Diary of a Dad: Week 2 - Settling Inby Adam Riches
Leaving the hospital after having a baby is a bitter/sweet experience. The first gulps of non-bleach infested air are divine, but you quickly realise that along with the overwhelming smell of sanitation, you have also lost your safety blanket of support. You’re in the world and you’re parents (SHIT!!)
It all starts with the most careful drive of your life as you refuse to exceed 25mph (regardless of bibs and flashes from other cars) on the way home. You pull up and do the obligatory wrestle with the “easy fix” iso-fix car seat that you wished you’d read the instructions for. The front door is unlocked, you walk in annnnd... the baby cries. What do you do now?
It’s that feeling that I vividly remember with our first little boy. He cried, we checked his nappy, he’d had some milk, it was warm...why was he crying?! Babies don’t come with manuals and it can all be a bit overwhelming when you first get home. It was about 30 seconds into being back that we were furiously Googling, “why is my baby crying?!”
We had a bit of a rough time with our second little boy and we were in neonatal for a week after his birth. The feeling of leaving, having known the things he’d been through in his short 7-day life, was terrifying, even though we’d done this parenting thing before, it felt different.
Although I must admit I was a bit hastier on the drive that the first time, the feeling of concern was no different for the first few days. Is he hot? Is he cold? Is he breathing? Does he need feeding? Settling in at home with a new baby is a strange experience, and that’s totally natural, even when you think you know what to expect.
The adjustment is made more difficult by other people’s enthusiasm. Everyone (even those people who you haven’t spoken to in like 4 years) can’t wait to meet the new arrival and this extra pressure, as lovely as it is, can make settling in a lot more difficult. I think the first time around, we were a bit hasty and we had droves of visitors. This time, we just had a close family for the first couple of weeks and it made so much difference.
People always talk about routines with babies. What’s their feeding routine? Oh, are they in a good sleep routine? Very quickly, life becomes about routine with newborns, even if you don’t explicitly put the label on it. I’ve found this time that we have fallen into a routine more naturally than we did before, maybe because we are a bit more clued up on things?
Although the whole birth thing was tough on us all, I think that getting home is one of the biggest hurdles that you face as a parent. This week, I think I’ve experienced just about every emotion it is possible to feel; exhaustion, exhilaration, happiness, sadness, you name it, I’ve felt it. No matter how much I tell myself it’s totally normal, there is something about having a little bundle of joy that just rocks your boat a little bit.
Things are settling down a bit now. I’m totally comfortable with the fact I may never sleep again and that I have less than 20 minutes to myself each day (if I’m lucky) where I’m not being shit or pissed on or woken up from the lightest of slumbers.