Wow. To say the last two months have been a whirlwind would be an absolute understatement. We've been rushed into emergency theatre, given our little one her first bath, we've watched her smile for the first time and heard her screaming in the back of an ambulance. We've seen, done and felt more than we have ever felt in our entire lives and you know the crazy thing? We wouldn't change it for the world. If someone is reading this article in the first few months, I want them to know something. It's all worth it. Every single second of it.
I thought i'd put together a few of the main things I've learnt as a first time Dad so far. A lot of these are somewhat negative and I want to stress that none of the below out-weight the incredible moments that occur during these very special weeks. Nothing can ever prepare you for watching your child smile for the first time. You feel a love you never even new existed before. I just wanted to try and highlight a few things i've personally learnt that maybe people are a little less likely to share online. I really hope it helps :)
1) It can take time to built a connection. When Daisy was born I was so overwhelmed and emotional. It was the greatest day of my life. With that being said it did take a little while to build a connection with my baby. I loved Daisy from the moment she was born, but I didn't know her, as silly as that sounds. To be honest it worried me. I thought I was supposed to never want to leave her side and want nothing more than to hold her for hours on end while grinning ear to ear. Maybe that is the norm, but for me however it wasn't the case. Don't get me wrong, I was in absolute awe of her and was beyond proud. At the same time however I was in shock, emotional and sleep deprived. Part of me just wanted to make sure she was in safe hands and sleep for two days straight. I've learnt that these feelings pass and as time goes on I got to know my daughter and truly understand how precious the whole experience can be. I've seen her learn to look me in the eye, I've heard her laugh for the first time and I'm pretty sure I now recognise the intricate differences between her cries. If you feel at all like I did though, please don't worry. From what I've learnt, these things can just take a little time.
2) Sleep deprivation is a killer. This has been the single hardest thing I've faced being a parent in the first few months. Tired doesn't even describe it. There is no way to really get around this other than to learn to sleep whenever and however you can. My advice is to catch any moment of rest, even if two hours are broken into twenty minute naps. It all counts towards keeping you stable enough to not lose your mind haha! Trust me I thought I had a few times. I also struggled to sleep when Daisy was sleeping, I would worry so much that I would constantly be checking and making sure she was okay. This ended up with me being awake the whole time and missing those valuable minutes of rest. If you are going through something similar I really don't have the answer. All I can tell you from experience is it get's better, you trust yourself and the process more and even if you don't, you become so tired you end up falling asleep regardless.
3) Your partner needs you. After the pregnancy and labour your partner is going to need you more than ever. Sometimes near the start you can feel a little useless, especially if the Mum is breastfeeding. I remember wanting to help Ebony so much but not knowing quite how. My advice is to try and think of the chores you can take over to make things easier for her. Washing, cooking or cleaning are all things that can help. Making sure Ebony was eating properly became my number one aim in the first few weeks. It helped her keep up energy and made me feel like I was doing something useful!
4) Talk, talk & talk. Having a baby is damn right scary, or at least it was for us. You are suddenly responsible for another life and doubt can easily set in quick. One of the things Ebony and I made sure we did was communicate and I think that's partly the reason we survived the massive change without screaming at each other every night. I was, and still am, frightened, but being able to speak honestly and freely with Ebony has allowed these fears to become manageable. Knowing how we both are feeling helps us know when to give each other space, when to keep close and when saying the right thing is saying nothing at all. It allows us to make the transition into parenthood in our own way but feeling supported and loved. My experience is the more you talk, the more you feel capable of the challenges ahead.
5) Everything has changed but it's okay. It sounds silly but as I was waiting for Daisy to be born I somehow fell into the trap of thinking that pregnancy was it, like the labour was the end goal and then life would go back to normal. As crazy as it feels writing it, having a baby came as quite a bloody shock haha! The first few weeks are a blur of nervous energy and relentless self doubt and I felt almost incapable of accepting how much had changed. Maybe you are feeling the same? What I have learnt now though is although everything has changed it really is okay. When the fog starts to lift a routine begins to emerge and you begin to see little hints of normality on the horizon, little beacons of familiarity. As funny as it sounds I thought I would never be able to watch Netflix ever again. I almost mourned the loss of that fricken thing. The other day Daisy went down at 9pm and me and Ebony watched one whole hour uninterrupted. It was a miracle. Did I get up at 3am to feed? Yes. So things are definitely a little different but that's okay. Life in many ways still feels the same. Those crazy first few weeks don't last forever.
6) It's okay to say no. Let's talk about guests. The first few weeks after having a baby you are obviously so proud that you may well welcome even the loosest of family relatives to meet the little one. What I have learnt though is the moment these guests walk through the door you regret it. It suddenly dawns on you that you haven't slept for three days, you haven't managed to eat and the house is falling apart. After the standard ten minutes of baby cuddles you are met with a few hours of classic chit chat which although at another time might be quite pleasant, becomes some what of a Chinese torture technique to you. That may be a little harsh, but your brain is so exhausted that it quite literally is torture to think of conversation. I guess all I am saying is that from my experience life is so hectic for the first few weeks you need to give yourself some time alone to process everything that is going on. Although it can feel a little pressured, it's okay to take the first few weeks to adjust before you open the flood gates for visitors.
These are just a few of the little things I've learnt since becoming a Dad. I'm going to try and do follow ups to these blog posts during the first year.
I would love if you guys could comment below with some of the things you've learnt. I want this article to be a place where people relate and feel a little less alone.