The first few weeks.. Wow, what a time!
Once the big day has come and gone, if this is your first child then the next stage is going to be a period of rapid learning. And worrying, maybe verging on panicking, followed usually by relief or maybe resignation.
We were told not to worry, it all comes together, and in fact it did for the most part – although I have to admit that there was lots of Googling “what do I do when baby….” questions.
“How do you change a nappy!?” – cue YouTube search, on-the-job training. Forget about changing his clothes – his head is so big it won’t fit through the neck hole, and I didn’t want to crush him like an egg. He felt so fragile!
The journey home after the birth was relatively uneventful; once we managed to get Kit into his brand new car seat without tipping him out of it into a heap on the floor he slept quite contentedly for the 30 mile or so journey from the hospital. We stopped at my dad’s house, a little less than half way, just to say hi.
Most of the next few days was spent staring at this new baby – expect to do a fair amount of just staring in wonder. “Look at him holding his little head up!” He was exclusively breastfed, which caused us (well, mostly Mum) quite a lot of difficulty – he couldn’t seem to figure it out quite right, but he caught on within a week or two. During this time, he gained weight and seemed well which is apparently the only metric a doctor will be interested in when you raise your concerns with them!
During the first week we had the radio on in the bedroom about 24 hours a day, along with a reading lamp – later a salt lamp – both of which seemed to soothe him and add to the weird air of surrealism. At a certain time every night, we’d wake up to the sound of Radio 4 changing over to the world service, strange jangly music. Waking up every day with a weird sense of knowing what has been going on in the world, but not being able to convey what it all means. Feeding him every couple of hours – this is a bit like practising polyphasic sleep. Of course, since he has been breastfed during the period, I didn’t actually have to do anything – just sit there, staring, for the most part.
A highlight during that first week of weird sleep was getting up with the baby at about 7am, leaving Mum to rest, and watching The Forbidden Kingdom.
After two weeks, my statutory paternity leave ended and I was back to work. Two weeks is not nearly enough time, but it’s a lot better than it could be. By this time, I was still pretty sleep deprived, but getting up at 4am was about what Kit wanted to do as well. I would take him for an early morning walk with the dogs, carrying him on my front in a sling. He’d usually go back to sleep, and I could take him back to Mum when I headed off for work, hopefully for another couple of hours of kip.
I clearly remember on my second night back on call, I was changing his nappy around 1am, when all of a sudden *beepeepeepeepeepeepeepeep* a call-out! I quickly handed over responsibility, charged off and realised “We can do this”. Well, we have managed so far.