The big day has passed. Your inbox, streams and feeds are glowing red hot as everyone’s thrilled for you.
After a day or so (more after a c.section), you’ll roll up to the hospital in the car with the car seat and a set of new, tiny clothes and lots of warm things for the little one. It’s time to go home. You’ve now got a little tiny creature in your home. Is that actually a blessing?
Right, owning up time. The answer I would give is “yes and no”. Yes, this being will become a cool kid who will go out to the shops with you, want to play, who will have fun with you. But right now, it’s going to be VERY difficult.
Yup, difficult. Be under NO illusion. The child will change your life. Yup, he/she’s cute, but they will also want feeding, regularly, will sleep odd hours, will scream at you, will throw up over things and make nasty brown stains in clothing. Oh, and this is just the first couple of weeks! If your wife/partner is breast-feeding, then you will not be able even to feed the child, unless she pumps milk to put it in a bottle.
Believe me, you aren’t going to feel particularly thrilled. You can barely communicate with the child right now. They can see you but their brain can’t make out what you are. So put aside all those fancy toys – this is work. Oh, and then the growth spurt, around 7-10 days. That tested M. & me more than we’d ever been tested before. Nerves were bare. Dark thoughts were thought, we both, independently of each other, consider putting Sunshine up for adoption (but we didn’t obviously!), we got irritable quickly. It was hell – who or what WAS this little beast? Be prepared! (I’ve got an extra post on growth spurts.)
What can you do to make things a little more normal?
– Try chanting our mantra “This too will pass!”. It will.
– Be there for the mother. If she’s breast-feeding, she’ll feel like a milk machine. M. says that all she remembers of January 2013 is sitting on the sofa watching awful shows on German TV or listening to the iPod whilst Sunshine either slept in her arms or fed. Get her what she needs – food treats perhaps? Offer to do the housework?
– You won’t be able to create any kind of routine properly yet, but try and stick to doing things at the same time every day. It will help to compartmentalise the day in the baby’s mind and also in yours. It will give you a framework upon which to build the new life. We used our blackboard in the kitchen to try to monitor when Sunshine fed, slept and had his nappy changed. It worked for, maybe, 2 weeks?
– Control how frequently visitors come. Hey, you’ve got a baby! Surely you’ll want to see everyone?! No, you won’t. Ideally, you’ll want some quiet time to get some sleep and time to work. We used a calendar to ensure that we only got one visitor a day, and ideally on no two consecutive days.
Of course, I’m arguing from the point of a stay-at-home Dad here. If you’ve been at work all day, then, I’m sorry, you’re going to have to adapt even more. She’ll have been at home all day with the little chap/gal and when you get home, it’s not time for a quick beer and slum in front of the TV. Nope, get to work brother. Play with the baby, talk over the day’s events, look after him/her for a while. It takes to tango and two to bring up a baby, sorry. 😉
When it came to changing nappies, I admit that I didn’t do that for a long time. M. and I had a deal. When she was discharged from hospital, she was told that she must not lift anything except Sunshine for 2 weeks. As such, I was to do the housework and everything else. She was then to feed him and change his nappy. And that routine stayed. OK, I stopped doing all the housework and actually got a lot of work done to ensure that we had money to live on, but didn’t change a nappy until M. went off to a conference at the beginning of April! It’s not actually particularly difficult.
So, that’s enough information burdening you down with. The first few weeks are tricky and very trying, but things do improve…somewhat!