I’m very excited to become a daddy. Apart from being able to shout “who’s the daddy?!” in self-referential male bravado, it’s going to be great to, y’know, have a child...
This is a guest post from dad-to-be, business journo extraordinaire and Kirsty Young-wannabe Alex Lawson.
Since the first of my three nephews and nieces were born in 2010 I’ve gone from barely noticing children when they’re chucking stuff on the floors of branches of Pizza Express to solo trips to soft play (well, with the child) and a working knowledge of Sudocrem. But I still basically know nothing.
So, as I prepare to become a parent this summer, here’s some of the advice being dished out from all quarters:
* Don’t be afraid when the first nappies are full of tar.
My brother-in-law especially has warned of impending terror. Our little bundle of joy will be delivered to us, shiny, new and only looking a bit like a squashed pomegranate. When it comes to that momentous moment, the first nappy change, what emerges – apparently – is not perfectly spherical rabbit pellets or even shit up their back (a later phenomenon, I learn) but a tar-ry smear as they expunge what was in their system in the womb. One for the scrapbook.
|yes, someone has knitted a pooey nappy. it's at http://breastfeeding.support/breastfed-baby-poop/ if you want to see more...|
* You’ll never sleep through the night again
A pretty common one, this. But as I get up obscenely early for work, I’m anticipating having a similar bedtime to baby. The routine will go: episode of Hollyoaks, milk (for baby), beer (for me), then time for Sleepyland. I might even get an adult Grobag.
* You’ll feel useless, because you probably are
I’ve listened to a few podcasts on fatherhood and the biggest theme that comes through when discussing pregnancy and the birth is how completely and utterly irrelevant our presence really is. Can I help with your tiredness dear? Sore nipples? A human coming out of you? No, didn’t think so. Time to rub her shoulder and pull a concerned face I think.
* You shouldn’t spend nights listening on the stairs
This is a piece of advice to myself. So terrified was I, the first time babysitting for my nephew, that I didn’t trust the baby monitor and spent entire evenings sat on the stairs straining to hear baby breathing. Unhelpfully they don’t like to breathe in any regular pattern, throwing you into panic roughly every 25 seconds, so it keeps your hearing sharp.
* You’ll need to drive an SUV
Apparently our tiny, old automatic Mini, complete with a dodgy mechanism which means it’s hard to access the back seat is not ideal. Getting a new car or taking a Mr Bean style approach to driving (armchair on the roof, broom to brake) are our only options.
* You'll realise your house creaks
One borrowed from Matt Coyne's hilarious daddy tips which got people laughing last year. He explains that, until you've tried to get a baby to sleep you won't have realised every loudly ticking clock, errant boiler or buzzing bulb in your house. Luckily, ours is very quiet, I think...
* Prepare to be rocked
The other day my boss comically took a fossil from the bottom of his sports bag. "If you have a boy, expect to find stuff like this in random places," he explained. As the child who once smuggled a dead crab into the boot of the family car before it was smelt out six miles on, I understand the curiosity of youth.
* “Support the head!!!!”
If there’s one thing you don’t know before you have a baby it’s how to hold one. Well, according to existing parents who have repeatedly looked at me as if I’m going to take the child by the ankles and re-enact Yuriy Sedykh’s winning hammer throw at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
* Let the baby decide what it wants to eat
A few friends have started telling me about baby-led weaning, which I understand is the big thing at the moment. From what I understand, they’re presented with whatever you’re having: carrots, broccoli… a piping hot cheese fondue, grab what they want, throw it about a bit while you pray some of it goes in their mouth, then you succumb and head to the spoon draw. Enticing.
* Prepare for triplets
My mother-in-law, an identical twin, took great joy in pointing out there’s triplets and twins which run in the family, and they skip generations. Thankfully, there appears to be just one in there meaning surgically gaining an extra arm to cope with them will not be necessary. For now.
* You’ll never listen to a full song again
This particular favourite, which comes second-hand from friends at work, is most alarming. As a fully fledged music nerd the thought that my Billie Holiday and Squarepusher LPs will have mucky paw prints near them is scary enough, but apparently “there’s just no time for music”. I’m still sceptical though, and am desperately combing Pitchfork for recommendations of nursery rhymes with a dubstep feel.