Here are a few pieces of advice for fathers gleaned over the experience of the past few weeks…
Note taboo words/topics and avoid accordingly
For me, it is tiredness. As previously explained, the sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with having a baby has hit me hard. So hard that for several weeks it was no laughing matter at all. Therefore, when Mr Cath happened to mention his own fatigue, can you blame my rather negative reaction?
Fathers: if you value your lives, do not, under any circumstances, tell your other half you are tired. Especially if the word “tired” is, heaven forbid, preceded by “extremely” or even the innocuous-sounding “really”. Your partner is guaranteed to be more tired than you. Even if you are one of those couples that share all the night time feeds and nappy changes (who are you?) she is the one who gave birth! Which trumps everything…
Now we have got the first six weeks behind us and Pip is sleeping much better, this is slightly less of an issue. However, Mr Cath still can only say Voldemort-style “I am that thing I’m not allowed to mention.” Last night, it even almost raised a smile. Almost.
Develop the patience of the most saintly of saints
It has become a given that five minutes after Mr Cath has asked me whether I need anything from upstairs, I’ll remember something crucial – only once he’s settled back down on the sofa and is raising his cup of tea to his lips of course! The first few times this happened I was subject to a look of resignation*. Now he just patiently gets on with it as it’s become the natural order of things. It was his (our) choice to live in a house with stairs! I blame it on an excess of baby paraphernalia strewn around the house and that good old scapegoat, baby brain.
Patience is also required in situations such as:
Waiting for an answer
Tiredness really affects my decision-making and general cognitive skills. I don’t mind what we have for dinner, as long as it’s edible!
Getting ready to go out
Always a test of patience anyway (after some years it was learned that knowing someone is waiting for me seems to delay me even more: the pressure makes me move in slow motion), now there are TWO people to wait for. Moreover, these two are frequently in cahoots with each other in that one uses the other for sustenance at the most inconvenient of times. There’s a good reason why I try and avoid morning activities if at all possible. It literally takes me five hours to get ready these days.
Projectile poo/wee over everything, just after you’ve cleaned them and put cream on
Never change nappies in a rush… they can sense it.
*In case anyone feels like questioning my laziness in that why I wouldn’t go myself, please note I’m chained to the sofa feeding a hungry little Pip!
Unlike Dickens’ Pip, I think fathers should cultivate low expectations about what it’s going to be like with a newborn… without actually resorting to being a grumpy old man. A prime example of this is what happened after we took Pip home. Once the first couple of weeks were past I asked Mr Cath how on earth he’d managed to not freak out when confronted by a bawling, wailing baby (as well as Pip). He replied that he’d fully expected it to be challenging and emotional, so had been able to mentally prepare himself and deal with it all accordingly! It would have been a lovely bonus if I hadn’t been an irrational bundle of hormones, but I was, and it was fine. Sort of!