Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: new dad

And then there were five

I have now been a dad to 3 for 4 whole days, in fact counting to 4 is about all my brain can cope with at the moment after 3 nights with a newborn. I did have 4 hours straight sleep last night though which felt like heaven, funny how quickly your perspectives change isn’t it? But after keeping us waiting for 6 days past his due date our baby boy finally arrived on Wednesday 22nd October weighing a mighty 9lb 6oz’s. I shan’t give you a blow by blow birth story other than to say the lady of the manor was awesome, she also enjoyed the full spa treatment at the birthing centre with a massage before a quick pedicure (removing nail polish from your wife’s toes while she’s in labour isn’t something they teach you on a NCT course) and then a dip in the jacuzzi.

But without further ado I give you the youngest heir to the Fool’s kingdom; Rupert

 Ben and Rupert first cuddle

He’s a bit of a cutey isn’t he? Such a chilled out little dude too, cries a little when hungry or wants his nappy change but other than that just sits quietly taking the world in. He doesn’t seem phased at all by the chaos around him as his noisy brother and sister play in the noisy way that only small children know how. Certainly doesn’t seem to stop him sleeping either, I think he’s going to be able to sleep through anything given how noisy it’s been from day 1.

It’s probably a bit of an understatement to say that Matilda and Henry love him; he’s certainly not been short of cuddles and kisses from them and do an excellent job of sitting ever so still on the sofa so that they can hold him. We got home after they’d gone to bed on the day he was born so the first time they met him was in our bed the next day, Henry just ran straight up and started giving him kisses, Matilda was a little more apprehensive though. We just gave her space during the day to decide when she was ready to meet him properly, no point in trying to force these things is there after all she got her stubbornness from her daddy. It took half the day before she asked if she could hold him and then she sat for 20 minutes without moving a muscle while he sat on her lap; there can be few moments as a parent that are as happy as that.

Henry and Rupert meeting

Matilda and Rupert cuddling

We’re slowing settling into our new routines and roles in the house, finding the new balance now there is an extra person house. A little bit of trial error to find what works and what doesn’t including learning that I don’t make the lunch boxes as well as the lady of the manor. But the children seem very excited about having me home which is of course fab and I have another 2 weeks of paternity leave left (I’ve taken holiday, who can really afford to take leave at statutory pay?).

We’ve been talking about all the things we can do over the next 2 weeks, saying things like ‘we could do that when I’m on paternity leave’, but the reality is that survival is the main objective at the start isn’t it? Hopefully we’ll get a couple of day trips in but I think the kids will be just as happy with playing hide and seek in the garden followed by snuggling up watching a movie. The one thing we will most definitely be doing is grabbing a coffee with just Rupert for company when Matilda and Henry are at preschool. Going to be a while before we get that chance again.

Let the fun begin.

5 skills all new dads need to perfect

As I sit here potentially hours away from meeting the 3rd in line to my empire (a house with a big mortgage, an old Toyota Yaris and a years supply of running clothes) I thought it would be a good moment to share some advice to new dads. As a veteran dad and parenting expert (i.e. I have 2 children) I think I’m perfectly placed to share some words of wisdom.

I thought I’d start with the top 5 skills all new dads need to perfect, essential skills that will see you through those first chaotic months as a new parent and establish you as the alpha male in your NCT group. Knowledge is power people.

  1. How to sniff a nappy – Changing a small babies nappy is never an easy task, same goes for undoing the poppers on a baby grow so you really want to minimize the number of times you do it. The answer is to develop your sense of smell so that with one short sniff you can identify exactly what is in the nappy. As your skills develop you’ll also be able to tell the difference between gas and a true dirty nappy.
  2. Monitoring and describing poo – A direct link to the above, it’s amazing how quickly as a new parent 80% of your conversations revolve around bowel movements. You become obsessed with the colour, size, consistency and frequency and are perfectly happy to discuss those details with your partner while eating your dinner. Being able to accurately describe the contents of all your child’s nappies for a given period is an essential skill for any dad and also allows you to play true top trumps with your fellow new parents and see who was had the worst poo related incident.
  3. Terminology – We all know that knowing the lingo is an important skill in any situation, in the parenting world you can convince people of your parenting prowess by throwing in buzz words such as ‘attachment parenting’ and ‘self regulation’ casually to conversations. At a more basic level it’s also important to know that it is a muslin and not a Muslim as the lady of the manor often calls them. No one wants to shout across Mothercare ‘honey do we want a white or coloured Muslim do they?
  4. How to not hear baby cries at night – I think dads have evolved to have selective hearing at night, at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. But dads there is a very important skill here, you need to be awake enough to offer to go to the baby crying but not too awake that you offer before you partner is getting out of bed already. Don’t forget it’s important for us dads to get our beauty sleep, after all we are the hunter gatherers of the family, the ones who provide right?
  5. Efficient burping technique – Being able to extract that awkward trapped wind that has made your baby wriggle, moan and cry for the last hour is a true super hero skill. It requires more than brunt force, there needs to be technique and precision. A careful balance of gently bouncing around while aiming the pats are the precise spot of the back to have the maximum effect. Not too hard that it could hurt your baby but hard enough to encourage that burp up to their mouth. Advanced skills involve combining the bouncing/patting with some leg bends while they lie on their backs.

Did I miss any? What skills do you think every new dad needs to learn?

Frustration

Last week was tough, Matilda was sick and then teething, I was sick with a high fever one day and we had all the worry over Henry’s feeding. Now this week I’m back at work something I really haven’t been looking forward to.

In the last few days there has been something else though, something lurking that was making me grumpy and short tempered that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then I realised what it was. Frustration.

Frustration at the tiredness a newborn brings to your life which stops you doing things, at how hard it makes it to plan or just get out the door.

Frustration at the never ending battle to keep the house in some sort of order. With Matilda having a tantrum if I put her down to try to do something or trying to climb into the dishwasher as I empty it.

Frustration at the feeling of sprinting to stand still, of not actually achieving anything other than surviving, of being back to square one with a new born after having got used to a 1 year old.

Frustration at almost 4 weeks of paternity leave passing and feeling that we haven’t done any of the things we planned or were on our to do list.

Frustration that I’m even feeling this way and not excited about being a dad again. What sort of idiot does that?

I know this will change and quickly, I know it’s not about what we haven’t done but rather what we have achieved. That having a beautiful healthy son putting on weight after 4 weeks is a huge achievement.

But this period I find hard, I did with Matilda also, the lack of interaction with him, that he won’t lie down on his own for long. You need to bond but don’t have that same relationship that a breast feeding mum does. Changing nappies is hardly the same is it? I don’t have that feeling a mum has that he’s part of her. The lady of the manor has had 9 months to bond, I get the time when he finally falls asleep after crying.

This week we start the next chapter in our family story, we have to find new routines now that I’m back at work. It’s going to be bloody hard, more so for the lady of the manor at home. But we just have to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In a few months we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

The new dad’s job – it’s all about feeding the machine

Can you believe a week has passed since Henry was born? A crazy, busy, tiring, stressful, frantic blur of a week. With all the up’s and down’s of the largest roller coaster in the world. I knew it would be tough but it’s been harder than I could imagine, not because of Henry surprisingly, he’s actually slept reasonably well. No what’s been tough is just keeping up, watching Matilda, walking the dog, making sure the lady of the manor has food and drink, keeping the house in somewhat of a reasonable state.

And the heat, oh the heat, its beautiful weather, fabulous for being outside, great for drinks in a pub garden. But not so easy when you have a 1 year old who just wants to crawl outside and a newborn who you’re not sure if they’ll get a chill if you leave them exposed or too hot if you cover them.

The man’s role in these first few days is really just feeding the machine, food and drink go into mum which in turn feeds the wee man. I like to think of it like being the fireman on a steam train, got to keep putting that coal into the fire otherwise the train will shudder and splutter to a halt with lots of banging and clanging. Well I am that fireman, except while I’m  trying to shovel coal there is a crazy 1 year old crawling around the house at 100 mph.

But we seem to  be coping, Henry only lost 5% of his weight in the first 4 days which is great and feeding seems to be going amazingly well. We’re slowly settling into something of a routine, I’m getting fit carrying Matilda in her rucksack for an hour every day walking Bracken and there has been only one incident where I have shouted profanities in a moment of over tired grumpiness.

Matilda has been truly amazing, all of a sudden she looks so grown up and big and she’s actually become a bit cuddly. When the lady of the manor is sat on the sofa feeding Henry she wants to sit next to her and she just smiles and cuddles up. Amazingly in the few days since Henry was born Matilda can already say Henry. She crawls over, pulls herself up and says “enry, enry” Sooooooo cute!

Knackered, tired, stressed, lacking in energy but oh so happy.

The Gallery – tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day that the Bean will be born; tomorrow the ever changing point in the future, almost here but not quite. So we wait with excitement, with trepidation, with anticipation, with worry. Not quite sure when tomorrow will come, not knowing what tomorrow will feel like or how it will change us.

But the bags are packed and we are ready for when tomorrow comes.

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You can look at the other entries for this weeeks Gallery over on Sticky Fingers.