‘I’m pregnant‘ was the last thing I expected my wife to tell me that day or any other day for that matter. We’d had a few discussions about children with the predictable response of ‘let’s talk about it in six months’ so it was a total surprise.
We found out about four weeks into the pregnancy but by the time I got over the shock it was more like six. A good friend said “if I were your wife I would have slapped you by now”. Looking back I can’t believe she didn’t but in defence there was a lot going through my mind “I’m too young to be a dad”, “we cannot afford a baby”, “what time does the football start?”
As a man there are good and bad bits to finding out your wife is pregnant. I am virile – good! Whatever she says (or thinks) goes, even more so than normal, no matter how unreasonable or stupid it is – bad!
And then I found out about the NCT: £250 to be in a room talking about what is going to happen with other people that it is happening to. No matter what I said I had to go. By the end of the first session I could not wait for the following week. I could not believe I had not thought of it before. I was in a room with 7 other men going thought the same thing as me. I think 7 out of the 8 of us said that our wife had started snoring and had moved out of the bedroom to get some sleep.
Our little man came 5 weeks early due to severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome – not good! After 4 days in hospital and a short period of unsuccessful induction, she was given an emergency c-section. The surgeon introduced us to our baby at 7.26pm on 6th March 2015 by lifting him over the curtain. He was then taken away to the other side of the room as they do for all c-sections. I was holding my wife’s hand saying everything is fine but inside desperate to hear him cry. I have no idea how long it was but it was the best sound in the world.
The fun really begins when you are discharged from hospital which for us was 8 days later. Then it is truly down to you. You can read all the books there are or listen to all the advice there is but when you walk out of that door, get into the car, check the car seat is in correctly several thousand times and drive at a snail’s pace home, you’re on your own. Walking through your door for the first time, no longer just the two of you but three, your home will never feel the same again.
By the way, the NCT was one of the best things we did. We made some great friends who have been a great help. In the early days when my wife thought she was the only new mum having issues and being convinced that the other mums were doing so well, it was good to know the same was happening to the others and we were all, in fact, doing fine.
As a new dad you have got to learn far more than some women give you credit for. Not only do you have to learn how to look after a new baby, you have to learn how to be with your partner as a new mum. Dads, there is one simple rule: she knows best. So when she changes the ‘routine’ without any discussion DO NOT question it. When you do the same, unless she has proof, lie and say you have done everything as she would. It takes a few weeks to learn the new tone she has in her voice.
The last 9 months have been great, with a few lows but mostly highs. I love my sleep but being woken up 4 times a night for feeding and nappies changes is fine (really!), although I’m glad that’s mostly over. Seeing him smile for the first time is wonderful. Being woken up every other hour because of teething is ok. Seeing his first tooth is amazing. Two nights ago was the worst so far, but last night as I was putting him down for bed some of his medicine ran down on his chin; watching him licking his lips was the highlight of my day.
With each week that passes by he loses a little part of what I love whether it’s the last time he was this tiny little ball sleeping on me or the last time I saw his gummy smile. But each week there is something new to love whether it’s him leaning into you when he’s tired or his now-toothy smile!
I think we’re all doing well. My wife is a great mum, more so then she will ever know. She is too hard on herself sometimes but I could not have asked more of her. She has given us the perfect baby boy who gives me so much joy, for which I could never thank her enough.
I think a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves to be the best parents ever and lose sight of here and now. I think you have to do a lot wrong for your child to grow up and think that you are a bad parent. I just hope I remember to enjoy it.