ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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No going back

 

We had visitors staying with us during the Easter break, a family with two children including a six months old baby. I thought that the baby was very cute and I very much enjoyed interacting with her, and was surprised how relatively easy she was compared with our boys (I mean how they are now not how they were then). She slept a lot and did not really have many needs apart from feeding, being changed, and being taken out for a walk now and again. I often forgot she was there as she rolled around on the carpet, or gurgled quietly in the pram, ‘forget’ being something that you most definitely cannot do with the boys.

But, and I think that you probably knew there was a ‘but’ coming, it did not really make me pine for having another baby. I am not sure whether this is a gender thing but the thought of going through the whole first years again is not something I particularly crave for.

That is not to say that I did not enjoy our boys’ early years. Certainly with Jake, because everything was new and exciting, and I did not know what was coming next. It was also a great challenge because I was learning and changing all the time, surprising myself at what I could do; and was generally amazed by the whole concept of fatherhood. With Sam it was a mixture of fresh challenge, two was definitely more than one plus one; but I also found myself wishing Sam’s early years away as we went through those different phases: crawling, teething, weaning, walking, talking, sleeping through etc… It was special in its own way, and Sam was, and is, very different to Jake in many ways. But do I want to do it again. Er no not really.

The boys have both reached ages that are really interesting. Jake is taking all sorts of new interesting concepts on board, and it is fascinating to see him develop. Sam is developing too, now in a very different way and, most importantly is really developing his communication skills and I am loving being invited into his fantasy world; something that he is much more open with than Jake was.

So I guess for me the bottom line is that while I am sure another child would be rewarding in their own particular way the first two years would not be as exciting again, until he or she were to reach ‘the age of communication’, I am not sure that I would get as much out of the experience as before. I may, of course, be wrong but I am not sure that I want to try. If nothing else I am not sure that I could take it, I am tired enough at the end of each and everyday as it is.

So hats off to those with more than two. I really do not know how you do it.


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In the beginning

One of the responses to my post on being on my own in soft play centres was from someone writing his first ‘Dad-blog’. It was a post that outlined how it was for him finding out that he was going to be a Dad for the first time. This got me thinking that part of me wishes that I had started to writing this blog at that moment, but also took my mind back to the time when I found out that Karen was pregnant with Jake. It also provided me with a further link to my last post in that it is my experience that Dads do not tend to talk about such things, including birth stories, as much as Mums do; and this perhaps skews the literature on such matters. In many ways this is quite understandable since the woman has a far more intimate experience of the pregnancy and birth.

So anyway so vivid were the the memories I was having that I thought it would be good to recount how it felt for me to find out I was a Dad for the first time not only because I would enjoy thinking about this again, but also to provide a Father’s perspective.

Karen and I were actually on our honeymoon when we found out. We had got married the previous year and decided to go on a round the world trip, ironically completely missing our first anniversary on a flight from San Francisco to Auckland since going over the dateline entailed missing out that very day. We were staying with friends in New Zealand and on a trip out on the first day Karen had disappeared into a chemist, as it turns out to pick up a pregnancy kit.

When we got back to our friends’ house I can picture the scene as if it was just yesterday. She went off to the bathroom and came back with a very nondescript look on her face before announcing that it was positive. Now if you had asked me beforehand how I would have reacted to this news I really could not have told you, and I certainly would not have expected the explosion of joy that came from inside me as I gave Karen a huge hug, something that I can see as clear a day when I close my eyes.

We were so excited that we ignored normal conventions of waiting and told the friends we were staying with straight away, and then had a glorious three and a half weeks in New Zealand and Hong Kong to get used to the idea, before getting back to our jobs; and Jake is always rather confused when I tell him that he has already been around the world.

I have many memories from my life and, as regular readers know, memories are something I think about quite a bit; but none are quite as explicit as that moment when I became a Dad-to-be. I would also like to say at that moment that everything changed but actually for me very little changed at that moment. Rather the changes were all ahead of me, something which I think (because I cannot say for sure) I viewed with a mixture of excitement and sheer trepidation.

It was a first step into the unknown. An unknown that I now know to be a joy, a huge responsibility, and a challenge.

-oOo-

Note: As I was writing this in my favourite cafe two women came and sat down on the table next to me, one of whom was pregnant. The other proceeded to unpack a large bag of baby clothes and they talked at length about motherhood, birth and pregnancy. I found it to be a very moving moment especially in the context of what I was writing. But I wondered whether two men would be having the same conversation about births and pregnancy that they were having. Of course I did not join in, particularly as I do not really have experience of such significant changes to my pelvic floor.