So, after what turned out to be a fairly traumatic birth under difficult circumstances, I had a few days to recover and then we finally brought my son home.
I will now attempt to summarise what those first few days were like.
This blog is now the work of a sleep-deprived, first-time-parent, trying to talk frankly and honestly about his experience. I make no apologies for the language used. You have been warned!
Lockdown rules meant that I had to leave once m’wife was moved to the recovery ward. Due to blood loss and the risk of infection, both m’wife and m’boy needed antibiotics and had to stay in hospital for a few days. So, I went home, did a few odd jobs, got some sleep and tried to relax. I know that this was something of a luxury, as some people go through all that and then get sent home a few hours later, so at least we weren’t both sleep-deprived and on an adrenaline crash when we brought him home!
Bringing Him Home
Eventually, I got the call and, feeling more-than-slightly-nervous, I returned to the hospital and met my wife outside the maternity ward. We transferred our son into his car seat, loaded him into the car and brought him home.
It’s kind of insane how they just let you walk out of there with this new life; this little person that you are now responsible for. We certainly didn’t feel ready!
It has been a few days and I’m feeling a bit useless, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing my bit, cooking and cleaning and looking after m’wife, but I don’t seem to be much help with the actual baby. Sometimes I can cuddle him or walk around with him and he’ll settle for me, but if he’s crying for food, which seems to be most of the time he’s awake, then there’s nothing I can do.
Crying, sleeping, feeding and… ‘needing to be changed’ are pretty much all he does at this stage. I had been warned that the first few weeks were the hardest, but nothing anyone says can prepare you for the reality. I’m not sure how much of the crying and unsettledness is because of the birth and how much of it is just him being a ‘typical’ newborn, but I feel like this is similar to what most new parents have to go through.
It is not without its positives though. There’s something about looking down at that face as he sleeps peacefully that makes it all worthwhile. A feeling of love and serenity. For about a minute. Then panic sets in as you start thinking, “Oh god, is he breathing?” so you touch his cheek to see if you can get a reaction. And well, he’s definitely alive but now he’s awake and screaming again…
It is a well-known fact that you don’t get much sleep as a new parent. But, unlike most well-known facts, I can confirm that this is 1000% true.
The amount of sleep varies from night-to-night, but mostly he seems to wake up every couple of hours. This is normal, we know, but that doesn’t make it any easier. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! We’re trying to do the whole “sleep when he sleeps” thing, but no matter how many naps you get, it is no substitute for a full night’s uninterrupted sleep!
At first, I woke up every time m’wife got up to feed him. However, apart from a little emotional support and changing nappies, there wasn’t much for me to do. It quickly became clear that there wasn’t much point in me staying up all night and it was better for me to try to get as much sleep as I can, so I could look after them both during the day.
As I’ve said, it’s frustrating because I want to do more, but as we’re breastfeeding, there really isn’t much I can do. I believe this is a common feeling among dads at this stage and hopefully, it will pass.
This is a well-known term, but it is often confused with postpartum depression, which is a much more serious issue. This actually refers to a hormone crash that typically occurs after about three days and is just the body recovering from the cocktail of hormones that allow the birth to happen.
We were warned about this and so we were expecting it. Knowing that it is a short-term thing, and that will pass, makes it easier to cope. It’s difficult seeing my wife so emotional (and still in pain), but under the circumstances, I think we both handled it rather well.
[This wasn’t intended to be a coronavirus blog, obviously, but I suspect this will become a regular feature!]
It’s hard to know how the current situation has affected our experience of parenthood, in general, but there are a few obvious downsides. Because of the lockdown, one set of grandparents has at only seen him through the window and the other has only seen him via video chat. This is unfortunate, but we know that it is necessary for everyone’s safety.
On the bright side, at least we haven’t had a constant stream of people coming round to coo at the baby and expecting us to bring them a cup of tea while we’re trying to work out what the fuck we’re supposed to be doing. It has been good to have this time to focus on us and to work it all out. The negative side, of course, is that we don’t have people – the grandmothers in particular – to give us help and advice, which would make the process of working out what the fuck we’re supposed to be doing that much easier!
Quote of the Day
I wrote down a few “Quotes of the Day” that I think exemplify what life’s been like. Here are a few highlights from that first week:
– Day 5
M’wife: “He’s just eaten for two hours straight.”
Me: “That’s my boy!”
– Day 6
[He grizzles for a bit, then finally seems to be drifting off. But then, just when he seems to be finally asleep, he stirs again.] “It’s the hope that kills you,” she says.
– Day 7
“For the first time since I’ve known her, my wife has failed to finish a cup of tea.” [Apparently, hot meals/drinks are not really a thing anymore, especially for the mother!]
So, this first week has been all kinds of crazy, not helped by the lockdown. However, it feels like we’re muddling through and doing pretty ok so far, considering the circumstances.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the novelty (and the adrenaline) starts to wear off…