The Little Things
When the calendar flicked over to July, in my house that meant one thing. It was the month our second child would be born.
Doing it again comes with a whole new host of nerves. I’ve touched on them before, but they mainly boil down to trying to remember what you’ve forgotten since the first time and wondering how a second will be different from just having one.
And as the father you get a lot of time to think these things through. Because the pregnancy itself is boring as sin.
It drags on and on and on and your partner gets bigger and bigger and you get bigger and bigger because you need to sympathise somehow.
No really, I’m fatter now than I’ve ever been. But hey, I’ve enjoyed pigging out so there’s always that!
But other than getting fat, you don’t actually do anything else. Your bit was done months ago, she’s doing all the hard work! All you’re really doing is more housework.
Then, just as you get to the point where the baby is coming, you find yourself getting even more useless.
Labour is horrific. And it’s not even because of the reasons you think. It’s really not the most beautiful and magical thing on the planet, as many will have you believe. It’s hour after hour of feeling utterly helpless like you’ve never felt before as the woman you love most goes through agony.
Agony you helped create.
The first time my wife went through it, it happened through the night. So at one point, I was sitting drinking a cup of coffee to stay awake as she sucked on the gas and air in a big bath. It was 4am and I had literally nothing else to do. I couldn’t get in the bath and help, I just had to sit there and wait while she endured the pains of labour.
But then, finally, you get the baby and suddenly you can help again. Changing nappies and clothes, feeding and winding if they happen to be bottle fed, and mainly being a good arm and body to sleep on.
Trust me, being slept on by a newborn is possibly the most peaceful thing in the world. They just lie there, the weight of nothing, while you have a free arm to piss about on your phone or change the channel from the golf to the football.
I mean, I’m writing this on my phone right now with one hand because the other has my daughter lying on it. And yes, the Open Championship is on the TV. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Oh, incidentally, our first child is having a nap right now too so that helps. It’s a bit harder to sit around being a comfy bed when other children fancy playing with you. But we’ll come back to the older one later.
The early days of a baby are axtually really easy because there’s only a select few tasks for you to do. It’s actually brilliantly designed because babies let you master the basics before changing it up and adding new things for you to do when you’re more confident.
Almost enough to make you believe in a higher power. Almost.
Of course, it doesn’t always go to plan. You might learn what jaundice is, or reflux, or colic, or how much mucus they have in their system after they’re born. You’ll definitely learn the term meconium. Or at least the look and texture and smell of it.
It may all sound a bit overwhelming if you’ve never done it, but to be honest you can wing most of it.
Winging it. It’s basically my motto now. Babies don’t come with a manual, they just come with everyone having an opinion of the best way to do anything and everything.
Well here’s the thing. As bad as it may sound, you actually do need to wing it because every baby is different and you’ll soon figure out that you need to do whatever works for yours.
But that’s another point. There is no right or wrong way to bring up a baby. Well, within reason obviously, we’ve all seen those comedy do and don’t pictures. You know, microwaving the baby to dry it after a bath, putting beer in the bottle instead of milk, playing chess with the baby instead of peekaboo…
No, I’m thinking more along the lines of people telling you to let a baby cry out versus going to the baby to help it when it cries. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding is a massive one that people get downright militant about. But take my word for it, whatever works for you is the right way to do it. If the baby is healthy and happy then you’re doing it right, whatever it is that you’re doing.
So right now, a little over a week after my daughter was born, I’m slowly remembering all the things that worked the first time round. One I’ve quickly brought back is feeding a baby by holding them perpendicular to your own body and not snuggled up next to you. Why? Because babies can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, especially if they’re content as they often are when cuddled into you. Even mid-feed!
I’m also back in the swing of washing and sterilising bottles, teets and other assorted things. Something I haven’t had to do in nearly two years because you only do it for the first six months.
Is it easier this time round? Well I’m less stressed about everything, but I’ve already seen differences between the two. Certainly at nappy changes I’m cleaning different bits than before! But I do feel like I know a bit more about what I’m doing this time round. It’s all in the confidence.
But this time round I also have a potty training toddler running around the house. So while I’m trying to remember what I did with him when he was newborn, I’m also trying to learn how to potty train. Which is especially tricky when you have to help take pants down with one hand!
But here’s just a little bit of what I’ve learned so far.
You will never realise just how often a toddler pees until you’ve emptied, cleaned and dried the potty for the tenth time in two hours. That’s not even an exaggeration, I’ve counted.
And yes, you need to dry because your toddler will also try to convince you that they have done a pee even when they haven’t. So puddles from previous cleaning may give a false positive!
Toddlers quite like wearing pants, until they take them off. At that point, they like being half naked. Which is fine when you’re in the house on your own, as long as you remember that once they’re half naked and know where the potty is then they might do a sneaky pee when you’re not looking.
Which they’ll then drag in to show you because you always make such a fuss about how good they’ve been doing the pee.
How do you deal with potty training when you’re outside the house? I haven’t got that far yet, we’re phasing out the nappies slowly. Which goes back to what I said earlier – some people will tell you that’s wrong. Some say you should make a clean break from nappies. Well this is working for us as it’s building our son’s confidence in a safe environment. That’s good enough for us. If the clean break works for you then that’s great too.
I’m sure there are loads of things I’ve learned and forgotten and will now re-learn. I wish I’d blogged them the first time round but I didn’t. I’d love to think I’d blog them this time, but I wouldn’t want to commit to something like that! Its taken me over a week to write this one!
Besides, this might be the last time I do this. But then that same thinking might be why I didn’t blog first time!
I used to say I’d never get married or have children. Admittedly, I was younger and stupider then. At some point between then and now I thought one was enough. Now I have two and I’m delighted about it. I wanted two.
I’ve never wanted three, and having one of each now isn’t likely to push me towards it. But you never know. I’ve changed my mind before after all!
But for now, I’m just enjoying these early days. First time round I was too busy worrying about everything. I still do that a bit now, but it’s not as overwhelming and so this time I’m making the most of the smaller things.
At least until the other smaller thing wakes up again that is…