Before our first (and second) child arrived, my wife and I went to a few NCT classes, read a number of books and basically looked for advise on how to deal with this new person that was about to push their way right into the middle of what we thought were awesome lives. We had all the practical stuff covered and looking back, we really didn’t need all of the gimmicks and gadgets we persuaded ourselves we needed in order to survive. What we were not ready for however was the real tough stuff; the emotional side of having a child.
My wife and me are a great team, we always have each other’s back and totally understand we can have grumpy days and that’s OK. This new addition to our team was what proved to be, the biggest challenge to keeping it all together.
Labour. Rightfully so it is all centred on the mum, but this does not mean it’s not tough for us dads too. The things you see in those crazy hours of giving birth are things that even those weird websites can’t prepare you for. Robbie Williams said it was ‘like watching your favourite pub burn down and not being able to do a thing about it’ and I honestly can’t think of a better description!
In truth, the first 6 weeks of having a baby are horrendous. This is not wanting to put anyone off at all as my kids are the best things ever but it’s important to know just how tough those first weeks are! You get little to no sleep, you are constantly worrying whether your little one is ok, they eat a lot, they shit a lot, they cry a lot. You feel like an absolute zombie while getting visitors coming round telling you how great it is and what a miracle they are. I found myself just staring at them, bleary eyed, confused and thinking ‘Fuck off, when does this all end?? Will I ever sleep again?? That relationship I used to have will never ever come back!’
You find that you are up in the middle of the night with a baby that just won’t settle. You just finish one feed and before you know it, it’s time for the next one. Then it’s time to go to work! I know it sounds really silly after saying all of that, but in the brief moments that they are peaceful and asleep, you look at them in wonder and can’t help but smile. Until you smell something really funky coming from the little bundle of joy and realise it’s game time again.
The good news in all of this is that things do eventually come back together. Things never get back to normal but you find a new normal. A better normal. The first six weeks are hard, the first six months are difficult, the rest just gets easier and easier as you make your way to an awesome family life. I have to admit, some difficult things you go through, you look back at them and think… ‘That wasn’t so bad after all’. This isn’t one of those times.
Me and my wife are now in the 4th month of our second child. The ‘difficult’ stage. The horrendous 6 weeks are gone and we are slowly getting our sanity back. Are things back to normal? Nope. Am I getting the right amount of sleep yet? Nope. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Hell yeah! When it all gets too tough, just take a deep breath, relax, and realise that you aren’t the first, or the last person to do this and things are going to finish up just fine as long as you keep your cool and stick together.
To help get through those first 6 weeks, you need the right equipment. Look at a baby check list, to get some ideas of what you need. It’s worth doing a little bit of research around what products you want to buy; there are so many options available, that it would be easy to get one that doesn’t suit you.