I was inspired to write this after reading an excellent blog post on finding out if you are ready to have a baby which included some excellent tips to help prospective parents achieve ‘actual baby readiness’. My favourite tip was to ‘practice wrestling a large, slippery fish three times a week’ – we laugh because it’s true. My first thought was to start a list of ‘Baby Readiness’ tips that other Dads could add to but then I realised I had very little advice to give. Instead I have written what I would like to say to myself before my baby was born I and maybe this will help some other ‘Dads to be’ reading this post.
Don’t worry so much about the big day – I thought very hard about the emotional and practical support I could give my wife the day she went into labour. I thought I could be a decisive, resourceful, well prepared and above all adaptable partner for her. In reality my preparations proved to be useless within half an hour of arriving at the hospital and I have never felt so helpless. It was like sending the two people you love most in the world – one of whom you haven’t met yet – into a car crash and sitting back to watch. It was over a week later before I found out that I had done everything my wife wanted me too. Merely sitting by her side and holding her hand made her feel like she wasn’t going through it alone and this was the most important thing I could do.
You won’t be able to prepare for the first moment you see your baby – I had also been preparing myself for the possibility of being disgusted by the sight of my baby after watching too many gruesome birth videos. I didn’t want the horror of clapping eyes on my blood and snot covered offspring to show on my face. The reality was love at first sight. I knew that most parents feel their child is the cutest, most adorable little bundle of joy but I had put this down to bias. When I first saw my son I only needed to use the evidence of my own eyes so see that he was the most beautiful baby the world had ever seen. Without a hint of bias I knew this was a cast iron certainty and any thought of managing my emotions flew out the window.
Assemble all baby equipment in private long before you need it – Despite the many claims of the manufacturers it does sometimes feel like you need an engineering degree to assemble the average ‘travel system’. A friend of mine tried to assemble his car seat at the hospital and was forced to endure a very public 20 minutes of graceless wrestling with his recalcitrant equipment. I side stepped this land mine but frequently leave everything until this last minute and end up assembling in the dark whilst desperately wishing toggle G would fit in slat F.
Get used to singing stupid songs – I break into song so frequently it is like living in an extremely low-budget musical. My baby addled mind reaches out and grasps the strangest songs leaving me to adapt them for the situation. Most disturbingly this frequently happens at nappy time and I find myself belting out such classics as ‘Saving all my poo for you’ and adapting ‘Moves like Jagger’ by Maroon 5 to become ‘poo like Daddy, you’re gonna pooooooooo like Daddy’. My latest inspiration hit while I was giving George some gripe water and before I knew it I was spinning round the kitchen singing ‘The Mayor of Brightwater’ which in my version was ‘The Mayor of Gripewater’. This is a song I learnt in my rugby days and it is no way fit for any sort of polite company so I really need to ditch it before George can learn the words. Learning the odd nursery rhyme or having a stock of Motown numbers could have really helped me.
That is all I can think of for the moment but please leave any extra suggestions in the comments box below.