Saturday, January 08, 2005

Life After Birth

One of the many things people never tell you about having babies is how much time and energy they take up before they even get home. I was buzzing with the excitement of being a new dad and had plenty of energy to spare, but in the four days between Jack’s birth and his arrival home I never stopped running.

Of course I wanted everyone to know about Jack. I called the immediate family and best friends from my mobile outside the hospital and texted a few other people for good measure.

When I got home I set about scanning in a photo and writing an email to all the people I thought would be interested to see him. It was great to send it off and even better to get loads of responses which I could print out and take to the hospital for the Mrs to see.

Within a few hours of the news the in-laws were already on the way. Bunches of flowers and teddy bears began to arrive, followed by a small avalanche of packages and parcels from friends and family.

I visited Jack and the Mrs twice a day, for a couple of hours at a hospital which was a half hour drive away, once by myself, once with family. Not out of a sense of duty – I really wanted to spend as much time with them both as I could.

In between times I was fielding phone calls from people wanting to know how it all went and when the Mrs would be coming home.

It was madness. There was barely enough time to eat and keep the in-laws fed. Once or twice I managed to take some food in to the hospital for the Mrs, which was certainly appreciated.

Before the baby was born I was talking with a father and asked him how it had changed his life. He shrugged and told me: “Just remember, from now on you come third”.

It had started already.

Lessons learnt:

* Paternity leave isn’t a holiday. Take two weeks if you can.

* Stock up on food in the days before your baby is due. You’ll be feeding lots of extra people and won’t have much time to shop.

* Get a digital camera so you can take loads of pictures of your baby’s early days and make sure someone takes photos of you with the baby too.

* Get all the baby shopping done before the baby’s born.

* Don’t bother taking more than one bunch of flowers into hospital. They don’t have many vases and you’ll only have to bring the flowers home in a day or two

* If people ask what to get you, or if you’re thinking of what to get people with a little baby, you can’t go wrong with a large basket of fruit. My kind employers sent one to me when we had our second baby. Instant healthy food which took no time to prepare and no effort to think about. Fantastic.

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