mum coming into the room and just stares in awe at her, or when he's staring straight into my eyes as you feed him, it's amazing. Those little things take away all the shit, all the bad thoughts you've had, all the tiredness and frustrations - to the point that you remember it, but don't actually remember it. It's kind of like pain; you're so aware of it at the time, but when it's gone, you know you had it but can't describe it or recall how bad it was. 

 

Every day he does something else a little more interactive and the thankless tasks become less thankless, as you can see the appreciation he has when you feed him, or talk to him, or even just chill with him. It's nice that I now worry a little less when he's awake, as I know that at least some of that waking time won't be spent trying to stop him crying...

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