Hi! <Waves>

Funny and honest tales from a made-to-work Dad of three, wobbling, graying, and laughing his way through parenthood. Armed to the teeth with Nerf guns, full of pie, fighting a chocolate addiction, but genuinely honoured to be at least half of Team Parents (yay!).

2 August 2015

The New Dad Bubble...

A friend of my mine had his first baby the other day, a medical miracle.
We hadn’t spoken in a while, so when I heard on the grapevine, I rushed over to congratulate him, and ask how it was going.
Which are all reasonable things to do.
I had no idea of the damage I might do.

Congratulations, I just heard!
Thanks, it all went well
<Big smile>
How’s it all going with the little one?
<Big smile back>
Yeah, yeah its… er... well all going well, pretty easy really!
<Big smile>
Ah yeah, that first month <Big knowing smile>
First month?
<Look of fear and concern>
<Realisation of what I have just implied>
<BANG! New Dad bubble everywhere>

(Mwah ha ha haaaa!)

With just a few, tiny, words I burst his new Dad bubble.
I took him out of his 'ignorance is bliss' and 'this isn't so bad, what's all the fuss?' bubble, slapped him around the face, hard, screaming ‘IT GETS SO MUCH HARDER’, and then I shoved him back in his bubble, so he could watch it pop all around him.
Quite a thing to do, I know.

I feel terrible. The new Dad bubble is important. I think it protects the Dad from a huge life change they are not ready for.
I think it's the Dad way of handling a bonkers situation: You're about to be given a child by someone.
Without that bubble I don't think Dad's would cope as well as they do.

I like to think I was an active pre-Dad. I read books on the baby, I did my research on pregnancy, and birth. I attended classes and even listened whilst there. I really thought I was ready for what was coming.

Oh course, with hindsight (butt eyes), I realise I had got myself entirely ready for the birth only. Birth-wise I knew what to do, when, and how, and when not to. I had considered all the horrible things that may happen, and at least knew roughly what I might do. (The book 'The Blokes Guide to Pregnancy' helped a lot)
Sure, I knew I'd get a few things wrong along the way, but as I was prepared I felt I'd handle them well enough.

However I know realise that I had utterly, utterly, UTTERLY failed to learn anything about what to do with a baby, once it arrived.

Bit like buying a Jumbo jet before you can fly or have a runway, or fuel for it.
Luckily Mrs. Amazing had been learning what you need to do with a baby, from books, websites, friends, from all the Mum's she could find. Which is lucky as I didn't have a clue how to build a runway, or how to get high-octane fuel into a jet, or the best ways of taxing a jet, or why you should flush its engines regularly (burping) (not sure where this metaphor is going).
Without Mrs. Amazing's baby knowledge that first month would have been a lot harder.

Of course some things we learnt together. As some things you can't learn in a book, people don't share, or can't be found online.
Like, how do you get up for a wee when two people are fast asleep on you?
Fast, and then run like the clappers You don't, you just enjoy it and ignore the numbness.

But there was lots I didn't know. Lots that my support network, me boys, didn't prepare me for.
I think men don't help each other when it comes to babies (and lots of things). We don't really seem to talk about the details. It's more winding up the new guy or tales of doom and gloom, smugness, pissing contests, or just plain boasting.

‘Oh man I didn't sleep for seven years when my nipper was born!’
Seven years? That sounds terrible, I like sleep.

‘I was so tired I ate my shoes’

‘You'll never go to the pub again. Ever’
But I like the pub, they sell me beer... They have pork scratchings!!!

‘You're gonna get puke and poo on you daily’ (actually this is a fair warning)
I won't look like one of those Dad's, with puke and poo on them will I?
Why??? <Shakes fist at sky>

Make sure you don't do X, I did X and man, it took a month to clean up. Avoid X.
<Adds X to huge mental list of things not to do>

Let her do it all, she loves it.
Piss off Neanderthal, what century are you living in Oh ha ha... yes... hmmm... moving on... probably best we don't speak again… mind your knuckles on the door step as you leave...

No one ever said which way nappies go round (Sticky bit underneath, by the bum).

No one ever suggested that I practice nappies on my a teddy before baby arrives, so I don't end up doing my very first in the hospital with my Mum, Mrs. Amazing and Grandma watching.

No one said how often you need to feed the little smegger and how best to prepare a bottle. That would have been really handy for when Mrs. Amazing was resting.

No one said how just listening and talking things through was better than rattling out book advice and declaring the problem solved. (Although I should know that anyway).

No one ever said midwives would visit almost daily for a bit, yay!, and then stop, boo, and when they are gone, you'll miss their experience SO much.

No one said getting right royally whammed at the baby's head wetting, may go down badly. Actually they said the opposite (well not quite, but you know what I mean).
(Urban Dictionary helping me understand slang and abbreviations, for years. PDOMA)

In fact the male advice I got was pretty useless. Unless you enjoy being warned of hardship and toil over and over. I got given so many things to avoid and not do, it was like being at work.

I remember I got to the point where I would start either, ignoring the tales of doom and gloom and switch off, or just change the subject.
Men are bloody irritating sometimes. Isn't sharing information quickly and simply, without emotion, what we are supposed to be good at? I certainly can get all the latest sports results without problem. yay.
But knowing the England captain's batting average when it's 4am and the microwave is being a git, baby is screaming blue murder, isn't really all that helpful.

But there were a few men that told tales that were full of promise and wonder, a few. And I thank them for that. Their words filled me with hope and I doubt I'll ever forget what they said to me.

"It's like everything changes and all the things you used to love doing, you don't get to do any more, well maybe sometimes, but not very often. But that's OK, the new stuff is way better and you won't want to do that old stuff so much anyway"

"It's the best thing I've ever done. Ever. We have so much fun!"

"Enjoy every moment, it's brilliant"

They were all 100% right.

Fair enough their advice didn't help change a nappy, but it made me look forward to what was coming and embrace it, which did help change my first nappy and beat the microwave into submission.

So back to my friend and his new Dad bubble. Which I may have broke.
With a bit of luck my friend is like me and just ignored my doom laden comment and he is just going to carry on with blind, naive, optimism and excitement, because someone else told him it is going to be brilliant.

It is going to be brilliant.