I can’t entirely describe the feeling of becoming a dad for the first time. Our little bundle of joy came into the world in the middle of January, following nine months of worry, stress, and angst. Little did I know that these emotions would be cranked up all the way to 11 during the first 14 days with my perfect little girl. Here are 7 things I learned from my first two weeks as a dad.
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Yes, that no-sleep thing. It’s true, all of it.
It’s a bit of a cliché to talk about the lack of sleep you experience during these first few weeks of parenthood, but I cannot reiterate enough how the lack of a nap has, quite frankly, buggered my entire being since the moment my daughter came into the world.
The first couple of days in the hospital were fine, with me being given a reprieve as I was kicked out of the ward shortly after visitors’ hours. But those following days are absolute shitting hell. There’s nothing quite like getting up every two hours, eyes blinking in the moonlight to clean up Marmite-like mucus from your offspring’s arse.
Of course, she’s been sleeping for a bit longer since, but will insist on sleeping when she wants to – usually during the day, then waking up just as I want to go to bed. Selfish.
My tolerance of bodily fluids has improved significantly
Changing a nappy isn’t as bad as you think it is. That’s another cliche of parenthood. The smell isn’t that bad – I got used to breathing in through your mouth very early on – and the nappies are easy.
My struggle is the sheer frequency of the nappy changes, and the utter power that this tiny thing, just days old, can unleash from her bum – usually at the most inopportune times.
One day, and I don’t exaggerate, I must have changed close to 30 nappies. Another time, I managed the “trifecta” – to be covered in piss, shit and vomit all at the same time mid-nappy change.
I should have been mad at her, but I couldn’t help but be impressed at the speed in which this feat was achieved, and the remarkable projectile reach of the unneeded fluids coming from something that I had helped create. It was a victory for us both. Bravo.
Baby clothes are designed to completely fuck with your head
I’m not sure about you other dads out there, but, as you can tell, I do most of the nappy changing and dressing of our baby. Obviously not able to partake in the breastfeeding thing – other than just staring at my newborn as she destroys my wife’s nipples – this is the job that I have made my own during these first few weeks.
And I reckon that all those baby clothes makers out there know that us dads do most of the changing too, as they continue to fuck with us in terms of the design of the little garments that we are forced to buy.
I have this one outfit, which my wife keeps leaving out for me to squeeze the baby into, that has all its poppers on the back, in the most unreachable places, making this task virtually impossible to complete with one hand.
So I must endure about 30 seconds of screaming hell, as I juggle my baby and I try to slip this straight-jacket like device on. I reckon I could make a fortune in a dad-friendly clothing line.
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Booze is the last thing I want
I sank eight pints of beer on the day after my baby was born. I’ve genuinely not got a problem, it’s just that I was a victim of circumstance and various members of my family insisted on taking me across to the pub across the road throughout the day to wet the baby’s head, a traditional British post-natal activity that takes its name from the Christian baptismal rite. But of course, this was nothing to do with religion; my brother just wanted to get pissed.
Since then, I have never wanted an alcoholic beverage less. Now, I just look at a pint of beer knowing that a) this is guaranteed to have me up for a wee in the middle on the night, a time when I need to spend as much time sleeping as possible, and b) that if I have any more than one I will absolutely suffer when it comes navigating a dirty arse (not mine) at 2am.
Still, I have managed to shift a few pounds.
My crap driving has improved
Trust me, the drive home from the hospital after your little one is born will be one of the most cautious, nerve-wracking experiences of your life.
It’s true, my driving has improved massively since my daughter arrived. No more driving in the fast-lane at the full speed limit (70 tops), swerving in and out of traffic, shouting at the top of your voice, and calling someone who just cut you up a wanker. All that goes as soon as you become a dad.
Now, it’s cruising in the slow lane, actually using mirrors, and trying to get your precious cargo safely from points A to B.
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I’ve developed a lethal addiction to Homes Under The Hammer
Most of us get a couple of weeks’ paternity to spend some time with the new baby, and while this is a most special, priceless time, it can be bloody boring just sat there holding a sleeping baby all day long. Fear not though, because television has you covered. And daytime TV is my new thing.
I imagined that I would be sat there getting through all the boxsets included in my over-priced cable TV package, but no, instead I’ve developed an odd weakness to crap daytime TV – in particular property programmes Homes Under The Hammer and A Place In The Sun: Winter Sun, as well as Come Dine With Me and Four In A Bed, both of which air daily after my… sorry, the baby’s lunchtime nap.
I can’t get enough of them, and had to stop myself from recording them when we took the baby to be registered the other day. What is this madness?
Unconditional, blinding love
I must end this article on a positive and with a generous helping of cheese, but this is the biggest thing I’ve experienced in my first few weeks as a new dad: is that I never knew I could love a human being as much as I now do.
Our daughter, despite the road bumps and difficulties we’ve both had to overcome during her journey to us, is perfect.
The build-up to her arrival seemed bloody long, but I will never forget the feeling of instant, uncompromising love as she was air-lifted from my wife on her birth-day. My life is now about her – something that I’m sure will never change.
Now, who’s round is it?